IBM Hits 100: Can You Imagine Your IT Vendor Being Around One-Tenth as Long?
Insurance Experts' Forum, February 14, 2011
A couple of weeks back, IBM began posting some stuff that should give any IT or insurance business manager pause. That is, Big Blue will soon be celebrating its' 100th birthday.
Imagine that: a 100-year-old IT vendor! Doesn't sound real, does it?
Of course, many insurance industry companies have been around for just as long, or even longer. Presbyterian Minister's Fund, now part of Nationwide, was founded in 1759. CIGNA has been around since 1792 (started as Insurance Company of North America), The Hartford since 1810, New York Life since 1841, and Aetna since 1850. Such longevity is not only an indication of steady management and good business decisions, but also, at least within the insurance industry, a source of dependability and trust.
In the tech sector, often the reverse is true. Companies in the startup or relatively early stages of their lives are revered as the next big thing, as hot and getting hotter. But many of these vendors have the lifespans of a one-day fruit fly—and this is often by design. All too many times, IT companies are created with the idea that they will be bundled up and sold for a fast buck in five years or so. How many are thinking about the welfare of the customer when everything gets uprooted and lost in the bowels of some larger vendor?
So, any good enterprise IT manager knows that longevity within a tech vendor is extremely important as far as confidence and trust goes. But it's also a very rare quality. I'm all for new ideas and new companies to keep innovation sharp and fresh, but it's also nice to know that a company will be around five years from now, or even 10 years from now before you entrust your processes and data to its solutions.
And, as any good insurance executive knows, a company is only as good as its last customer service call. IBM knows this too; that's part of why it’s still around after a century.
How many of your current vendors will still be around in the year 2111?
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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