IBM chief talks integration, open standards

IBM Corp.'s new chief Sam Palmisano avoided discussing financial figures and instead talked strategy in his first analyst meeting since becoming chief executive officer in March.

Palmisano Wednesday addressed an audience of financial analysts in New York and said he had no new financial updates to share since the company's first-quarter earnings call last month.

Palmisano also declined to comment on possible workforce reductions, other than to say that analysts will be hearing more from IBM about how it plans to address productivity issues in certain businesses. Rumors that IBM plans to lay off up to 8,000 workers, or about 2.5 percent of its global workforce, circulated heavily last week.

Instead, the executive focused on IBM's intention to seize opportunities even in today's depressed economic climate.

"It's no great surprise that this is a difficult global economic environment," Palmisano said. But IBM is grabbing market share from its competitors in key areas, he said, citing gains in database, storage, and application server markets. "When we come out of this we'll be participating in different industries than when we went into it," he added.

Palmisano also stressed the importance of integration to today's businesses. "The network era is all about integration," Palmisano said. Companies understand that they need an integrated approach to drive productivity, and they are looking for ways to drive end-to-end integration among front- and back-end business applications, he said.

Commitment to open standards, too, is important, Palmisano said. "People don't want to be tied into any form of proprietary standard."He said proprietary standards are too expensive and they slow down a company.

Palmisano's address also was broadcast over the Web.

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