Last year, Jack Ma said in an interview with Charlie Rose that the biggest business opportunities (in China) would be those fixing China’s problems, and if you have been following IBM in china they are clearly showing an interest.
going back 3 years ago, IBM began working with the city of Shenyang to monitor the city water supply, with the expectation that following the one year monitoring process, IBM would assist in developing solutions to improve the city’s water distribution system. A big project, and one with solutions that could be rolled out to a large area of China. Including the capital city itself.
More recently though, IBM has been working on food safety, and recently launched a program with Shandong province to try out a new pork traceability program. Again, a program whose applications could be used by many in China. Particularity in Sichuan province, China’s largest producer and consumer of pork.
Where both of these projects are interesting to me, and should be to others, is that these are projects where a firm (IBM) has seen a business model in fixing the problems the world faces. It is not just about appearing to be a “good” company, or a company that cares, but there is an economic model that underlies the efforts and a business is built around the product.
Much like GE’s Ecomagination portfolio, but in many ways, the Smarter Planet portfolio looks to be one that has far wider application, scalability, and ultimately… impact.