Tuesday, June 06, 2006

What Makes Us Special?

This question was put to the President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam in the largest ever event organized by IBM India. They put up a mega air cooled tent just for this purpose and brought in over 10,000 of its employees for this special event.

By some accounts, this is the first ever gathering of this magnitude by any multi national corporation in India. I was fortunate to be able to attend this truly mega event in our own backyard.

President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam was the special invitee for the occasion and he was the true rock star of the event even though some Bollywood stars performing as well. Bollywood glam girl Dia Mirza was the MC and Himesh Reshammiya provided entertainment.

True to his style, Dr. Kalam delivered a multi-media pitch that kept the audience eating out his hands. He talked about innovation and how India's knowledge workers can act as the catalyst and also talked about what needs to be done. What I liked in his pitch was that he not only set the vision but also gave specific suggestions on how to deliver on the vision.

When asked about the focus areas for India in the next 10 years, He said:
  1. Widen knowledge worker pool: India should bring more people in to the knowledge worker net by leveraging the large untapped pool of Indians. According to him, over 540 million of India is below the age of 24. This is almost equal to the total population of US & European Union put together. Now imagine the possibilities.
  2. Energy Independence: India should reduce its dependence of foreign oil and find ways to tap alternative energy sources like solar, wind & nuclear.
When asked what was his advice to the youth of India, he said
  1. Have global outlook
  2. Keep current
  3. Most importantly, be a good human being
When asked about his proudest moments, he said
  1. When India fired its own rocket, living up to the vision set by Dr. Vikram Sarabhai
  2. When India put a first geo synchronous satellite in the orbit
  3. When India detonated a nuclear device and became a nuclear weapon state
  4. The proudest moment came when he was able to reduce weight of some physical aid devices for physically challenged toddlers. These young kids were getting bogged by a 3 kg heavy equipment. Dr. Abdul Kalam and his team was able to bring the weight down to 300 grams for this physical aid device using the work done for the rocket program.
Finally, When asked 'What makes India Special'? Dr. Abdul Kalam said:
India is special because of its diversity. India is home to all the religions of the world and is home to multitude of cultures.
India is special because of its One plus billion people and its democratic traditions.
Sam Palmisano spoke about IBM's evolution in to a globally integrated company and about IBM's global operation. Sam talked about IBM's commitment to India and how it will invest over USD 6 billion in the next 3 years.

When asked What makes IBM special, Sam Palmisano said:
IBM is special because it is one of the truly global companies with operations in over 170 countries. IBM employs over 340,000, who speak over 165 languages.
IBM is special because of its innovation engine. Year after year, IBM files and gets most patents in US patents office.
When asked What makes IBM India Special, Shankar Annaswamy, General Manager for IBM India said:
IBM India is special because its growth and how it is fast becoming the growth engine for the IBM corporation.
IBM India is special because it is the largest multi national IT Services company with over 43000 employees performing global operations right out of India.
Sunil Bharti Mittal of Airtel delivered the key note address. He talked about how Airtel has transformed itself with the help of several global companies like IBM and has become the darling of the telecom companies worldwide. He talked how Airtel is able to consistently increase revenue and profit even when the price per minute continues fall.

IBM is also doing its quarterly annual briefing to analysts in Bangalore tomorrow. Generally, IBM analyst briefings are always done in US and mostly in NYC. This is also another first for a multi-national / global company. The intention seems to be to send out a strong signal about IBM intentions and its strategy.

These two events are significant milestones for IBM India and clearly demonstrates how India becoming a crucial cog in the machine at IBM.