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IBM chief eyes new business in India

May 03, 2003 17:25 IST

Within five months of taking over as chairman of the world's largest IT firm, IBM chief executive officer Samuel J Palmisano is visiting India for three days beginning May 5, with his first halt in Bangalore, where its Indian subsidiary is headquartered.

Though IBM India officials are tight-lipped about Palmisano's itinerary for security reasons, it is certain that the CEO will be exploring new business prospects in a series of meetings with ministers, government officials and corporate executives in Bangalore and Delhi.

In Delhi, on May 7, Palmisano will call on Union Minister for Information and Communications Technology Arun Shourie and other top IT officials.

IBM sources told on Saturday that Palmisano (51) would take up in his meetings the extensive use of converging technologies in e-governance, public utilities and businesses for reducing the cost of ownership and enhancing productivity.

"With domain expertise straddling from products to services on multiple platforms, IBM is best suited to provide its end-to-end solutions for increasing use of technology by all stakeholders across the country.

"Our endeavor will also be to make Indian businesses and public organisations move up the value chain with new initiatives. Capitalising on the cost-effective human capital, the $81-billion IBM plans to step up its outsourcing from India, including product development and R&D," sources stated.

During his two-day stay in the hi-tech capital of India, Palmisano will be meeting Karnataka's IT-savvy chief minister S M Krishna and top state officials in a bid to prevail upon them on the benefits of using IBM technology, including products and services.

"The state government is looking forward for an active role by IBM in taking IT to the masses with its computers, tools, training, and funds in our education and research projects," a state official disclosed.

Apart from an exclusive session with IBM India top management, Palmisano will be addressing its 2,500-odd employees and interact with group leaders or heads of project teams.

"One-to-one meetings have also been scheduled on May 6 with corporate leaders, including many from the IT industry. IBM officials declined to confirm whether Palmisano would be visiting Infosys and Wipro campuses located on the outskirts of Bangalore.

Both the Indian software majors partner with IBM for product development and project implementation. According to a Wipro official, with its chairman Azim Premji and CEO Vivek Paul out of country, top executives from Wipro Infotech would call on Palmisano.

An Infosys spokesperson said the company was yet to get intimation from the IBM office about Palmisano's visit to its campus. Though its chairman and chief mentor N R Narayana Murthy is out of the country, CEO Nandan Nilekani is in station.

An IBM veteran with over three decades of association, Palmisano succeeded Louis Gerstner after he was elected chairman of the IBM board in October last. He has been the CEO since March 2002.

Under Palmisano's leadership, the top Fortune 500 company embarked on an acquisition spree in the recent past, which includes PriceWaterhouse Coopers' consulting firm among others.

Being instrumental in making IBM adopt the Linux operating system, Palmisano aggressively promoted open-ended architecture and the company's unified eServer family to retain its pre-eminent position in IT.
Fakir Chand in Bangalore