Turbotodd

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

Archive for May 2010

I Have A Technology Problem

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It’s true.

I have a technology problem.

In particular, a high technology problem.

I told you I would not be buying the first generation iPad. I gave you several reasons why I wouldn’t.

But late yesterday afternoon, it was like another entity took over my person, got in my car, and drove to the nearest Best Buy.

Once there, I walked directly to the Apple section of the store and started playing with an iPad.

Then, I started asking the sales guy a bunch of questions about synching it with my various Mac computers, the service plans, etc.

Before you know it, I was into a full on bender, waltzing through the iPad peripherals section as if I didn’t have a care in the world. I played with the wireless keyboard, the new iPad dock, some carrying cases.

This was gonna be bad.

Then, ready to pull out my Best Buy card, I discovered that they had no iPads in stock.

You’re kidding me, right? I’m like tech sleepwalking here. I’m like coming straight here, a man possessed, ready to buy, and you’re telling me you don’t have any iPads in stock!!??

The fourteen-year old, pimply sales dude told me to hold on, he had one more idea: He called back to the stockroom.

It was my lucky day. My technology addiction would be sated.

There was a single 64GB WiFi iPad that had been returned.

One.

As in uno.

Did I want it?

Are you kidding me? Does a thirsty man crawling through the Mojave want a bottle of cold Evian?!!

Better yet, I discovered I was going to get $50 off because somebody had returned it.

Why did they return it? I wondered to myself.

Who cares! It was the only iPad for sale for miles around, and they were over a week away from getting anymore in stock!

And I had one, in my hands!

Take that, Mac fanboys! I won!!

For good measure, I also bought a cool carrying case and the little iPad dock, paid my tab, and drove straight home.

Once back in my domicile, I turned on the iPad, glared at the gorgeous glossy iPad screen, and promptly wondered aloud to myself what the heck I was going to do with this thing.

Who cares what the heck I’m going to do with it!?

I finally have an iPad and it’s the coolest piece of technology I’ve ever bought!

Blogger’s Note: This blog post was written using my brand new iPad, so at least one utilitarian purpose has now been uncovered since it’s recent acquisition.  I will keep you posted as to other useful uses also discovered after the fact.

Written by turbotodd

May 27, 2010 at 10:03 pm

E-Harmony For Business

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IBM and Ariba have signed an agreement designed to help fuel better commerce by matching B2B buyers and sellers of goods and services in the cloud using state-of-the-art collaboration and social networking technologies.

Think E-Harmony for business.

With this deal, Ariba plans to integrate its cloud solution, the Ariba Commerce Cloud, with IBM LotusLive to help buyers and sellers communicate and share information more fluidly and effectively. 

Face-to-face meetings, phone calls, faxes, documents and spreadsheets are being leapfrogged by more advanced, efficient methods of collaboration and communication such as Web conferencing, instant messaging, social networking and file sharing, among other things.

To help companies take advantage of these advances, Ariba’s integration with LotusLive will provide a web-based service that helps buyers and sellers find each other quickly and efficiently for new business opportunities by automatically matching buyers’ business requirements to seller capabilities.

Integrating LotusLive communication and collaboration into the buyer-seller discovery process will provide buyers and sellers the tools to interact, answer questions and exchange accurate information prior to entering the formal RFI/P or contracting phase.  

“Finding the right trading partners is hard. Collaborating with them to do business better is even harder,” said Bhaskar Himatsingka, Chief Technology Officer, Ariba, Inc. “Our integration plans with IBM LotusLive are designed to help make it easier for buyers and sellers to collaborate in new ways by taking advantage of IBM’s powerful set of web-based tools for real-time collaboration within Ariba’s sourcing and sales process solutions.”

“Like people searching for someone special, businesses are looking for a high degree of compatibility with their prospective partners," said Sean Poulley, IBM VP of cloud collaboration.

“The successful combination of LotusLive and the Ariba Commerce Cloud will provide such a matchmaking comfort zone in which networks of partners, suppliers and customers can easily work together across company boundaries to help do their jobs more efficiently and cost-effectively, and perhaps even develop lasting relationships."

Click here to learn more about the IBM LotusLive online collaboration portfolio.

Written by turbotodd

May 26, 2010 at 3:26 pm

IBM 2010 Global CEO Study: Constant Change Demands Creativity

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While I was out floating in the Caribbean and swimming with the sharks, I missed a key announcement that I always strive to cover in the Turbo blog: The release of the results from IBM’s annual CEO Study.

So, I’m not going to be remiss and miss the one this year!  Better late than never!

If you don’t have much background on the IBM CEO Study, here’s the net: It’s a survey of more than 1,500 Chief Executive Officers from 60 countries and 33 industries worldwide.

This year, the findings indicated chief executives believe that — more than rigor, management discipline, integrity or even vision — successfully navigating an increasing complex world will require creativity.

In a week that finds a continued major oil spill in the U.S. gulf region, as tensions heat up between North and South Korea, as world markets witness continued market volatility due to the European sovereign debt crisis and now the Korean tensions…yeah, complex world, okay.

The IBM CEO Study is conducted through in-person interviews with senior leaders and consultants from IBM’s Global Business Services division.

This year, less than half of global CEOs believed their enterprises are adequately prepared to handle a highly volatile, increasingly complex business environment.

CEOs are confronted with massive shifts – new government regulations, changes in global economic power centers, accelerated industry transformation, growing volumes of data, rapidly evolving customer preferences – that, according to the study, can be overcome by instilling “creativity” throughout an organization.

Witness the graphic below to see more detail on the CEO perspective from this year’s study:

IBM CEO Study Graphic

Industry Focused, Innovation Centric

More than 60 percent of CEOs said that industry transformation is the top factor contributing to uncertainty, indicating a need to discover more innovative ways of managing an organization’s structure, finances, people and strategy.

The study also uncovers starkly divergent strategic concerns and priorities among CEOs in Asia, Japan, Europe or North America – the first time such clear regional variations have appeared in this biennial survey.

“Coming out of the worst economic downturn in our professional lifetimes — and facing a new normal that is distinctly different — it is remarkable that CEOs identify creativity as the number one leadership competency of the successful enterprise of the future,” said Frank Kern, senior vice president, IBM Global Business Services

“But step back and think about it, and this is entirely consistent with the other top finding in our Study — that the biggest challenge facing enterprises from here on will be the accelerating complexity and the velocity of a world that is operating as a massively interconnected system.”

Complexity of the Global Operating Environment: Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

The CEOs interviewed told IBM that today’s business environment is volatile, uncertain and increasingly complex.

Eight in ten CEOs expect their environment to grow significantly more complex but only 49 percent believe their organizations are equipped to deal with it successfully – the largest leadership challenge identified in eight years of research.

The CEOs said that the complexity of an interconnected world is aggravated by a number of factors.

For example, CEOs expect revenue from new sources to double over the next five years, and 76 percent of CEOs foresee the shift of economic power to rapidly developing markets.

Over the last four studies, the expected impact of technology on organizations has risen from 6th to 2nd place in importance, revealing that CEOs understand that technology and the interconnection of the world’s infrastructures is contributing to the complexity they face, and also reveals that they need more technology-based answers to succeed in a world that is massively interconnected.

The study highlights the attributes of top-performing organizations based on revenue and profit performance during the past five years, including the economic downturn.

  • Top performing organizations are 54 percent more likely than others to make rapid decisions. CEOs indicated they are learning to respond swiftly with new ideas to address the deep changes affecting their organizations.
  • 95 percent of top performing organizations identified getting closer to customers as their most important strategic initiative over the next five years – using Web, interactive, and social media channels to rethink how they engage with customers and citizens. They view the historic explosion of information and global information flows as opportunities, rather than threats.
  • Organizations that have built superior operating dexterity expect to capture 20 percent more of their future revenue from new sources than their more traditional peers.

China: Resilient and Rising

Vast complexity is further intensified by regional differences.  The study noted that perspectives varied with geography – differences of opinion about what changes to make, what new skills will be needed and how to succeed in the new economic environment. These regional variations also compound the complexities with which CEOs must contend.

China proved much more resilient than the developed nations during the economic downturn. So, CEOs in China are, understandably, less concerned about volatility than CEOs in other regions.

In fact, they are becoming increasingly confident of their place on the world stage.

But if China is to fulfill its global aspirations, it will need a new generation of leaders with creativity, vision and international management experience.

Many of the country’s CEOs recognize this; 61 percent believe “global thinking” is a top leadership quality. Most companies will also need new industry models and skills. They cannot simply replicate the models they have used in their domestic market, which has a completely different cost structure.

CEOs in China are also devoting far more energy to building new skills and capabilities than their peers in the West.

In North America, which faced a financial crisis that led to governments becoming major stakeholders in private enterprise, CEOs are more wary of “big government” than CEOs elsewhere. A full 87 percent anticipate greater government intervention and regulation over the next five years, compounding their sense of uncertainty.

In Japan, 74 percent of CEOs expect the shift of economic power from mature to rapidly developing markets to have a major impact on their organizations.

By contrast, the European Union is less concerned about this shift, with only 43 percent of CEOs expecting to be impacted.

Understanding these and other sharp differences emerging by region is increasingly important as economies and societies become more closely linked. Organizations confront these differences as they increasingly operate across boundaries and across different regions.

You can learn more and download the full IBM 2010 Global CEO Study here.

Written by turbotodd

May 25, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Lost

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I spent the last week on an island.

But, thanks very much, I didn’t get there via Oceanic Flight 815.

In fact, as I wandered around the outer Bahamian island of Eleuthera, taking in some scuba diving and lots of conch fritters, Jack, Kate, Sawyer and the gang were the furthest thing from my mind.

But after arriving home safely in Austin from the real world islands, I discovered along with everybody else what ultimately was the fate for those in the virtual island that was inhabited in the six-year running TV show, “Lost.”

Worry not, you’ll not need a spoiler alert here, as I don’t have the time nor inclination to go into all the details (and I’m not sure I could accurately navigate the maze that was that TV show if I wanted).

I will say I was most satisfied with the ending. 

It seemed fitting for its characters and the wonderful world that producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse had created, and yet left enough other questions unanswered to keep Lost fanboys guessing for years.

My vacation seemed like its own Lost episode or two, with a week seeming to stretch into a temporal realm that felt much, much longer.  Always a good sign of a well-spent vacation, methinks.

And it seemed like a heck of a week to have missed in the working world.  I’m sure much of the business news escaped my island solitude, but I did get a CNN sound byte the day of the falling stock market.

This week, however, seems off to a more promising start, and IBM is right there in the mix.

This morning, IBM announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Sterling Commerce from AT&T for approximately $1.4B in cash.

The acquisition of the Dublin, OH-based company will expand IBM’s ability to help organizations create more intelligent and dynamic business networks by simplifying and automating the way they connect and communicate with customers, partners and suppliers both on-premise or through cloud computing delivery models.

Today, more than 18,000 global customers use Sterling Commerce offerings. The company enables more than 1 billion business interactions a year for clients in the financial services, retail, manufacturing, communications and distribution industries.

IBM sees these interactions growing dramatically due to the proliferation of electronic business transactions, from banks exchanging transaction data and manufacturers sourcing raw materials electronically, to retailers automating stock replenishment and managing orders online.

Such intelligent transactions, and the software that supports them, help deliver the agility businesses need to be successful.

Sterling Commerce offerings strongly complement IBM’s middleware portfolio.

By acquiring Sterling Commerce technology and its large trading partner network, IBM anticipates it will be able to deliver powerful new cross-channel solutions to its clients.

In addition, Sterling Commerce technology will complement IBM’s industry-focused software offerings, enabling the addition of capabilities to IBM’s frameworks supporting the retail, manufacturing, communications, health care and banking industries.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to try and find my way back from all the islands real and fictional and back into the working world. 

Written by turbotodd

May 24, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Swimming With Sharks

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It’s Friday.

Which means tomorrow is Saturday, and the start of some holiday time.

I’m hopping a plane down to Nassau, Bahamas, in the morning to visit with an old college friend and his wife, and to do some scuba diving (my first dive trip since last year this time, whereupon I was down in Grand Cayman).

I was last in The Bahamas in December, 2001, stopping off for a day port there with the rest of my family while I was on a cruise.

This time around, I’ll be going a little more native, staying with my friends, and also spending much of the week on the island of Eleuthera.

Eleuthera is an island in The Bahamas that sits about 50 miles east of Nassau.  Here’s a picture:

image

The population of Eleuthera is around 8,000, and according to Wikipedia, the name of the island is derived from the Greek ελεύθερος , meaning “free.”

Big smile.

While in Nassau, my friends talked me into going on the Stuart Cove "Extreme Shark Adventure,” a series of two dives which will allow us to get up close and personal with some Caribbean Reef Sharks. 

I’m told the sharks will have had their breakfast.  On the second dive, they’ll be feeding them some brunch while the rest of we divers hang on the bottom of the ocean floor at around the 50 foot level. 

We’ll also be engaging in a “free swim” with the sharks along one of the gorgeous Bahamian walls.

I’m very much looking forward to swimming with all the creatures in The Bahamian waters, even as I pray for the great variety of sea creatures in the Gulf of Mexico and an imminent end to the flood of gushing oil.

It looks as though any of my own plans for the Texas Redneck Riviera for this summer will be dashed – I’m just hopeful that those who make their livelihoods off the Gulf (the shrimpers, fishermen, tourist firms, and yes, even the oil workers) are able to get back to work and soon, and that the impact is minimal to to the sea life in the Gulf.

But currently, the situation looks grim.

I’ll likely not be blogging much over the next week, although I may have to make a guest vacation appearance to relate my experience with the sharks. 

Otherwise, I’ll look forward to writing again soon when I’m back on May 24th. 

Until then, feel free to pray for all the Caribbean Reef Sharks near Nassau to have some very full bellies before I arrive on the scene on Sunday!

Written by turbotodd

May 14, 2010 at 9:19 pm

Newspeak

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All Facebook is reporting that Facebook has called an all-hands come-to-Jesus meeting on the subject of privacy for later this afternoon.

I can only wonder aloud to myself whether or not anyone will be channeling the late George Orwell, but as someone who works for a company which was once targeted as the consummate Big Brother in a 1984 TV spot by the (at the time) upstart competition, I can only say to Facebook “Good luck with that.”

Of course, there’s much more at stake with Facebook’s recent moves than the simple erosion of our privacy. 

An underlying philosophical approach to the future of the cloud as a platform the evolution of marketing is at stake, and one in which, at least for Facebook, personal interests and information become the lubricant that keeps all the moving pieces humming, and paves the way for a post-modern marketing future that could make the moving eye billboards in “Minority Report” seem innocuous.

They’ve been here before. 

First in 2006 with the advent of their Newsfeed (which later proved to be THE killer app that set the stage for Facebook’s hockey stick growth), and later with Beacon (the ad-serving network Facebook announced which was to send info from other websites back to the FB mother ship — which they were compelled to withdraw after a public outcry).

With the advent of Social Plug-Ins and the new Open Graph API, and the move to turn pieces of personal information into interoperable Lego pieces that would serve as key bricks in their new grand social graph design, many seem to be suggesting Facebook has gone one opt-in too far.

Or was that opt out?

All I know is that in 1984, when George Orwell painted a picture of a grand dystopian vision in which the government exerts complete control, he didn’t have the opportunity for using the commercial Internet as part of his palette. 

If he had, Everyman Winston Smith might soon have found himself trying to hack his way out of the Open Graph instead of trying to eliminate an unperson.

But the doublethink here is that the big picture looming behind Facebook’s architectural disruptions actually could bring about some good.  

The ability to “Like” on a grand scale could bring together large groups of like-minded people together with great efficiency, and depending on the granted consumer privacy controls, even with some PII friendliness.

To which one must ask the logical question, then what? 

Would our collective like-mindedness lead us to some positive outcomes and groupthink, or might it instead evolve us into a massive collective of whining counterparties, a global divide consisting of Jets on one side, and Sharks on the other?

Can we all just get along? 

Perhaps, perhaps not. 

But unless the noble, and controversial, Facebook experiment is allowed to continue unabated – preferably with dramatically increased control over the use of our personal information, not to mention some easy to use instructions — we may never gain a glimpse into the upside opportunity that may have lain behind Orwell’s imagined telescreen.

And if we are destined to a dystopian Big Brother future, ought not we be the ones helping to determine Facebook’s grand plan as to who’s watching and when?

I don’t think George Orwell would have had it any other way.

Written by turbotodd

May 13, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Jamming For Global Security

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It was all about Europe this weekend.  Europe, and South Africa.

A big kudos to South African golfer Tim Clark in his taking of the Players Championship, his first win on the PGA Tour after 205 official starts.

Persistence definitely pays. 

I thought that the UK’s Lee Westwood, who led much of the tournament, was going to finally go for the kill and take his own big win, but Clark simply outplayed Westwood, and most of the others, through the weekend, going some 26 holes without a bogey in the last 36 holes.

Tiger Woods, the world’s #1 golfer, proved not to be a factor after he left the tourney on the 7th hole yesterday with a neck injury.  Hopefully Tiger will be back in shape for the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in June.

On the financial front, the global investment community seems to have sighed a big sigh of relief after leaders across the pond agreed to a huge rescue package of nearly $1 trillion to battle the financial crisis looming over the Eurozone.

So far, markets around the globe seemed buoyed by this move.

IBM recently provided its own assist, helping the Security & Defence Agenda (SDA), a Brussels-based security and defence think-tank, to identify top recommendations for improving the state of global security.

The first ever Security Jam, a global online brainstorming session on the challenges facing global security, brought together nearly 4,000 military, diplomatic, and civilian experts from 124 countries during a five-day period to discuss topics ranging from crisis preparedness and human rights to environmental security and rising world powers.

Central themes resulting from the Security Jam were the need for closer collaboration between NATO and the EU, and more civilian involvement and collaboration with the military in protecting global security.

Robert Hunter, former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, had this to say about the experience: “The Jam opened the door to new thinking.  It reached out to people who have truly original ideas and a range of analysis that goes to the heart of today’s and tomorrow’s security issues."

IBM provided Jam technology, advanced analytics and services to enable the global on-line discussions and extract findings.

Participants called on NATO, the EU and the organizers to make the Security Jam an annual event on the security policy debate agenda.

You can read the full recommendations that emerged from the Security Jam here. (PDF, 8.22MB)

Written by turbotodd

May 10, 2010 at 3:35 pm

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