He came. He saw. And, standing on a stage dominated by his own likeness, he took a swipe at the legions of “e” companies that have taken the stock markets and popular imagination by storm.
Only this time the critic wasn’t a financial analyst – it was Lou Gerstner, no stranger to the intricacies of e-commerce and head of one of the world’s biggest and most influential companies: IBM Corp.
“There are predictions that these dot-com companies will redefine the role of Wall Street…and gobble up every other business in the world, ” Gerstner said. “[But] for every one of these meteors with an ‘e’ or a ‘dot’ in their name, there are 1,000 other companies [who can] re-invent who they are.”
Gerstner made the comments during his keynote address at Planet Tivoli, Tivoli Systems Inc.’s annual user conference, held last month in Nashville, Tenn.
Earlier that same morning, pop artist Danny Dent painted Gerstner’s likeness from memory on a large black canvas that loomed over the proceedings for the remainder of the day.
Gerstner also told the audience that the true power of e-commerce, or e-business as IBM has come to call it, is not the ability of new companies to sell directly over the Internet, but the ability for well-established companies to continue doing what they do, only better. And the way they will do that, he said, is by using tools from IBM-owned Tivoli.
“Management of IT assets have never been the sexy, high-profile part of software development, but it ‘s very important, now more than ever,” Gerstner said.
Management frameworks allow organizations to safely consolidate systems beyond the firewall and guarantee uptime in such a way as to make the inner workings of IT invisible to internal and external customers alike – as it should be, he added.
Gerstner also proclaimed the end of the client/server era, joked about the awkward cultural adjustment Tivoli employees had to make when first bought by IBM, and took shots at IBM’s hardware competitors – predicting that IBM and other select e-comm-centric vendors will emerge as the “new leaders” of the IT industry – and also at Tivoli’s rival, Computer Associates International Inc.
“[What’s] most important to me is that Tivoli continues to take share away from its chief competitor,” he said. “For us, the decision to bring Tivoli into our software platform was a statement that we were committed to becoming a high-end software company.”