Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘conference’ Category

Live @ Information On Demand 2012: Think Big…Really Big

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Though David Copperfield may be keeping an eye out over the Las Vegas Strip, this year’s mantra to “Think Big” at IBM Information On Demand 2012 is no illusion. There are big issues to tackle, we’ve got more data than ever, being acquired at a pace unmatched in recorded history, and amidst all that information are insights that we all can use to better run our businesses — if we could just find them. Our time in Vegas this week should prove to be a great start.

Greetings from Viva Las Vegas, Nevada.

It’s Sunday, and if it’s Sunday, it’s football…and, Information on Demand 2012.

It seems like I was only here a short year ago…and come to think of it, I was!

How time, and technology, flies…but, as the industry goes, so goes IOD.  This year, there are more issues to discuss, more folks to talk to, and more technologies to cover, even as all we IOD attendees are being asked to “Think Big.”

Which is a good thing, because there are some big issues on the information management table that need discussing.

We’ve got more data than ever, being acquired at a pace unmatched in recorded history, and amidst all that information are insights that we all can use to better run our businesses, our governments, even our lives, yet not necessarily with any clear boundaries about who can do what with who’s information and when and under what circumstances!

But boy, if only we could make sense out of it all.

It reminds me of the magic show I went to see yesterday afternoon at the MGM Grand here in Vegas, starring none other than the world-renowned illusionist, David Copperfield.

If you’ve never seen him perform, first of all, I highly recommend you taking in his show at the Hollywood Theatre there.

Copperfield is the genuine article, an illusionist whose humanity surpasses his skills as a magician.  An entertainner who made a Studebaker appear onstage from out of nowhere, the story behind which that explained the import of that car to Copperfield and his family nearly bringing tears to my eyes.

One minute I was laughing, one minute I was surprised and astonished, and the next minute I was crying…in my book, the mark of a superior entertainer who understands his audience.

And such is often the case in the realm of effective information management.  One minute, we have our handle on the situation, making sense of the information at our disposal…and the next, a new requirement, a new technology, a new methodology comes along and throws a wrench in our proverbial analytical fan.

But like Copperfield, we must always be thinking of our audience.  Who are they, what motivates them, what do they need from us, what do they NOT need.  Often it’s not what you say but what you don’t that most makes the point.

Which is why we’re here in Vegas, to Think Big. To put our big boy and girl thinking caps on to figure out how we can handle this additional onslaught of information effectively and efficiently, with grace under pressure.

As part and parcel of that, we’re here to attend the over 700 technical education sessions, the 110 hands on labs, and to hear the 300+ customer speakers who have been there, done that in Information On Demand 2012.

And finally, to also hopefully have a little fun along the way.  It is Vegas, after all.  And all that nonsense about what happens here, stays here??  You don’t really believe any of that bit, do you?

It IS 2012, after all.  What’s not picked up by a smartphone will be Tweeted by your colleagues and read by your boss back at the home office.  So behave yourself!

Because all of that, and much, much more is what constitutes the Information On Demand experience, and that’s what myself and our extended IOD 2012 social team will be here to cover for you.

So, check your IOD Smartsite or program guide in your badge, and get going, and please keep an eye on Twitter, hashtag #ibmiod, for all the latest.

Live @ IBM InterConnect 2012: IBM’s Steve Mills On Big Data, Smaller IT

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After months of build up and market anticipation, the IBM InterConnect event got kick started here at Royal Sentosa Resorts on Sentosa Island in Singapore, and after a quick introduction by IBM growth markets executive, John Dunderdale, IBM senior vice president Steve Mills hit the stage and outlined the core value proposition behind the event and, more broadly, behind IT circa 2012.

IBM senior vice president Steve Mills explains to the gathered IBM InterConnect 2012 audience in Singapore Tuesday morning the immense opportunity and value that a reconsidered IT investment strategy presents for its customers around the globe.

“We know all of you involved in running businesses are challenged with delivering outcome and results,” said Mills. “We clearly love technology, but the end goal is improving your business and business model.”

Delivering real, discernible business outcomes.  IT as a means to an end, not an end in and of itself.

Mills’ talk, entitled “Smarter Planet Solutions increasing Demands of IT,” then went on to explain and support that core thesis for the next 40 minutes, along the way sharing some eye-opening sound bytes and anecdotes.

Mills indicated that the IBM InterConnect event was designed “to give you more insight and more contacts and relationships that you can take advantage of to support your businesses.”

So yes, there would be plenty of best practices and lessons learned to come, but this convocation was also an opportunity to share and network with your peers and colleagues.

Information Technology: A Transformative Tool Of The Past 60 Years

Then Mills began to provide a big picture backdrop of IT, explaining that “technology is the transformative tool of the last 60 years, and no tool has ever done so much for humans as IT.”

But, Mills warned, we humans “sometimes get out ahead of ourselves,” and we become enraptured with the tools instead of focusing on what we can do with those tools.

The core questions, Mills went on to explain, that IT and business executives everywhere should be asking themselves is, “How do I use IT effectively, and at a price my business can afford, and in a way I can measure those discernible outcomes?”

Anything else, my own thought bubble indicated, is nothing more than snake oil off the back of a covered wagon!

Mills then went on to explain the specifics behind the IT challenge.  More servers, more users, more scenarios…more everything except, perhaps, more money and people!

Moving Away From Mundane Administration And Towards Increased Business Value And Innovation

And therein lies the core of the issue.  So much technology requires management and administration and focus by humans.  And yet, oftentimes we’re not even making full use of the IT we have.

By way of example: There are an estimated 32.6 million servers worldwide, but 85 percent of them are often idle, and 15 percent run 24/7 without being actively used.

They’re also energy hogs — data centers alone have doubled the energy use in the past five years, and most expect an 18 percent increase moving forward in data center energy costs.

And all the numbers trend upwards, Mills noted: Between 2000 and 2010, servers grew 6X and storage 69X, so if what’s past is prologue…

But it’s not even just that, all the growth we’ve witnessed in IT hardware and software. All of this has a cumulative effect — it’s not simply the money you spent in the current year, but in ALL the investments you’ve made over an extended period of time.

IBM senior vice president Steve Mills explained to the IBM InterConnect audience in Singapore earlier today the opportunity for organizations around the globe to break through the IT budget and resource barrier and realize new business insights and outcomes through an increased focus on innovation.

Though IT has been a big labor saver on the one hand, it’s also been a very expensive proposition in that it requires new skills and labor to manage. And that was another core point of Mill’s argument, that that labor cost has grown to a size to where we need to bring the overhead down while striving to increase the value IT delivers.

An Explosion Of Big Data…And Big Insights!

Mills went on to note there’s also been an explosion of data and information.  Google alone processes 24 petabytes of data in a single day, the New York Stock Exchange 1 terabyte of trading data in a single session.

What if…you could apply intelligent analysis to all that information, with an eye towards being more predictive…what if…you could be just 20 minutes ahead of your time…then what could you do???

Finding patterns in data that a single mind could never see, but with the right computing capacity…

So, both burden and opportunity, and this IT overload presents a management challenge — businesses want to be able to do more with what data they have, but they’re uncertain if they’re really getting to what the analysis could actually bring them.

Now, to the actual economics: IT operating costs were expected to have grown from $100 billion in 1996 to an estimated $217 billion in 2012, a trend NOT going in the right direction.

But as Mills explained, “The more servers you have the more servers you have to feed.”  Yet that spend on mundane tasks like server administration means you have to rob Innovation Peter to pay Administrivia Paul.

All that sprawl, Mills detailed, means costs to manage growth of inventory consumes the IT budget, and in turn, only 1 in 5 organizations are able to allocate more than half their IT budgets to drive innovation.

As it is, 23 percent of new IT projects deploy late, and 55 percent experience application downtime for major infrastructure upgrades once deployed. Top causes of project delays include troubleshooting and tuning production environments (45%), and integration, configuration and testing of applications (41%).

To add insult to injury, security incidents add an additional layer of complexity and frustration here: The average cost per data breach in 2011 was $3 million, figured in terms of lost customer loyalty.

These, Mills concluded, are the challenges that lay before you, the global IT audience.

Through the remainder of the event, and via several announcements emerging this week in Singapore, Mills suggested IBM would aspire to play a key role in helping clients address the velocity of change in business and IT, and help them redouble their efforts to garner those desired business outcomes.

Singapore Redux

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I mentioned in an earlier post I would share a little information about Singapore.  Much of this, I crowdsourced liberally from the Wikipedia entry on Singapore, along with some of my own observations thrown in for good measure.

First, the city-state is formally referred to as the “Republic of Singapore.” If you’ve ever flown here from the U.S., you know that it’s one of the longer plane rides one can take.

I left Austin around 8 am last Friday morning, catching connecting flights in Atlanta and then Tokyo’s Narita, with both flights lasting around close to 24 hours flight time, and arriving here early Sunday morning (around 1:30 AM).

Singapore is an island country consisting of 63 islands, and separated from Malaysia by the Straigts of Johor to the north and from Indonesia’s Riau Islands by the Singapore Strait to its south.

The British founded modern Singapore when it obtained sovereignty over the island in 1824, and was later occupied by the Japanese in World War II. It later declared independence, uniting with other British territories to form Malaysia in 1963, then separated from Malaysia two years later.

It is known as one of the “Four Asian Tigers,” and is the world’s fourth leading financial center, with its ports being among one of the five busiest in the world.

Its economy depends heavily on exports and refining imported goods, and has the third highest per capita income in the world with slightly over 5 million citizens.

Its population is very diverse, and has four official languages: English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil, and is one of the five founding members of the Association of South East Asian Nations.

It’s manufacturing base includes electronics, petroleum refining, chemicals, mechanical engineering, and biomedical sciences. It also produces about 10% of the world’s foundry wafer output, making it an integral part of the globe’s semiconductor industry supply chain.

It also has majored heavily in tourism (including so-called “medical tourism”), and to attract more tourists it legalized gambling in 2005 (The IBM InterConnect conference is being held at Royal Sentosa Resorts, which has one of those casinos).

This is my second visit to Singapore (my first being in early 2010), and my impressions on both visits have been quite favorable. For a Westerner who doesn’t know Chinese, Malay or Tamil, it’s quite easy for an English speaker to find their way around.

The city-state itself reminds me of Dallas or Houston, what with its shiny, chrome and beige skyscrapers and ports surrounding parts of the island.

But it’s also very futuristic and forward-thinking, having invested early on in commercialization of the Internet and hosting a robust mobile computing infrastructure. Singapore is one of the most ubiquitous Internet penetrated of nations in the world, with over 77 percent of its citizens having online access.

And the “Intelligent Nation 15″ ten-year blueprint I mentioned earlier has refined that digital capability, and in fact, the country has emerged as a vital foundry for Internet-based companies.

By way of example, Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin relocated here in 2009, announcing plans to invest in “companies with strong interests in the Asian markets.”

Singapore’s National Research Foundation selected eight new incubators for its Technology Incubation Scheme earlier this year, and through that program, the NRF will co-fund up to 85 percent of total investment in each company (up to U.S. $400K).

And talk about a mobile-friendly country. I only needed walk through either Singapore’s Chinatown or “Little India” yesterday afternoon to find mobile phones from around the globe available to me (and settled on an old-school Nokia 1280 to serve as my new GSM “world phone”).

I paid $20 to a local mobile retailer catering to the Indian market, and within minutes (along with the purchase of an $18 SIM card) was up and running.

For the casual visitor, though the city itself can seem expensive compared to other industrialized countries, deals abound, including for food (the cuisine here runs the gamut, from Chinese to Malay to Japanese to India to American, etc.), and that most national of Singaporean pasttimes, shopping.

If you’re a night owl, you’ll certainly find plenty to do here, what between the casinos, the food, and yes, even the nightlife.

As for me, the rest of this week I’ll mostly be stuck in front of the camera or my laptop covering IBM InterConnect here on Sentosa Island, but I hope and expect to sneak in a few noodles or pieces of dim sum along the way.

IBM InterConnect begins first thing tomorrow, so don’t forget to tune in to our Livestream channel and to Twitter hashtag #ibminterconnect so you can keep up with all the emerging announcements and news from IBM in this important and digitally vital part of the world!

Connecting @ IBM InterConnect Singapore

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Greetings from Sentosa Resort Island in Singapore.

The Republic of Singapore, a southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, is 85 miles north of the equator, and is playing host to the IBM InterConnect event this week, which Turbo will be covering here in his blog and as part of IBM’s InterConnect Livestream video coverage.

What’s past is present, except when you’re traveling on business in Asia, when what’s present is prologue. In the case of Singapore, that’s likely to be the case in more ways than one.

Yes, earthlings of the West, I now come to you from the future, some 13 hours ahead of you here in this antiseptic, futuristic city-state, where broadband is plentiful and where the world’s global diaspora lands along with the beams of light helping Singapore to lead us all into the information future.

You’ve heard of the man with the plan? Well, Singapore is a country with the plan.

“Intelligent Nation 2015,” a 10-year masterplan by the government here to help Singapore realize the potential of “infocomm,” is a blueprint for navigating the city-state’s transition “into a global city, universally recognised as an enviable synthesis of technology, infrastructure, enterprise and manpower.”

If Singapore’s future is in information communications, then it is only appropriate that IBM clients, business partners, employees and others in the IBM ecosystem began landing here over the weekend to attend the IBM InterConnect event.

As we positioned the event on the Web site, “In this era of interconnected industries, businesses and consumers, a new kind of leadership is required to turn opportunity into business outcomes. Smarter businesses are capitalizing on information as a bountiful resource and using technology as the catalyst for unleashing innovation.”

Now, for a moment, just close your eyes, and imagine the word cloud that is emerging in front of you: Interconnected. Opportunity. Smarter. Resource. Technology. Innovation. Outcomes.

Starting tomorrow, Tuesday, October 9th, we will begin exploring that word cloud in some depth — “we” being IBM clients, business partners, execs, subject matter experts and others.

First, we’ll look at the 10 hot topics that address key business imperatives in this uncertain climate, helping organizations to unleash innovation while pacing the velocity of change.

Second, we’ll share best practices that have been learned directly from successful IBM clients and partners.

Third, as is always the case at our favorite IBM events, we’ll foster a milieu for collaboration: With business decision-making peers and other like minded folks.

And we’ll enable you to meet many of these decision-makers and industry experts, face to face.

As for me, I’ll be covering some of these sessions, in particular the keynotes, here in the Turbo blog.

I’ll also be interviewing those numeourous thought leaders and partners and clients and IBM executives for our LiveStream video coverage.

So, keep your eye out here, and be sure to follow the #ibminterconnect hashtag on Twitter to get all the latest.

In future posts, I’ll convey a little more about the city-state that is Singapore.

Written by turbotodd

October 8, 2012 at 3:47 am

Lending A Helping Hand

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There are loads of conferences coming up.  In October, I’ll be attending and covering both the IBM InterConnect event in Singapore (October 9-11), and am currently preparing myself psychologically for the long plane ride.

Later in the month, from October 21-25, I’ll be covering the seventh Information on Demand event in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I’ll have more info on those soon, but in the meantime wanted to highlight another key event that will probably be flying a little under the radar, the Cúram International User Conference.

Entitled “Smarter Social Programs to Deliver Better Outcomes,” the Cúram event will be held starting tomorrow, October 1, through Thursday, October 4, at the Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel in Washington, D.C.

What’s notable about this particular event is its orientation towards helping people who help other people.

Social services organizations around the world find themselves in challenging times, with increasing demands for their resources and higher service expectations, at a time when tax revenues aren’t exactly peaking.

Many of those organizations have begun to leverage Cúram software to ensure they have the most fitting business and technology foundation to support those increasing demands.

At the Cúram event, attendees will learn about best practices from some of the more leading-edge social services practitioners, hear more about the latest social services trends, and network with their peers from around the globe.

They’ll also have the opportunity to see the latest Cúram solutions and technology in action, and meet Cúram integrators and partners.

You can learn more about the event here, and more about IBM Cúram software here.

Chatting To Connect

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I’ve been watching this whole Apple “Mapgate” discussion from the sidelines with some bemusement.

If you’d have told me a few weeks ago the emerging chatter about the iPhone 5 would come down to a map app’s dysfunction, I would have laughed, but such is the state of our technology polity.

On the one hand, the debate may seem filled with frivolity. On the other hand, it speaks to the seriousness with which users take their smartphones and their apps, particularly when it involves one that could be the very thing that comes between they and their next cup of java at Starbucks…assuming they can still find one!

Whether or not Apple will relent and offer a Google Maps app in the Apple App Store, says a story by Reuters and citing Google chairman Eric Schmidt, will be a decision made by Apple.

Me, I’m still trudging along just fine with my LG “dumb phone,” although I am keeping an open eye towards the looming iPad Mini.

I love my original iPad, but I think it needs one of those “Clean My PC” solutions reoriented for original iPads. It’s become more and more lethargic in terms of performance, and sometimes, when I’m in an application the thing will just reset and take me back to the home screen.  Not quite the equivalent of a Microsoft Windows “General Protection Fault” or blue screen of death, but coming close.

Speaking of finding my way, I wanted to remind folks that the IBM InterConnect event is only a short couple of weeks away in Singapore, October 9-11 at the Royal Sentosa Resort.

My airplane tickets have been bought, my hotel booked — now if I could just figure out a way to place myself in a state of somnolence as I board the plane for the longggg journey eastward.

If you’d like to learn more about the InterConnect event, IBM is hosting a Twitter Chat this Thursday, September 27, from 9-10 EST.

If you’ve never attended a Twitter Chat, now’s your chance. Our own social business guru, Sandy Carter, will be moderating the chat, fielding questions and relating details of the coming InterConnect event.

The hashtag for the chat is #IBMInterConnect, so simply log in to your TweetDeck or other Twitter app of choice, enter that hashtag, and be prepared for the discussion this Thursday evening.

If you don’t have a Twitter app, you can also log in to the following URL to follow the action:

http://tweetchat.com/room/ibminterconnect

A little background: IBM InterConnect 2012 is a new and unique event to provide you with opportunities to meet and collaborate with business and IT leaders in your region.

The IBM InterConnect conference will explore topics and key business imperatives, including unleashing innovations, managing the velocity of change and reinventing relationships and uncovering new markets.

IBM’s Scott Hebner and John Dunderdale provide some background on InterConnect in the video below:

Thinking Big @ Information On Demand 2012

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Nate Silver, author of the blog “FiveThirtyEight,” will be one of the featured keynote speakers at this year’s IBM Information On Demand 2012 event in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 21-25. Silver correctly predicted the results of the primaries and the U.S. presidential winner in 2008 in 49 states through his statistical analysis of polling data, and at IOD will explain how to distinguish real signals from noisy data as well as how predictive analytics is used in politics.

That annual festouche and gathering of all things data is just around the corner.

Yes, that’s right, it’s almost time for IBM Information on Demand 2012.

So in order to start the drumbeat, I wanted to take a few moments and point you to some useful resources as you prepare to make your way to the Bay of Mandalay, and to optimize your time on the ground in Vegas.

First, the new (and official) IBM Information on Demand blog, which you can find here.

The blog includes easy access to some of the social media channels that will be covering the event (including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube).

Of course, never forget the official IOD hashtag, #ibmiod, where you’ll be able to follow the endless stream of tidings leading up to, during, and after the event.

The blog also has links off to the IOD 2012 registration engine, as well as to the IOD SmartSite so you can start thinking about your IOD calendar now (I do NOT advise waiting until the last minute…talk about information overload!)

We’ve got some exciting guest speakers this year, including Nate Silver, statistics blogging extraordinaire who first found fame with his “FiveThirtyEight” blog, which is now part of The New York Times family of media properties.

Silver analyzes politics the way most of us should be analyzing our business: Through data…and lots of it.

His analysis of political polling data is unparalleled, and in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Silver correctly predicted the results of the primaries and the presidential winner in 49 states.

His recent book, “The Signal and The Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail — But Some Don’t,” explores the world of prediction, “investigating how we can distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy data.” Silver tackles some of the big questions about big data, so we’re very excited to have him join us in Vegas for IBM’s own big data marathon event.

At this year’s event, we’ll continue our trend of including tracks for specialized areas of interest, including forums for Information Management, Business Analytics, Business Leadership, and Enterprise Content Management.

And, of course, you’ll be able to find Scott Laningham and myself down in the EXPO center, where we’ll be talking to and interviewing many of the IBM and industry luminaries on the important data-related topics being discussed at the event.

Speaking of data, this will be my seventh IOD in a row, so I’m looking forward to seeing many of you once again.

Meanwhile, keep an eye here on the Turbo blog for future IOD-relevant posts.

Live @ IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit, Orlando: Day 1 Video Recap

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Our video producer for this IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit, Noah Bello, put together an excellent reel last night that did a great job of recapping some of the highlights from Day 1 of the Summit.

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, and a moving picture…well, it tells the tale like nothing else, so I’m just going to hand you off to Noah’s fine work so that those of you who couldn’t be here in person get a taste of the first day’s festivities!

Live @ IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit — Opening Keynote Debrief: Motivate the Elephant

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Click to enlarge. The IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit kicked off earlier today in Orlando, Florida. Over 200 IBM executives, industry specialists, and other thought leaders will be sharing their insights and expertise there over the next three days, including factoids like those seen in the infographic above.

If you love nothing else about IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative, you have to love the fact that it’s driven by results.

Here in Orlando, day one of the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit has already revealed some of those facts, or business outcomes, that demonstrate the power of a more integrated customer experience in action.

By way of example: I mentioned earlier via Twitter that over $27 billion in sales generated by the Internet Retailers Top 500 is powered by IBM Commerce software.

Another example: IBM manages $57 billion in annual procurement spend managed on behalf of our clients.

Yet another: IBM analyzes over $100 billion of commerce transactions each year in the cloud and conveys that insight back to our customers.

But those are results on the so-called “back-end.”

Let’s turn our attention for a moment to the newly empowered consumer: 86 percent of them use multiple channels in their shopping efforts, and they spend four to five times more than the average.

Four in ten smartphone users search for an item while in the store, and yet online sales via mobile devices were up 300 percent over 2010.

Or how about this one: 77 percent of the global population are now mobile subscribers.

That’s an immense opportunity.

Guy Kawasaki On Enchanted Customers

As former Apple evangelist and social media thought leader and author Guy Kawasaki kicked off today’s keynote session here at the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit, he explained to the audience that we had over 200 interesting and very valuable sessions of the audience’s peers and outside industry experts sharing their own insights.

He began with the notion of the “chief executive customer,” that is to say, with placing customers at the center of the commerce experience.

Citing his own book, “Enchantment,” Kawasaki revealed there are three pillars for building enchantment with your customers. One, you have to be likable. Two, you must achieve trustworthiness. And three, you have to do something “DICEE” (the acronym which translated to “Deep,” “Intelligent,” “Complete,” “Empowering,” and “Elegant.”)

Kawasaki shared some compelling examples of which he spoke. After running into Virgin mega CEO Richard Branson at a speaking engagement in Moscow, Branson cornered Kawasaki and asked him the ill-fated question: Do you fly on Virgin Airlines?

Kawasaki admitted that, as a loyal United customer, he did not. Branson then used his charm and personality, and even a quick shoe shine, to convince Kawasaki he should reconsider.

Kawasaki now also flies on Virgin.

The Legend Continues…

After some other amusing anecdotes, Kawasaki turned the rostrum over to Craig Hayman, IBM’s general manager, Industry Solutions.

Hayman talked about examples of businesses that have had to completely reinvent themselves (Play-Doh, the children’s product, used to be a cleaning goop used prior to World War II!).

Hayman explained that the rate and pace of change in today’s marketplace is soaring, but that ultimately the customer “owns the transaction.”

“If you disappoint them,” Hayman explained, “they’re going to share their point of view (especially via the social media!) and then move on.”

Hayman handed the reins over to Lenovo senior VP of supply chain, Jerry Smith, who explained that Lenovo is a $30 billion global personal technology company with 27,000+ employees and customers in 160+ countries.

Partnering with IBM, Smith explained, Lenovo rebuilt its company around a global supply chain vision whose goal was simple yet straightforward: To become the undisputed #1 supply chain in personal technology by providing a best-in-class customer experience.

As Smith related to the gathered audience, “We need you (Lenovo’s sales force and partners) to sell product on the water,” meaning those units which were already on ships leaving China heading for parts around the globe.

Lenovo’s supply chain overhaul saw delivery performance go up by 15 percent, and onboarding costs/time down some 85 percent, giving them better negotiating leverage, higher order speeds, and leaner inventory, a must for the PC business.

The Grass Always Grows At Husqvarna

Smith’s handoff was to two executives from Husqvarna, the 300+ year-old company that, these days, specializes in outdoor equipment.

Think chain saws and lawn mowers.

“Grass always grows,” explained John Marchionda, Husqvarna’s VP of marketing, as his counterpart from IT, Simon Howard, nodded his head in agreement.

Husqvarna’s most recent marketing investments include a social video education space on its website that are both sales force and tutorial, explaining the likes of using chain saws safely, and effectively, and helping turn the inventory in the process.

The last IBM customer to “testify” in the morning session was Aditya Bhasin, the senior VP for Consumer Marketing and Digital Banking.

“People trust other people, not institutions,” explained Bhasin. He and his team are using that knowledge to make banking better, combining the best of human interaction with a more robust and effective technology system.

One example: “BankAmeriDeals,” a form of digital couponing that combines buyer behaviors, shopping, and payment systems to bring more value to its customers in direct savings on purchases.

Another: Its new Facebook branch, which is helping match consumers with local ATMs and bank branches, and helping answer customer questions through a medium they’re most comfortable with.

Change Is A Four Letter Word

The co-author of Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, Dan Heath, batted clean-up in the morning session by talking about a theme universal to many of IBM Smarter Commerce clients’ initiatives: Change.

“Change is a four-letter word for a lot of people,” Heath explained, before challenging the audience to think about “what happens when you leave Orlando?  Will the change you envision be a change you are willing to fight for?”

Heath explained that change is definitely within the art of the possible: We’re certainly optimistic about change the moment we decide to get married.

With much laughs from the audience, and Heath’s wedding album pictures onscreen as pudding proof, Heath explained that change is made more difficult by the battling two sides of our brains: The Rational, Conscious, and Deliberative side, and the Emotional, Unconscious, and Automatic side.

The emotional side is like a big elephant in our heads, the little devil telling us “We deserve ice cream” or “Call my ex.”

The rational side…well, we like to often ignore that side.

To make his thesis actionable, Heath explained a three-part framework for thinking about change.

One, he explained, we have to “direct the rider.” Point to the way you want to change and “find the bright spots,” those areas of opportunity where you’ve already succeeded.

Second, “motivate the elephant” — give them a compelling reason to change.

And finally, “shape the path,” for change.

That is, “cultivate a culture that’s more conducive to change” and encourages more people to participate.

Live From IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit: The Magic Of This Kingdom

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When I arrived in Orlando yesterday for the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit, which kicked off here earlier this morning, I started having flashbacks.

No, not those kind of flashbacks, the hallucinatory kind!

No, these were childhood flashbacks. To when I must have been 6 or 7, and I experienced my first firsthand brand impressions of Disneyworld.

My mom and dad were some patient people, carrying my sister and I all the way to one end of the country from Texas to experience all the magic that Walt Disney had imagined.

And magic it was.

I don’t remember much in detail, but in emotional impression, I remembered a lot. I remembered cruising along on “It’s a Small World” ride, when, in fact, the world still seemed quite big and grandiose to me.

I also remember the haunted house ride, the one where the ghost sits next to you, even if for a brief spell.  I was frickin’ mortified, terrified…and exhilirated, all at the same time.

And Space Mountain…well, don’t get me started. I might as well have been on another planet.

I haven’t even gotten to seeing the Disney characters come to life walking around the Animal Kingdom, or Snow White in that beautiful castle.

Mind you, these experiences transpired roughly forty years ago (I’m trying not to be TOO precise), and yet the fondness and remembrance they created for me were…well, simply magic.

I’m sure that’s not why we bring all our customers here to Orlando, to experience Disney’s magic.  I’m sure we’ve gotten some good economies of scale for holding our events here, and certainly we (and our own customers) get great service while staying at the Disney properties.

Then again, that kind of IS the point.

As we come together to discuss the opportunities and challenges for Smarter Commerce over the next few days, we’d be wise to remember that not everything that creates business magic is something you can sell or even mimic.

The integrity and honesty of a real and positive brand experience should have and be just that, integral and honest.

If your company genuinely desires to create a positive and integral experience, then it will be so.

But to try and put it on and wear it as an after-the–fact costume…well, Mickey Mouse will have never been outed so fast!

When IBM launched its Smarter Commerce initiative last year, we tried to make sure we were wearing an appropriate costume. IBM has invested some $3 billion in acquisitions in this space, and created an IBM Global Business Services team of 1,000 focusing exclusively on Smarter Commerce.

Our Websphere Commerce technology, which was already a leading, organic product in the marketplace, was evolved, with both client and general market feedback, to expand and cover the entire B2B2C commerce lifecycle end to end.

But probably most importantly, and not unlike Walt Disney, we recognized that our own customers’ customers were going to be the ultimate measure of our success.

We live in an amazing age of the empowered customer, one who has unlimited to access to information and who can instantly share his or her experience with the entire planet…and does!

Because technology has empowered those customers with greater access to transparency to information and raised their own expectations for relevant communications, superior price, delivery, and service, so, too, must our customers raise their game, and we at IBM, our own.

Hence the discussions you’ll be tuning into and participating in over these next three days.

Soak it up. Take notes. Talk to everybody you can. Don’t waste a moment. Some of the best minds within IBM, and the broader industry, are here just for all of you to help you on your journey.

As for me, I’ll be here, and on the Solutions Center floor interviewing some of those great minds for our YouTube channel. 

And if I can, I’m going to try and break away just for a few moments so I can go say hi, and make peace, with some old ghost friends of mine.

I have a distinct feeling Walt Disney wouldn’t have had it any other way.

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