Over the last few years, GE has done a masterful job selling at the head-of-state level to emerging economies - bundles of complex systems and projects covering power plants, aircraft engines, their maintenance and other large infrastructure items. It has helped generate tens of billions in export dollars.
Sounds like IBM is gearing up to do something similar in the technology market around the world. As the prime contractor on "smart infrastructure projects around the world, from a traffic management network in Stockholm to electric grids in Texas."
Clearly it has the resources and gravitas to compete for such large projects. But can it continually innovate its product lines, compete ruthlessly on cost where it needs to, adopt a quality and continuous improvement mindset (like GE has with its Six Sigma culture)? While I have confidence in its hardware and engineering disciplines and in its global sales organization, I am not convinced its software and outsourcing units - the bulk of the company today - can consistently compete or deliver at that level. So, it may end up becoming a general contractor with everyone else providing the bulk of the value.
I hope I am wrong - because I would love to see IBM do well for our the sake of our trade balance.