The current chairman of TD Bank Financial Group is one of the most significant executives the IT channel has ever known.
John M. Thompson worked at IBM for 37 years. He became the CEO of IBM Canada in 1986 and from there rose to vice-chairman, one of only a few to ever hold that position, before retiring in 2002.
During that span Thompson created IBM’s professional services business and started the company’s software group, which acquired Lotus Developement Corp.
In the ‘80s, IBM Canada gave away support with every PC. Thompson changed that by lowering the price of hardware and creating a fee-based service. “We were making money in Canada and the U.S. was losing money, and the chairman (John Akers) came up to find out why,” Thompson said. He was asked to replicate the model worldwide.
Thompson was also one of the pioneers of the indirect channel. “I decided that we should go back into the general systems marketplace and make the investment because the future growth would be there with the introduction of the PC,” he said.
He added that the IBM PC would play a major role in the small market enterprise through the channel. Thompson started up GBM General Business Market and transfered the same model to the U.S.
One of Thompson’s biggest worries also became one of his most cherished triumphs. Fearing the services business would create a backlash with the channel, he told the CEOs of the top resellers in Canada he would sub-contract 70 per cent of the services business to the channel.