Archive for the ‘globalization’ Category
Our CEO, Ginny Rometty, has taken to updating the IBM workforce via some nifty video blogs since she took the helm last year.
In her most recent update, she encouraged the IBM workforce to recommit to continuing to build our skills, and so asked each of us to pursue 40 hours of continuing education in 2013, and that IBM would foot the bill for the additional costs (travel, books, etc.)
Back in 2001-2003, I pursued and completed my MBA in technology management from one of the world’s first for-profit continuing education institution’s, the Apollo Group’s University of Phoenix Online.
This was still the way early days for online learning. Most of the learning was done through traditional books and Phoenix’s proprietary equivalent newsgroup software, where I would exchange asynchronous messages with my professors and fellow students. We also participated in a few self-directed teleconference calls and lots of instant messaging meetings, as there were loads of team projects that required coordination with other students.
One course in particular that I remember wishing I had had a longer course schedule beyond the traditional six weeks (which is how long Phoenix’s courses lasted at the time) was corporate finance. Half the reason I had pursued the MBA was to expand beyond my right brain-oriented BA and MA in English and Radio/TV/Film respectively, and take on more left brain pursuits.
The finance course was exactly the kind of stuff I’d been wanting to learn, but again, in six weeks, it just moved too quickly to completely grok such a vast expanse of information.
So, flash forward to 2013 and my new learning mandate from our CEO. It just so happened last fall I had stumbled onto massive online open course (MOOC) provider Coursera, which has been offering a wealth of classes from a variety of higher learning institutions, and it just so happened they were also going to be offering a corporate finance class through the University of Michigan.
Voila, problem solved. I could now return to revisiting my finance love and spend a little more deliberate time learning it from the ground up, this time over the course of 16 weeks and at no cost to myself or to IBM (other than by taking a little of my time).
This time around, however, I have a professor explaining many of the concepts through online video, snippets of which I can watch in my spare moments or in binge viewing on the weekends. I also have access to more sophisticated online messaging collaboration tools to learn from my fellow students.
And, I do believe, I’m starting to see some technological foundations laid that could completely disrupt the traditional bastions of higher learning, much the way Napster disrupted the recorded music industry.
Good education requires some basic Sophoclean give and take, to be sure, but who says such give and take has to be in a physical classroom with way too many students and not enough personal attention?
I remember courses from my own baccalaureate matriculation at the University of North Texas that filled entire stadium classrooms, and I probably said nary a word to many of those professors, other than answering a few questions over the course of the semester.
What if I could have an even more personalized learning experience, at my own pace, through a MOOC?
Who’s to say a MOOC, in partnership with some of the best professors in the world, couldn’t create their own virtual university, one that isn’t undermined by the increasingly failing economics of brick and mortar learning institutions?
One that, if put together with the right forethought and technology could charge far less than most state and private universities today, and yet still hire the best-of-the-best when it comes to instructors.
If you haven’t heard about MOOCs, you’re definitely not keeping up with the learning Joneses.
Many MOOC courses these days are attracting multiple tens of thousands of students. In fact, Coursera was developed by Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller after Stanford University offered three MOOC courses in the fall of 2012 and each averaged an enrollment of around 100,000 students.
Yes, 100,000 each!
Will MOOCs scale to the needs of higher education aspirants everywhere? Possibly.
But what if it were able to address just a quarter of the higher education needs? Last fall, an estimated 21 million new college students were headed to universities, many incurring absurd amounts of debt and often experiencing an overhang from the mortgage debt crisis.
In fact, a Wall Street Journal article from January 30 found that credit bureau TransUnion had discovered that 33 percent of the almost $900 billion in outstanding student loans was held by subprime, or the “riskiest,” borrowers as of March of last year.
I suspect that new MOOC-oriented firms like Coursera, Udacity, edX — and probably more to come — are just one avenue that future college students may well want to pursue for a higher level of education at a fraction of today’s traditional university price, and of course they are no silver bullet.
On the other hand, the avaricious appetite for the early MOOC courses from students around the globe would suggest the higher education market is not even close to meeting the inherent demand, and it was that great learned scholar, Aristotle, who taught us that “nature abhors a vacuum.”
IBM announced this afternoon fourth-quarter 2012 diluted earnings of $5.13 per share, compared with diluted earnings of $4.62 per share in the fourth quarter of 2011, an increase of 11 percent.
Fourth-quarter net income was $5.8 billion compared with $5.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011, an increase of 6 percent. Total revenues for the fourth quarter of 2012 of $29.3 billion decreased 1 percent (flat adjusting for currency) from the fourth quarter of 2011.
“We achieved record profit, earnings per share and free cash flow in 2012. Our performance in the fourth quarter and for the full year was driven by our strategic growth initiatives — growth markets, analytics, cloud computing, Smarter Planet solutions — which support our continued shift to higher-value businesses,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer.
“Looking ahead, we continue to invest to deliver innovations for the enterprise in key areas such as big data, mobile solutions, social business and security, while expanding into new markets and reaching new clients. We are well on track toward our long-term roadmap for operating EPS of at least $20 in 2015.”
Following are key details of 4Q 2012 earnings:
GAAP: $5.13, up 11 percent;
Operating (non-GAAP): $5.39, up 14 percent;
GAAP: $5.8 billion, up 6 percent;
Operating (non-GAAP): $6.1 billion, up 10 percent;
Gross profit margin:
GAAP: 51.8 percent, up 1.8 points;
Operating (non-GAAP): 52.3 percent, up 2.1 points;
Revenue of $29.3 billion, down 1 percent, flat adjusting for currency:
Up 1 percent excluding divested RSS business adjusting for currency;
Free cash flow of $9.5 billion, up $0.6 billion;
Software revenue up 3 percent, up 4 percent adjusting for currency;
Services revenue down 2 percent, down 1 percent adjusting for currency;
Services backlog of $140 billion, flat, up $1 billion adjusting for currency;
Systems and Technology revenue down 1 percent, up 4 percent excluding RSS:
System z mainframe up 56 percent.
Full Year 2012
Diluted EPS, up double-digits for 10th consecutive year:
GAAP: $14.37, up 10 percent;
Operating (non-GAAP): $15.25, up 13 percent;
GAAP: $16.6 billion, up 5 percent;
Operating (non-GAAP): $17.6 billion, up 8 percent;
Revenue of $104.5 billion, down 2 percent, flat adjusting for currency;
Free cash flow of $18.2 billion, up $1.6 billion;
Growth markets revenue up 4 percent, up 7 percent adjusting for currency:
BRIC countries up 7 percent, up 12 percent adjusting for currency;
Business analytics revenue up 13 percent;
Smarter Planet revenue up more than 25 percent;
Cloud revenue up 80 percent.
Full-Year 2013 Expectation:
GAAP EPS of at least $15.53 and operating (non-GAAP) EPS of at least $16.70.
Techno DJ futurist Jason Silva (formerly of Al Gore’s Current TV) kicked off the Information On Demand 2012 event here at the Mandalay Bay Arena by telling us all to “Think Big.”
Though I’d known this was the conference theme, I didn’t realize how big big was until the small, but limber, Silva gave his big presentation.
As he kickstarted the event with a blend of hyper animations and visualizations reeling behind him on a huge video screen in post-MTV fashion, I wanted to stop him and explain that to talk about big things so rapidly would allow a lot of his big ideas to disappear into the ether and to just slow downnnnn.
Jason’s look at the big picture was an interesting one, wherein he described a world that was “hyperconnected,” where we extended sensors into everything…on planes, bridges…even our conference IDs for IOD!
But Silva’s utopian vision could easily merge into a dystopia, if proffered without regard to some of the more realistic and mundane issues presented in a Big Data universe.
Small, and petty human concerns like agendas, and greed, and lack of privacy, and bias, and the other nasty little buggers which make us human.
So, though I wanted to go along with Silva’s optimistic joy ride snowblind to those considerations, someone has to be the buzz kill at this emerging Big Data party and explain there are some very real and concerning issues that will need to be dealt with, none of which Silva seemed even to allude to.
But, as techno joy rides go, his was fun even as it went by in the blink of an eye.
Once he blinked, it was IBM Software vice president Robert LeBlanc who really set the stage for the week’s tidings, explaining to the gathered audience of 12,000+ in the Mandalay Bay arena how smarter analytics would be required in the new era of computing.
As always, Leblanc started with some facts: Like how Big Analytics is what’s driving innovation and market growth in IBM’s recent CTO study.
How “technology factors” has risen to the top of the CEO agenda as the number one issue during the study’s last six years.
And how it’s no matter what part of the world you inhabit or what industry you’re in…all and everywhere will be impacted by the need for smarter analytics. This kind of transformational change is a movie we’ve seen before, first with transaction processing in the 1960s, with Internet-enabled e-business in the mid-1990s, and now, the move towards analytics becoming foundational to computing.
Two IBM customers provided two very different, yet compelling, views into this future, one they’re each already living.
ConocoPhillips principal scientist Dr. Phil Anno explained how his organization is utilizing big data analysis to maximize the economic performance of petroleum extraction in the Arctic (and prevent damage to their drilling rigs by shifting ice flows!)
Keith Figlioli, senior VP with Premier, a U.S.-based healthcare IT provider, explained how they’re using IBM technologies to drive substantial costs out of the U.S. healthcare system (he explained that 30 cents on every dollar is wasted on unneeded care and fraud in the U.S.)
Also in the opening general session, we heard from Inhi Cho Suh, VP of Information Management at IBM, who gave an excellent, if quick, summary of the three PureData systems options.
Deepak Advani, who gave an excellent flyover of how big data analytics is bringing about the rapid integration of structured and unstructured data, also highlighted www.analyticszone.com, where you can download some free tools for conducting your own personal analytics.
As the general session concluded, I scooted on over to the day one press conference, where I heard some opening comments from IBM senior vice president Steve Mills.
Mills explained how IT economics laid the red carpet for big data, that it wouldn’t have been possible had the economics of hardware, in particular, been driven down to such an affordable level so as to enable these higher performing systems required for big data analytics.
Mills also highlighted the fact that smarter analytics is a delivery of the real promise of information technology, that now customers are “buying outcomes, and time to value,” as opposed to systems and processes, and that it made sense for them to invest in such projects.
More on the actual announcements as details emerge…
IBM’s 3Q 2012 earnings were just announced, with diluted earnings of $3.33 per share, a year-to-year increase of 4 percent, or $3.44 per share, up 8 percent excluding the impact of UK pension-related charges.
Operating (non-GAAP) diluted earnings were $3.62 per share, compared with operating diluted earnings of $3.28 per share in the third quarter of 2011, an increase of 10 percent.
Total revenues for the third quarter of 2012 of $24.7 billion were down 5 percent (down 2 percent, adjusting for currency) from the third quarter of 2011. Currency negatively impacted revenue growth by nearly $1 billion.
IBM chairman, president, and CEO Ginny Rometty had this to say about the quarter’s financial performance: “In the third quarter, we continued to drive margin, profit, and earnings growth through our focus on higher-value businesses, strategic growth initiatives, and productivity.
“Looking ahead, we see good opportunity with a strong product lineup heading into this quarter and annuity businesses that provide a solid base of revenue, profit, and cash. We are reiterating our full-year 2012 operating earnings per share expectation of at least $15.10.”
Following are further highlights from the quarter:
- GAAP: $3.33, up 4 percent; $3.44, up 8 percent excluding UK pension-related charges;
- Operating (non-GAAP): $3.62, up 10 percent;
- GAAP: $3.8 billion, flat; $3.9 billion, up 3 percent excluding UK pension-related charges;
- Operating (non-GAAP): $4.2 billion, up 5 percent;
Gross profit margin:
- GAAP: 47.4 percent, up 0.9 points;
- Operating (non-GAAP): 48.1 percent, up 1.2 points;
Revenue: $24.7 billion, down 5 percent, down 2 percent adjusting for currency;
- Negative currency impact of nearly $1 billion;
- Divestiture of Retail Store Solutions (RSS) reduced revenue by 1 percent;
Software revenue down 1 percent, up 3 percent adjusting for currency;
Services revenue down 5 percent, flat adjusting for currency;
Services backlog of $138 billion, up 1 percent;
Systems and Technology revenue down 13 percent, down 12 percent adjusting for currency;
Growth markets revenue down 1 percent, up 4 percent adjusting for currency;
- BRIC countries up 4 percent, up 11 percent adjusting for currency;
Business analytics revenue up 14 percent year to date;
Smarter Planet revenue up more than 20 percent year to date
Cloud revenue year to date has exceeded full-year 2011 revenue;
Reiterating full-year 2012 operating (non-GAAP) EPS expectation of at least $15.10.
IBM’s mobile computing juggernaut continues with a new deal just announced in Saudia Arabia.
Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) and IBM announced today a 5-year agreement worth approximately $280 million to provide comprehensive IT solutions for the Saudi Arabian company.
Saudi Arabia: 870,000 Square Miles
Saudi Arabia is a big place, encompassing some 870,000 square miles with a population approaching 30 million people. Mobily, as the fastest growing telecommunications company in Saudia Arabia, has experienced an explosion in demand from the growing number of subscribers using mobile devices, and so in turn needed to boost its IT capacity and innovation in the market.
This new agreement with IBM will provide Mobily with faster, targeted access to new technologies and expertise so it can build a strong infrastructure to keep up with the company’s business growth.
As Mobily gears up for further expansion, it wanted to improve the quality and speed of its operations using IBM best practices.
As part of the agreement, Mobily and IBM will collaborate on future innovation with the help of IBM Research, for example, using IBM’s Spoken Web solution.
The basic principle of Spoken Web uses speech to create voice sites using the mobile phone network to establish a spoken version of the internet. The opportunity to collaborate with leading IBM researchers has become a key differentiator for IBM.
IBM’s Growth Market Strategy
The agreement highlights IBM’s continued geographic expansion initiative to strategically increase its presence in key growth markets like Saudi Arabia in support of its global growth strategy.
IBM is ramping up its investment across the Middle East and Africa, harnessing the company’s Smarter Planet initiative to help both public and private sector clients do more with fewer resources.
The strategic management of IT remains with Mobily, ensuring continuation of its standards of excellence and cutting-edge architecture, and enabling Mobily to meet the explosion in demand it is seeing from the growing number of subscribers using mobile devices.
“Partnering with one of the largest technology companies in the world offers Mobily a broad portfolio of modern IT solutions that will have a positive impact on our customers in terms of the quality of products and innovative services, in addition to solutions that will enrich their lives. We are pleased to sign with IBM, which has a significant presence in this strategic sector,” said Khalid Al Kaf, CEO, Mobily.
“The agreement is part of our efforts and vision of transforming Mobily into an integrated telecommunications operator. It also supports the Saudi government’s initiative of creating a knowledge-based community, adopting state of the art services and solutions” Al Kaf added.
IBM And Saudi Arabia: Remaking The Kingdom’s Future
IBM is involved in a range of key initiatives in Saudi Arabia, including a joint project with King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology using innovative membrane technology and solar power to address the shortage of drinking water.
In another project, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and IBM are collaborating using the most complex, high performance computing system in the region.
The agreement with Mobily was signed in August 2012.
To my friends in India, I hope you’re fairly weathering your blackout.
I was just reading through some BBC coverage which has reporters spread across northern India, including Utter Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, and West Bengal.
The report suggests Calcutta was not as badly affected as other regions, because it has a private electricity board, but that power went out across the rest of West Bengal state.
Thus far, coverage suggests the power breakdowns in India are mainly in the north, the east, and the northeast, and that about 600 million people have been in affected in over 20 Indian states.
To put that in perspective for those of us here in the west, that would be like the power going out across all of the U.S. and all of the United Kingdom, at once.
Yes, just imagine that.
Obviously, there will be lots of fingerpointing until an investigation can get to the bottom of this, but in the meantime it demonstrates once again how fragile infrastructure can be, in both emerging and advanced economies.
In the Northeast blackout of 2003 here in the U.S., some 55 million U.S and Canadian citizens were impacted and some left without power for up to 16 hours.
Though there was no major civil unrest during that particular blackout, one need simply just read the Wikipedia entry of that event to remember how many “systems” were impacted: everything from transportation to healthcare to water supply.
In India, telecommunications are being particularly hard hit in this outage, because so many people there depend on mobile phone service for their communications. Even if the cell towers have backup generators, many folks in rural India have no alternative method of recharging their cell phones once that primary charge dissipates.
Also, business process outsourcing companies such as Wipro, Genpact, WNS and others have “kicked in business continuity plans” to ensure continuity of services to global clients. Thus far, The Hindu Business Line is reporting that the IT-BPO industry, which accounts for over 7% of Indian GDP, are running their operations at centers in the north and eastern India using backup generators running on diesel.
The Wall Street Journal India has an “IndiaRealTime” blog where you can follow the latest on the India power outage.
You ever get one of those emails where there are two headlines that couldn’t have been more synchronous?
That’s what I got today in a Washington Post email newsletter:
“New malware is 20 times size of Stuxnet”
“Cybersecurity experts needed to meet growing demand”
Surely the Post newsletter editor at least chuckled when he put those two together.
I didn’t chuckle, however, when I started reading up on this new Internet security phenom.
Wired’s Threat Level blog led with this: “A massive, highly sophisticated piece of malware has been newly found infecting systems in Iran and elsewhere and is believed to be part of a well-coordinated, ongoing, state-run cyberespionage operation.”
Here was The New York Times lead on the story: The computers of high-ranking Iranian officials appear to have been penetrated by a data-mining virus called Flame, in what may be the most destructive cyberattack on Iran since the notorious Stuxnet virus, an Iranian cyberdefense organization confirmed on Thursday.
And, the Post led with: Researchers have identified a sophisticated new computer virus 20 times the size of Stuxnet, the malicious software the disabled centrifuges in an Iranian nuclear plant. But unlike Stuxnet, the new malware appears to be used solely for espionage.
The Post goes on to cite analysts who “suspect Israel and the United States, given the virus’s sophistication, among other things.”
Which is it, we need more cybersecurity experts in the U.S., or we’re the “nation-state” behind this latest cyber war virus?
Whatever the case, the BBC’s coverage included the following facts: Russian security firm Kaspersky Labs believed the malware had been operating since August 2010 and described Flame as “one of the most complex threats ever discovered.”
If you don’t remember Stuxnet, it was the alleged state-sponsored virus which wreaked havoc on Iran’s uranium centrifuges. This new malware, according to the BBC story, “appears not to cause physical damage,” but instead collects “huge amounts of sensitive information.”
Wired also adds to the story, reporting Flame was “written by different programmers, its complexity, the geographic scope of its infections and its behavior indicate strongly that a nation-state is behind Flame, rather than common cyber-criminals.”
Wired went on to report that “Early analysis of Flame by the Lab indicates that it’s designed primarily to spy on the users of infected computers and steal data from them, including documents, recorded conversations and keystrokes. It also opens a backdoor to infected systems to allow the attackers to tweak the toolkit and add new functionality.”
Yes, indeedy. According to Wired, one of the modules in Flame is “one that turns on the internal microphone of an infected machine to secretly record conversations that occur either over Skype or in the computer’s near vicinity.”
It also allegedly contains a module that turns “Bluetooth-enabled computers into a Bluetooth beacon,” scanning for other Bluetooth-enabled devices in order to “siphon names and phone numbers from their contacts folder.”
It can also store “frequent screenshots of activity on the machine,” screenshots that include everything from emeetings to instant messages, email….you get the picture. Literally.
I don’t know about you, but I sense a whole new genre of cyber espionage novels looming on the horizon.