Sony CEO Stringer: Company changing, plugs tablet

Sony CEO Stringer said that the company is making progress transforming, but is battling a "rowboat mentality."

Sony CEO Howard Stringer his company "tried very hard to digitize," but missed multiple innovation curves because it was "too comfortable with the way things were."

Stringer's talk at the IBM Think conference in New York shed light on Sony's history and how the CEO---who is always quick with a quip---manages.

Proof that Sony is set for the digital age?

While IBM CEO Sam Palmisano preached optimism and having a long-term vision, Stringer noted that you need to solve short term problems first.

If you extrapolate Stringer's comments---I'll take the liberty of doing so---Sony is a company that has a vision statement, but is still pushing a cultural boulder up a hill. Short-term issues whether it's battling Apple, deriving music revenue in the digital age, creating an e-reader that sells or creating a hit movie can occupy leaders for a while.

Speaking broadly about the state of affairs in Western economies, Stringer noted that the short term matters.

"Don't get confused with the long-term vision unless it solves short-term problems. And the short-term problems are terrifying people," said Stringer. Referring to Palmisano's argument that data is an opportunity for fact-based optimism, Stringer said "all that data isn't going to make a difference to the 9 percent that's unemployed."

As for Sony's internal changes, Stringer said that the company is making progress, but like many large companies can battle a "rowboat mentality." "All companies have a rowboat mentality. They are moving forward, but look at the past," said Stringer. "When a company has a past it can get very comfortable."

Stringer said Sony is changing to better take advantage of digital transformation and told the audience that "those of you rushing out to buy our new tablet will prove that."



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