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The Revolutionaries at IBM

The Revolutionaries at IBM

Nov. 26, 2000
The following is an excerpt from “Leading the Revolution” by Gary Hamel, published by Harvard Business School Press, 2000-11-26.


At the beginning of the 1990s, IBM was widely considered to be on the decline. In 1998, IBM became the world’s leading supplier of e-business services. This turnaround can largely be put down to the action of two people: David Grossman and John Patrick. As a programmer with IBM, David Grossman became interested, in a personal capacity, in the very first developments of the Internet.
During the Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer in 1994, he discovered that despite being the main sponsor and provider of official data, IBM’s logo did not even appear on the Games website. This bothered him so much that he took a Unix works- tation and went to the IBM headquarters where he improvised a demonstration on the Internet. Among the three people present at this demonstration was John Patrick, at the time involved in defining the company’s strategy, who very quickly saw the potential hidden in the Internet, then in its infancy, and hired Grossman. The two men made a formidable pair: Grossman took care of technical matters, while Patrick was the link with higher management.
Together, they built up a team of colleagues and set up the first IBM Intranet and then the first official site on the Web. At the time, many people doubted that there was any money to be made with this kind of venture, and yet in 1996, it was IBM which was responsible for the website of the Summer Olympics. From demonstrations to applications,these two pioneers played an essential role in IBM’s progression towards e-business.