Big Blue, a sprightly 102 years of age, must again reinvent, and drastically. On Wednesday night, management had to fess up to sales falling for the sixth straight quarter and the company s hardware business posting a loss. IBM’s much-ballyhooed shift to higher-margin software and services the core of its turnaround story — is now being eclipsed by a slump in server and other enterprise hardware sales. The fast-growing emerging economies that were filling IBM’s business pipeline are now stalling; IBM posted its first revenue decrease in those markets in its history last quarter. The company’s shares, which have the second biggest impact on the Dow Jones industrial average among the index’s 30 members, plunged 6 percent on Thursday and are down this year, compared with the broader market’s 20 percent run up.

We are taking action to improve execution in our growth markets unit and in the elements of our hardware businesses that are under performing, CEO Ginni Rometty said in the quarterly statement.

Man, I hope there was more to Rometty’s statement than that, or we’re looking at serious leadership vacuum at the helm of one of the world’s great corporations.

But you have to wonder about IBM’s server business. Somebody in IT correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the real action in servers the secret-sauce equipment used by Google and Amazon and Microsoft? So it would seem to me that about all IBM could be doing in that business is the same thing Microsoft turned them into with PCs — a mere OEM vendor.

Or am I missing something?