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April 17th, 2008
Kelly, a PhD in materials engineering himself, decided the company needed to realign its research agenda, balancing very long-term projects (up to 20 years) with short-term ones (a year or two) and very large projects with smaller ones. And he honed the company's approach, whittling away the number of focal points for his research teams. At the beginning of 2008, he placed four big bets. Over the next few years, IBM will channel more than $100 million into just four areas, from working on core nanotechnology to developing business processes for companies struggling with the massive amounts of data necessary to operate in the modern world.
Kelly also realized that globalizing research was not about building more large brick-and-mortar labs. He wanted more agile, in-market research so he invented "collaboratories," centers that draw on the existing resources of universities, companies, and countries to tackle certain industry-specific problems. For example, instead of tackling transportation issues in the U.S., where the infrastructure is in line with growth, IBM will focus on a country, city, and area where road traffic is a primary problem, such as Mumbai.
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