IBM hands ASEAN reins to Singapore leader

Big Blue veteran also ​maintains current role as general manager of Singapore
Martin Chee (IBM)

Martin Chee (IBM)

IBM has appointed Martin Chee as general manager of ASEAN, extending responsibilities beyond Singapore to the wider region effective immediately.

As part of the move, the long-time Big Blue veteran will also maintain his current role as general manager of Singapore, holding the dual position from the vendor’s regional headquarters in the city-state. Chee replaces Patricia Yim who has been appointed to lead the vendor’s technology go-to-market strategy across Asia Pacific.

Reporting directly to Brenda Harvey as general manager of Asia Pacific at IBM, Chee is tasked with driving business growth at customer and partner levels across the region with a specific focus on hybrid cloud, artificial intelligence and digital transformation.

“ASEAN continues to advance with tenacity as it navigates the global health pandemic by leveraging on technology as a key lever to growth,” Harvey said. “Our clients recognise the power of open hybrid cloud and AI platforms to stay competitive and relevant.

“I am confident that Martin’s regional leadership experience, solid track record and passion for helping clients bring technology to life will serve him well in this expanded role. His strategic mindset will be invaluable in developing a diverse ecosystem of alliances in ASEAN.”

Drawing on more than two decades of regional experience, Chee started his career in the software division of IBM in 2001. During his tenure at Big Blue, Chee has held leadership positions in services, software and enterprise across Asia Pacific, having most recently served as regional vice president of Analytics.

As revealed by Channel Asia, IBM hopes this year will see it return to growth after its full-year results for 2020 revealed revenue contractions across several of its business segments, with the exception of cloud and cognitive software.

The IT services giant has been making a concerted push in cloud, and particularly hybrid cloud, as it works to shake off some of the weight of its legacy offerings, a number of which have seen reduced demand in recent years.

So, it comes as little surprise that IBM's cloud and cognitive software segment appears to be the one business segment in the company’s latest full-year financial results report to witness year-on-year growth in terms of revenue.

Total cloud revenue for the year came in at US$25.1 billion, up 19 per cent, while revenue from subsidiary Red Hat was up 18 percent — normalised for historical comparability. However, these gains were not enough to prevent overall revenue for the year to fall by nearly five per cent, year-on-year, coming in at $73.6 billion.

Gross profit for the year fell from $36.5 billion to $35.6 billion, year-on-year, while net income tumbled from $9.4 billion to $5.6 billion during the period.

It should be noted that IBM’s full-year results reflect transaction-related impacts associated with its $34 billion acquisition of open source software provider Red Hat, which closed in July 2019, resulting in an impact of a $2.04 billion pre-tax charge for structural actions in the fourth quarter.

IBM chairman and CEO Arvind Krishna, who was the company’s senior vice president for cloud and cognitive software before being named as its new CEO last year, unsurprisingly chose to focus on its gains in cloud, positioning the company’s expanding hybrid cloud business as its primary saving grace in the coming year.

“We made progress in 2020 growing our hybrid cloud platform as the foundation for our clients’ digital transformations while dealing with the broader uncertainty of the macro environment," he said. "The actions we are taking to focus on hybrid cloud and AI will take hold, giving us confidence we can achieve revenue growth in 2021.”