Communications have played a major role in my work over the past few decades. During this period, I was involved in organizing emerging business opportunities at IBM, including the Internet and Linux. Since retiring from IBM in 2007, I’ve continued my involvement with technology-based initiatives, - AI and blockchain most recently, - through my consulting and academic activities as well as the weekly blogs that I’ve now been writing for the past dozen years.
Over the years I’ve learned that when trying to explain a complex new concept or product, it’s important to engage in a kind-of conversation with your intended audience, where you talk about what's in your mind, your questions, your doubts, what you know and what you don't know. In short, you’re telling a story about the concept, product or brand you’re trying to explain.
While storytelling is mostly associated with entertainment, education and culture, it also plays a major role in business. Storytelling is widely used in the development of brands for products as well as companies. And, the more powerful, important and complex the brand messages you are trying to convey, the more important it is that you do so by telling a compelling but simple, - i.e., understandable, - story.
Good storytelling is particularly important when introducing a complex and potentially disruptive offering in the marketplace whose value is not well understood. It’s a natural way of explaining what the new innovation is all about. As a concrete example, let me share my experiences with the development of IBM’s Internet and e-business strategy in the mid-late 1990s.