Archive for December 2011
How do you size up an entire year?
My headline noted that 2011 was “a year in turmoil.”
I wasn’t sure how else to refer to it. A year in disruption? Evolution?
Change was not only in the air — it was patently self-evident, all around us, and all around the globe.
Social change. Change in our physical world. Political change.
It was Greek philosopher Heraclitus who said that change is the only constant. Heraclitus was spot on with regards to 2011.
Social Media, Social Change
It was a year that seemed to have started with some broadened hope, with Estonia joining the Eurozone (and, maybe to their later chagrin, the Euro), and with Southern Sudan holding a referendum on Independence…but all that soon evolved into a river of mostly bad news: the flooding in Rio, the Moscow airport shooting, and yes, on a more promising note, the fall of the Tunisian government and the start of an Arab winter that quickly turned into spring.
After the protests spread to Egypt, fed both by the widespread use of Facebook and Twitter and on-the-ground collaboration, President Hosni Mubarak left office in February, but the simultaneous and simmering uncertainty in Libya caused crude oil prices to jump some 20%, and the world seemed as much in shock as did the CNN reporters on the ground in Tahrir Square.
Elementary, My Dear Watson
February also brought us the IBM Watson “Jeopardy” competition, where IBM’s supercomputer “Watson” challenged the world’s best “Jeopardy” players, and, in spite of a few snafus, ended up running away in victory, and demonstrated once again that in such a “man v. Machine” contest, it’s easy to forget it was the men (and women!) who built and programmed the victorious machine!
And then March 11.
A 9.1 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami flattened part of the coast of Japan, killing over 20,000, and leading to a nuclear emergency at four different nuclear energy plants. The pictures we saw on our television screens looked like something out of a Hollywood disaster movie gone terribly wrong, and the world watched in solidarity as well as helped through generous outpourings of support and assistance.
In late March, the UN Security Council voted to create a no-fly zone over Libya, and soon NATO jets were flying recon over the country.
A Royal Breather
Then, just when things couldn’t seem to get any more heated and political, a lighter moment provided a sigh of relief in April: The “royal” wedding of the United Kingdom’s Prince William and Catherine Middleton.
And yes, of course, also one of the most Googled figures of 2011, Kate’s lovely younger sister “Pippa.”
Despite all the hype, pomp, and circumstance, you had to be pretty hard-hearted not to think the Royal Wedding a magical event, despite the chintzy plates and royal potpourri for sale. The prince-to-be-king and his lovely royal bride provided a needed kiss seen round the world.
Bin Laden Been Gotten
Only a few short days later, it was back to reality, when the American president announced from the White House one late Sunday evening that Osama bin Laden, the founder and leader of Al-Qaeda, had been killed during an American military operation in Pakistan. One Twitterer in Abbottabad, Sohaib Athar, noted in realtime that “Helicopter hovering about Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).”
Continued Monetary Turbulence
Later in May, the European Union agreed to a 78 billion Euro rescue deal with Portugal, continuing a long slided reach towards monetary stabilization in Europe. There were more natural disasters, this time violent tornadoes wreaking havoc across the south and American mid-west, killing 552 people, the second worst year for tornadoes in U.S. History.
In June, more natural disastrous activity, this time with the Puyehue volcano eruption, which disrupted air traffic across South America, New Zealand, and Australia. Also that month, on June 16th, IBM celebrated its centennial, it’s 100 year anniversary as a going concern.
July witnessed South Sudan’s succession from Sudan, as well as the world’s first artifical organ transplant (an artificial windpipe coated with stem cells).
Space Shuttle: Back To Planet Earth
July also saw a bitter end to the longstanding NASA Space Shuttle program, as Atlantis STS-135 brought the shuttle back to earth once and for all. But by August, we were looking back towards the heavens as NASA announced its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter had captured photographic evidence of possible liquid water on Mars.
Maybe those first astronauts on Mars will be able to fill their canteens after all.
NASA also launched its first solar-powered spacecraft, Juno, on a mission to Jupiter. Juno will study Jupiter’s composition, gravity field, magnetic field, and also search for clues as to how it was formed.
But don’t get in any hurry — Juno’s not expected to arrive in Jupiter’s orbit until July 4, 2016!
In August, back here on Planet Earth, the Gaddafi regime was challenged in August at the Battle of Tripoli, as the Arab Spring proved it had legs into the summer and beyond. While back in London, peaceful protests soon turned into full-on riots, killing 5 and leading to over $275M in economic damages.
As summer turned to fall here in the west, more natural disasters reared their ugly heads, from droughts and fires in Texas to monsoons and floods in Pakistan, Cambodia, and Thailand.
Fire Everywhere, Water Nowhere…And Yet Everywhere
Where water was needed most, there was very little. Where water was needed least, there was an overabundance. That conundrum seemed to somehow aptly sum up 2011 thus far, a year in contradictions and juxtapositions.
In October, Colonel Gaddafi was no more, brutally killed in Sirte as National Transitional Council forces took control. The Colonel’s reign of terror had come to an end.
A spark that had started in the spring had now spread into a conflagration.
Of course, there were more economic woes in Brussels, as the EU announced an agreement to take on the European debt crisis with a writedown of 50% of Greek bonds.
On the U.S. Halloween holiday, October 31, the UN indicated the global population had reached 7 billion. Ghoulish!
And finally, after eight long years, the U.S. War in Iraq came to an official and declarative end, even as the fate of the country continues to be debated and fought over.
And In Conclusion?
So what to make of it all? Were there any constants amidst all this change and disruption? Or was change the only constant?
I had an opportunity to mentor a group of very bright Notre Dame business undergrads this past fall, and so I’m going to turn to their research to try and put the year into some context.
Their central thesis centered around the growing role of social media on society and business. In their paper, they posed the following question:
Is it [social media] changing the way people organize and interact or is it just a fad that will pass with time? The findings of this analysis indicate that social media has a growing role in society, more than just helping people to connect with old friends. It is used at an alarming rate to organize protests, aid relief in areas of need, and disseminate information about global events. Social media is used in both positive and negative ways to change the way people react to global occurrences. — “What is Social Media’s Growing Role on Business and Society as a Whole?” Robert Blume, Emma Higgins, Rob Kirk, Morgan Kelley, 2011, University of Notre Dame
Certainly, their thesis seems somewhat self-evident. Social media has certainly been used for both the positive and the negative, but in light of some of the anecdotes they cited, the Notre Dame students illustrated that the proof was really in the pudding.
That, rather than looking for broad, overarching themes, perhaps we should examine specific instances of how social media has been used, for both good and bad, and attempt to discern some broader lessons about the changing technology landscape’s impact on our evolving humanity?
To which we’ll now return, and close, on the topic of the Japanese earthquake. Horrific though it was, the Notre Dame students explained the positive, life-affirming role social media played in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami:
One way in which social media helped was that it allowed the victims connect with people all over the world. People used social media to connect with their friends and family instantly to let them know that they were alright or to receive word on the condition of others. People also turned to social media to demonstrate their support for those in Japan. Twitter hashtags such as #prayforjapan‖ and ―#japan‖ were tweeted at an alarming rate, some of which were tweeted thousands of times per second. Brad Shimmin analyzed this by saying — While there are so many technologies at this time that isolate us from our fellow beings, social networking tools have shown their ability once again to unify us as human beings, and to bring out what is most altruistic and empathetic in our natures,‖ (―Twitter…‖, 2011, ~1). Beyond giving people physical support in their time of need, social media brought about emotional support by letting everyone in Japan know that they were being thought of, and that they were not alone in the situation.
And perhaps that’s best object lesson of all for 2011. That despite all the turmoil, conflict, and disruption — engendered either by acts of God, or of man — we still simply want to be connected one to another.
To know others are out there, virtually or otherwise, witness to our travesties and our triumphs, and ultimately, to know wherever we are in the world, we are most certainly not alone.
Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas!
And apparently, it was.
I didn’t try to track Santa via Santa Norad, but apparently Santa didn’t need nearly the help he might have.
According to some more IBM Benchmark e-commerce tracking numbers from the holiday shopping season, lots of folks were ready for more virtual commerce even on Christmas Day.
I count myself among the guilty.
The IBM data discovered that online shopping jumped 16.4 percent on Christmas Day, compared to last year, and the dollar amount of those purchases that were made using mobile devices leaped 172.9 percent.
IBM tracks shopping at more than 500 websites (other than Amazon.com, which is where *I* was shopping!).
It also found a huge increase in the number of shoppers making their purchases via iPhones, iPads and Android-powered mobile devices. In fact, nearly 7 percent of all online purchases were made using iPads, just 18 months after the tablet computers were released by Apple Inc..
The online shopping increase continued on Monday. As of 3 p.m. Eastern time, shopping was up 10 percent over Dec. 26, 2010, and the expectation was that the pace of buying would increase as the day wore on and consumers clicked on sales at various retailers.
The data did not show what portion of purchases was made using gift cards, which typically see a big bump just after holidays as folks start cashing those gift cards in and make purchases (online and off).
Speaking of online gifts, IBM has been making some pretty heavy duty investments in Santa’s e-commerce play, what we’re calling “smarter commerce.” Between the numerous acquisitions and continued organic investment, IBM’s smarter commerce effort recognizes that the final sale is just one aspect of the overall commerce experience.
Last year, IBM researchers surveyed more than 500 economists worldwide and estimated that our planet’s system of systems carries inefficiencies totaling nearly $15 trillion, or 28 percent of worldwide GDP.
Much of this waste is found in our systems of commerce — in inventory backlogs, failed product launches, wasted materials and ineffective marketing campaigns.
Today’s customers have no patience for this kind of waste. They will not remain loyal to products or brands while the cost of inefficiency is passed along to the buyer. And it will not take them long to find the same product or service from a competitor.
These customers are empowered by technology, transparency, and an abundance of information. They expect to engage with companies when and how they want, through physical, digital and mobile means.
They want a consistent experience across all channels. They compare notes. And they can champion a brand or sully a reputation with the click of a mouse.
Nowhere is this shift more visible than in the retail industry, where companies are rapidly adapting to this new reality, integrating their marketing efforts and using analytics to better understand their new, more fickle customers.
But retail is only the beginning. It is merely the front line of a customer revolution that will eventually reshape the entire value chain, from the way raw materials are sourced to the way they are manufactured, distributed and serviced.
Keeping up with today’s customer will take more than an email marketing campaign and a Facebook page.
It’s going to take a better system of doing business. It’s going to take smarter commerce.
Just as with traditional commerce, the customer is at the center of all operations, and smarter commerce turns customer insight into action, enabling new business processes that help companies buy, market, sell and service their products and services and, in the process, make for happier customers.
Smarter commerce reaches deep within the businessto-business supply chain, integrating business partners, suppliers, and vendors, enabling the entire value chain to anticipate customer needs, not react to them.
And it identifies and addresses the unsustainable inefficiencies of our global systems of commerce.
Visit here if you’d like to learn more about IBM’s smarter commerce strategy.
In the meantime, we’ll be sure to keep an eye on Santa’s post Christmas holiday sales!
I’ve been too busy to keep an eye out for Norad Santa this year, but for those of you with children out there, you’ll be happy to know you can now track Santa via the NORAD Tracks Santa app, available for both Android and the iPhone.
It’s good to know that Santa’s multi-platform!
If, on the other hand, you’re all about tracking leading healthcare providers, look now towards Hong Kong-based Quality HealthCare Medical Services (QMHS), which partnered today with IBM to build a virtualized infrastructure for its practice.
The project involves the consolidation of more than 100 servers into a cloud environment that hosts QHMS’ mission critical systems that serve over 600 medical centers in Hong Kong and Macau.
The optimized infrastructure will enable QHMS to reduce IT maintenance and disaster recovery costs, ensure production system maintainability and performance, and achieve energy-savings.
By reducing the number of physical servers from over 100 to eight IBM System x3650 servers and centralizing storage, QHMS is expected to reduce IT operational costs by 25 percent and software license and related maintenance costs by 23 percent.
The new and highly redundant server infrastructure also includes an automated centralized back-up system of IBM System Storage DS3500 Express that enables fast, secure and cost-effective storage management, back up and recovery.
“We are always looking for ways to further improve the patient experience. Our new cloud allows us to deliver information to our doctors faster and in a more reliable way,” said Elaine Chu, Chief Operating Officer of QHMS. “As a result, we will be able to serve our patients more effectively and with higher levels of care. It is very exciting to see how we can make a difference to our patients with the help of technology.”
Additionally, the deployment of the IBM Cognos Business Intelligence solution provides financial key performance indicator (KPI) and analysis, creating the opportunity to gain more timely business information for better business performance management and smarter decision-making.
QHMS aims to monitor business performance in over 600 medical centers. With IBM Cognos BI, QHMS can build a standardized and centralized information delivery platform that enables QHMS to monitor the performance of a wide range of services running on different systems.
QHMS’ management team can now access timely business information with just a few mouse clicks, speeding response times to business needs and patient demands.
About Quality HealthCare
Quality HealthCare Medical Services Limited is a physician led provider group offering an integrated range of healthcare services including facilities management, third party plan administration and paramedical support. The Group provides care for private and corporate contract patients through a network of more than 580 Western and Chinese medical centers, and 47 dental and physiotherapy centers.
In 2010, its network recorded more than 2.8 million healthcare visits. It also operates Hong Kong’s longest-established nursing agency and one of its medical practices has been serving Hong Kong people for over 140 years.
Now that things are slowing down a bit here in IBM-land, but recognizing there are still a few shopping days left before Christmas, I thought it might be constructive for you, and psychologically assuaging to me, for me to sit down and make a list for Santa.
You know, a kind of “Technology Gifts For The Geek Who Already Has (Almost) Everything.”
In so doing, I decided to identify those gadgets, thingamabobs, widgets, and other tech wizardry that, were I not to have to worry about price constraints, would inevitably wind their way into my gadget portfolio.
Which, being nicknamed “Turbo,” I can assure you, is already vast and expansive. I could also open a small personal technology history museum with devices gathering dust in my various closets, but hey, this is about the future, not the past! Stop dwelling on dollars spent previously in the great expense of being an early adopter and look into the holiday electronics abyss for the next new thing!
1) Video glasses. I’m not yet sold on which brand or SKU, as there’s still some controversy, it seems, in the area of video glasses, as to whether they’re worth the investment or not.
But, remembering this is a wish list of stuff I don’t necessarily need but would like to have, and assuming the moolah’s not coming from my pocket, it seems to me no self-respecting technology geek in the 2010s should be without a good pair of video glasses so that I can ignore people on airplanes while I watch the latest version of “Jackass” in 3D or play “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” all up close and personal.
And I mean REALLY up close. So for now, I’m going with the ITG-WideView XL Edition. Amazon cost: $369.99
2) Kindle Fire. Let’s face it: I don’t need anything else to read. I subscribe to more print magazines than I care to admit to (yes, me, “Dr. Digital,” still traffics in parchment), I have an iPad with more books I’ve downloaded than I can read, and my MacBook Air serves in a pinch for watching content on the road as well.
But hey, you can’t ignore how big that frickin’ Amazon Cloud is, and there’s a reason they’re selling the Fire for a mere $199 (and apparently at a loss).
What they lose in volume they expect to make up in razor blade margins — content razor blades, I mean to say. And with 19 million movies, TV shows, magazines, and books, with the Kindle Fire, the flames won’t go out in Amazon’s content cloud anytime soon! Amazon cost: $199
3) An Internet-Ready TV. It’s pretty obvious to me where TV-land is headed: Straight for an interstellar crash with all things IP. Which means the more Internet-ready my next TV is, the more TV-ready I’ll be for the coming Internet content wars.
Not that I need a new big TV, mind you: My 6-year old Sony Bravia 55”-inch is still working just fine, and with the recent addition of a Roku box, combined with an Apple TV, a WII, cable, and a Sony Playstation hooked to the thing, I’ve got more content than I can keep up with. But this is about conspicuous-consumption, and the next big thing is Internet-ready TV, and I’m simply not ready!
So, enter the Panasonic Viera TC-P50S30 50-inch 1080p plasma HDTV. When I get bored with that Kindle Fire small fry screen, I can rev the Viera up on the Panasonic and grab me a content smorgasbord, built-in, including Amazon Prime, Netflix, Pandora, Napster, and Facebook integration.
Could the Panasonic be my next new computer?? At $799.99, it could be the TV-top deal of the century! Amazon cost: $799.99
4) A Portable Hard Drive. I cannot tell a lie: I have too much digital stuff. And it’s all over the place. On multiple computers. Multiple clouds. In multiple universes. Or was that meta-verses?
In any case, I’m well into digital overload, particularly now that I’ve learned how to make iMovies on my MacBook Air. I need an overflow valve, so-to-speak. And the Western Digital My Passport Essential SE 1 TB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive could be a step in the right storage direction for helping me pack away all those exciting skateboarding bulldog videos.
The upside: It has up to 3X transfer rates via USB 3.0 The downside: It’s saying it only supports USB 2.0 on Snow Leopard (nothing about Lion!). And that’s assuming the floods in Thailand haven’t put a damper on supply. Amazon cost: $169.00
5) A Gaming Laptop. Let’s face it, with a nickname like “Turbo,” I can’t ever have TOO much processing power in any of my computing devices. The more horsepower, the better, I say.
And now that I’m trying to learn to fly via my computer, just any old laptop won’t do. My poor Dell laptop is chugging along, and I fear I may crash into somebody else’s airplane in virtual space due to limited computing horsepower. I did a little checking, and the Battaliion 101 X7200 seems to be a very highly rated, and somewhat affordable (remembering we don’t care about money in this list!) portable gaming maachine.
It comes with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M graphics card, 6GB of DDR3 memory, and an Intel Core i7 760QM processor — all of which ought to get me off the ground from the virtual Austin Bergstrom International and off to Charles DeGaulle for evening cocktails at Harry’s New York Bar in no time at all. iBuypower cost: $1,959
Of course, it took some serious restraint not for this list to go on and on and on and on. There are so many gadgets across so many galaxies far, far away that I could have included, and yet, so little time. And, even affording myself the luxury of no cap on spending for my gift list, it still feels wrong, like we’re having ourselves a very merry but still austere holiday season.
So, Mr. Klaus, I hereby respectfully request that you deliver my coal this year in the form of some multi-carat eco-diamonds — manmade, no labor issues, easy to transact. If I’m going to take my coal, I’m going to take it in style, thank you very much.
But I also wouldn’t argue if you just dropped me off an iPad 2, Santa. I’ll even sit on your lap, if I must.
I’m already a generation behind with this first run iPad and I’m starting to get paranoid that I won’t be able to keep up with the virtual Joneses!
IBM’s 2011 “Five in Five”: Innovations That Could Change The World (And A Little Monty Python Thrown In For Good Measure)
Before I get to the business news of the day, let me send a hearty congratulations to U.K. golfer Ian Poulter, who won the Australian Masters yesterday and outgunned Aussie’s own Geoff Ogilvy, who was attempting to take the tourney on his boyhood course.
Poulter was two strokes behind Ogilvy heading into the final round and closed with a 4-under 67 on a very windy Victoria Golf Club.
Nice win, Poulter. Poulter should have plenty of Aussie dollars to head out for a little X-mas shopping, and perhaps he’d like to invite English striker Darren Bent to join him for a little shopping.
Bent was busted on the sidelines of Sunday’s game against Liverpool for doing a little online shopping (his team was losing), even though he was out for the day due to injury. Otherwise, Bent is Villa’s leading scorer, to which I say, “A goal a day helps keep the Xmas cash register away!
But enough of sport. It’s time to get serious. And IBM’s latest “IBM 5 in 5,” a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and interact during the next five years, has arrived just in time for the holidays.
We’ll take them one at a time.
Watch the 5-minute video above for a quick fly-by of IBM’s 2011 “5 in 5″ innovations.
1. People power will come to life.
No, we don’t mean protests in the streets of Egypt or Libya, although that is certainly a worthwhile sort of people power. We’re talking about real people power, anything that moves or produces heat and which has the potential to create energy that can be captured.
Walking. Jogging. Bicycling. The heat from your computer. Even the water flowing through your pipes.
Advances in renewable energy technology will allow individuals to collect this kinetic energy, which now goes to waste, and use it to help power our homes, offices and cities.
Imagine attaching small devices to the spokes on your bicycle wheels that recharge batteries as you pedal along.
You will have the satisfaction of not only getting to where you want to go, but at the same time powering some of the lights in your home.
Created energy comes in all shapes and forms and from anything around us. IBM scientists inIreland are looking at ways to understand and minimize the environmental impact of converting ocean wave energy into electricity.
2. You will never need a password again.
I’m paying special and close attention to this one. I have so many IDs and passwords I don’t know when I’m coming or going, and my new favorite pastime is emailing web sites to request they send me an email reminder or password reset.
In this “5,” your biological makeup is the key to your individual identity, and soon, it will become the key to safeguarding it.
So to speak. No, you will no longer need to create, track or remember multiple passwords for various log-ins.
Imagine you will be able to walk up to an ATM machine to securely withdraw money by simply speaking your name or looking into a tiny sensor that can recognize the unique patterns in the retina of your eye.
Or by doing the same, you can check your account balance on your mobile phone or tablet.
Each person has a unique biological identity and behind all that is data. Biometric data — facial definitions, retinal scans and voice files — will be composited through software to build your DNA unique online password.
Referred to as multi-factor biometrics, smarter systems will be able to use this information in real-time to make sure whenever someone is attempting to access your information, it matches your unique biometric profile and the attempt is authorized.
To be trusted, such systems should enable you to opt in or out of whatever information you choose to provide.
3. Mind reading is longer science fiction.
Hey, get out of my head! I see what you’re trying to do! It won’t work…well, maybe…it…won’t.
But maybe it will!
From Houdini to Skywalker to X-Men, mind reading has merely been “wishful thinking” for science fiction fans for decades, but their wish may soon come true.
IBM scientists are among those researching how to link your brain to your devices, such as a computer or a smartphone. If you just need to think about calling someone, it happens.
Or you can control the cursor on a computer screen just by thinking about where you want to move it.
Scientists in the field of bioinformatics have designed headsets with advanced sensors to read electrical brain activity that can recognize facial expressions, excitement and concentration levels, and thoughts of a person without them physically taking any actions.
Within 5 years, we will begin to see early applications of this technology in the gaming and entertainment industry.
Furthermore, doctors could use the technology to test brain patterns, possibly even assist in rehabilitation from strokes and to help in understanding brain disorders, such as autism. .
4. The digital divide will cease to exist.
You’ve heard of the digital divide? Well, get ready to see that divide get split in half…or even divided into infinity.
In our global society, growth and wealth of economies are increasingly decided by the level of access to information.
And in five years, the gap between information haves and have-nots will narrow considerably due to advances in mobile technology.
There are 7 billion people inhabiting the world today. In five years there will be 5.6 billion mobile devices sold – which means 80% of the current global population would each have a mobile device.
As it becomes cheaper to own a mobile phone, people without a lot of spending power will be able to do much more than they can today.
For example, in India, using speech technology and mobile devices, IBM enabled rural villagers who were illiterate to pass along information through recorded messages on their phones.
With access to information that was not there before, villagers could check weather reports for help them decide when to fertilize crops, know when doctors were coming into town, and find the best prices for their crops or merchandise.
Growing communities will be able to use mobile technology to provide access to essential information and better serve people with new solutions and business models such as mobile commerce and remote healthcare.
5. Junk mail will become priority mail.
Do you remember the original spam, the one that led to the Internet terminology? It was a reference to a 1970s Monty Python sketch set in a case where nearly every item on the menu included Spam canned luncheon meet.
As the waiter recited the Spam-filled menu, a chorus of Viking patrons downs out all conversations iwth a song repeating “Spam…Spam….Spam…” You get the picture?
Now, think about how often we’re flooded with advertisements we consider to be irrelevant or unwanted. It may not be that way for long.
In five years, unsolicited advertisements may feel so personalized and relevant it may seem spam is dead. At the same time, spam filters will be so precise you’ll never be bothered by unwanted sales pitches again.
Imagine if tickets to your favorite band are put on hold for you the moment they became available, and for the one night of the week that is free on your calendar.
Through alerts direct to you, you’ll be able to purchase tickets instantly from your mobile device. Or imagine being notified that a snow storm is about to affect your travel plans and you might want to re-route your flight?
IBM is developing technology that uses real-time analytics to make sense and integrate data from across all the facets of your life such as your social networks and online preferences to present and recommend information that is only useful to you.
From news, to sports, to politics, you’ll trust the technology will know what you want, so you can decide what to do with it.
Hard to believe, but here we are, near the end of another calendar year, and being this time of year, it’s time for the Google Zeitgeist for 2011.
This “How the world searched” feature is in its 11th instance, and as Google alluded to it in its official blog, the Zeitgeist provides us with “the spirit of the time.”
Or, as the case may be for extraterrestrial aliens suddenly landing on the planet and examining the Google global search logs for 2011, it provides a psychotic view into our collective predispositions and moral depravity.
“E.T., phone home…and whatever else you do, DON’T read the human search logs.”
Before we allow for the drumroll, let’s highlight the details behind the Zeitgeist. Basically, Google looks at the most popular and fastest rising search terms — those with the highest growth in 2011 — in many categories across many countries.
Those of us who work in global SEO can certainly appreciate the challenges and opportunities those local conditions engender, and to make this effort even more fun, Zeitgeist this year has introduced search visualizations so one can compare terms across categories.
And, if you hate reading, there’s always the Zeitgeist year-end-recap video:
If the Zeitgeist is intended to capture the spirit of the times, based on some of the top search queries, I may, in fact, be entirely behind the times. “Rebecca Black” made the top of the list, and I’ve honestly never heard of the pop singer whose greatest hit appears to be “Friday.”
Other songstresses hit the upper reaches of the Google search universe, including “Adele” (also lost on me), reality star “Ryan Dunn” (of which reality, might I ask), and “Casey Anthony.”
Finally, one I heard of. The alleged child killer came in at a whopping #4 on the global zeitgeist! Casey Kasem would be so proud!
“Google+” came in at number 2. How convenient — and Facebook nowhere to be seen this year?
Apple dominated three other spots in the top 10: “iPhone 5” at #6, “Steve Jobs” at #9, and the “iPad 2” at #10.
A lot of stuff happened in the world this year.
There were natural disasters galore, from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March, to the swarm of tornadoes across Missouri and the midwest in May, to the floods in Brazil and Thailand.
We found and killed Osama Bin Laden, even as his former safe haven of Sudan found independence in the South.
There were revolutions, literally, in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and even near Wall Street.
And yes, there were some timely demises, including some of my faves, Joe Frazier, Andy Rooney, Christopher Hitchens, and yes, of course, Steve Jobs.
And despite all that, it’s apparently the big splash of Rebecca Black that topped the search charts, when her video “Friday” went viral and received over 167M views on YouTube.
E.T…don’t just phone home. Pick me up and get me the heck out of here.
Just please, whatever else you don’t, do NOT put it on YouTube.
IBM today announced a definitive agreement to acquire Emptoris Inc., a leading provider of cloud and on-premise analytics software that brings more intelligence to procurement and supply chain operations with spend, supplier and contract management for Smarter Commerce. The acquisition is the latest addition to IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative, launched in March 2011, which is aimed at helping companies respond to shifting customer buying patterns.
Emptoris brings to IBM Smarter Commerce a set of new, flexible and integrated solutions that orchestrate and manage the sourcing and procurement of goods and materials as part of supply chain management. Supply chain intelligence using these solutions enables better inventory management and can create large savings opportunities.
For example, a large global oil and gas company established a centralized sourcing network across its entire enterprise operating in more than 80 countries, which enabled them to focus on the most strategic, highest cost, frequently-purchased items. This brought speed, transparency and simplification to the sourcing process. As a result, the company runs thousands of sourcing events per year managing more than 15,000 suppliers in 10 languages, achieving more than 9 percent reduction on managed categories of goods.
The Emptoris acquisition also will complement IBM’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) Business Process Outsourcing capabilities within its Global Process Services organization. Emptoris’ expertise and technology enhances IBM’s Procurement and Supply Chain services, including its ability to apply category expertise and global operations to help clients streamline and automate supplier interactions, resulting in improved strategic sourcing, reduced service costs, and greater savings from spend with suppliers.
A $20B Market Opportunity
IBM has estimated that the Smarter Commerce initiative is a $20 billion market opportunity in software alone. Smarter Commerce helps organizations that are struggling to meet the demands of rapidly shifting customer buying patterns in the era of mobile and social networks.
This new digital marketplace requires companies to respond rapidly to customer demands by automating their buying, marketing, selling and service processes. Developing the right procurement strategy and an adaptive supply chain are keys to success in this evolving environment. According to industry analysts, IBM is a recognized leader in multiple categories within Smarter Commerce.
With this acquisition, IBM builds on its capabilities in the “buy” aspect of Smarter Commerce and extends it to a new line of c-suite executives – chief procurement officers. This growing list of decision makers includes chief information officers, chief financial officers, chief supply chain officers and chief marketing officers.
Existing Customers, Global Reach And Recognition
Procurement and sourcing professionals increasingly need better supplier management, spend analysis and contract management solutions to lower sourcing costs and risks. Emptoris is a leader in delivering these benefits by automating vendor selection, negotiation, management and compliance.
Emptoris’ global clients span multiple industries including consumer products, financial services, healthcare, telecommunications, chemical/oil/gas, utilities, construction and industrial manufacturing.
Emptoris’ spend management solutions complement the existing B2B integration and supply chain management capabilities IBM acquired through the purchase of Sterling Commerce in 2010. The Emptoris acquisition will allow IBM to deliver more solutions focused on the needs of sourcing and procurement professionals.
Founded in 1999, Emptoris has over 725 employees around the world. The acquisition is anticipated to close in the first quarter of 2012, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions and applicable regulatory reviews.
With more than 350 customers in 75 countries, Emptoris is based in Burlington, Mass. with offices in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Australia, India, Brazil and China.
Emptoris was recently honored by Red Herring as one of its “Global 100″ winners for 2011. The Global 100 are selected and judged on a range of qualitative and quantitative metrics, including but not limited to, technology innovation, financial performance, growth criterion, management’s execution standards, potential globalization of the strategy and market share improvement.