As a senior executive at IBM, George Bailey often coached Japanese electronics companies to break free of the low-margin business of churning out new gizmos every few months. He encouraged them instead to think holistically about how to use technology-and software-to create something radically new. "The storage capacity of the devices in your home-the processing power-is incredible," he said in a 2005 podcast for IBM. "What seems to be the missing ingredient is how to pull all that together and really make a difference in how we live and how we work."
Now Bailey plans to lead Sony's search for the missing ingredient in his new post as the Japanese tech giant's new "chief transformation officer." Sony (SNE) announced Bailey's appointment on May 15 and said he will officially join next month. By hiring him, Chairman and CEO Howard Stringer gets an in-house management and tech expert who has been an adviser to some of the planet's leading tech companies.