IBM made technology history when it introduced the IBM PC at its Boca Raton campus in 1981, which at its peak had about 9,600 employees.
Today, the tech giant has moved far away from PC sales, reduced its workforce in the state and refocused its business to stress expanding technologies such as big data, cloud services, mobile, social media and cognitive systems, which learn and interact with people, like IBM Watson.
IBM has six offices in Florida, including its main office for the Miami area in Coral Gables and a center in Boca Raton.
Staff at all these centers handle sales, marketing and support, as well as other functions. In Boca Raton, the company also has a team for developing software.
The IBM cloud services group in Boca Raton is developing cloud services to help IBM employees better leverage, automate and deploy the company’s internal communications on the cloud.
IBM does not release figures on its workforce at local or regional levels, but worldwide it had 379,592 employees at the end of last year, down from 431,212 a year earlier. It no longer publishes figures on its U.S. workforce in its annual reports.
Like many other high-tech companies, many employees at IBM now have virtual offices, working from home, while traveling to or from any place they happen to be. In addition, for specific projects, IBM imports specialists — either in person or virtually — from anywhere in its network.
IBM executives were not available to speak with the Herald for this article because the company was in a regulatory quiet period before reporting its quarterly earnings.
IBM is changing its business focus to generate new business from rapidly growing sectors like cloud services, big data, mobile, cognitive systems and other advanced IT systems and services.
The company has struggled in recent years. Corporate revenues in 2014 were $92.8 billion, down from nearly $99.8 billion in 2013, which in turn were off from 2012.
In 2013, 57 percent of IBM’s worldwide revenues came from services (including the new areas of focus), 26 percent from software, 14 percent from hardware and 3 percent from other areas. In the past, hardware was the core of IBM’s business.
IBM has a client portfolio in South Florida that includes businesses, government departments, universities and other organizations.
For example, IBM’s Intelligent Operations Center for Smarter Cities developed a system that allows Miami-Dade County to remotely monitor water consumption, detect leaks and share information throughout its sprawling park system. This network includes over 260 parks, Zoo Miami, beaches, marinas, golf courses and other sites covering 12,845 acres.
This IBM system allows for better water management, reduced consumption and hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings, according to IBM.
Another advanced IBM monitoring system is being used in Sun Life Stadium.
The Miami-Dade Police Department is employing an IBM predictive analytics system that allows police to spot new and unknown crime patterns that can help the department’s operations. The system uses information such as property stolen, time of day, weapon used and victim details to profile what kind of suspect typically commits a certain crime and to generate a suspect list.
In addition, Miami-based Southern Wine & Spirits is using an IBM wireless warehouse system.
The city of Fort Lauderdale is using an IBM advanced data and analytics tool, which uses Big Data, that will help the city deter crime and better deploy its resources, the company said.
IBM has a large group of active and retired employees in Florida, according to the company, and many participate in charitable and community affairs.
Nearly 60 percent of active IBM employees and 9 percent of retirees in the state are registered on the company’s On Demand Community volunteer site, and provided more than 620,000 volunteer hours over the last decade.
IBM employees pledged more than $880,000 to the annual charitable fund. There were 72 community grants last year for a total of $23,000 and other grants throughout the state totaled more than $220,000.
Joseph Mann Jr. can be reached at josephmannjr @gmail.com.
International Business Machines Corp.
Business: IBM, which started out selling machines for offices and businesses and later built and sold innovative computers that dominated world markets, still provides Florida businesses, government agencies and other organizations with hardware, software and IT services. But today the company is focusing on data, the hybrid cloud, mobile, social media, big data analytics and cognitive systems. Big Blue has struggled in recent years to maintain/grow revenues and profits and is investing heavily in new initiatives like cloud and mobile products lines. IBM offices in Coral Gables and Boca Raton handle sales, marketing and software development (in Boca).
Headquarters: Armonk, New York.
Founded: In 1911 in Endicott, New York, as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Co. (CTR).
Founder: Charles Flint. Thomas Watson joined CTR in 1914 and changed the name to IBM in 1924.
Chairman, president and CEO: Virginia Marie “Ginni” Rometty.
Miami area office: One Alhambra Plaza, Coral Gables, one of six IBM centers in Florida.
Florida management: Rick Qualman, vice president for IBM’s network and communications services in Florida, is the top company executive in the state. The Miami senior location executive is Humberto Freire.
Employees: 379,592 worldwide at year-end 2014, down from 431,212 a year earlier. IBM would not comment on the number of employees in Florida, and the company no longer reports on the size of its workforce in the U.S.
Ownership: Traded on the NYSE (Symbol: IBM).
Revenues: $92.8 billion in 2014. In 2013, 57 percent of IBM’s worldwide revenues came from services, 26 percent from software, 14 percent from hardware and 3 percent from other areas, including financial services.
Sources: IBM public documents, Internet sites, news reports and information from the IBM public relations office.