Is IBM's Smarter Planet a True Solution™?

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How does IBM go beyond marketing platitudes to create a Smarter Planet campaign to change the world?  And is the campaign a True Solution™?  What lessons can we glean from IBM’s efforts?

In this blog entry, we’ll examine the depth and breadth of IBM’s Smarter Planet campaign. I use the word campaign, because at first glance, it looks like a marketing pitch.  But if you spend five minutes examining the message, you soon understand that IBM is leading the with a profound idea.

The idea is introduced eloquently by IBM’s Chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano:

we are all now connected—economically, technically and socially. But we’re also learning that being connected is not sufficient. Yes, the world continues to get “flatter.” And yes, it continues to get smaller and more interconnected. But something is happening that holds even greater potential. In a word, our planet is becoming smarter.

This isn’t just a metaphor. I mean infusing intelligence into the way the world literally works—the systems and processes that enable physical goods to be developed, manufactured, bought and sold… services to be delivered… everything from people and money to oil, water and electrons to move… and billions of people to work and live.

The idea, which in essence says that all areas of human endeavor can now be better understood by data-driven insights, is captured in three bullet-points:

  • Instrument the world’s systems
  • Interconnect them
  • Make them intelligent

IBM is proposing a new vision for an “intelligent” planet - broad enough to engage individuals, citizens, shareholders, industries, and governments under the concept of an almost utopian “smarter planet.”

Palmisano also states:

CEOs, CIOs, governors and mayors are asking:

  • How do I infuse intelligence into a system for which no one enterprise or agency is responsible?    
  • How do I bring all the necessary constituents together?     
  • How do I make the case for budget?     
  • How do I get a complex solution through my procurement department?     
  • How do I coalesce support with citizens?   
  • Where should I start?

If you recall, in a previous blog post I had stated that a solution is the embodiment of an idea - and how the idea can be realized.  The idea is the kernel of the change in the relationship from pushing products and discussing business opportunities.

I also explained that the power of ideas is that they immediately accomplish several things:

  • They focus the discussion on the idea - not the sales representatives (or consultants)  skills,  not the company or current relationship, but the idea.
  • They enable a more consultative conversation - discuss the merits of the idea in a particular environment.
  • They align with the way real decisions are made - instead of working against the process. 
What makes a good idea?  Ideas for this discussion are focused upon seizing an opportunity for a company - be it business growth or protection, increase revenue or cut costs.  A good idea is not wishful thinking - but a challenge to see the business differently.  A good idea should be easy to summarize - to be expressed in a few minutes.  A good idea should be actionable, understandable and straight forward to evaluate for applicability.  Finally, a good idea should have a “wow” factor.
'a Smarter Planet' logo

Image via Wikipedia


Granted some ideas are bigger than others - some require a bigger budget, some require more authority to move forward, but all good ideas should draw the client into a discussion about the possibilities.

Based on what we see, not only is IBM’s Smarter Planet a True Solution™, it’s a game-changer as well.  It focuses on deep expertise in vertical segments - literally leading the industries to a new promised land - one in which analysis and actionable-insight is gained from data.

Two other candidates for a similar company-wide True Solution™ can be seen at Accenture and Deloitte.

Accenture is building an idea-led solution business around “competing on analytics” - a term they clearly lead the industry in.

And at Deloitte, they too have a game-changing idea in “The Shift Index.” Will they use it to lead their customers to a new level of business competition?  

The opportunity for building a True Solution™ lies within every B2B services division. Where do you stand?

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This page contains a single entry by Dean McMann published on June 2, 2010 11:43 PM.

Why Solution Selling is not Enough was the previous entry in this blog.

Innovating Past the Customer: The Limits of Innovation? is the next entry in this blog.

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