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

Archive for September 14th, 2009

Life After Lehman

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It was a year ago today that Lehman went bust.

I was in London that Monday a year ago, parked at our Bedfont Lakes offices near Heathrow Airport.

That previous Friday, I had been in the Admiral’s Club at Austin Bergstrom, waiting on the plane that would take me to Chicago, and then on to London from there.

While I sat waiting, I remember distinctly a Lehman employee pointedly trying to reassure a client over the phone that Lehman would continue to be a going concern on Monday.

But on Monday we discovered his reassurances were ill-fated.

Me, while in London and other parts of Europe throughout the next ten days, I felt like a stranger in a strange land…I didn’t know quite what to make of it all.

The same weekend, Hurricane Ike had hit the Texas coast and decimated Galveston, and from the shores of the U.K., it seemed like the world was quickly coming to an end.

Continuous financial headlines over the course of the next week confirmed the discombobulation.

Here’s what I wrote in that Monday blog post:

I‘m working from London today, attending meetings at IBM’s Bedfont Lakes location just outside Heathrow airport.

I’m about five hours ahead of the opening of the New York markets, and considering the constant stream of seemingly bad news concerning numerous financial services and investment firms over the weekend, I had to laugh to myself when I read that the Wall Street Journal is expected to launch some new social networking and community features tomorrow.

I hope there’s still someone around in that industry to sign up for those new community features.

Last one out, turn off the Delicious tags!

In the case of the Journal, an Associated Press story indicates that with the new Journal site, community members will be able to comment on individual stories, create discussion groups, and ask one another for advice.

Actually, it’s very exciting to me to see the major media turn on such features.

As I traveled on the Heathrow Express from Paddington Station back to the airport this morning, I had a short 15 minutes to ponder what questions I might like to pose to the Journal’s community using these new features when they become available.

I eventually arrived at the following.

Is my money safer:

A) Stuffed deep into my Sleep Number mattress (sleep number of 35)

B) Filed away in an anonymous Swiss bank account

C) On the “Come” line of a Las Vegas casino craps table

D) Invested in South Florida condominiums

E) Sitting in my non-interest bearing PayPal account

F) None of the above

I haven’t gone back to determine where my money would have ultimately been the safest.  I suspect it may have been a toss-up between “C” and “E,” although I hear the South Florida condo market is on the rebound.

I eagerly await hearing what our president has to say about the tidings since the year of Lehman’s demise and the onslaught of the financial crisis.

Though I tend to think of myself as a financial conservative, I think a healthy amount of regulation is necessary to maintain a level playing field and to keep the bad actors in line.

Many have argued regulators failed us by not adequately enforcing the existing regulations, but in an environment where mortgage brokers were giving loans to people not qualified for them like candy to kids on Halloween, I also think the rules moving forward should provide more clarity and transparency to the risk the big financial firms are taking on.

16 to 1 leverage would have been enough to send me running with my money to the exits had I known about it at the time.

And I can get 35-1 odds if I roll boxcars (6-6) out in Vegas at the craps table!

More on that as I continue my drumbeat about the Information on Demand Conference taking place October 25-29 at the Mandalay Bay in Viva Las Vegas.

Written by turbotodd

September 14, 2009 at 3:49 pm

Smaller Business Gets Smarter

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If you remember last week’s post about the Global CIO Study, you remember that the study found that 84% of midmarket executives ranked “business intelligence and analytics” as their top priority for improving competitiveness and cutting costs.

Many of those executives are faced with limited budgets and overstretched IT resources, and are looking for ways to more quickly and more affordably gain analytical insight into business performance, and in the process overcome info overload.

IBM announced a new solution to help with this ubiquitous problem today, the new IBM Cognos Express.

Cognos Express provides pre-configured business analytics and planning capabilities in a single offering, helping midmarket business executives quickly launch their business analytics strategy.

This new solution plugs into an existing infrastructure and can be up and running in a few hours. Moreover, it offers a centralized, Web-based console that manages all administrative aspects of installation, deployment, and ongoing management, minimizing the need for IT staff assistance.

Clients can build their own reports, dashboards, and multi-dimensional plans on their own, saving time and helping them stay responsive to competitive pressures.

By way of example, an individual retail store manager could immediately tap into IBM Cognos Express to build their own daily store sales reports, helping them forecast against corporate objectives, and adjust promotions and inventory levels accordingly.

The Cognos Express solution also comes with an in-memory analytics server that allows clients to centrally manage data, business rules, and calculations, giving managers the confidence to focus their efforts on managing the business instead of questioning the validity of the data!

If you’d like to learn more, IBM will be hosting an IBM Cognos Express Virtual Launch event on Tuesday, September 29, 2009, from 9:45 AM-4 PM EST.

The event will feature product demonstrations and technical overviews on BI and analytics for the midmarket, as well as an Expo Area and Communications Lounge where participants will be able to chat live with IBMers and business partners.

You can learn more and register here.

Written by turbotodd

September 14, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Tiger At Cog Hill

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Did anybody see Tiger tear Cog Hill up Saturday in Chicago and leave his fellow competitors in his wake?

It was classic Tiger.

After a first-hole bogey on Saturday, Tiger went on a tear and finished his best round of 2009, a breathtaking nine-under 62 and a seven-shot lead heading into Sunday’s final round.

Yesterday, the drama was less about the head of the Tiger than it was the tail of the field fighting for one of those Final 30 spots at THE TOUR Championship in two weeks in Atlanta.

Most heartbreaking was Brant Snedeker, who’s already had a tough year and who only needed two putts on the 18th at Cog Hill to reserve 30th place.

Snedeker had apparently played most of the day without thinking about the FedEx points, but as he was preparing to hit his third shot into 18, asked on-course Roger Maltbie what he needed to do.  Maltbie explained he only needed a bogie to make the Tour Championship field.

Snedeker proceeded to miss a three-foot putt for bogey and lose his 30th place slot to Australian John Senden. Truly heartbreaking, but maybe next time Snedeker will focus a little harder on those three footers.

What I’ll not soon forget was Wood’s continued imaginative shotmaking ability, even when the pressure was hardly on, considering the size of his lead.

On hole 9, stuck behind a 30-foot high tree canopy, and with only a 20-foot wide corridor of fans to zip through, Tiger hit a precision 3-iron across the fairway only to get stuck behind another tree.

He was a little over 100 yards out, and judging from the angle, there didn’t seem a way to hit the green with his third shot.

But hey, trees are 90 percent air, right?  So Tiger studied the shot for a few moments, then proceeded to hit a 9-iron shaped shot around the tree, onto the green, where he proceeded to take another birdie.

Most mere mortals would have simply chipped the shot out to save their approach, and assumedly, a couple of extra shots.

But not Tiger.

I don’t know what THE TOUR is going to hold in store at East Lake, but if Tiger continues playing in that particular zone, I wish the other players good luck…in the 2010 season.

Written by turbotodd

September 14, 2009 at 2:14 pm

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