When Rogerio Oliveira strolls through the vast IBM (IBM) service delivery center in Hortolandia, Brazil, the contrast between the old and new IBM is stark. What was once a factory for mainframes is now crowded with hundreds of Brazilians on a different sort of assembly line. Their output is information, and they sit in rows of cubicles that stretch the length of a football field under a soaring, metal-trussed roof. A few years ago, the factory work performed here was just for Brazilian customers. Today, 100 clients for the facility’s services, which range from software programming to financial accounting, come from 40 countries, including Canada, Mexico, South Africa, and the U.S.
Oliveira, a 35-year IBM veteran and general manager for Latin America, stands at the heart of IBM’s effort to transform itself into what it calls a “globally integrated enterprise.” IBM has talked about its new global vision for two years. But only recently have managers like Oliveira turned that vision into a practical and solidly profitable business.