IBM in Africa: ‘We intend to grow rapidly’

IBM President and CEO Ginni Rometty (left) met with His Excellency Honorable Mwai Kibaki, President of Kenya, to commemorate the announcement of IBM’s first research lab in Africa, Monday, August 13, 2012.  Honorable Mwai Kibaki was President of Kenya through April 2013.

IBM President and CEO Ginni Rometty (left) met with His Excellency Honorable Mwai Kibaki, President of Kenya, to commemorate the announcement of IBM’s first research lab in Africa, Monday, August 13, 2012. Honorable Mwai Kibaki was President of Kenya through April 2013.

A year ago this month, IBM opened its 12th research lab in Nairobi, Kenya. This signals ongoing business and philanthropic commitment to the continent, according to Tim Docking, who leads the company’s Emerging Market Funding group.

“People should see that as a sign of our intention to not only invest in new ideas and innovation, but to also develop local ideas to solve local problems,” said Docking, adding that IBM’s business goals in Africa are “robust”. IBM CEO Ginni Rometty recently visited the continent, where IBM has offices in 20 different countries. Learn more about IBM in Africa (by Andrea Useem, devex.com)

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- Posted by Regan Kelly and Julie Yamamoto

IBM Chairman: Indian Cities Must Get Smarter to Tackle Urbanization

Sam Palmisano, IBM Chairman, says leaders will need to gain support for their ideas and concepts, and be persuasive

(from Information Week)

Cities are a critical component of driving the economy. But rapid urbanization around the world is already putting immense pressure on the limited resources available in the world’s cities. And countries like India and China are at the forefront of urbanization — India already has 12 of the world’s 100 largest cities.

Crowded street in Bangalore

Crowded street in Bangalore, India

It took nearly 40 years for the urban population in India to reach 230 million. Studies reveal it will take only half that time to reach the next 250 million. In the next 20 years around 30 Indians will migrate from a rural area to a city every minute. At that growth rate the population of Mumbai will be bigger than that of Canada by 2030. And the Delhi/NCR region will have a GDP bigger than Portugal. With more people choosing to live in cities, India will need 500 new cities in the next 20 years.

At the IBM Smarter Cities forum in New Delhi on September 13, a gathering of city planners, government policy makers, politicians, city architects, technologists, and researchers the consensus was that, even the best technology in the world cannot address the challenges induced by rapid urbanization. Delivering the keynote, IBM’s Chairman, Samuel J. Palmisano said it was really “a leadership issue” and that collaboration was essential. He suggested our leaders “should be systems thinkers, take a long-term view,” and have persuasive skills. And they “shouldn’t confuse leadership with charisma or the sound bite on TV.”

“If (leaders) are going to manage in the long term, they will need to build organizational support for their concepts and ideas. And you can only do that in a collaborative environment, with good team work and spirit. And you can’t dictate it and will it — you have to persuade people (to accept your ideas),” said Palmisano.

He said the problems (due to urbanization) are too severe for our leaders to manage. Yet there were changes happening in cities elsewhere in the world. Palmisano alluded to fresh water systems in Saudi Arabia, waste management systems (recology) in the San Francisco, a public safety crime center in Davao (Philippines), and an end-to-end command center in Rio de Janeiro to monitor all aspects of the city. IBM is also engaged with 3,000 smarter city projects around the world.

“Leaders who are managing these cities are non-ideological. They get things done. They have to solve the problems and make things better. And that’s what you see leaders in urban centers doing. These leaders think in terms of systems. Power generation, water management, transportation, health care and public safety are systems. A city is a system of systems that are interconnected. A great example is Rio de Janeiro. And they take a long-term orientation because you can do this in one election cycle. These are sophisticated projects.”

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Tech Workers: Top US Cities for Tech Jobs

by Joel Kotkin, Forbes.com

Without question, the west side of San Francisco Bay is by far the most prodigious creator of hot companies and has the highest proportion of tech jobs of any region in the country — more than four times the national average. Yet Silicon Valley is far from leading the way in expanding science and technology-related employment in the United States.

See the full list

San Diego skyline

Skyline of San Diego, one of the cities to make the list

To determine which metropolitan areas are adding the most tech-related jobs, my colleague Mark Schill at Praxis Strategy Group developed a ranking system for Forbes that measures employment growth in the sectors most identified with the high-tech economy (including software, data processing and Internet publishing), as well as growth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related (STEM) jobs across all sectors. The latter category captures tech employment growth that is increasingly taking place not just in software or electronics firms, but in any industry that needs science and technology workers, from manufacturing to business services to finance. We tallied tech sector and STEM job growth over the past two years and over the past decade for the 51 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the United States. We also factored in the concentration of STEM and tech jobs in those MSAs. (For a full rundown of our methodology, click here.)

Anyone who has followed tech over the past 30 years or more understands the cyclical nature of this industry — overheated claims of a “tech-driven jobs boom” often are followed by a painful bust. This is particularly true for Silicon Valley. The remarkable confluence of engineering prowess, marketing savvy and, perhaps most critically, access to startup capital may have created the greatest gold rush of our epoch, but the Valley at the end of 2011 employed 170,000 fewer people than in 2000.

Most of the job losses came in manufacturing, and business and financial services, sectors with a significant number of STEM workers. Even though the current boom has sparked an impressive 8% expansion in the number of tech jobs in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metropolitan statistical area over the past two years, and 10% over the past decade, the area still has 12.6% fewer STEM jobs than in 2001. Overall, the recent growth and concentration of tech and STEM jobs remains good enough for the San Jose metro area to take seventh place in our ranking of the Best Cities For Tech Jobs. Next-door neighbor San Francisco, ranked 13th, has enjoyed similar tech and STEM growth over the past two years, but over 2001-2011, its total STEM employment inched up only a modest 0.8%.

The Established Winners

So which areas offer better long-term, broad-based prospects for tech growth? The most consistent performer over the period we assessed is the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash., metro area, which takes first place on our list. Its 12% tech job growth over the past two years and 7.6% STEM growth beat the Valley’s numbers. More important for potential job-seekers, the Puget Sound regions has grown consistently in good times and bad, boasting a remarkable 43% increase in tech employment over the decade and an 18% expansion in STEM jobs. Seattle withstood both recessions of the past decade better than most regions, particularly the Valley. The presence of such solid tech-oriented companies as Microsoft, Amazon and Boeing — and lower housing costs than the Bay Area — may have much to do with this.

Our top five includes two government-dominated regions: the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria MSA places second with 20.6% growth in tech employment since 2001 and 20.8% growth in STEM jobs; and Baltimore-Towson, Md., places fifth with 38.8% growth in tech jobs in the same period and 17.2% growth in STEM. Over the past two years, their tech growth has been a steady, if not spectacular 4%. One key to the stability may be the broadness of the tech economy in the greater D.C. area; as the Valley has become dominated by trends in web fashion, the Washington tech complex boasts substantial employment in such fields as computer systems design, custom programming and private-sector research and development.

Diversity in tech may also explain the success of other tech hotspots around the country. No. 3 San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, Calif., has ridden growth in such fields as biotechnology and other life and physical sciences research. Over the past decade, tech employment has grown by almost 30% and STEM jobs by 13% in this idyllic Southern California region, and over the past two years, by 15.7% and 6.5%, respectively. Like San Diego, No. 11 Boston is also a well-established tech star, enjoying 11.3% tech growth over the last decade and nearly 10% over the past two years, with a diversified portfolio that includes strong concentrations in biotechnology, software publishing and Internet publishing. STEM employment, however, has remained flat over the past 10 years though.

New Tech Hotspots

Which areas are the likely “up and comers” in the next decade? These are generally places that have been building up their tech capacity over the past several decades, and seem to be reaching critical mass. One place following a strong trajectory is Salt Lake City, No. 4 on our list, which has enjoyed a 31% spurt in tech employment over the past 10 years. Some of this can be traced to large-scale expansion in the area by top Silicon Valley companies such as Adobe, Electronic Arts and Twitter.

These companies have flocked to Utah for reasons such as lower taxes, a more flexible regulatory environment, a well-educated, multilingual workforce and spectacular nearby natural amenities. Perhaps most critical of all may be housing prices: Three-quarters of Salt Lake area households can afford a median-priced house, compared to 45% in Silicon Valley and about half that in San Francisco.

Several other top players with above average shares of tech jobs are emerging as powerful alternatives to Silicon Valley. Like Salt Lake City, eighth-place Columbus, Ohio, boasts above-average proportions of tech and STEM jobs in the local economy, and benefits from being both affordable and business friendly. The Ohio state capital has enjoyed 31% growth in tech jobs over the past decade and 9.5% in the past two years. Raleigh-Cary, N.C., ranked ninth, is another relatively low-cost, low-hassle winner, expanding its tech employment a remarkable 32.3% in the past decade and STEM jobs 15%.

Possible Upstarts

Several places with historically negligible tech presences have broken into our top 10. One is No. 6 Jacksonville, Fla., which has enjoyed a 72.4% surge in tech employment and 17.4% STEM job growth since 2001, mostly as a result of a boom early in the decade in data centers, computer facilities management, custom programming and systems design. Another surprising hotspot: No. 10 Nashville, Tenn., where growth in data processing and systems design fueled tech industry growth of 43% along with 18.5% STEM employment growth over the past decade.

Who’s Losing Ground

Some mega-regions with established tech centers have been falling behind, notably No. 47 St. Louis, No. 45 Chicago, No. 41 Philadelphia and No. 39 Los Angeles. These areas still boast strong concentrations of STEM-based employment and prominent high-tech companies, but have suffered losses in fields such as aerospace and telecommunications. Remarkably despite the social media boom, the country’s two dominant media centers — L.A. and No. 33 New York — have also performed poorly enough that their STEM and tech concentrations have fallen to roughly the national average.

Valley Uber Alles?

Silicon Valley may be churning out millionaires like burritos at a Mexican restaurant, but looking into the future, one has to wonder if its dominance will diminish. Limited developable land, an extremely difficult planning environment, high income taxes and impossibly stratospheric housing costs may lead more companies and people to relocate elsewhere, particularly if the big paydays needed to make ends meet wind down. Mark Zuckerberg and company can bask in their big IPO this week, but the Valley may soon need to consider what it must do to compete with the many other regions that are inexorably catching up with it.

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Would you consider moving to a new city for the right job?