Sam Palmisano had a great run as CEO of IBM from the start of 2003 to the end of 2011. His exit was well-timed, too. Business tech spending now is in a stall, and Palmisano’s successor Ginni Rometty has had to deal with seven straight quarters of revenue decline. Palmisano says that IBM saw a total productivity gain of $6 billion from 2006 to 2010 by doing things like globalizing support services and the supply chain, freeing up local managers to focus on sales and relationships. IBM outgrew growth markets such as China and India at twice the rate of the tech industry.
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