What Media Companies Can Learn From IBM’s Turnaround


Simon Waldman is Group Product Director of LOVEFiLM, and author of “Creative Disruption: What you need to do to shake up your business in a digital world” [FT Prentice Hall]. He blogs here, and tweets as @waldo.

Imagine a business in trouble. A lot of trouble. It is being disrupted by new technology. It has become bureaucratic and bloated.
After decades of healthy profits, it is losing money and revenues are going backwards; its share price is tumbling.

What do you think the chances are that in 17 years’ time, the company would be worth six times as much, and would have delivered 31 consecutive quarters of growth in earnings per share? Yes, the chances are slim, but this is exactly what has happened at IBM. The company this week reported income up by 12%, and, despite a relatively lukewarm reception by Wall Street, now has a market cap of $182 billion, compared to $29 billion in 1993.

I have just published a book (Creative Disruption: What You Need To Do To Shake Up Your Business in a Digital World) that looks at how the internet disrupts businesses, and what they have to do about it. After 15 years in newspapers, most recently as Director of Digital Strategy at the Guardian Media Group, I wanted to see how other businesses have coped with similar turmoil and share those experiences. And, I think any business facing this challenge today has plenty it can learn from what happened to IBM nearly 20 years ago.



Comments have been disabled for this post