Turbotodd

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

Archive for the ‘smarter planet’ Category

New And Smarter Systems

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Among its many features, the new POWER7+ microprocessor offers an expanded 2.5x L3 cache memory, greater security with faster file encryption for the IBM AIX operating system, and memory compression that results in no increased energy usage over previous generation POWER7 chips.

While President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney were out in the desert eating burritos, visiting dams, and doing debate prep, we at Big Blue were preparing for our own significant announcement, one that just by happenstance emerged on the big debate day.

But it’s one to pay attention to, as it bolsters IBM’s smarter computing initiative and paves the way for companies to establish a more aggressive posture in what we call “cognitive computing.”

First, the broad headline: We’ve bolstered our smarter computing initiative by introducing new Power systems, storage, and mainframe technologies.

Specifically, we’ve infused the Power systems family with the new POWER 7+ processor (see the process in the image to the left), which provides greater security and fast business analytics, capacity on demand, and significantly improved performance.

We’ve introduced massive new storage devices through the new high-end DS8870 storage systems that are three times faster than the previous models.

And recognizing the need for organizations to be more “data ready,” we’ve introduced the IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator V3, which provides lightning fast analytics capabilities running on the recently introduced IBM zEnterprise EC12 mainframe.

The smarter computing initiative is aimed at solving the varied and intensifying challenges organizations are facing, from security vulnerabilities to managing ballooning data volumes that are expanding through social and mobile technologies.

You can learn more about IBM’s smarter computing initiative and these newly introduced technologies here. 

The Electric Filling Station

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Click to enlarge. With IBM’s Intelligent Electric Vehicle Enablement Platform, drivers across Ireland will be able to use their mobile devices to locate their nearest electric “filling station” and even make a reservation to stop and charge their car.

Happy Monday.

A friend of mine from overseas sent me an article over the weekend featuring traffic horror stories around the globe.

Most of the stories were about emerging third world cities grappling with rapid growth, but one of them included a story about right here in Austin, Texas.  The gist of the story about Austin was this: The individual in Austin traffic noted they were sitting in a car by themselves in a long line of traffic, watching as empty buses and trams whistled by.

I won’t get started on trying to change the longstanding behaviors of Texas commuters, but I WILL highlight a new project IBM is providing some assistance for in Europe that has huge potential for, if not streamlining traffic, then at least helping bridge the gap to a more electric-oriented energy and transportation future.

The Public Charge

IBM today announced that it has teamed with ESB ecars to implement a fully integrated smarter charging IT system that will help manage electric vehicle public charge points, which are being rolled out across Ireland by ESB ecars.

With approximately 1,000 public charging-points currently available, ESB Networks is on track to deliver one of the largest integrated and operational electric vehicle infrastructures in Europe.

ESB Networks will use IBM’s Intelligent Electric Vehicle Enablement Platform to provide the services needed to operate and manage the charge-points installed throughout Ireland.

Together the companies will add a layer of intelligence and convenience to the charging process, allowing EV drivers to access, charge and pay, using an identification card.

Additionally, this project will provide utilities with access to energy usage data that can help improve smart grid operations, reduce power strain during peak charging times, and ensure reliable energy distribution to customers.

This project is bolstered by Ireland’s energy policy to increase sustainable energy use in the transportation sector by 2020. Today, the goal is to produce 40 percent of the country’s current electricity consumption from renewable energy and have electric vehicles represent every tenth car on Irish roads.

Charging Cars, Reducing Greenhouse Gases

Already on the renewable fast track, this integrated EV charging network will allow Ireland to also contribute to the European Union legislation to reduce greenhouse gas pollution levels by approximately nine million tones before 2020.

The new system accommodates the needs of all EV owners. The IBM EV platform will enable EV drivers to select convenient payment options and access all charge-points using one ID card — a process that will aggregate usage costs and simplify billing.

This smart charging capability allows consumers to charge anywhere at anytime, regardless of their electricity provider and without the need to carry multiple access cards. Additionally, drivers will also have the option to use a mobile device or browser to locate the nearest charge post, check its availability, and make a reservation if the post is available.

This initiative along with the recently announced Smarter Charging demonstration with American Honda Motor Co,. Inc. and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), as well as the EKZ Smartphone Application pilot, demonstrates IBM’s ongoing focus to improve driver services, increase renewable generation, and intelligently manage electric vehicles.

IBM is involved in more than 150 smart grid engagements around the world, in both mature and emerging markets. You can learn more about IBM’s vision to bring a new level of intelligence to how the world works—how every person, business, organization, government, natural system, and man-made system interacts, here, and you can learn more about electronic vehicle infrastructures here.

Written by turbotodd

October 1, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Trash Talk

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Click to enlarge. Given increasingly finite resources, individuals and businesses depend on balanced natural ecosystems for raw materials, water and energy. Given the links among its systems, a business committed to practicing sustainability considers both the immediate and far-reaching consequences of any action it takes and its direct impact on the environment. This IBM infographic showcases how the responsibility of sustainability starts with the individual — the individual awareness and behavior that contributes to the broader impact to help drive energy efficiency, conservation and other environmentally protective practices, making good business sense.

Tired of taking out the trash?

This morning, IBM announced a collaboration with Recology, San Francisco’s resource recovery company, to continue reducing landfill disposal by further improving recycling programs designed to help the city achieve zero waste by 2020.

San Francisco’s diversion rate — the amount of waste diverted from landfill disposal — totals 78 percent, the highest in the country. Just last year, independent studies named San Francisco the Greenest City in North America due to advanced recycling programs.

In collaboration with IBM Business Partner Key Info Systems, Recology is using IBM’s smarter computing approach to IT to manage and mine large sets of data to determine types and quantities of materials in San Francisco’s waste stream.

With the use of IBM’s Power System, Recology pinpoints the location, types and amount of waste that needs to be collected for sorting or composting.

Gleaning insights from this information allows Recology to identify the most effective recycling programs for different business districts and neighborhoods.

By tailoring recycling programs and services in this way, Recology operates more efficiently, which helps protect the environment and saves costs, which helps cities better manage collection and disposal fees — all steps that ultimately benefit residents and businesses.

Reducing Landfill Waste By Nearly 50%

As a result of this smarter approach to recycling, Recology customers in San Francisco have reduced the garbage they send to the landfill by 49.7 percent, from 730,000 tons in 2000 to 367,300 tons in 2011.

By recycling 1.2 million tons of paper, the program has saved 20 million trees; by recycling 174,000 tons of glass, enough energy was saved to power the city’s cable car system for nearly three years; and, by recycling 135,000 tons of metal, 19 million gallons of oil was saved.

Improved recycling services give customers the means to participate every day in programs that directly benefit the environment and to better manage their disposal costs.

Recology offers 20 distinct recycling programs in San Francisco, more than any other city in the U.S. Yet the monthly fee paid by residential customers is equal to or less than the fee charged in other major cities.

Curbside Composting: Diverted 1.1 Million Tons Of Food And Plants

The Curbside Compost Collection Program provided by Recology in San Francisco has diverted 1.1 million tons of food and plants from landfill disposal and turned that material into nutrient-rich compost used by local farms and vineyards to grow healthy crops.

Since its inception, the compost collection program has reduced carbon emissions by more than 347,500 metric tons. That is equal to offsetting emissions from all vehicles crossing the Bay Bridge for 2.1 years.

San Francisco greenhouse gas emissions are nearly 12 percent below 1990 levels and have exceeded emission reduction goals set by both the State of California and the United Nations.

“Cities are struggling with a wide range of challenges and threats to sustainability in their core operations,” said George McGrath, Chief Operating Officer at Recology. “Our collaboration with IBM has helped us transform the programs we provide in San Francisco and, in turn, the very way people view bottles, coffee grounds, packaging, plastic bags, and other materials they generate every day.”

With the use of IBM’s Smarter Computing technology Recology is able to manage and maintain this complex operation and route dispatching of trucks. These functions require a dependable and flexible system to help the company manage logistics and an ever-changing waste stream with maximum efficiency.

There will be a live Tweet Chat later this afternoon (Thursday, May 31, 2012) at 1 PM EST on the topic of sustainability.  Follow the hashtag #zerowasteIBM to track the Twitterstream.

You can learn more about the smarter composting solution IBM partnered with Recology on in the video below.

Written by turbotodd

May 31, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Live @ IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit Madrid: IBM’s Mike Rhodin On Insight-Driven Computing

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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.’

IBM senior vice president Mike Rhodin explains to the gathered audience in Madrid how the Smarter Commerce initiative was a logical and inevitable offshoot of IBM’s smarter planet campaign, one driven by the need for more insight- and action-driven analytics.

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.

New IBM CEO Study — Command & Control Meets Collaboration

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Just because I’m here in Madrid covering the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit doesn’t mean that there isn’t other important news emerging from back at the mother ship.

This year’s IBM CEO study reveals three new essential imperatives for changing the nature of business: Empowering employees through values, engaging customers as individuals, and amplifying innovation with partnerships.

In fact, there’s some major news that I always get excited to report on, and that’s the results from our annual CEO study.

The ink on the report is hardly dry and straight off the presses, but this year’s study of more than 1,700 CEOs from 64 countries and 18 industries has a headline that CEOs (and their C-level ilk) everywhere may be interested to hear: CEOs are changing the nature of work by adding a powerful dose of openness, transparency, and employee empowerment to the command-and-control ethos that has characterized the modern corporation for more than a century.

Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is a headline!

The study reveals that the advantages of this fast-moving trend are clear: Companies that outperform their peers are 30 percent more likely to identify openness — often characterized by a greater use of social media as a key enabler of collaboration and innovation — as a key influence on their organization.

Those “outperformers” are also embracing new models of working that tap into the collective intelligence of an organization and its networks to devise new ideas and solutions for increased profitability and growth.

For those of us who have been working in the social realm for some time now, we’re probably not exactly surprised to hear this news.  But to have it come from the lips and pencils of the CEOs themselves…well, change it is a comin’ and for many, has already arrived.

In order to forge those closer connections with customers, partners, and a new generation of employees in the future, CEOs plan to shift their focus from using e-mail and the phone as primary communication vehicles to using social networks as a new path for direct engagement.

Today, only 16 percent of CEOs are using social business platforms to connect with customers, but that number is poised to spike to 57 percent within the next three to five years.

And while social media is the least utilized of all customer interaction methods today, it stands to become the number two organizational engagement method within the next five years, a close second to face-to-face interactions.

Top Down To Bottom Up

With this news coming after decades of top-down control, this shift has substantial ramifications — not just for CEOs — but for their organizations, their managers and employees, and also for universities and business schools, not to mention we technology suppliers.

More than half of CEOs (53 percent) are planning to use technology to facilitate greater partnering and collaboration with outside organizations, while 52 percent are shifting their attention to promoting great internal collaboration.

Of course, greater openness doesn’t come without some risks.  Openness increases vulnerability. The Internet — especially through social networks — can provide a worldwide stage to any employee interaction, positive or negative. For organizations to operate effectively in this environment, employees must internalize and embody the organizations’ values and mission.

This also means organizations must equip employees with a set of guiding principles that they can use to empower everyday decision making. And championing collaborative innovation is not something CEOs are delegating to their HR leaders. According to the study’s findings, business executives are interested in leading by example.

That is, from the front.

Big Data Means Big Changes

Given the data explosion being witnessed by many organizations, CEOs also recognize the need for more sophisticated business analytics to mine the data being tracked online, on mobile phones and social media sites.

The traditional approach to understanding customers better has been to consolidate and analyze transactions and activities from across the entire organization. However, to remain relevant, CEOs must piece together a more holistic view of the customer based on how he or she engages the rest of the world, not just their organization.

The ability to drive value from data is strongly correlated with performance. Outperforming organizations are twice as good as underperformers at accessing and drawing insights from data. Outperformers are also 84 percent better at translating those insights into real action.

From Theory to Action

This latest study is the fifth edition of IBM’s biennial Global CEO Study series.  To better understand the challenges and goals of today’s CEOs, IBM consultants met face-to-face with the largest-known sample of these executives between September 2011 and January 2012.

1,709 CEOs, general managers, and senior public sector leaders were interviewed around the world to better understand their future plans and challenges in an increasingly connected economy.

For access to the full study findings and case studies, please visit the IBM CEO Study website.

In the meantime, check out the video from Shell CEO Peter Voser to hear what he has to say about partnering to drive innovation.

No More Business As Usual: The Road To Smarter Commerce

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I mentioned in my last post that I must have been dreaming on the way over to Madrid. Or maybe it was just all these thoughts running through my head before I actually drifted off to some semblance of jet-engine-drone-induced slumber.

The English East India Company was an English and later (from 1707) British joint-stock company formed for pursuing trade with the East Indies but which ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent. The Company was granted a Royal Charter in 1600, making it the oldest among several similarly formed European East India Companies. Shares of the company were owned by wealthy merchants and aristocrats. The government owned no shares and had only indirect control. The Company operated its own large army with which it controlled major portions of India.

One of those thoughts reminded me of the guy in the YouTube video who reminded us all what an amazing time we live in. That we can climb into what essentially constitutes a rather large beer can and zoom a few thousand miles away in only a matter of hours. In a journey that, once upon a time, would have taken a Benjamin Franklin or a Thomas Jefferson weeks by sea, and likely would have been filled with seasickness, scurvy, or worse, when all they wanted to do was get there.

That was one of my thoughts: Then I fell asleep somewhere near Dallas and woke up somewhere over lovely Spain.

Be Amazed By This Amazing Opportunity

But I also dreamed of commerce. Of its history, and its evolution, and what an amazing time we live in terms of how we conduct business.

I went and looked up “commerce” on Wikipedia, curious as to what the “crowd” out there had to say. That, too, is another relatively new concept, to be able to “crowdsource” information from people around the globe.

Their definition goes something like this: Commerce is the whole system of an economy that constitutes an environment for business. The system includes legal, economic, political, social, cultural, and technological systems that are in operation in any country. Thus, commerce is a system or an environment that affects the business prospects of an economy or a nation-state.

First, there were barter economies, where trading was the principal “facility” in which peoples bartered for goods and services from one another.

Then, currency was introduced as a standardized money, which, facilitated a wider exchange of goods and services — everything from coins to lumps of precious metals to, today, even virtualized currency like “Bitcoin.”

But these days, as the Wikipedia entry observes, commere also includes a complex system of companies that try to maximize their profits by offering products and services to the market (consisting of both individuals and other companies) at the lowest production cost.

The Early Road To Smarter Commerce

So what did some of those early commerce scenarios look like? Imagine, for example, how the domestication of camels allowed Arabian nomads to control long distance trade in spices and silk from the Far East.

Or the “Silk Road,” which was established after the diplomatic travels of the Han Dynasty Chinese envoy Zhang Qian to Central Asia, which allowed Chinese goods to make their way to India, Persia, the Roman Empire — and vice versa.

The English East India Company was an English and, later (from 1707), British joint-stock company formed for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but which ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent. Shares of the company were owned by wealthy merchants and aristocrats. The government owned no shares and had only indirect control. The Company operated its own large army with which it controlled major portions of India.

In more recent times, we saw the introduction of 23 countries agreeing to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, in 1947, which attempted to rationalize trade among nations.

Going All In…For Your Customer

Today’s smart consumers expect to engage with companies when and how they want, through physical, digital, and mobile means, and they want a consistent experience across all channels. Because they are empowered and connected, they can compare notes, quickly, and they can champion a brand or sully a reputation with the click of a mouse or the stroke of their tablet computer.

Today, circa 2012, we find ourselves at another inflection point in the history of commerce, one which begins and ends with the customer. Today’s commerce environment features a customer who is dictating a new set of terms in the dynamic between buyers and sellers, and these are very smart consumers, ones empowered by technology, transparency, and an abundance of information.

Just simply walk through your closest local retailer or your nearest airport, and you’ll see signs of this new and smarter consumer. Via smartphones and other mobile devices, they are connected real-time to an absurd amount of information that empowers them as buyers, and, in turn, requires an accelerated sophistication on the part of sellers, no matter the product or service.

These consumers expect to engage with companies when and how they want, through physical, digital, and mobile means, and they want a consistent experience across all channels.

Because they are empowered and connected, they can compare notes, quickly, and they can champion a brand or sully a reputation with the click of a mouse or the stroke of their tablet computer.

No More Business As Usual

This ultimately means, of course, that there is no longer such a thing as “business as usual.” Empowered and connected consumers are deeply linked — to their friends, colleagues, and the world at large — and they evaluate and compare the quality of their experiences with those of others. And they are the ones who can reward, or penalize, the businesses that do, or do not, give them what they want.

This is new trading crossroads of the 21st Century, and it is those companies who are interested and compelled to act to enable and encourage this new consumer who are in attendance here at the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit here in Madrid this week.

To thrive in this new age of the customer, they recognize they must understand the motivations of each individual purchaser. They must predict, and not merely react to, customers’ needs and preferences.

They must understand not only what they buy and where, but also why and how they choose to buy it.

That’s what this new world demands. That we need not only a better system of doing business.

But, also, a “smarter commerce” environment, one that puts the customer at the center of all operations, and that helps companies better buy, market, sell and service their offerings accordingly.

Personalizing Cancer Treatment

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I hate cancer.  I really hate it.

I mean really.  Really really really.

I’ve lost more friends and family to cancer than I care to count.  I’ve lost an uncle to cancer. My two aunts. My grandfather.  My grandmother.

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IBM's Watson technology is being put to new use in personalizing cancer treatments in a partnership with world-renowned cancer treatment provider, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

In the last year, I’ve lost two good friends, and another one before them, several years ago, all wayyy too early (early 30s to mid 40s).

I hate cancer.

So I was pretty stoked about our announcement yesterday where my virtual brother, as Scott and I recently joked with Watson GM Manoj Saxena, is getting another form of unemployment.

First, there was Watson’s gig at Wellpoint, helping doctors with diagnoses.  Then we learned Watson was heading to work at Citibank to help out on Wall Street.

Now Watson is being put to use at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in an effort to help oncologists obtain detailed diagnostic and treatment options based on updated research that will help them decide how best to care for an individual patient.

MSKCC’s world-renowned oncologists will assist in developing IBM Watson to use a patient’s medical information and synthesize a vast array of continuously updated and vetted treatment guidelines, published research and insights gleaned from the deep experience of MSKCC clinicians to provide those individualized recommendations to doctors. It will also help provide users with a detailed record of the data and evidence used to reach the recommendations?

You can learn more about this new evidence-based approach to cancer treatment in the video below.


Oncology treatment is a complex arena, and yet cancers are the second most common cause of death in the U.S., second only to heart disease.

In fact, the American Cancer Society projects that 1.6 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year with outcomes varying wildly across the country.

Cancer isn’t a single disease with one footprint of cause, but rather, with some having hundreds of sub-types, each with a different genetic fingerprint.

Significant discoveries in molecular biology and genetics in the past two decades have delivered new insights into cancer biology and strategies for targeting specific molecular alterations in tumors. But in the process, these advances have also ratcheted up the complexity of diagnosing and treating each case.

“This comprehensive, evidence-based approach will profoundly enhance cancer care by accelerating the dissemination of practice-changing research at an unprecedented pace,” said Dr. Mark G. Kris, Chief, Thoracic Oncology Service at MSKCC and one of the clinicians leading the development effort. He noted that 85 percent of patients with cancer are not treated at specialized medical centers and it can take years for the latest developments in oncology to reach all practice settings.

(Almost) Live From IBM Pulse 2012: Todd and Scott’s Livestream Kickoff

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Greetings from the social media room on the solutions expo floor of IBM Pulse 2012.

It’s been a wild and crazy day, which you know already if you follow my blog.

We’ve already witnessed several keynote sessions, and Scott and I have been busy interviewing some of our key execs and thought leaders from IBM Software.

Those would include IBM Mobile guru Bob Sutor, who explained he’s historically been more iOS than Android (but he’s leaving the mobile OS door wide open) and who walked us through the “mobile lifecycle,” and IBM Developer Relations VP Mike Riegel, who regaled us with his insights into the IBM SmartCamp and Global Entrepreneur initiatives.

Keep an eye out on the Livestream for those interviews as they make their way into the Pulse 2012 video rotation.

Meanwhile, I wanted to include a link to the video Scott and I did for our kickoff last evening here on the Pulse 2012 Solutions Expo floor, where we set up the big picture for the week’s tidings — and even had some fun doing so.

IBM Pulse 2012: Day 1 Keynote Session: Business Without Limits

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This morning’s keynote session at Pulse 2012 keyed in on several key themes critical to managing the world’s infrastructure.  Opening musical act, Naturally Seven, lent their own seven cents, explaining through song and human-voice driven instruments that “I Built This Wall Around Me, I Built this Wall From The Ground, See.”

IBM Senior Vice President Robert Leblanc explains to the gathered IBM Pulse 2012 audience how visibility, control and automation are instrumental for companies looking to keep up with the changing IT and business landscape.

There’s a whole lot of building from the ground up that’s been going on with respect to some of the key areas the Tivoli portfolio focuses on.  And IBM Tivoli customer Wellpoint joined the stage to discuss some of those changes in the healthcare industry.

George Zaruba, VP for Tech Strategy there, explained that Wellpoint is one of the U.S.’ largest healthcare benefits companies, with some 37,700 associates. Major industry shifts are requiring Wellpoint to reinvent itself and in its relationship with the end customer, and to be able to deliver services in ways its customers are used to and comfortable with. “Our delivery model needs to be secure and stable and reach users across a myriad of devices and platforms,” he explained.

Which means infrastructure needs to be everywhere, and which will allow Wellpoint to manage the effectiveness of their customers’ experience.

That’s why infrastructure needs to be everywhere, to have full visibility into core services. Zaruba explained “We’ve achieved this over the past several years with ITIL management and best practices, and virtualization of storage and services.”

That also led Wellpoint to its partnership with IBM Watson, which Wellpoint is currently working on as the first industry deployment of that important technology to “find the best answers to some very tough medical questions.”

Next up, IBM VP Scott Hebner joined the stage and explained there are “8,000 of you from 79 different countries.”

That’s some Pulse!

Hebner explained IBM is “obsessed about learning from our clients, and this conference is a reflection of our obsession, which focuses on real-world experiences and bottom line results.”

Hebner explained the opportunities are vast and unprecedented, and yet “the opportunity highway has ditches on both sides of the road.” The implication being, try and stay out of the ditch!

Hebner shared some factoids: 80% of CEOs surveyed by IBM anticipate turbulent changes and bold moves, and 64% of CIOs work as senior business execs in their orgs to drive innovation.

And yet, still, there’s a 3X gap increase between the desired needs and the actual outcomes.

Red meat to this gathering of IT gurus, Hebner also explained jobs related to technology are forecasted to be the fastest growing segment through 2018, with cloud jobs increasing 60%, and mobility, 50%.

But, the planet on which we operate is rapidly changing thanks to the proliferation of lower-cost technologies.  People, systems, and objects can interact with one another in entirely new ways, and that creates new opportunities and expectations.

Infrastructure is now everywhere, he explained, across every industry. Where does my business infrastructure begin and end these days? How do I turn this new reality into an advantage.

Business without limits, is what Hebner explained this as. The smarter approach turns data into insights in real time, at the point of interaction — it must, as we can now instrument everything, from the devices in the home to the processes themselves, giving us millions of data points.

To help explain this opportunity, IBM senior VP Robert Leblanc joined the stage and suggested there’s no escaping all this change, and that technology was a key enabler, according the IBM CEO study stretching back to 2004.  Beyond “market forces,” technology is considered a requirement by CEOs to enable their businesses to adapt to all this change.=

“How do you drive the speed that the business needs to adapt to its markets?” Leblanc inquired.  The answer, simple to say, harder to do: Focus on fundamental business imperatives: 1) Build 2) Reinvent, 3) Uncover.

That is, create operating dexterity while creating new customer relationships and uncovering new profit streams.

Most clients want to reinvent around their customer relationships, Leblanc explained, and if you look back 25 years ago, those that lead the industries are different from the leaders today.  The CEO is making it clear: I need change, and IT has to change with it.

Analytics continues to be the driving requirement in the industry technology shift, followed by mobility and virtualization -- all key themes here at Pulse 2012.

Leblanc then shared some data as to what is driving an unprecedented shift in technology: Analytics, 83%. Followed by Mobility, 75%. And virtualization, 68%.

Insight. Everywhere. No matter where.

Implicit to all this, underlying concerns about security, and a focus on achieving all these desired business outcomes through “visibility,” “control,” and “automation.”

To have full visibility of the span of your infrastructure, you must have and assert control, and in order to be able to focus on new value added initiatives, you must automate the more mundane but critical capabilities.

Some examples, Leblanc explained: China Great Wall improved server utilization by 30%. BlueCrossBlueShield of North Carolina saved 5,000 hours of staff time by automating security processes. SunTrust improved productivity by automating 50% of manual processes.

Finally, it was Tivoli General Manager Danny Sabbah’s time to speak, and Danny explained how all of these changes and trends are re-orienting Tivoli customers’ outlooks and the things they specifically need to be focused on.

He explained that “our world is changing drastically whether we like it or not,” and that “simply put, we’re being forced to rethink the way we run our businesses.”

We find ourselves at the vortex of three dominant transformations taking place in IT: Mobility, Smarter phsyical infrastructures, and security.

Mobility, he explained, is nearly ubiquitous, and now accounts for 40% of the total number of devices accessing business applications.

We’re seeing embedded intelligence and resultant smarter physical infrastructures where previously passive devices are now equipped with sensors and RFID tags and other tracking capabilities. Companies are now building applications to exploit the data gathered from these smart devices to better understand and run their operations.

And thirdly, security threats have become an integral part of this much larger montage. The more embedded intelligence, the more mobility, the more ways we execute commerce, social collaboration, and so on.  So, security must become part of everything we do.

This intersection, then, has spawned an even greater degree of complexity across business infrastructures, and the environment we find ourselves in has become more interconnected, moresusceptible to threats and even more difficult to manage.

Utilizing the power of cloud computing, IBM is tackling these issues head on with its customers.  But if you want hype and marketing, Sabbah concluded, you’ll have to go somewhere else because “this conference is about solving real problems in the real world.”

Rio de Janeiro’s “Mission Control”

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I’ve been extremely blessed to have traveled to many wonderful cities around the world during my tenure with IBM.

If you forced me to choose a favorite…well, it wouldn’t be an easy decision.  Far from it.

But near the top of the list would have to be a city that left me absolutely breathless, literally and figuratively, and that’s the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Forget the wonderful caiprinhas cocktails and the breathtaking views — I remember once, on my first visit in 1999, I had to do a presentation in the IBM building there, and they had to close the drapes, the view of the Christ statue in the background so incredibly stunning that I couldn’t focus!

But it’s the people that make the place.  And the people of Rio are very special.

And if it’s the people who make the place, it’s also the people who make it run.

And making it run they are, the people of Rio de Janeiro, with a little from our team at IBM.

The New York Times takes an in-depth look this weekend at how Rio’s becoming one of IBM’s hallmark “smarter cities,” as they prepare to host both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

And fellow IBM blogger and buddy of mine Steve Hamm goes even deeper, explaining how the torrential rains in Rio during April 2010 that killed more than 70 residents made mayor Eduardo Paes vow that such horror would not occur on his watch again.

This story provides an excellent case study as to the type of smarter building, city, and infrastructure management that we’ll be hearing discussed at this week’s IBM Pulse 2012 conference in Las Vegas!

Check out the video below to learn more about Rio’s smarter city operation.

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