International Business Machines (IBM) is a global technology and innovation company based in Armonk, New York. It is the largest technology and consulting employer in the world, with more than 500,000 employees serving clients in 170 countries.
IBM’s business spans the entire tech industry – from networking and servers to software and security; from blockchain to quantum computing. IBM has played a central role in the technology industry for more than 100 years.
In 2017 IBM’s revenue totaled 326.8 billion US dollars (approximately 287 billion euros). Currently, the company focuses on six key areas: cognitive business, cloud computing, data and analytics, engagement platforms, innovation platform (including Watson), and security.
Inventions such as the automated teller machine (ATM) and the floppy disk were invented by IBM employees. It is also known for its company culture of valuing smart risk taking and collaboration over individualism.
The company invests heavily in research and development, investing more than US$8.1bn in 2014 alone.
The company is widely recognised as the major player of the four that developed and popularised mainframe computers, which were first introduced in 1952. IBM released its first personal computer, called simply PC, in 1981. They also led development of the application software and introduced the hard disk drive as storage device in 1973.
IBM has continually shifted business operations aimed at focusing on higher-value, more profitable markets. This includes spinning off printer manufacturer Lexmark in 1991 and the sale of personal computer (ThinkPad/ThinkCentre) and x86-based server businesses to Lenovo (in 2005 and 2014, respectively), and acquiring companies such as PwC Consulting (2002), SPSS (2009), The Weather Company (2016), and Red Hat (2019). In 2015, IBM announced that it would go “fabless”, continuing to design semiconductors, but offloading manufacturing to GlobalFoundries, and in 2020, the company announced the spin-off of the Managed Infrastructure Services unit of its Global Technology Services division.
In 2012, IBM’s brand was valued at $75.5 billion and ranked by Interbrand as the third-best brand worldwide.