《经济学人》:百年IBM:时间的考验
日期:2011-06-14 10:55

(单词翻译:单击)

IBM's centenary
百年IBM

The test of time
时间的考验

Which of today’s technology giants might still be standing tall a century after their founding?
今天的科技巨头,哪一个也能在它成立后仍续领风骚一百年?

Jun 9th 2011 | from the print edition

IT IS not, by any means, the world’s oldest company. There are Japanese hotels dating back to the 8th century, German breweries that hail from the 11th and an Italian bank with roots in the 15th. What is unusual about IBM, which celebrates its 100th birthday next week, is that it has been so successful for so long in the fast-moving field of technology. How has it done it?
它绝对不是是世界上历史最悠久的公司。日本酒店可追溯到8世纪,德国啤酒厂的诞生于11世纪,而意大利银行起源于15世纪。下周庆祝它的100岁生日的IBM公司与众不同的是,它长久以来在日新月异的技术领域的已经获得如此成功。 它是怎样做到的呢?

IBM’s secret is that it is built around an idea that transcends any particular product or technology. Its strategy is to package technology for use by businesses. At first this meant making punch-card tabulators, but IBM moved on to magnetic-tape systems, mainframes, PCs, and most recently services and consulting. Building a company around an idea, rather than a specific technology, makes it easier to adapt when industry “platform shifts” occur (see article).
IBM公司的秘诀在于它围绕着“超越任何具体产品和技术”的宗旨。它的战略就是打包技术供企业使用。起初,它那战略意味着制造卡片穿孔机,但IBM(最后)转向磁带系统、大型电脑、个人电脑、以及最近的咨询与服务。公司围绕着这宗旨,而不是具体的技术,这样使它更容易地适应产业“平台转变”。

True, IBM’s longevity is also due, in part, to dumb luck. It almost came unstuck early on because its bosses were hesitant to abandon punch cards. And it had a near-death experience in 1993 before Lou Gerstner realised that the best way to package technology for use by businesses was to focus on services. An elegant organising idea is no use if a company cannot come up with good products or services, or if it has clueless bosses. But on the basis of this simple formula—that a company should focus on an idea, rather than a technology—which of today’s young tech giants look best placed to live to 100?
的确,IBM的长寿也可部分地归因于得来全不费工夫的好运气。在早期,它差不多就要倒闭,因为它的老板在放弃卡片穿孔机事宜上犹疑不决。而它在1993年一度濒临倒闭,直到郭士纳(Lou Gerstner)意识到打包技术供企业使用的最好的方法是把重点放在服务上。一流的组织宗旨是没有用的,如果公司不能把它转化为好的产品或服务,或者如果公司老板无能的话。但是基于这简单的准则——一个公司应该专注于某一个想法,而不是某一种技术——而今的年轻科技巨头中,哪一个看起来最像能活到100?

The most obvious example is Apple (founded in 1976). Like IBM, it had a near-death experience in the 1990s, and it is dangerously dependent on its founder, Steve Jobs. But it has a powerful organising idea: take the latest technology, package it in a simple, elegant form and sell it at a premium price. Apple has done this with personal computers, music players, smartphones and tablet computers, and is now moving into cloud-based services (see article). Each time it has grabbed an existing technology and produced an easier-to-use and prettier version than anyone else. This approach can be applied to whatever technology is flavour of the month: Apple has already shifted from PCs to mobile devices.
最显而易见的例子是苹果公司(成立于1976年)。与IBM一样,在20世纪90年代,它也一度濒临死亡,而它严重依赖于它的创始人斯蒂芬??乔布斯(Steve Jobs)。但它拥有一个强大的组织宗旨:把最新的技术整合成一个简单易用的、漂亮的外形而高价卖出。苹果公司已经在个人电脑,音乐播放器,智能手机和平板电脑上兑现这一宗旨,而现在转向到云为基础的服务(见文章)。每每苹果公司都整合现有技术去生产一种比其他公司生产的更容易使用和更完美的版本。这种方法可以适用于时下走红的任何技术:苹果已经从PC转向移动设备。

The animating idea of Amazon (founded in 1994) is to make it easy for people to buy stuff. It began by doing this for books, but has since applied the same idea to other products: music, groceries, mobile apps, even computing power and storage, which it sells on tap. The Kindle may resemble an e-reader, but it is just as much a portable bookstore. As new things come along, Amazon will make it easy for you to buy them. Similarly, the aim of Facebook (2004) is to help people share stuff with friends easily. This idea can be extended to almost anything on almost any platform.
亚马逊公司(1994年创立)的富有生气的想法是让人们更容易地买到东西。它开始在图书上兑现这想法,但后来已经把同样的想法应用到其他产品:音乐,杂货,移动应用程序,甚至可随时随地销售的运算能力和存储。Kindle电子书貌似一个电子阅读器,但它更像一家可携带的书店。当新事物出现时,亚马逊将让你很容易地买商品。同样,Facebook(2004)的目的,是帮助人们轻松地与朋友分享的东西。这种思想可以扩展到几乎任何平台上的几乎所有东西。

Consider, by contrast, three product-based firms. Dell (founded in 1984) made its name building PCs more efficiently than anyone else and selling them direct to consumers. That model does not neatly transfer to other products. Cisco Systems (also 1984) makes internet routers. It has diversified into other areas, such as videoconferencing, but chiefly because it thought this would increase demand for routers. Microsoft (1975) is hugely dependent on Windows, which is its answer to everything. But software for a PC may not be the best choice to run inside a phone or a car. All these firms are wedded to specific products, not deeper philosophies, and are having trouble navigating technological shifts.
相比之下,联想到三家以产品为基础的公司。戴尔(成立于1984年)以组装电脑比别人高效和直接出售给消费者著称。这种模式没有灵活地应用到其他产品上。 思科系统公司(也成立于1984年)制造互联网路由器。它应经使产品多元化到其他领域,如视频会议,但主要是因为它认为这会增加路由器的需求。微软(1975)是非常依赖于Windows系统,这是它对一切问题的答案。但是,电脑软件未必是运行在电话或汽车的最佳选择。这些公司都执着于特定产品,而不是更深刻的见解,因而难以在日新月异的技术变换的大海上平稳航行。

Other giants are still struggling to move beyond their core technologies. Oracle (1977) was originally a database company, which peddled databases as the answer to all its clients’ problems. But in the past decade it has moved into other corporate software, and hardware too. Now it aims to provide entire computing systems. Google (1998) knows the importance of an idea. “Organising the world’s information and making it universally accessible” is its motto, and it is putting that into practice on mobile devices through its Android software, which is spreading fast. But Google is still heavily dependent on a single product—internet search and related advertising.
其他巨头仍在努力拓展自己的核心技术。甲骨文公司(1977)最初是一个数据库公司,该公司把数据库推销为其所有客户的问题的答案。但在过去十年中它已经转向其他的企业软件和硬件领域。现在,它的目标是提供整个计算机系统。谷歌(1998)认识到宗旨的重要性。“统筹全球信息,让信息随处可及”是它的座右铭,而且它通过其Android系统在移动设备上将其座右铭付诸实践,它的Android系统正在迅速地传播开来。但是,谷歌仍然严重依赖单一产品——搜索引擎和相关的广告。

Good to be elegant, better to be old
姿态优雅固然好, 命活得长尤其佳

The upshot: Apple, Amazon and Facebook look like good long-term bets. Dell, Cisco and Microsoft do not. The jury is out on Oracle and Google. See you in 2111—provided, that is, that The Economist (founded in 1843, with the idea of explaining the world to its readers) is still around too.
其结论是:苹果、亚马逊和Facebook看起来像是优良的长期下注对象。而戴尔、思科和微软不是。在甲骨文和谷歌上,最后结论还有待分晓。与您相约2111(在经济学人上再见) ——也就是,假如说 经济学人(成立于1843年,以“为读者阐述世界”为宗旨)那时还在世上。

分享到
重点单词
  • resemblevt. 相似,类似,像
  • juryn. 陪审团,评委会 adj. 临时用的 vt. 挑选
  • adaptvt. 使适应,改编 vi. 适应,适合
  • accessibleadj. 可得到的,易接近的,可进入的
  • approachn. 接近; 途径,方法 v. 靠近,接近,动手处理
  • relatedadj. 相关的,有亲属关系的
  • dependentadj. 依靠的,依赖的,从属的 n. 受援助者
  • strategyn. 战略,策略
  • hesitantadj. 迟疑的,犹豫不定的
  • abandonv. 放弃,遗弃,沉溺 n. 放纵