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

Archive for August 2010

Visualizing the U.S. Open

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If it’s late August, it’s time for some serious tennis.

Yes, it’s already that time again.  The U.S. Open tennis tournament kicks off this evening out at Flushing Meadows in Queens, NY.

What do you need to know about the tournament this year, particularly if you wish to follow the action closely, if remotely?

For over 19 years, IBM has worked with the U.S. Open to bring a better tournament to millions of tennis fans worldwide.

One of the best examples of this partnership is USOpen.org.

Built and hosted by IBM, the official tournament site offers real-time scores direct from the court for every single match.

You can also find updated statistics and video highlights of the day’s action, talk with other fans, and follow the U.S. Open Twitter feed.

During the 2009 U.S. Open, the site attracted over 13.5 million fans.

You can also download the U.S. Open iPhone app.

Download the U.S. Open iPhone mobile app to follow this year's U.S Open tennis action from wherever you might be.

The U.S. Open mobile app features:
  • LIVE Scores and completed match results during the Open.
  • Latest News updates from on and off the court throughout the tournament.
  • “Around Me” Find the nearest live matches, concessions, or the next train home with this augmented reality feature, Presented by IBM
  • USOpen.org Radio – American Express special feature – LIVE streaming radio and play-by-play Open coverage featuring Ask the Booth—a live, interactive Q&A with match commentators.
  • On Demand Video, Around the Grounds and American Express insider player profiles and more.
  • Tweets from the US Open official Twitter coverage, as well as featured players.
  • Visiting the Open featuring maps of the grounds, onsite American Express Cardmember benefits and other great spectator info.

Visualizing the Point

But if you’ve ever sat out at Flushing Meadows and watched any of the world class tennis that’s played there, you know there’s actually a whole lot of data being generated there: Every serve, every volley, every point, every match is filled with a voluminous amount of data — the challenge is keeping up with it all.

This year, IBM has partnered with the U.S. Tennis Association to try in the form of its PointStream solution, which will pull intelligence from the huge amounts of data around scores and match statistics, then demonstrate that information in real-time.

U.S. Open PointStream, powered by IBM, will help tennis fans better follow the action online through real-time data visualization of key statistics, including service speeds, rally counts, double faults, break points...all the key metrics in tennis.

PointStream will show aces, serve speeds, winners, and all other key data of a match visualized in real-time, allowing online fans to get that much closer to the action to matches in progress.

Closer, but not too close.

Written by turbotodd

August 30, 2010 at 1:06 pm

New Survey Says IBM Business Partners Expect Social Media To Drive Sales

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IBM has long been a proponent of having its employees around the world participate in social media.

The company released its Blogging Guidelines (now aptly referred to as the IBM Social Computing Guidelines) back in 2005, when social media was nascent and only a few short years after Doc Searls, Christopher Locke, and others told companies and organizations everywhere they needed to get on the cluetrain.

Flash forward a few short years, when today we announce that IBM Business Partners around the globe are wanting to get in on the action, and in a big way.  But, as with so many organizations I come across, they’re looking for some guidance.

IBM recently conducted a survey of its partners and found that three quarters of them are still uncertain how to apply social media as an effective sales tool, and the same number are seeking education on social media and computing technologies and approaches.

The report also indicated that proliferation of social media outlets and the potential to capitalize on social networking trends may help boost sales in a challenging economy.

In response to  these IBM Business Partner Social Media Survey results, IBM today launched a new skills initiative designed to provide its business partners — resellers, distributors, ISVs and system integrators — with education on effective use of social media to support their growth.

This initiative will include the availability of new IBM resources for its partners including:

  • Training sessions and a social media guide available via the IBM PartnerWorld website;
  • A webcast and podcast series on Web 2.0 social media opportunities and successful strategy implementations;
  • A live session on “Leveraging Social Media for your Business” scheduled for partners at the October 2010 IBM Information On Demand Conference in Las Vegas, NV; and,
  • Virtual and in-person workshops at the IBM Virtual Innovation Center and 40 IBM Innovation Centers worldwide on LotusLive, IBM’s online collaboration and social networking services in the cloud.

The survey also indicated that there’s simply been too much social media too quickly for many of our Business Partners, with many indicating that they’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of social media outlets available, which is why the desire for more education on how to utilize them.

Partners also are asking for training on specific social media tools like RSS, Facebook, Twitter, wikis, videos and setting-up networking communities for engaging with other partners and customers.

“Many of our partners are recognizing this shift in how businesses communicate with their customers, potential customers, and each other, and yet they have not created a strategy for embracing social media,” said Sandy Carter, vice president, IBM Software Business Partners. “Through this new skills initiative, we’re arming our partners with the skills they need to elevate their sales and marketing teams with social media strategies to establish smarter business practices in the Web 2.0 world.”

(Blogger’s Note: developerWorks’ Scott Laningham and I interviewed Sandy about the Business Partner survey and interest in social media just yesterday and you can listen to the podcast here.)

Finally, the survey showed that 97 percent of respondents described IBM’s social computing capabilities as moderately to much better than other competing large IT vendors.

Partners cited the expertise of IBM employees, support and responsiveness, and “ease of use” as reasons IBM is ahead of other technology and services companies.

So, kudos to my own colleagues who are out there everyday fighting the good fight in the social media universe, as your efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.

But more importantly, to our Business Partners, we look forward to continuing to share our knowledge and capabilities in the social media realm to help you better communicate and do business with your customers.

As an FYI, all IBM PartnerWorld members are eligible for a no charge, one-year Business Partner demonstration account for LotusLive Engage, LotusLive Meeting, and now LotusLive iNotes.  For more details, click here.

For those Business Partners ready to get started with social media, please go here.

IBM Business Partners on LinkedIn can join networking groups “IBM Software Business Partners” and “IBM Business Partners,” and IBM Business Partner updates can be followed on Twitter using the following ID: @ibmpartners.

Written by turbotodd

August 26, 2010 at 2:20 pm

IBM X-Force Mid-Year Risk and Trend Report

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Now, don’t let me freak you out with this news or anything.

Especially just as the Pentagon confirmed with the New York Times “the most significant breach of U.S. military computers ever” back in 2008, in which a foreign intelligence agent used a flash drive to infect computers for Central Command, which was overseeing combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But today IBM just released the results of its X-Force 2010 Mid-Year Trend and Risk Report, which showed that security vulnerability disclosures are increasing dramatically, having reached record levels for the first half of 2010.

Specifically, 4,396 new vulnerability were documented by the X-Force R&D team in the first half of 2010, a 36% increase over the same time period last year.

Over half, 55 percent, of all these disclosed vulnerabilities had no vendor-supplied patch at the end of the period.

The report also indicated that Web application vulnerabilities continued to be the leading threat, accounting for more than half of all public disclosures.  And that covert attacks had increased in complexity, often getting hidden within Javascript and PDF formats.

Cloud computing and virtualization were noted as key future security topics for enterprise organizations.

Before you IT administrators rush to find a tall building to jump off of, here’s the glass half full news: In the first-half of 2010, organizations were doing more to identify and disclose security vulnerabilities than ever before.

This in turn is having positive effects on the industry by driving more open collaboration to identify and eliminate vulnerabilities before cyber criminals can exploit them.

Tom Cross, the manager of the IBM X-Force team, provides some background on the methodology and findings of 1H report in this video:

Now, some details from on the trends being seen in the 1H10 report:

  • Web application vulnerabilities continue to be the largest category of vulnerability disclosures. — Web application vulnerabilities have surpassed all other threats to account for 55 percent of all disclosures.  While Web application vulnerabilities continue to climb at a steady rate, these figures may only represent the tip of the iceberg of total Web application vulnerabilities that exist, as they do not include custom-developed Web applications which can also introduce vulnerabilities.
  • Covert, hidden attack methods grew in frequency and complexity, especially involving JavaScript — Enterprises are fighting increasingly sophisticated attacks on their computer networks, including Advanced Persistent Threats. These sophisticated attackers are employing covert means to break into networks without being detected by traditional security tools. JavaScript obfuscation is a particularly popular technique used by all classes of computer criminals to hide their exploits within document files and Web pages. IBM detected a 52 percent increase in obfuscated attacks during the first half of 2010 versus the same period in 2009.
  • PDF exploits continue to soar as attackers trick users in new ways — X-Force started observing widespread use of PDF-based exploits during the first half of 2009. Since then, it has captured three of the top five slots for browser exploits used in the wild. The most significant jump associated with PDF attacks in 2010 occurred in April, when IBM Managed Security Services detected almost 37 percent more attack activity than the average for the first half of 2010. This spike coincided with a widespread spam campaign in which malicious PDF attachments were used to spread the Zeus and Pushdo botnets, some of the most insidious threats on the Internet today.
  • Phishing activity declined significantly, but financial institutions remain the top target. Phishing volume has fluctuated wildly over the past few years. The first half of 2010 has only seen a fraction of the phishing attacks that were seen at the peak in 2009, a decline of almost 82 percent. Despite this drastic decline, financial institutions are still the number one phishing target, representing about 49 percent of all phishing emails, while credit cards, governmental organizations, online payment institutions and auctions represent the majority of other targets.

“Threat dynamics continue to multiply and evolve at a furious pace, making it more crucial than ever to look at unfolding trends so we can better prepare our clients for the future,” said Steve Robinson, general manager, IBM Security Solutions.

“This year’s X-Force report reveals that although threats are on the rise, the industry as a whole is getting much more vigilant about reporting vulnerabilities. This underscores the increased focus among our clients to continue looking for security solutions that help them better manage risk and ensure their IT infrastructure is secure by design.”

Looking ahead, the X-Force Research and Development team has identified some key trends to watch for in the future, including:

  • Cloud Computing — As an emerging technology, security concerns remain a hurdle for organizations looking to adopt cloud computing. As organizations transition to the cloud, IBM recommends that they start by examining the security requirements of the workloads they intend to host in the cloud, rather than starting with an examination of different potential service providers. Gaining a good understanding of the needs and requirements first will help organizations take a more strategic approach to adopting cloud services.
  • Virtualization — As organizations push workloads into virtual server infrastructures to take advantage of ever increasing CPU performance, questions have been raised about the wisdom of sharing workloads with different security requirements on the same physical hardware. X-Force’s vulnerability data shows that 35 percent of vulnerabilities impacting server class virtualization systems affect the hypervisor, which means that an attacker with control of one virtual system may be able to manipulate other systems on the same machine. This is a significant data point when architecting virtualization projects.

This report comes from IBM’s X-Force team, the premier security research organization within IBM that has catalogued, analyzed and researched more than 50,000 vulnerability disclosures since 1997.

The IBM X-Force Trend and Risk Report gathers facts from numerous intelligence sources, including its database of over 50,000 computer security vulnerabilities, millions of intrusion events monitored on tens of thousands of managed network sensors deployed on customer networks throughout the world, its global Web crawler and its international spam collectors.

This mid-year report is designed to help customers stay ahead of threats.

IBM Security Solutions include an extensive portfolio of hardware, software solutions, professional and managed services offerings covering the spectrum of IT and business security risks, including: people and identity, data and information, application and process, network, server and endpoint and physical infrastructure. IBM Security Solutions empowers clients to innovate and operate their businesses on highly secure infrastructure platforms.

To access the report, visit: www.ibm.com/security/x-force. For more information on IBM Security Solutions, visit: www.ibm.com/security.

Written by turbotodd

August 25, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Within Cooee

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My sympathies go out to my amigos in Australia (and to my expat Aussie friends scattered around the globe).

Believe it or not, a few of we U.S. Americans were watching to see what the outcome of your election would be, and wouldn’t you know it, your razor close election seems to have been fashioned like that of the recent election in the U.K.

I hope your deadlock ends soon and somebody figures out who’s in charge.

Meanwhile, I wanted to report on another story from our friends down under involving the use of Lotus social software.

Though it won’t necessarily solve any of your election woes, just last week IBM did announce that the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is adopting IBM social software to support the way thousands of employees connect and interact.

To help them, in Australian slang, to be more “within cooee” (within earshot).

We’ve seen from our own CEO study that 98 percent of CEOs say they need to restructure the way their organizations work.

5.3 hours per week per employee are wasted due to inefficient processes (remember those TPS reports from the movie, “Office Space”?), and two hours per day per employee is spent looking for the right information and expertise within an organization.

That’s where social software comes into play. Social software can help alleviate this problem because it helps keep global work teams better connected and more able to deliver results.

ABS  is planning to use  IBM Lotus Connections throughout its 3,200 person organization, and will extend social software to all of its employees across Australia.

And considering what a big place Australia is, that’s probably a good thing.

“ABS prides itself on a history of adopting cutting-edge software to bring speed and effectiveness to our organization,” said Dale Chatwin, Director, Knowledge Management Initiative, ABS. “With Lotus Connections, ABS can use business-grade social software, straight out of the box.”

Since 1992, the ABS has used IBM Lotus software to empower its employees to connect, collaborate and innovate while optimizing the way they work.

Recently, ABS was recognized in the Gershon review for its best practice use of the Lotus platform in supporting the ABS’ advanced knowledge management environment.

The environment delivers ongoing information productivity and facilitates collaboration through the integration of  portal, collaboration, mail, workflow, offline capabilities, document management and record keeping.

IBM Lotus Connections complements and extends existing collaboration environments by featuring the latest internet advances like blogs, wikis, secure file sharing, profiling and tagging capabilities, task management, and community spaces, along with email, chat and social data components.

By coupling its existing IBM Lotus Notes environment with IBM Lotus Connections, the ABS can introduce an integrated Web 2.0 social software platform utilizing the best features of each product.

In adopting Lotus Connections technology, the ABS is in very good company. Over 35% of Fortune 100 companies have also adopted IBM’s social software offerings.

And as I’ve mentioned in this blog in the past, we sip our own champagne at IBM, using Lotus Connections to manage our own farflung efforts around the globe.

Lotus Connections is particularly helpful to me for helping communicate and share resources with teams in different time zones.

As I like to say, while it continues working, I continue sleeping.

Back in July, IBM was announced as the worldwide market leader in the social platform software space by IDC.  You can read more about that here.

Written by turbotodd

August 24, 2010 at 5:45 pm

57 Channels And Nothin’ On

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According to a New York Times article published over the weekend, entitled “The Sofa Wars: In the Living Room, Hooked on Pay TV,” the writers Matt Richtel and Brian Stelter paint a pretty grim picture of cord cutting.

That is, the practice of abandoning your pay TV subscription (DirectTV, Time Warner, etc.), and going direct to the Interwebs to consume your filmed and musical entertainment content.

I’ve never been so bold as to cut the cord myself, and I’m probably what many would consider to be a prime early adopter.  But once burned, twice shy.

I tried the Apple TV and bought the thing before I hardly knew if I needed it.  And as it turns out, I didn’t.  At least, not much.

I also tried out Boxee, the swift open source-ish portal into all things online entertainment, even letting it ride atop the Apple TV (oops, I guess my warranty is voided now that I’ve publicly admitted that!).

And most recently, I bought a Nintendo Wii (allegedly to let me use the Wii Fit and exercise inside during this Texas heatwave where the temps are running around 106F).

Of all three, I’m most impressed so far with the Nintendo Wii and it’s access to Netflix.  It brings the big screen and the interactive on demand experience in true HD quality and and is very easy to use.

Here’s the use case…and I know, this is going to be a shocker to Hollywood and all those trying to figure out what to do in this realm, because it absolutely borders on Mars rocket science…I want to watch a…gasp….TV program or movie!

I know, it’s shocking.  I’m sure you figured I wanted to interact with all the characters, and have chats with all the stars, and enter the contest so I can spend a weekend locked up with the cast of “Jersey Shore” at their beach house.

But sorry, it’s none of the above.  I just want to watch stuff.  On demand. When I want to watch.

Lots of stuff.  With lots of stuff to choose from.  That’s probably the most important characteristic.  That and being easy to use.

Well, Netflix, in my case via the Wii and a Netflix Wii DVD, allows me to do just that.

This weekend, I got seriously caught up on the first season of “The Tudors,” and also watched this really sexy movie from Chile.  My “Instant Queue” for Netflix is about to see some major long tail action.

Sure, I coulda watched my movies on any number of computers (or my iPad).  But I didn’t buy that 55-inch Sony five years ago just to have it collect dust.

As for the steep cable bill, so long as the content continues to be above par in value on HBO, I’ll probably continue to pay the premium, AND the $10/month to Netflix.

But I just stare at my Time Warner programming guide in amazement sometimes wondering why the depth of their own on-demand library is so pathetically shallow.  At some point, I suspect I’ll be giving more of my money to Netflix and less of it to Time Warner.

I don’t care who I give it to — I just want whomever it is to respect my time, make content that’s convenient and easy to watch (including stop, replay, pause, etc.) — and not force me into a second mortgage to be able to do so.

Written by turbotodd

August 23, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Oh The Places You’ll Go

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I’ve been signaling to some of my colleagues that it would be time to short their mental position on upstart location-based services like Foursquare and Gowalla as soon as the industry giants jumped into the fray.

That, in fact, the big players would suck all the oxygen out of the geo-location room.

But it appears I was wrong, at least in the near term.

After Facebook announced it’s new “Places” capabilities, which allows you to announce the location of you and your friends via the FB system, Foursquare saw its “biggest day ever in terms of new user signups” according to a Tweet by Foursquare co-founder, Dennis Crowley.

I’d be Tweeting that, too, if I were the CEO of the David of location-based services to Facebook’s Goliath!

Of course, I’m still wondering what the play of the other goliath is going to be in this space, Google.  Is it my imagination, or is Google starting to get way out-innovated by Facebook (controversial though some of those innovations may be).

Well, I don’t have to worry about all that, as I don’t use location-based services.

If you want to hunt me down, you can probably find me at home working from my home office (which checking in to seems kind of patently self-obvious and gratuitous — Hey Ma, look, I’m Mayor of my own home office!), or heading to an airport somewhere.

And I’m absolutely certain nobody needs to find me on the golf course!

If you really want to find me, send me an email.  Better yet, send smoke signals!

If you’re in the nobody-on-Facebook-needs-to-know-where-the-heck-in-the-world-I’m-at-camp, I would recommend you follow Lifehacker’s prescription for disabling Facebook’s Places.

Before you call me the grumpy old Luddite, let me be clear: I have no problem with location-based services in principle.

I just am concerned that not nearly enough forethought is being given to the continued and rapid distintegration of personal privacy, neither by consumers nor the companies building these new services.

I think there are also ample enough precedents that there should be more concerns about personal safety, particularly for young people (adolescents, tweens, etc.)

It’s one thing for your teenage son or daughter to get an iPhone.

It’s entirely another thing for them to turn Facebook on on that iPhone and have Places announce their location to the world.

Bad people are listening to and watching these services. They’re a small minority, to be sure, but they are out there, and I fear location-based services are providing a fast check-out lane for predators and the like.

Which is why I AM all for folks finding more information on this subject and learning more, and educating themselves about this technology and its implications.

A good start is the EFF’s primer on locational privacy, as well as this Wikipedia entry on location-based services (including the section on privacy).  Feel free to add other resources for location privacy awareness and protection in the comments box below.

Written by turbotodd

August 20, 2010 at 2:48 pm

The Web Is Dead, Long Live The iPad

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At IBM’s Information on Demand Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, in October 2007, I had the opportunity to sit down and interview Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine.

In that interview, we talked most about the economics of the “long tail,” the theory behind which Anderson explained in his book The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More.

Anderson has recently returned to the public Internet consciousness with a controversial new article entitled simply “The Web is Dead. Long Live the Internet.”

I’ll leave it to you to read the full article, and won’t attempt to summarize the whole thing here.  Okay, well maybe just a little bit.

Long tail short, the article goes like this: The Web was too hard for people to use, the moneyed Internet interests saw this and also needed a way to cordon off their plot of Internet farmland so they can sell their crops, and the rest of we little itty bitsy consumer sharecroppers will soon be marginalized by the large Internet agricultural interests.

Or something to that effect.

Michael Wolf, media insider and writer, writes in his own sidebar comment to the Wired piece:

This development — a familiar historical march, both feudal and corporate, in which the less powerful are sapped of their reason for being by the better resourced, organized, and efficient — is perhaps the rudest shock possible to the leveled, porous, low-barrier-to-entry ethos of the Internet Age. After all, this is a battle that seemed fought and won — not just toppling newspapers and music labels but also AOL and Prodigy and anyone who built a business on the idea that a curated experience would beat out the flexibility and freedom of the Web.

It’s this idea of curation, of the widespread embrace of needing a tour guide-like experience to the Internet, that is leading us to this precipice.  But Anderson suspects a whole bunch of people have already jumped, consequences be damned.

The Web’s too hard, too complicated, he seems to argue on behalf of we Internet Everymen/women!

I want my iPad and iPhone apps!  I want my Netflix!  I want them now, and I don’t want to have to work to get to where I need the Information Superhighway to take me!  Wah!!!!

It’s understandable.  And inevitable.

And with the recent Google/Verizon talks around wireless access, pretty soon, it’s going to get even better (or worse, depending on your views of net neutrality).

We’ll all be able to get first, second, and maybe even third class tickets for our trip across the digital frontier.

Me, I’m going old-school.

Put one of these twenty-something punks in front of a telnet or gopher terminal in front of me and tell them to go find their illicit Lady Gaga video using a command line and watch them just squirm in GUI withdrawal.

That’s my idea of a good time.

Old-school, baby!

I’ll be riding in back in third class with the FTP session, the DOS prompt, and the chickens, with the nice old lady selling tacos and beer.

It may not be as easy to get there, but it’s a certainly a much more interesting ride.

Just let me carry my iPad in case the conductor loses his way and we need to access Google Maps.

Written by turbotodd

August 18, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Wrapping Up The PGA Championship

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This weekend, I think we started to see a serious changing of the guards in the 2010 P.G.A. Championship, one that had already begun to occur on the P.G.A. in general, but which was cemented when we saw a playoff between German upstart Martin Kaymer and the U.S.’ own Bubba Watson.

There was no Tiger Woods, no Phil Mickelson, not even an Ernie Els, whom it looked like was going to make a multi-day go of it at the labrynthine Whistling Straits course north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but who faded in the end.

No, it was time for the flatbelly twentysomethings from all parts of the globe.

Even China got in on this year’s P.G.A. (remembering it was a South Korean, Y.E. Yang, who beat Woods out of the title last year when Woods was still formidable).

Chinese golfer Wenchong Liang set a new course record on Saturday, a 64, before finishing the tournament tied for 8th.

The heartbreaker at this year’s tournament was, of course, what happened to Dustin Johnson.

Johnson, who had made quite a showing and hung in there throughout the tournament, made the mistake of grounding his club on 72nd hole, on number 18.

Johnson was standing in a bunker, seemingly along with a number of other folks in the gallery. And if you heard anything about the Straits course, Pete Dye and his team ensured there about an average of 60 sand bunkers per hole.

If you know anything about the rules of golf, you know that you can’t ground your club in a hazard, and in particular, in a sand bunker.  In this case, the question was, how could one tell it was a bunker.

Even CBS golf analyst (and former PGA golfer) David Faherty joked that the bunker looked more like a manger than a sand trap.

But the P.G.A. rules committee had well-covered their tracks, explaining on the tournament rule sheet that there could be bunkers in play inside and outside the ropes, and that the bunker on 18, manger or not, was just like any other on the course.

This, of course, eliminated Johnson from what would have been a much more dramatic three-man playoff to decide the winner of this year’s P.G.A. Championship.

Though I’m in agreement there was some fuzzy ground there, it ultimately is up to the golfer to know the rules and to abide by them.  Though some seem to be suggesting the P.G.A. rained on the playoff parade, it’s a gentleman’s game where true and honest golfers penalize themselves.

Johnson did the right thing.  He stood down, took his lumps, missed the playoffs, and I think set the right precedent for future events, no matter the pain of missing the chance to win his first major.

The game of golf, especially in the competitive realm, is bigger than any individual player.

Yesterday’s ruling, and Johnson’s abiding by it, proves just how remarkable a game it can be.

Written by turbotodd

August 16, 2010 at 7:16 pm

Posted in golf

IBM To Acquire Marketing Software Firm Unica

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IBM Software’s business development team has had a busy week.

IBM today announced they have entered into a definitive agreement for IBM to acquire Unica in a cash transaction at a price of $21 per share, or at a net price of approximately $480 million, after adjusting for cash.

A publicly held company in Waltham, Mass., Unica will expand IBM’s ability to help organizations analyze and predict customer preferences and develop more targeted marketing campaigns.

The acquisition, which is subject to Unica shareholder approval, applicable regulatory clearances and other customary closing conditions, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2010.

IBM to Acquire Unica Corporation for marketing automation and management.

Unica’s comprehensive approach to interactive marketing enables more than 1,500 organizations worldwide to understand what makes their customers tick and leverage that understanding to engage buyers in highly relevant, interactive dialogs across digital, social, and traditional marketing channels.

Leading-edge companies place a high value on a consistent and relevant customer experience.  They must continuously focus on enhancing their brand by responding quickly to marketplace changes and differentiating themselves through more targeted, personalized marketing campaigns (including we marketers at IBM).

In order to achieve this, marketing professionals are increasingly investing in technology to automate and manage marketing planning and execution to help them better analyze customer preferences and trends and in turn, predict buying needs and drive relevant campaigns.

To meet this demand, IBM is assembling transformational capabilities to help clients create this consistent and relevant cross-channel brand experience to promote customer loyalty and satisfaction.

With sophisticated analytics and marketing process improvement, the combination of IBM and Unica will help clients streamline and integrate key processes including relationship marketing, online marketing and marketing operations.

Building on this extensive industry expertise, Unica has more than 1,500 global customers across a wide range of industries including financial services, insurance, retail telecommunications, travel and hospitality. Customers include Best Buy, eBay, ING, Monster, Starwood and US Cellular.

Today’s news expands IBM’s growing portfolio of industry software solutions designed to help companies automate, manage, and accelerate core business processes across marketing, demand generation, sales, order processing and fulfillment.

This acquisition along with IBM’s recent acquisitions of Sterling Commerce and Coremetrics will enhance IBM’s ability to support customers increasing demands in this growing market.

Unica’s 500 employees will be integrated into IBM’s Software Solutions Group, which includes a range of industry-focused offerings.  Unica software will complement the capabilities of IBM’s Business Analytics and Optimization Consulting organization – a team of 5,000 consultants and a network of analytics solution centers, backed by an overall investment of more than $11 billion in acquisitions in the last five years.

Written by turbotodd

August 13, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Santa Wants An iPad

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Our Business Analytics and Optimization group in IBM Global Business Services have been some busy little beavers, helping clients in the electronics industry prepare for the inevitable holiday sales onslaught.

And according to their most recent prognosis, Santa looks as though he may have to go on a hiring binge this holiday season.

That’s because here in the U.S., retailers of electronics and appliances are expected to grow sales of those products by $739M U.S. in September and October alone.

The forecast represents a five percent increase compared with the same period last year. (See graph below.)

U.S. Retail Electronic and Appliance Sales Forecast

This analysis exemplifies the kind of actionable business insight that IBM’s business analytics specialists are working to produce across a range of industries.

This data was produced using sophisticated algorithms and 18-years of historical data, and the forecast analyzes both long-term trends and seasonal peaks to provide a highly-accurate projection of industry sales.

“The forecast indicates that retailers should consider maintaining inventory levels, especially in the hot categories,” said Global Business Services partner Michael Haydock, IBM’s leader for retail analytics. “They should also make sure that stores are staffed with skilled personnel who can assist customers with complex purchases; and continue to invest in advertising leading up to the holidays.”

The retail electronics and appliance market got off to a slow start in 2010 with combined January and February sales down $846 million, or 5 percent, from the same period in 2009.

March, April and May recovered with an overall revenue increase of $483 million, or 2 percent compared with the 2009 period.  In September and October 2009, sales were down $1.072 billion, or 6.6 percent, compared with the comparable months in 2008.

Haydock noted that disposable income, as reported by the U.S. Commerce Department, is on the rise, as is the household savings rate, perhaps indicating pent-up consumer demand.

The IBM forecast is produced using statistical and analytical software to evaluate both the long-term sales trend and seasonal peaks.

IBM consultants use these predictive techniques to help clients improve performance by addressing complex issues of supply and demand.  These techniques also aid clients in planning product mix and new store locations.

In producing the forecast, IBM uses economic data gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau. The data is derived from a survey of retail establishments engaged in electronics and appliances as their major line of business.

Products include TVs, cell phones, personal computers and tablet computers, radios and stereos, refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens, and other devices.

All of this data includes the thousands of dollars in electronic goods that the Turbomeister spends on each and every year (including this year’s iPad!).

Written by turbotodd

August 12, 2010 at 7:13 pm

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