IBM study: A less complex business future

IBM study

We occupy a world that is connected on multiple dimensions, and at a deep level—a global system of systems. That means, among other things, that it is subject to systems-level failures, which require systems-level thinking about the effectiveness of its physical and digital infrastructures.

So begins IBM's recent report on a recent study of more than 1,500 chief executive officers from all over the world. The message, conveyed by IBM CEO Samuel J. Palmisano, sets the tone for 70 pages of data, experience and analysis that ultimately delivers a pattern emerging in worldwide business: The need to reinvent management and abandon old management styles, hold customers in a higher regard than companies ever considered before, and adopting a "fast and flexible" mindset to manage complexity.

The "systems-level thinking" sounds a lot like enterprise crowdsourcing at first, and is even approached in the same way. But the conclusions IBM drew from the study largely result in the same lesson: Simplify, Simplify, Simplify. This was repeated by the CEOs it interviewed - they sought to streamline interactions with customers, supply chains, and partners (See how Goodyear already does this). According to the study:

CEOs weren’t advocating stripping their operating structure or product lines of all complexity. Rather, they were focused on optimizing their operating models for specific objectives. For many, the primary purpose is the speed and flexibility to go after new revenue sources. For others, it is to get closer to customers by creating better customer experiences.

Effective idea management helps achieve this - Chubb just recently used its "speed and flexibility to go after new revenue sources" to develop a new product that will help life sciences companies deliver life-saving products to market faster. The online system, called Chubb WORLDcert, simplifies the process for obtaining clinical trial liability insurance documents around the world.

While the IBM study largely looked to the future of the globally integrated business landscape, there are plenty of companies living there already. And the invitation to join them is wide open - it just takes the right guide to get you there.

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