Archive for the ‘economy’ Category
Day 3 at Information On Demand 2012.
The suggestion to “Think Big” continued, so Scott Laningham and I sat down very early this morning with Nate Silver, blogger and author of the now New York Times bestseller, “The Signal and the Noise” (You can read the review of the book in the Times here).
Nate, who is a youngish 34, has become our leading statistician through his innovative analyses of political polling, but made his original name by building a widely acclaimed baseball statistical analysis system called “PECOTA.”
Today, Nate runs the award-winning political website FiveThirtyEight.com, which is now published in The New York Times and which has made Nate the public face of statistical analysis and political forecasting.
In his book, the full title of which is “The Signal and The Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail — But Some Don’t,” Silver explores how data-based predictions underpin a growing sector of critical fields, from political polling to weather forecasting to the stock market to chess to the war on terror.
In the book, Nate poses some key questions, including what kind of predictions can we trust, and are the “predicters” using reliable methods? Also, what sorts of things can, and cannot, be predicted?
In our conversation in the greenroom just prior to his keynote at Information On Demand 2012 earlier today, Scott and I probed along a number of these vectors, asking Nate about the importance of prediction in Big Data, statistical influence on sports and player predictions (a la “Moneyball”), how large organizations can improve their predictive capabilities, and much more.
It was a refreshing and eye-opening interview, and I hope you enjoy watching it as much as Scott and I enjoyed conducting it!
Live @ IBM InterConnect 2012: A Q&A With IBM’s Steve Wilkins On The Asian-Pacific Economic Juggernaut
IBM’s vice president for IBM Software Marketing in our Global Growth Markets organization, Steve Wilkins, has a unique perspective on the Asia-Pacific region, and was also instrumental in helping make the IBM InterConnect event a reality here in Singapore.
The last time I saw Steve, we were sharing a cab in Seoul, South Korea, comparing notes about our respective BlackBerry Bolds and various mobile travel applications we had been trying to help us maintain our sanity while on the road.
That was only a short two years ago, and the fact that neither of us continues to carry the Bold says more about just how fast the market is moving, in Asia and beyond, than can I! (We both carry iPhones these days, along with my newfound Nokia 1280 “global” phone acquired here in Singapore this week.)
I sat down with Steve here in Singapore to get the lowdown on the Asia-Pacific market. Steve offered insights ranging from the slowdown and structural shifts we’re witnessing in China (shifts that are creating massive new economic opportunity for individuals and businesses alike) to the ability of Asia-Pacific telecommunications providers to keep pace with the massive growth in mobile computing in the region!
Thanks again to Steve for taking the time to share his wisdoms and insights about this incredibly exciting area of the globe, one that offers massive opportunity but which also requires close attention be paid to the idiosyncratic needs and customs of the various countries that the region constitutes.
You can see our interview here.
IBM 2012 second quarter earnings were just released, and IBM’s operating earnings per share (non-GAAP) came in above expectations at $3.51/share, a 14 percent increase YOY.
Revenue came in at $25.8 billion, down 3 percent YOY, but up 1 percent YOY when adjusted for common currency.
Operating net income was $4.1 billion, up 8 percent YOY, and free cash flow came in at $3.7 billion, up 9 percent YOY.
Second quarter segment highlights included software revenue led by Europe, Japan and the growth markets, and services profit, which was up 18 percent (with the services backlog flat at constant currency).
IBM’s software business reported revenues of $6.2 billion, which were up 4 percent when adjusted for common currency.
Once again, the WebSphere brand led the way, coming in at 3 percent growth YOY (7 percent when adjusted for common currency).
The Tivoli brand grew 2 percent YOY, 6 percent when adjusted for common currency. Overall gross margins for the software business were flat at 88.4 percent, but pre-tax income was $2.5 billion, up some 8 percent YOY.
IBM’s Systems and Technology group revenues were negatively impacted by the product cycle, coming in down 9 percent YOY, but STG gained share in the POWER systems segment.
IBM saw continued strength in its growth initiatives, with growth markets realizing YTD revenue growth of 9 percent YOY when adjusted for constant currency, and its business analytics business up 13 percent YOY.
Cloud computing revenue doubled YOY, and Smarter Planet revenue grew by over 20 percent YOY.
IBM’s annuity business provided a solid base of revenue, profit, and cash, and productivity initiatives drove structural improvements and helped contribute to IBM’s margin expansion.
Following is what IBM CEO Ginny Rometty had to say about IBM’s 2Q 2012 earnings:
“In the second quarter, we delivered strong profit, earnings per share and free cash flow growth. This performance reflects continued strength in our growth initiatives and investments in higher value opportunities,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM president and chief executive officer. “These are fundamental elements of our long-term business model.
“Looking ahead, we are well positioned to deliver greater value to a wider range of clients and to our shareholders. Given our performance in the first half and our outlook for the second half, we are raising our full-year operating earnings per share expectations to at least $15.10.”
IBM vice president Mike Rhodin hit the stage this morning at the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit, with presenter emcee Jon Briggs introducing Mike as “the man who eats analytics for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.’
Rhodin’s talk was entitled “Transform Your Business Around the Customer,” again with the central theme of the Summit that if more businesses wanted to keep theirs, they would increasingly have to pivot their business around customer needs.
Rhodin indicated that he wanted to take a step backward from yesterday’s more outcome-driven discussion, and instead talk about “some of the foundational ideas that led us to Smarter Commerce.”
He explained that four years ago, IBM started a conversation about having a “smarter planet,” one increasingly instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent, and that since that time, “analytics emerged as a centerpiece across our entire portfolio.”
Rhodin joked that the financial crisis’ onslaught wasn’t the best time to launch a new marketing campaign, but then explained smarter planet wasn’t that, that it was a signal call heralding a new age of computing. That it was, in fact, the beginning of a movement that was going to happen “no matter what else happened in the world.”
The change this movement would bring was startling. We saw the social media embraced in both the social, political, and, increasingly business realms, and we saw that the physical world was about to become digitized…to some degree, because of the crisis.
Scott Laningham and I sat down with Mike Rhodin in the Smarter Commerce Global Summit Solutions Center just after his keynote in Madrid here this morning to discuss the evolution of the Smarter Commerce initiative, and the opportunity it, and other emerging technologies such as IBM’s Watson, provide companies looking to become more analytics and data-driven.
Ergo, the world, and organizations, needed to better understand systemic risk in advance of its rearing its ugly head. Hence, the need to instrument the world around us.
“Information was flowing around the planet at a breakneck speed,” Rhodin articulated, “and so there was another form of input to make business decisions that became apparent.”
“We also instrumented the virtual world,” he went on, “whereby understanding the sentiment of your employees, your partners, and other constituents was critical.”
Yet all this new data was overwhelming many. “It was growing at such a speed that people couldn’t read or process it with traditional means, and so that’s where analytics started to play a key role, and served as a foundation for Smarter Commerce.”
“This began what we’re classifying as the next generation of computing,” Rhodin went on to explain. “We went through the age of ‘tabulating’ — we’re now entering the age of “information-based” computing.”
In this age, business outcomes are increasingly insight-driven, solutions are more intelligent, and technology is designed to be more and more cognitive.
“It’s not about understanding what happens, but rather, what you do about it, what actions you take,” Rhodin concluded.
With this explosion of data from a hyper-connected society of empowered consumers, we “must extract insight from our most important assets – employees and customers – through smarter analytics,” and the challenge, then, is to address the need for “volume, velocity, and veracity” to help find the right data amidst all those needles amidst all those haystacks.
And it’s a big series of haystacks and needles. The data generated between the dawn of civilization and 2003 is now created every two days! Rhodin explained.
He went on: “These next gen systems are creating opportunities in IT we haven’t seen in 50 years. But now, with all this information and analytics, and the march of globalization, we can start to automate areas of business we could never automate before. We can start to automate and make more intelligent the front-office areas of our business. Chief Financial Officers, CMOs, head of sales, HR…we can turn HR from a reactive to proactive process.”
“We’ve identified a new pattern of automation across industries, one whereby we can instrument, interconnect, and analyze more and more data about the world, and in the process unlock more and more valuable insight,” he explained. “We are infusing intelligent into the fabric of organizational processes. This shift is as profound as the last evolution was to transaction processing and back office automation.”
The shift being, of course, a continual transition whereby today’s analytics evolves into tomorrow’s cognitive computing capability, where Watson-style technologies utilizing natural language processing and hypothesis-generating and adaptation and learning systems virtually reinvent the IT future.
“We can remake parts of industries that have been untouched by IT in the past,” Rhodin concluded.
If you were wondering what your CEO was doing all day, you need wonder no longer.
A story in today’s Wall Street Journal cites a research study conducted by the London School of Economics and Harvard Business School entitled the “Executive Time Use Project” reveals that CEOs spend about a third of their work time in meetings.
Funny, I would have thought a third of their time was spent on airplanes!
In any case, as a study overview on the London School explains, “A CEO’s schedule is especially important to a firm’s success, which raises a few questions: What do they do all day?”
And, more importantly, can they be more efficient with their time?
Here’s a few other sound bytes from the study:
- On average, some 85 percent of a CEO’s time was spent working with other people, with only 15 percent spent working alone.
- The time CEOs spent with outsiders had no measurable impact on firm performance. But, time spent with other people inside the company was strongly correlated with positive increases in productivity.
- In companies with stronger governance, CEOs spent more time with insiders and less time with outsiders, and at the same time were more productive.
So how else did they spend their time? In total, some 85 percent was spent working with other people through meetings, phone calls, and public appearances.
Of that precious time spent with others, 42 percent was spent with only “insiders,” 25 percent with insiders and outsiders together, and 16 percent with only outsiders.
The time spent with insiders, however, was strongly correlated with productivity increases. For every 1 percent gain in time spent with at least one insider, productivity advanced 1.23 percent.
Not so reassuring was the fact that the time CEOs spent with outsiders had no measureable correlation with firm performance.
Turbo’s Translation: Focus on meeting with your more senior troops, skip some of the speaking engagements, and be very discriminating about the biz dev meetings you take.
So the IBM Benchmark is in for Cyber Monday’s online shopping extravaganza, and it appears that shopping from the office continues to king.
So much for post-Thanksgiving productivity at work!
Me, the only Cyber Monday deal I bought was a new version of VMWare Fusion for my MacBook Air. I’m a geek, and I like running multiple operating systems at the same time, what can I say? It also gave me a good excuse to try out the latest flavor of Ubuntu Linux (11.10).
But I was apparently in the minority. The U.S. Online retail sector delivered strong growth on Cyber Monday 2011 compared to the same period last year.
Here are the Cyber Monday headlines from the IBM Benchmark analysis:
- Cyber Monday 2011 Compared to Cyber Monday 2010 (year/year)
- Consumer Spending Increases: Online sales were up 33.0 percent over 2010, with consumers pushing the average order value up from $193.24 to $198.26 for an increase of 2.6 percent.
- Shopping Peaks at 11:05am PST/2:05pm EST: Consumers flocked online, with shopping momentum hitting its highest peak at 11:05am PST/2:05pm EST. Consumer shopping also maintained strong momentum after commuting hours on both the east and west coast.
- Mobile Sales and Traffic Grows: On Cyber Monday, 10.8 percent of people used a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site, up from 3.9 percent in 2010. Additionally, mobile sales grew dramatically, reaching 6.6 percent on Cyber Monday versus 2.3 percent in 2010.
- Cyber Monday 2011 Compared to Black Friday 2011
- Consumer Spending Increases: Online sales were up 29.3 percent over Black Friday.
- The Mobile Bargain Hunter: On Cyber Monday mobile traffic averaged 10.8 percent compared to 14.3 percent on Black Friday.
- Mobile Sales: Consumer sales on mobile devices reached 6.6 percent versus 9.8 percent on Black Friday.
- The Apple Shopper: Apple’s iPhone and iPad continued to rank one and two for mobile device retail traffic (4.1 percent and 3.3 percent respectively). Android maintained its position in third at 3.2 percent. Collectively iPhone and iPad accounted for 7.4 percent of all online retail traffic versus 10.2 percent on Black Friday.
- The iPad Factor: Shoppers using the iPad also continued to drive more retail purchases than any other device with conversion rates reaching 5.2 percent compared to 4.6 percent.
- The Social Influence: Shoppers referred from Social Networks generated 0.56 percent of all online sales on Cyber Monday versus 0.53 percent on Black Friday. Similar to Black Friday, Facebook led the pack, accounting for 86 percent of all social media traffic.
- Social Media Chatter: Discussions on social media sites leading up to Cyber Monday increased in volume by 115 percent compared to 2010. Top areas of discussion focused on consumers sharing tips about using price comparison websites while avoiding cyber scams, Cyber Monday deals for international consumers and conversations about Black Friday in-store shopping experiences.
“Cyber Monday was once again the big winner for the Thanksgiving holiday shopping season, with a record number of consumers focused on finding the best online deals,” said John Squire, Chief Strategy Officer, IBM Smarter Commerce. “Retailers that adopted a smarter approach to commerce, one that allowed them to swiftly adjust to the shifting shopping habits of their customers, whether in-store, online or via their mobile device, were able to fully benefit from this day and the entire holiday weekend.”
This news is based on findings from IBM’s fourth annual Cyber Monday Benchmark which tracks more than a million transactions a day, analyzing terabytes of raw data from 500 retailers nationwide.
With this data, IBM helps retailers better understand and respond to their customers – across the organization – improving sourcing, inventory management, marketing, sales, and services programs.
Okay, okay, methinks I cursed the market.
I joked in yesterday’s post about hoping to avoid an economic meltdown, seeing as our U.S. Congress came through at the last minute with a debt ceiling bill.
Little did I know that only THEN would the market panic.
As an investor, and future retiree candidate, I’m not going to totally freak. Like a good little investor, I’m in this for the long haul, what goes up must come down (and hopefully go back up again), and panicking didn’t do Chicken Little any good.
But Double-U Tee Eff!?!?!
I turn away from CNBC for a few hours to get some work done and the market sinks 500 points?!
Not without some irony, I’ve been speaking with my financial adviser the last week, preparing for a possible meltdown. We had the strategy all planned. But that was assuming the meltdown would happen on Monday or Tuesday, or maybe over last weekend.
NOT TWO DAYS LATER!
Okay, I feel better now. I’m also going to turn lemons into lemonade.
Buy low, sell high, right? But maybe someone could warn me about the big hill in advance next time!
Well, back to techland. Scott Laningham, my trusted developerWorks amigo and podcasting guru, finally got back into the studio, so to speak, to record a recent episode. We talked about Operation RAT, the Google/IBM patent deal, and the 30th birthday of the IBM Personal Computer.
Me, I’m off to lick my investing wounds.
Oh, and if you don’t hear from me next week, that’s ‘cause I’m going to do a little vacating. But I’m sure it won’t last nearly long enough, and you’ll hear from me again very soon.
It’s been a bad computer hair week.
My MacBook Pro, which is an early ‘08 model, took a hard drive nose dive earlier this week, and, of course, my Apple Care expired in March.
This after the same machine did a hard drive nose dive last summer (along with the motherboard), when both were still under Apple Care.
Here’s the irony: I have a Dell Latitude E4300 that I’d been running Ubuntu Linux on, and decided to go back to Windows 7, and was literally in the midst of rebuilding a productive machine with all the stuff I need to, you know, do actual work, and THAT was the time Mr. Turbo MBP decided to jump off into the bottom of an empty pool.
Thank you, Mactronics, here in Austin, for fixing the MBP in two days. Those folks are some of the most awesome tech repair teams I’ve ever dealt with.
So we’re beyond the Debt Ceiling deal, finally. Now, if we can just keep the economic skies from falling.
And there was more bad news today. MacAfee, the now Intel-owned security firm, issued a jaw-dropping report about a five-year cyber security exposure that impacted 74 organizations and governments around the world.
If you want to get caught up on this story, go straight to the source, a blog post by MacAfee VP Dmitri Alperovitch. If you had any second thoughts about the severity of industrial espionage and security break-ins online, this ought to put those thoughts to rest.
The list of victims is a veritable “Who’s Who” of nation-states and institutions. Impacted were the U.S., Taiwan, India, South Korea, Vietnam, Canada, ASEAN, the International Olympic Committee, the World Anti-Doping Agency, and a host of companies, including defense contractors and high-tech firms.
Wrote Alperovitch in his blog post, “This is the biggest transfer of wealth in terms of intellectual property in history…The scale at which this is occurring is really, really frightening.”
Probably not a bad time to remind folks of IBM’s security solutions.
In the meantime, I’m sitting here inside Turboville downloading Mac OS X Lion and in the process of rebuilding my MBP so I don’t have a “No Mac Attack.”
Wish me luck!