This morning, IBM is celebrating it's centennial -- one hundred years in the technology business. It happens to basically coincide with my own 17th anniversary, although technically as far as actually being an IBMer, that started a year after I joined Lotus. So for fair math let's say I've been part of IBM for 16% of its lifespan, which is way more than the two years I thought I would spend at Lotus before moving on to a new opportunity.

Much will be written this week about IBM turning 100. It is hard for many to believe that our industry spans a century. In this video, released earlier in 2011, IBM highlights the ten decades of progress towards a "smarter planet":

Like many Lotus Notes customers and partners, my journey to "I'm an IBMer" wasn't always a proactive one. Though I dreamed in college of becoming an IBMer, my initial experiences with the company as a potential college recruit did not lead to an IBM affinity. When IBM acquired Lotus, as I've talked about at previous anniversaries, I wasn't always a willing change agent. By my 10th anniversary, though, I acknowledged the change for better:

It's different, sure, but despite the protestations of some ex-Loti who say that IBM ruined everything, I think becoming a truly integrated part of IBM instilled some needed discipline into the organization.

Today, after more years and more reflection, some basic tenets are true. "Lotus" would have been long gone if it were not for IBM, and the Notes business today is bigger than it ever was with Lotus as a separate entity (either stand-alone company or as an IBM subsidiary). While IBM is a complex organization with many separate, disparate moving parts, the strength of being able to provide a total solution to IBM clients is our biggest competitive advantage.

I was at a customer a few weeks ago where we were brought together through a bumpy path of history intersecting with the future. While I try not to blog about customer specifics, what I took away from that meeting was pride, pride that we had assembled the best of team IBM -- software, cloud, services -- to propose the right total solution for the client. The response was positive, with the customer recognizing that "team IBM" could provide that top-to-bottom approach. When we do that -- when we can bring in the best of our own technology, expertise, and the partner ecosystem -- we win and our clients win. That's extremely powerful.

IBMers are undertaking many activities to celebrate the company's centennial this week. Last month, I participated in a volunteer activity in honor of IBM's worldwide celebration of service.

Image:IBM turns 100, reflecting on my 16%
To date, more than 2.4 million hours of volunteer service have been pledged by IBMers, retirees, and IBM community members to make ours a smarter planet. I don't think I'll get to the 100 hour top tier volunteer contribution level for the year, but I have already done student mentoring of an MBA class and a writer's workshop at an elementary school. I'm proud to bring the expertise that I've learned in my IBM tenure to the community, and I know that my friends and colleagues within IBM are feeling and doing the same.

On my nightstand sits one more component of this IBM Centennial, a copy of the book Making the World Work Better. I might have preferred it as a Kindle download, but I'm excited about the content. These writers have been around IBM for a long time, and they take a really broad bruch view of what we stand for and why we're here. I encourage you to check it out.

To my IBM colleagues -- thank you for your service and for building our collective success. Here's to the next 100 years!

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