IBM CEO Ginni Rometty Keynote at MWC 2014 (Transcript)

IBM CEO Virginia (Ginni) Rometty delivered her keynote address at the Mobile World Congress 2014, or MWC 2014 which was held in Barcelona, Spain this year from February 24 to 27, 2014. Below is the full Transcript of the keynote…

David Kirkpatrick – Founder and CEO of Techonomy

Welcome. I am David Kirkpatrick. I run something called the Techonomy conference which is a event about technology’s impact on business and society where we bring together technology leaders with general business leaders.

I also – although it’s not as relevant this time as it was earlier in the week, wrote a book called The Facebook effect. But I’m here to introduce Ginni Rometty who is CEO of IBM. She’s had that job for just a little over two years after 33 years at that company. And her career is not a typical IBM path which is one where almost all of its previous leaders had started in sales and worked their way up the internal leaders.

She actually is someone who came out of college with a degree in electrical engineering and computer science, very unusual for a woman in those days, went to work in IBM’s insurance and financial services group, doing, you know migrating of customer projects as she calls it pulling cables. She really worked as an engineer inside IBM and then started moving up after they clearly identified her as a major potential leader in the company as she has subsequently proven. She spent quite a bit of time most of her career building the financial — I’m sorry the services business of IBM, the professional services piece in particular which IBM is the largest professional services company in the world. She oversaw the integration of PricewaterhouseCoopers when they bought that and that’s a 100,000 people overall at that group.

Most recently she was running IBM sales division, all the sales globally before being tapped to be CEO. In her two years, two-plus years as CEO she has not been afraid to make big changes. She’s going to talk up here for a while and I’m going to speak with her on stage a little bit after that. But you know one of the things she and I are going to discuss is the challenges she faced and that any leader today faces running a giant global company because the pace of change is so spectacularly quick. And one of the things she’s done is unsentimentally to have sold off major parts of IBM, most recently the industry-standard server division which IBM sold to Lenovo. Very recently she’s also sold the point of sale terminal business and what the other one — I’m forgetting but she sold another big part of IBM as well. So maybe I can ask her that one when she gets up here. In any case, I hope she will join me out here now, Ginni Rometty and then I will rejoin you when she finishes her talk. Please come out Ginni.

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Virginia Rometty – Chairman, President & CEO, IBM

Thank you, David.

David Kirkpatrick – Founder and CEO of Techonomy

What was that other part you sold?

Virginia Rometty – Chairman, President & CEO, IBM

Customer care.

David Kirkpatrick – Founder and CEO of Techonomy

Call centers.

Virginia Rometty – Chairman, President & CEO, IBM

That’s all right. Thank you, David. And look, thank you for everyone. Great to see you. It is great to be at this Mobile World Conference and I must tell you — wasn’t that long ago I was here for a client meeting. And they asked me to speak at dinner, though I didn’t realize I was after dinner, which meant I spoke at 10:30 at night. So I appreciate 6 p.m. I appreciate to see everyone here and I have to say there is one thing that strikes me about this conference, and David was asking it was either for CEO to attend this conference from IBM and I said yes.

And I said but you know in certain thing it was just mobile world – this is clearly an ecosystem conference. And that’s how I think of what this is, everybody I’ve seen here is from all parts of the ecosystem. And I thought about that in what I was going to talk to you about tonight and hopefully to leave you with something of value, because I think this is both an exciting time but it is a disruptive time for everyone in every industry. And so well I went through the hall and talked to many of you, you’ve had a lot of discussion from the consumer side of mobility.

So let me in just 20 minutes tee up for you and have a discussion about the enterprise. And what I want to talk about is the key shifts that are changing the technology industry, — reshaping the technology industry and then the impact they have both on my company, our industry but on global business. And then I want to turn it around and let me take a mobile lens and then share with you some of the things we’ve learned from all the mobility work we’ve done.

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It’s 6,000 mobile engagements, we’ve had partnerships with 40 of the wireless carriers around the world. We spent decades to build what I hope you think is a very good mobile-first portfolio after years of development, 12 acquisitions, hundreds of patents, a million downloads, we’ve learned some lessons.

But let me start and I’d like to start with this idea about what are the three trends that are reshaping the technology industry.

So for those of you that like to remember things in short whites, let me give you kind of the Cliff Notes version first.

Three words: data, cloud and engagement.

Data, I think of it as the world’s next natural resource. Cloud, simply put, any process or IT delivered as a service. And the word engagement, because I think it has forever changed how we engage but understand people at an individual level.

So let me take each one, couple comments about what I see clients looking for, many of you serve clients, many of you are clients we serve which I appreciate. But what have we learned, what do they want and what’s going to happen?

But let me first start with data – new national resource. There isn’t a discussion in every discussion I had today that isn’t got data at the center of it whether it’s society, whether it’s business, whether it’s technology. And I’m going to assert that we will look back on this time 21st century and we will look at data as a natural resource that power the 21st century just like if you think back in time electricity was to the 18, if you take back or 19, you take a look at hydrocarbons to the 20th you will reflect back on data in that same way to the 21st century.

And many people had statistics, I tell you there is one that always sticks out in my mind when it comes to data: creation 2.5 billion gigabytes per day and 80% of all the world’s data ever known to man has been created in the last two years.

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Now every client I know believes strong — you can see it in their reactions, three out of four are piloting Big Data projects or have then in production. More interesting to me, 1 out of 3 are constantly looking at how do you monetize data to create a new business, one in three already, which leads me to what I think is a phrase I will repeat. We look forward and data will be the basis of competitive advantage for every company in every industry. Basis of competitive advantage to distinguish the winners and the losers. And this is why I can speak from my own company.

In the last several years, we have invested over $24 billion in this area, 30 acquisitions, 30,000 engagements and wrapped up last year with the big data analytics business of $16 billion. But what I think is more interest to you is so what does determine the winners and losers and what do they do?

And so I want to share two things and they’re going to sound a little technology but everybody can say I’m a data business. All of us would say that.

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