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Research in Development (08 Apr 2005)
But while Horn is proud of IBM’s achievements, he believes that the company needs to change the way it thinks about research, for the simple reason that its product mix keeps shifting toward the ethereal. That started with software. Once seen as a mere hardware accessory, software grew in importance after the 1956 consent decree between IBM and the U.S. government, which created the market for packaged software. For decades thereafter, IBM sold more software than any other company (in 2004, its software sales totaled $15 billion, about 16 percent of its revenues). But although software can’t be taken apart on a lab bench, the role that R&D can play in its development has always been clear to researchers at IBM. Computer languages, the relational database, middleware, security software—they all met obvious operational needs. But IBM’s most recent category of product—services—has more than a few of its engi­neers scratching their heads.
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