“We set an expectation for every IBMer that their job is about being an innovator: developing the right ideas by asking 'how?' and 'what are we learning?' so the best ideas advance.”
How much are new emerging technologies allowing you to challenge businesses to embrace some of your most innovative solutions or platforms?
In an historic event in February 2011, IBM’s Watson computer triumphed on the game show “Jeopardy!” Watson's ability to understand the meaning and context of human language, and rapidly process information to find precise answers to complex questions, holds enormous potential to transform how computers help people accomplish tasks in business and their personal lives. Watson will enable people to rapidly find specific answers to complex questions. The technology could be applied in areas such as health care, for accurately diagnosing patients, to improving online self-service help desks, providing tourists and citizens with specific information regarding cities, prompting customer support via phone, and much more. Watson represents a major leap in the capacity of information technology systems to identify patterns, gain critical insight, and enhance decision-making despite daunting complexity. You can read more about Watson here.
How does IBM foster a creative culture of innovation and collaboration inside and outside of the company to differentiate from competitors?
While other corporate research labs cut back on higher-value, long-term research in exchange for short-term gains, IBM is doing just the opposite. IBM is focused on investing in research to differentiate our high-value technology and services offerings, driving bold, exploratory projects to solve the problems that impact people's daily lives—like health care, biology, energy, water resources, and food safety. Over the past decade IBM researchers have begun to envision what could be possible in the physical world as computing continues to miniaturize and simultaneously become more powerful. Projects combining IBM researchers with clients such as CenterPoint Energy, Mayo Clinic, UPMC, and the Swedish Road Administration are enabling us to deploy smart grids, smart health care, smart traffic management, and more. That said, our commitment to apply innovation to solve some of the world's most complex problems goes far beyond the IBM Research and Development community. We set an expectation for every IBMer that their job is about being an innovator: developing the right ideas by asking “how?” and “what are we learning?” so the best ideas advance. We remove constraints and roadblocks, while supporting the work that matters and recognizing IBMers that innovate. In the end it’s the work that every IBM manager does to create the mind-set, time, and daily work environment that lets innovation flourish.
Last year you talked about progress and how IBM is always looking to make a difference in the world. What initiatives have you undertaken this year to continuously communicate your commitment to corporate citizenship and what influence has this had on your brand?
Throughout our century-long history, IBM has been a leader in corporate social responsibility and corporate citizenship. As such, we contribute technology, talent, and financial resources to non-profit organizations and educational institutions around the world. We help people to become smarter, and help enable the development of future leaders. These leaders improve the quality of life for themselves and their communities, making for a smarter planet. Our guiding philosophy throughout all of IBM's philanthropic initiatives is the notion of channeling our technology and talent in ways that help society. We are not content to merely fund others to perform skilled work. Rather, we pursue opportunities that tap our employees' unique skills. When assisting others, we encourage our employees to adapt to difficult circumstances, develop an appreciation for diversity, creatively apply professional skills, and cultivate deep cultural literacy. Doing so doesn't just help the recipients of our goodwill; it also helps motivate, hone, and retain our top employees eager for a challenge and personal satisfaction. Here in 2011, in our centennial year, we have led a Worldwide Celebration of Service that began with a Jam—a global conversation on service—just under a year ago on Oct 10-12, 2010 and which has now involved some 366,000 days of service from IBMers all around the world supported by US $12 million in grants to the schools and not-for-profit organizations where IBMers volunteer. This very public commitment to and celebration of service can be explored here. As you see from the photographs uploaded by organizations large and small, this work has huge impact on local communities all around the world because it's local, it's relevant, yet it taps into the best of IBM's global expertise in order to make a difference.
Finally, what brand do you currently admire and why?
I'd have to talk about Rapha. They are a young brand (the first Rapha collection was launched in July 2004), but the way they have annexed some of the great road race cycling heritage "to celebrate the glory and suffering unique to road riders" in support of their distinctive lines of clothing is delightful. The films, the events, the iconic design elements in the products, their recent venture into books, the partnerships they are building with designers like Paul Smith (himself a road cyclist) and bike builders like Beloved are all true to the way their brand looks, sounds, thinks, and performs. It is all very joined up work. Impressive.
ABOUT KEVIN BISHOP
Kevin Bishop is the Vice President leading the IBM Brand System and Workforce Enablement for IBM’s 400,000+ employee-base in some 170+ countries worldwide. After graduating from Cambridge in 1985, he joined IBM as a systems engineer and has built a career in sales and marketing rising to be head of the IBM brand worldwide—the second most valuable brand in the world (Interbrand 2010).
The IBM brand is managed in a deliberate and systematic way, not only through traditional media but also through the interaction of clients and citizens with the employee base around the world. Nowhere has this been more clearly demonstrated than in the activities for the 100th anniversary of IBM’s incorporation as a company, celebrated this year (2011).
In addition to his line management responsibilities, Kevin is Chairman of IBM United Kingdom Trust and Partnership Executive for all activities with the University of Cambridge. Outside of IBM, Kevin is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Marketors, and a contributing member of their Think Tank on the future of marketing. He is a regular contributor to the work of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and the Multi-Channel Marketing research group at Cranfield University. From 2004-2009 Kevin was Visiting Professor of Marketing at the University of Bedfordshire.