Turbotodd

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

Archive for April 2012

Forbes Business Leadership Forum @ Impact 2012: Put The Customer At The Center Of Every Action

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Mike Rhodin explains to the IBM Forbes Business Leadership Forum at Impact 2012 Monday morning that the best companies moving forward will put the customer at the center of their every action.

After this morning’s keynote session, I went promptly over to the Forbes Business Leadership Forum to listen for a bit to Mike Perlis, Forbes president and CEO, and Mike Rhodin, IBM’s senior vice president for our Software Solutions group.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m a Forbes magazine subscriber — and apparently I’m hardly alone, even in this alleged age of digital media and publishing. In fact, Perlis took great pains to walk the gathered IBM Impact audience through the evolution of Forbes magazine and its transition into the digital era, as a kind of case study into how one unique traditional media publishing property didn’t succumb to the whims of history.

Perlis outlined some key objectives for Forbes, including keeping its print business on track as it built its digital business, and also by developing its brand extensions and becoming a great technology company.

These days, Forbes has some 100 freelancers, 100 staff editors and reporters, and over 300 posts per day on Forbes.com, the centerpiece of Forbes digital strategy.

But Forbes has also embraced the social media in a huge way, with an aggressive presence on all the major social media properties, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

As Perlis summarized, “it’s about the right mix of quality and quantity of information, driven by great technology.”

Perlis then handed the reins over to IBM senior vice president, Mike Rhodin, who leads our Software Solutions business.

Rhodin picked up the ball and reaffirmed that Forbes business journey was an evolution, and that we live in an “information age like none before, where the complexities are forcing us to take a new approach to technology.”

Rhodin noted that companies like Forbes that successfully navigate these uncharted waters must “deploy solutions that are intelligent, integrated by design, and built atop a tech infrastructure that is inherently more cognitive.”

Rhodin went on to cite some examples of the staggering amounts of data that must be dealt with: That there are 340 million Tweets now per day, that 80% of the new data growth are in images, videos and documents, that there are 5 million trading events occurring every second!

Such astronomical figures are creating some tough new challenges, not only for IT but for the mainstream of a business.  Forty-five percent of CFOs see a need to improve data integration and risk management, Rhodin explained, and 73 percent of CMOs see a need to invest in technology to manage new big data.

Business leaders aren’t just concerned with what product to buy, Rhodin explained, but are focused on garnering better business outcomes, how to improve the efficiency of their online marketing campaigns, how to improve cash flows…business problems needing business solutions enabled by technology.

Rhodin also explained that business leaders need to learn to think differently (a theme brought up time and again in Walter Isaacson’s keynote this morning) about analytics, explaining that a new pattern of automation is emerging that is being driven by the instrumentation of the world around us.

“We’re infusing intelligence into the fabric of the organization,” Rhodin continued, and that organizational leaders of the future will be distinguished by their “ability to make big and small, strategic and tactical, 360 degree-informed decisions.”

“This has become a 24/7 feedback loop where sellers and marketers constantly change roles,” Rhodin concluded, and those who put the consumer at the center of every action would be the new information age’s ultimate victors.

Walter Isaacson: The Stuff Of Great Innovators

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Former CNN head and noted biographer Walter Isaacson captured my attention from the moment he walked on the IBM Impact 2012 stage and announced his next book would be a history of the computer age.

Walter Isaacson takes the stage at IBM Impact 2012’s opening general session, where he explained to the Impact audience what he believes are common characteristics shared by some of our greatest innovators.

Then, Isaacson launched into an explanation of what attributes great innovators shared throughout history — Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs.

Though Isaacson’s keynote at times seemed like an uncoordinated symphony, the words of wisdom and insight, and keen observations into the lives of his subjects, made his talk both compelling and inspirational.

Isaacson paid homage in his opening comments to IBM’s 100-year history of innovation and contributions to the information age, but it was his most recent biographical subject, Steve Jobs, that he let serve as the channel behind  the magic of an unwavering and driven innovator.

“Don’t be afraid,” Isaacson said in describing Jobs at his persuasive best. “You can do it.”

Whatever it might be really depended on the situation and circumstance — once, it was Jobs convincing Steve Wozniak to write some game code in four days.  Another time, it was convincing Corning CEO Wendell Weeks that he could manufacture his “guerrilla glass — which, at that point, had never actually been manufactured — in time to support the first iPhones.

Jobs, of course, was an exemplar of the great American creation myth, but behind the mythology there were lots of life lessons learned, particularly in childhood, another universal Isaacson observed about his innovators.

“The most important thing is not making a great product,” Jobs explained to Isaacson in one of his nearly 40 interviews, “but rather a company that will continue to make great products.”

Jobs and Wozniak started their empire in their parents’ garage, and went on to change the world and, over the course of his life, Jobs’ changed multiple industries: personal computing, the music business, digital animation…the list goes on.

Childhood curiosities, Isaacson observed, shared by Franklin and Einstein.

That was another unique characteristic that they all shared: The curiousity and persistence to try and solve problems and look for new ways of thinking up until their last breaths.

Smart people are generally a dime a dozen, explained Isaacson, but the innovative people, the imaginative people — they’re the ones who change the world.

But they also shared an ability to quickly get to the heart of the problem, and to encourage others to find their way to simplicity.

Isaacson quotes Einstein this time, but he just as well could have once again been referring to Steve Jobs:

“Any damned fool can make something complicated…it takes a genius to make it simple.”

Perfect case in point, the “on/off” switch for the iPod, which was in one of the original early designs, but which Jobs pointed out was unnecessary when he reviewed a prototype with his designers.

“You don’t need an on/off switch,” he explained. “When you quit using the iPod it just powers down.”

And so it was.

Isaacson shared another revealing anecdote, this time about Benjamin Franklin’s participation in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and, later, the collaboration on the drafting of the U.S. Constitution.

The original Declaration read: “We hold these truths to be sacred,” but Franklin, sensitive to the divine implications of such a phrase, and sensitive to the need for church/state clarity, suggested a re-wording: “We hold these truths to be self-evident.”

And so it was.

Yet years later, benefiting both from experience and having developed a sense of humility along the way, Franklin was more accommodating and facilitated a critical discussion centering on the inequities of power between the big states and little states in the nascent U.S. Union.

His urging to compromise led to the genius that became the U.S. House and Senate, where one body was proportional to the population, and the other was equitable regardless of state size. When a lady later asked him what he had “given them,” Franklin explained “A Republic, madam…if you can keep it.”

Yet despite all of their incredible accomplishments and breakthrough innovations, each of these giant men were, in the end, just that, men, people, humans — filled with the same kind of self-doubts and wonderment at the universe as all the rest of us.

Isaacson reminded us when Jobs returned to the helm of Apple in 1997 that he green-lighted a new ad campaign from Chiat/Day that celebrated the spirt of the great innovators. The slogan went like this:

“People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

He was.  And he did.  Einstein was.  And he did.  Franklin was, and he did.

Each in their own unique way, but with underneath each a connecting thread of a drive towards perfection, an insatiable amount of unsated curiosity, and always looking for a way forward.

Isaacson closed his talk with a beautiful and reminiscent story of Jobs, who knew he was nearing his last days on earth.  He asked Jobs, with all his Zen Buddhism training, what he felt spiritually, and did he feel there was something larger in this world than the moments we spend on this spinning globe?

Jobs explained that he liked to think so, that our spirits live on, and all that accumulated spiritual wisdom somehow benefits us moving forward.

But then, after a pause, he explained that at other times, he felt that death is just like one of those on-off switches.

Like the ones he didn’t want included on the iPod.

BLOGGER’S NOTE: I had occasion to interview Walter Isaacson on the key themes behind his keynote just after he was finished speaking. Among other things, I questioned him about his early work in digital media at Time’s Pathfinder group in 1994-1995, the impact of the Internet on the global economy, his work with the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and his perspective on the renaissance New Orleans is currently enjoying.  Stay tuned to the Turbo blog for more on this far-ranging and compelling Q&A. 

Written by turbotodd

April 30, 2012 at 5:26 pm

AIMing For An Immense Market Opportunity

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I made it to my first session at IBM Impact 2012 earlier this afternoon here at the Venetian Hotel and Casino in Viva Las Vegas.

The session was a stage setter for the rest of the event, and I just HAD to share what I learned with the rest of the world.

At IBM Impact 2012 today, IBM market advisor Rahul Sahni provided a comprehensive overview of the application and middleware (AIM) market. Here, Sahni highlighted a few key macro-economic factors that are affecting the IT market.

Rahul Sahni, a market development advisor with IBM’s AIM and ICS organizations, shared a market view for the Application and Middleware Infrastructure market, which we know is changing underneath our feet.

Rahul’s presentation was excellent, hitting the highlights of both what is shaping the market, and what’s driving some substantial changes in it.

The Economic Shakeout

He set up his presentation with some macroeconomic data: Japan still coming out of recession, Europe still a wildcard with obvious volatility in the south, the US/Canada holding steady in the 3-4% GDP growth range, and the BRIC’s coming in for a gentle landing, some more softly than others.

There are some potential threats to business growth: In the developing markets, the currency devaluations.  In the mature markets, the sovereign debt crises.  And yet despite all this volatility, the storage and software infrastructure markets remain strong.

Mr. or Mrs. CIO, Can You Spare A Project?

Why?  CIO plans require strong IT infrastructures. If you look at where IT execs are spending, the sweet spots include AIM middleware, where often one or several IT projects will include parts of the AIM middleware portfolio.

Becoming Agile For The Upturn

Of those, projects required Agile/OOD systems, process simplification, industry and/or government compliance, cost reduction mandates, the amount and availability of data, and finally, workforce mobility and productivity are the top six drivers. Ergo, the AIM market is expected to grow some 6% in 2012, and will grow to an estimated $1 billion opportunity in 2013.

Economic conditions are such that key projects have resulted in more demand for small IT initiatives with short term ROI and a need for greater productivity and efficiencies.  Pie-in-the-sky projects with long-term prospects for growth have been mostly sidelined.  Show me the money, and show it to me soon (meaning, the value that will be returned against the project).

The AIM Market Is Growing…and Changing

Of the three AIM market segments, there’s Application Infrastructure (growing at 8%), Business Process Managment (11%), and Connectivity and Integration (2%).  In the first, key growth drivers are the enterprise need to provide transparency, reduce costs, and stay competitive.

For BPM, cloud adoption is now a key driver in BPM as smaller and medium-sized businesses’ processes become more complex and as BPM cloud solutions become more price-aggressive.

For Connectivity and Integration, on-premise integration can now be matched by cloud services in functionality and also aggressive pricing.

So, writ large, the AIM market is growing today because its products can help simplify IT complexity, and help organizations better understand, improve, and make more transparent their business processes.

Organizations also need to make the best use of what they already have in the way of IT investments, and AIM products provide the ability to integrate existing applications, infrastructure, and processes with new development initiatives.  This becomes especially critical as we see continued activity in mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures.  All to applications, infrastructures and processes have to be integrated somehow.

This Is Not Your Father’s Application And Integration Market

So what about some of these new arenas?  Mobile platforms will most definitely continue to grow and evolve, with market data suggesting that enterprise investment in mobile application development will increase at the rate of 20-30 percent per annum in order to meet the rising demand for customer applications.

Customer facing industries rank highest with need to develop mobile enterprises, with virtual guns being held to their heads as they compete for customer-centricity in a growing but younger customer base.

Application Convergence Will Rule The IT World

Also noteworthy, over the next few years, the lines between the Web, hybrid and native apps will blur and mobile enterprise application platforms (MEAPs), portals, other web development approaches will converge into a new generation multichannel application development tool. Those organizations unprepared for this transition may soon find themselves on Application Island with no place to row back to.

Become Your Cloud: The Great Mobile Gold Landrush of 2012

It goes without saying that the cloud is inherently critical to this new environment.  Cloud based development is lowering the cost of adoption and increasing the speed with which companies can roll out mobile solutions, and a significant portion of the IT opportunity associated with mobile enterprise initiatives will come not from the purchase of devices and network services — the bright and shiny objects that all your friends and family get so googly-eyed about — but from the associated software, consulting, system integration and security services.

The Future’s So Bright…

I’ll call it “the Great Mobile Gold Rush of 2012” — remember, we’re laying the tracks for a new foundation of computing. The excitement may be in the devices, but a little sleight of hand reveals the ridiculously gargantuan opportunity in the virtual picks and shovels required to make it all work.

To which point Rahul began to close his session, reassuring the business partners in attendance and beyond that this is a market IBM is committed to.  WebSphere still makes up a substantial share of IBM Software revenues, and IBM’s 2015 roadmap reveals that 50% of segment profit is expected to come from IBM Software. (And no, we’re not feeling any pressure over here or anything!)

IBM’s four key growth initiatives against that 2015 roadmap reveal two obvious intersects with the AIM market, our growth markets, where much of the middleware layer is being laid for those future railroad tracks, and cloud computing, to which IBM has made massive investments in growth, organic and acquisition, over the past several years.

Throw in a little business analytics technology to help you understand your AIM infrastructure performance, and there’s plenty of upside in the AIM.

My takeaway: The AIM future’s so bright you gotta wear some of those Google augmented reality glasses, but if you can’t see your way through evolving with the convergence of the mobile enterprise and the cloud you’ll have few business processes left to worry about managing!

Five Things You Need To See At Impact 2012

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It’s Sunday morning here at Impact 2012, and the IBM Impact Business Partner Summit has already begun.

If you’re not there, and you were supposed to be there, that probably means you overslept and that you’d better hurry up and shower and get down there.

For those of you who are not attending the Impact Business Partner Summit, I have just one question for: Well why not?!… Seriously, if not, that you means you’ve got almost a whole Sunday to yourself in Vegas.

However, as I mentioned in my post yesterday, it’s always good to have some structure in life and at conferences. So, if you don’t have any structure, I’m going to attempt to provide you some in this, “The 5 Things You Need To See At IBM Impact,” overview post. Listen carefully…

Number one, you need to see all the IBM Impact general sessions, mini main tents, and as many of the breakout sessions and hands-on labs as you possibly can.  You’ll learn a lot there, and it’ll keep you off the Las Vegas Strip, where nothing good can ever happen to you.  Trust me on this.

Solutions For Everyone At The IBM Impact Solution Center

Second, you also need to stop by the IBM Impact Solution Center (the Expo!), where you can spend time playing nice on the Impact Social Playground with all the other boys and girls (more on that in a moment). There’s also the IBM product technology center.

Remember, the conference mantra this year is to “Change the game,” but how in the world are you going to change it if you’re not even in it!??

In the Solution Center, you will find a hub of activity for more than 9,000 expected attendees, and this is where Scott Laningham and I will be spending much of our time on the ImpactTV stage.

This year’s IBM Impact Solution Center will feature the latest technology and cutting-edge solutions offered by IBM and IBM Business Partners. Please take advantage of this opportunity to network, collaborate, and view live demonstrations… even if the demo you’re watching freezes, you’ll learn something!

Playing On The Impact Social Playground

On the Impact Social Playground, you’ll find an exciting social club that will bring together all the social movers and shakers. I’m not one of them, but join us nonetheless and I’ll pretend to move and shake.  The Impact Social Playground is located in the Impact Solution Center and will provide enhanced social networking facilities for all attendees, business partners, Tweeters,  bloggers, analysts and media.

There will also be 2 private recording pods, for those very personal interviews, and a 12 seat recharger bar station seating for networking and catching up on your social activities, and recharging your batteries (yours and your electronic devices). It’s a great place, in other words, to hang out. In fact, I was hanging out there just last night (I told you, it’s better to stay away from the Strip, and that includes me!)

Of course, if you’re ready to leverage technologies that will fundamentally reshape our future and change the way organizations operate, as well as increase human capability, you should check out the Forbes Business Leadership Forum tomorrow and Tuesday.

There, you will find unmatched resources and practical solutions on how to innovate transform and grow your business, including feedback from clients who have successfully leveraged technology to not just reduce costs and improve efficiencies, but also to fundamentally transform the way they do business. When’s the last time you did that?!

The Impact Unconference

And finally, for you developers out there, day 3 will be “Developer Day” and the IBM Impact Unconference. Developer Day will start with an inspiring general session, “Freedom to Achieve Your Application Potential,” which will be followed by a mini main tent session featuring technology comedian Don McMillan who will present on “The New Development Reality.”  You’ll also hear from IBM Fellow Grady Booch, and talks on mobile, cloud computing, and…well, you’ll just have to show up to find out the rest.

Later in the afternoon on Wednesday, the “Unconference,” sponsored by IEEE and the Global WebSphere community, will give developers the opportunity to set the agenda by voting on the ideas they want to hear and presenting topics they want to discuss. It’s the ultimate in crowd sourced content!

So, keep your eye on #IBMImpact via Twitter, and here on the Turbo blog for full coverage of IBM Impact 2012.

Fear And Loathing At The Venetian

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Well, I arrived in Vegas this morning just as quick as I could get here, my purpose being to cover the National District Attorneys Association’s Conference on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs…oh, hold a minute…sorry, that was Hunter S. Thompson.

I’M here for the IBM Impact 2012 event being held at the Venetian Hotel and Casino (which is NOT to be confused with the Venice that’s located in Italy and which is slowly succumbing to the seas around it).  No, this Venetian doesn’t have that particular problem to worry about.

The next four to five days, depending on the length of your stay and the size of your bank account, is going to be entirely dedicated to technology-related topics: SOA, BPM, cloud computing, enterprise mobility…it’s a virtual technology funfest.

Oh, and let’s not forget the Goo Goo Dolls, who will be playing Tuesday night.

A few housekeeping details you might want to be cognizant of: First, check your bathroom for Bengali Tigers FIRST THING.

Look, you can never be too careful, particularly in the wilds of Las Vegas.

Second, go get your badge at registration.  Unlike “Blazing Saddles,” at Impact 2012, you’re going to need your stinkin’ badge. You can find them on Level One of the Venetian Convention area.

Third, plan your escape route NOW in the private confines of your hotel room.  Err, I meant to say, your conference itinerary.  I know, I know, most battle plans go out the window the moment you hit the battlefield, but it’s nice to have some general semblance of where you are and where you’re going to go next, even if it’s just a strawman.

Fourth, make room for serendipity.  No, that’s not the name of a dancer from Cirques Du Soleil.  That’s more along the lines of improvisation — as in, give yourself room for some. You never know who you meet just hanging around the canals of Venetian (but hey, don’t blame me if you fall in with the wrong crowd!  I told you to have  a plan, just in case!)

This year’s conference theme is “Change the Game: Innovate, Transform, Grow.”  So, what are you waiting for?  Get to it!

As for me, I’m going to finish writing up some interview questions for ImpactTV (which starts tomorrow at 5 PM PST, 8 PM EST — check it out at www.livestream.com/ibmsoftware), then I’m going to head on down to the Pai Gow Poker tables.  I’m feeling lucky!

If you’re feeling lost, or even unlucky, just follow the #IBMImpact hashtag on Twitter — you’re sure to find plenty of others who are feeling just like you.

And if you have a question for the event organizers, send that question on Twitter to the #AskImpact Twitter ID and surely someone will get you an answer and soon…ahem, it may not be the RIGHT answer, but social media operators ARE standing by.

And most importantly, smile and enjoy yourself…you’re in Vegas, bay-bey, NOTHING could go wrong now!

Into The Amazon Digital Jungle

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Whoa, what ants got into Amazon.com’s pants this quarter??

Amazon announced earnings earlier today, and though profits for the first quarter dropped 35 percent to $130 million from last year’s same quarter, revenue jumped 34 percent to $13.2 billion, beating the Street’s expectations.

Is this a bellwether indicator for e-commerce en generale, or is it isolated to the ‘Zon?

Hard to say, but The Wall Street Journal is reporting that part of Amazon’s spending has gone towards making itself operate more efficiently.  If you remember, Amazon spent a cool $775 million to buy Kiva Systems last month, which is intended to help them automate and lower their warehouse operations costs.

The Journal story’s also highlighting the fact that the e-commerce market in general “has been strong,” with Amazon reporting particularly good sales for digital goods, including e-books and online video (which, read, means little to no distribution costs other than bandwidth!)

In Amazon’s earnings press release, Amazon pointed out that “9 out of 10 top sellers on Amazon.com were digital products — Kindle, Kindle books, movies, music and apps.”

In the quarter, Amazon also introduced a new version of its Kindle for iPad app, which is the #5 free iPad app of all time and the #1 free books app on iPad.

The Amazon left jab strikes Apple on the chin! Pow!

The Kindle, retailing for $199 through Amazon, continues to be the company’s best-selling product, and the most “gifted.”

I may have even contributed to the strong quarter with a few Amazon purchases meself, come to think of it!

For my money (what little I have left of it after shopping with Amazon), this digital trend is a larger barometric indicator — folks are finally getting more comfortable with consuming books and other media in digital formats, and though it certainly has a negative impact on the “traditional” media industries on one side of the balance sheet, that starts to get offset as the digital column increases.

Of course, I haven’t even gotten to some of the social commerce trends which Amazon is also likely benefiting from (mentions via Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and their own leading adoption of customer ratings and reviews.

Click, mortar, AND pixels is the name of the game for smarter commerce, something IBM thought leaders will be discussing at the upcoming IBM Global Smarter Commerce Summit in Madrid May 22-24th.

More on that in a prior post here.

Futbol And Football

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Anybody following the UEFA Champions League semi-finals this week?

If you’re a soccer fan, it’s been a “must-see” week, with Chelsea outing the world-class Barcelona team on a 2nd half lay-up by Fernando Torres in a match earlier this week, and Real Madrid losing to Bayern Munich last night in a heartbreaking 3-1 penalty shoot-out after Bayern had tied Real-Madrid 3-3 in the aggregate.

Bayern, a four-time champion of the Champions League, will now have reached the final for the second time in three seasons, and will take on Chelsea at Allianz Arena May 19.

Of course, if you’re more interested in the football that takes place on this side of the Atlantic (I happen to enjoy both!), then you’ll want to tune in to ESPN this evening at 8 PM EST for the first round of this year’s NFL draft.

The first five projections? Stanford QB Andrew Luck is expected to go to Indianapolis at #1.  #2 is Baylor’s QB Robert Griffin III to the Redskins.  #3 is offensive tackle Matt Kalil from USC, expected to head to the Vikings. #4 looks to be Alabama running back Trent Richardson, expected to be picked up by Cleveland. And bringing in the rear is LSU corner back Morris Claiborne, expected to be taken by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  But this is all pure speculation, so watch tonight’s first round tidings to know for sure.

Meanwhile, IBM made an important announcement today in the healthcare research field.  It announced that researchers from The State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo are using IBM analytics technology to study more than 2,000 genetic and environmental factors that may contribute to multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms.

As part of the initiative, Researchers will tap into IBM’s analytics technology to develop algorithms for big data containing genomic datasets to uncover critical factors that speed up disease progression in MS patients.  Insights gained from the research will be shared with hundreds of doctors to better tailor individual treatments to slow brain injury, physical disability and cognitive impairments caused by MS.

Using IBM analytics technology, SUNY Buffalo researchers can for the first time explore clinical and patient data to find hidden trends among MS patients by looking at factors such as gender, geography, ethnicity, diet, exercise, sun exposure, and living and working conditions. The big data including medical records, lab results, MRI scans and patient surveys, arrives in various formats and sizes, requiring researchers to spend days making it manageable before they can analyze it.

Using an IBM Netezza analytics appliance with software from IBM business partner, Revolution Analytics, researchers can now analyze all the disparate data in a matter of minutes instead of days, regardless of what type or size it is. The technology automatically consumes and analyzes the data, and makes the results available for further analysis. As a result, researchers can now focus their time on analyzing trends instead of managing data.

MS is a chronic neurological disease for which there is no cure. The disease is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, infectious and autoimmune factors making treatment difficult. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, there are approximately 400,000 people in the US with MS, and 200 people are diagnosed every week. Worldwide, MS is estimated to affect more than 2.1 million people.

You can learn more about IBM’s Big Data strategy and portfolio here.

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