Turbotodd

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

Archive for January 2013

Watson Heads Back To School

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Well, the introduction of the BlackBerry 10 OS has come and gone, Research In Motion renamed itself as “BlackBerry,” the new company announced two new products, and the market mostly yawned.

Then again, many in the market seemed to find something to love about either the new interface and/or the new devices. David Pogue, the New York Time’s technology columnist (who typically leans towards being a Machead), wrote a surprisingly favorable review . Then again today, he opined again in a post entitled “More Things To Love About The BlackBerry 10.”

With that kind of ink, don’t vote the tribe from Ottawa off of the island just yet!

As I pondered the fate of the BlackBerry milieu, it struck me I hadn’t spilled any ink lately myself about IBM’s Watson, who’s been studying up on several industries since beating the best humans in the world two years ago at “Jeopardy!”

Turns out, Watson’s also been looking to apply to college, most notably, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Yesterday, IBM announced it would be providing a modified version of an IBM Watson system to RPI, making it the first university to receive such a system.

The arrival of Watson will enable RPI students and faculty an opportunity to find new users for Watson and deepen the systems’ cognitive computing capabilities. The firsthand experience of working on the system will also better position RPI students as future leaders in the Big Data, analytics, and cognitive computing realms.

Watson has a unique ability to understand the subtle nuances of human language, sift through vast amounts of data, and provide evidence-based answers to its human users’ questions.

Currently, Watson’s fact-finding prowess is being applied to crucial fields, such as healthcare, where IBM is collaborating with medical providers, hospitals and physicians to help doctors analyze a patient’s history, symptoms and the latest news and medical literature to help physicians make faster, more accurate diagnoses. IBM is also working with financial institutions to help improve and simplify the banking experience.

Rensselaer faculty and students will seek to further sharpen Watson’s reasoning and cognitive abilities, while broadening the volume, types, and sources of data Watson can draw upon to answer questions. Additionally, Rensselaer researchers will look for ways to harness the power of Watson for driving new innovations in finance, information technology, business analytics, and other areas.

With 15 terabytes of hard disk storage, the Watson system at Rensselaer will store roughly the same amount of information as its Jeopardy! predecessor and will allow 20 users to access the system at once — creating an innovation hub for the institutes’ New York campus. Along with faculty researchers and graduate students, undergraduate students at Rensselaer will have opportunities to work directly with the Watson system.This experience will help prepare Rensselaer students for future high-impact, high-value careers in analytics, cognitive computing, and related fields.

Underscoring the value of the partnership between IBM and Rensselaer, Gartner, Inc. estimates that 1.9 million Big Data jobs will be created in the U.S. by 2015.

This workforce — which is in high demand today — will require professionals who understand how to develop and harness data-crunching technologies such as Watson, and put them to use for solving the most pressing of business and societal needs.

As part of a Shared University Research (SUR) Award granted by IBM Research, IBM will provide Rensselaer with Watson hardware, software and training.The ability to use Watson to answer complex questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence has enormous potential to help improve decision making across a variety of industries from health care, to retail, telecommunications and financial services.

IBM and Rensselaer: A History of Collaboration 

Originally developed at the company’s Yorktown Heights, N.Y. research facility, IBM’s Watson has deep connections to the Rensselaer community. Several key members of IBM’s Watson project team are graduates of Rensselaer, the oldest technological university in the United States.

Leading up to Watson’s victory on Jeopardy!, Rensselaer was one of eight universities that worked with IBM in 2011 on the development of open architecture that enabled researchers to collaborate on the underlying QA capabilities that help to power Watson.

Watson is the latest collaboration between IBM and Rensselaer, which have worked together for decades to advance the frontiers of high-performance computing, nanoelectronics, advanced materials, artificial intelligence, and other areas. IBM is a key partner of the Rensselaer supercomputing center, the Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations, where the Watson hardware will be located.

Flanked by the avatar of IBM’s Watson computer, IBM Research Scientist Dr. Chris Welty (left) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute student Naveen Sundar discuss potential new ways the famous computer could be used, Wednesday, January 30, 2013 in Troy, NY. IBM donated a version of its Watson system to Rensselaer, making it the first university in the world to receive such a system. Rensselaer students and faculty will explore new uses for Watson and ways to deepen its cognitive computing capabilities. (Philip Kamrass/Feature Photo Service for IBM)

IBM Global SmartCamp Finals: Next Week In NYC

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IBM’s SmartCamp Global Finals are slated to be held at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City on February 7th.

The SmartCamp initiative was launched in 2010 with the goal of identifying early-stage entrepreneurs who are developing business ventures that would align with the IBM Smarter Planet vision, and give them the visibility, mentoring, and resources that only a large company like IBM can provide.

On the 7th, eight startups from around the world will compete in New York City for the title of “IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year.”

The IBM SmartCamp Global Finals will bring together leading venture capitalists, industry experts, press, analysts, entrepreneurial organizations and academics to network and celebrate entrepreneurship.

The Global Finals will feature eight startup finalists from around the world, from Kenya to France to Singapore. The eight finalists not only come from all walks of life, but they offer a broad range of innovative solutions that all have the potential to make the planet a whole lot smarter.

Finalist HistoIndex, a startup from Singapore, has an imaging solution which will allow for earlier detection and better treatment of fibrosis.

GetWay, a big data startup from Brazil, enables any industry to precisely monitor real-time sales data in retailers spread all over a territory.

And QuintessenceLabs, from Australia, has harnessed the properties of nature as described by quantum science to fortify the protection of data in-transit, at-rest and in-use.

You can be a part of the excitement on February 7th at the SmartCamp Global Finals, where you’ll have the opportunity to network with innovators, business leaders, and experts from around the world, hear the startup finalists’ presentations, and witness the naming of a new IBM Entrepreneur of the Year.

Go here to learn more and to register to attend the event. As an FYI, I had the great privilege of helping cover the event last year in San Francisco, and recorded a video with Scott Laningham (embedded in this blog post) where I summarized what I learned.

Fluor Corporation: Building Buildings…And A Better Workforce

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Some interesting customer stories and case studies have been prominently featured at the IBM Connect 2013 event down in Orlando.

One that was announced earlier today involved Fluor Corporation, a global leader in engineering, construction, and project management.

Fluor is unifying its 43,000 employees around the globe using IBM social software, helping empower its workforce to more effectively communicate, collaborate and spur innovation across its construction sites and engineering offices.

Employees across 60 Fluor global office locations on six continents are now united, able to find colleagues with unique expertise to develop and implement innovative solutions for project issues in diverse industries, including chemicals and petrochemicals, manufacturing, oil and gas, infrastructure, power, renewable energy and more.

In a matter of weeks, more than half of Fluor’s global workforce joined the social networking platform, uploading profile pictures, detailing expertise, and making new connections.

Their intranet, powered by IBM Connections and IBM WebSphere Portal, contains more than 11 news and information portals and more than 1,200 collaboration spaces with almost 2,000 active forum participants in the Connections tool allowing the Fluor workplace to be more collaborative and responsive, regardless of location or time zone.

Research from Deloitte indicates that organizations using social technology to engage and empower their employees are improving productivity and unleashing innovation to gain real competitive advantage.

According to a recent report, people-focused businesses generated 26 percent more revenue per employee and had 40 percent lower turnover rates.

Social business has really changed the way organizations of all kinds interact with their clients and their employees,” said Alistair Rennie, general manager, Social Business, IBM. “Today, organizations are thinking entirely differently about how to activate employees to drive business outcome. Social business is driving a smarter workforce. When you’ve got a smarter workforce, you’re changing the way the core processes in your business run, leveraging the incredible talent in your organization to meet your clients’ most critical needs.”

For more information about IBM’s social business initiative and creating a smarter workforce, please visit here,  or follow #IBMSocialBiz and #IBMConnect on Twitter.

BlackBerry’s Uphill Battle

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So, tomorrow’s the big day.

Research In Motion is formally introducing its BlackBerry 10 operating system.

Will the industry yawn and wonder what part of the mobile wilderness that RIM the BlackBerry has been wandering, or will it welcome the potential for new innovation with open arms?

We shall see, but there’s been no end of speculation and expectation appearing in the blogosphere.

For IT professionals, The Wall Street Journal’s Clint Boulton indicated CIOs should be prepared to ask (and get answered) a few key questions.

They center around pricing, upgradability of BlackBerry’s Enterprise Server, interoperability with iPhone and Android, and the like.

The broader question is what will drive demand? Will the market be receptive to the new phones and software behind BlackBerry 10, or are iPhones and Androids “good enough?”

Plenty of tech and mobile companies have had their time “in the wilderness,” and there’s nothing to focus innovation and R&D like dwindling market share.

I was a faithful BlackBerry subscriber for several years, before the lure of the more user-friendly environment of the iOS operating system drew me away from my last RIM device, the BlackBerry Bold.

Looking back, there were a few things I especially liked about RIM’s earlier offerings.

Most notably, the real-time, secure email capability. At a time when I was traveling extensively, there was nothing like being able to walk off the plane and crank up my Bold to find out what had happened in my world the prior 10 hours I was in the air.

I also liked the ability to synchronize with my work calendar — nothing like missing a meeting because you didn’t know it was even happening.

What I didn’t like? The inability to easily introduce new applications and content, most notably music and video (vis a vis iTunes), and yes, that all important road warrior time killer, games. I could only take so many bouts of “Bricks” or “Breakout” (It’s been so long, I forgot what the game was called!)

The application universe also always seemed so limited with RIM, so if they are going to “break out” of the wilderness, that app ecosystem is going to be key.

But only if the OS is up to the task.

CNET’s Roger Cheng explains we can expect two new devices at least, the Z10 and X10, a touchscreen and keyboard version, respectively, and that they’ll be available in February.

As far as apps are concerned, Cheng indicates BB 10 will launch with 70,000 apps.

Though that pales compared to the number of iOS and Android apps currently available, it’s a start, and the real key will be are they the RIGHT apps (the ones that help the mobile warrior stay productive, informed, entertained, and sane on the road, and yet have enough attraction to pull in other demographics).

Creating awareness through marketing will also be key to RIM’s renaissance. The “mindspace” for mobile has been increasingly dominated by the Apple and Google juggernauts over these past few years, and we can hardly turn our heads without seeing Samsung’s TV spots suggesting the iPhone is your our parent’s geriatric mobile device.

RIM hasn’t been part of the conversation for…well, years.

But I think RIM’s challenges are much bigger than awareness. The proof is going to be in the pudding, or in their case, in the user experience.

Design of a useful, attractive and compelling user experience may not have been MORE important in a new product launch in eons, because despite having the early advantage in the mobile smartphone space, now every new experience (including the BB 10 is) going to inevitably be compared to another, existing experience like iOS and Android.

Between that, the desire for a rich apps ecosystem, and getting the word out to a skeptical public — well, over the next few months, let’s just say we’re going to find out how much Motion their Research has as they try to convince loyal, “pry this mobile device out of my cold, dead hands” users out of their comfort zone and into the land of the unknown BlackBerry.

Written by turbotodd

January 29, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Tiger’s New Roar

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Spoiler Alert: If you don’t want to get an update on The Farmers Insurance golf tournament at storied Torrey Pines in San Diego, stop reading NOW.

As of Monday afternoon, it looks as though professional golfer Tiger Woods is going to begin his golfing year with a big bang, currently at 15 under and five strokes ahead of last year’s victor, Brandt Snedeker.

I happened to be at Torrey Pines exactly six years ago this week, on a business trip, when Tiger also won (at that time the tournament was sponsored by Buick), and that also happens to be the first (and only) time I’d ever seen Tiger play live. 

This, of course, was well ahead of the 2008 U.S. Open, which Woods also won in a playoff against veteran player Rocco Mediate, and also a full year and a half ahead of Woods’s “personal” issues.

So what’s different this time around?  In 2007, Snedeker was a tour freshman, and Woods pretty much owned professional golf.

In the past six years, however, a lot has changed, including the fabric of the tour. Irish phenom Rory McIlroy since appeared on the scene, and he’s now the one in the Nike spotlight, having just signed a very lucrative deal (and also dealing with the transition to playing with Nike equipment).

Woods, on the other hand, was off in the wilderness, and only last year, after much coaching and a full swing overhaul, did he return even close to looking like the Tiger of old.

What’s old is new again, because these past several days in San Diego, the old Tiger has become the new Tiger, or the new Tiger the old…or something along those lines.

He’s pretty much owned the leaderboard, and despite a fogged out Saturday third round, his patience has been a virtue — not to mention his short game, which has been virtuoso — and never mind, his long drives straight up the middle, and his (typical) laser-lined iron shots.

After his U.S. Open victory in 2008, Tiger revealed he would miss the remainder of that season due to knee surgery, and for those of us who watched the showdown with Mediate, it was pretty clear Woods was in a lot of pain.

This year, Woods seems healthier than ever, his game seems remastered (pardon the pun), and if he keeps it together the last three holes, he will have won once again on the course he played so much of growing up.

Then, more importantly, he strolls into the rest of 2013 — including the first major of the season, The Masters, in April — looking as though he could be a real contender, in the majors, the tournaments he enters, and of course, the now-cherished FedEx Cup.

Despite his ups and downs in recent years, Tiger still demands attention, thankfully more now on the course than off.  You need only have watched the coverage these past few days of Woods to see the galleries looking bigger than ever, scaring the Tour freshmen but seeming to bolster Wood’s confidence in all his shotmaking.

Make no mistake, 2012 was a great year for golf, what with Bubba’s curved wedge shot to win out over Louis Oosthuizen in a playoff at Augusta, and McIlroy’s missing the cut at the Olympic Club, and probably most notably, the U.S.’ failure to win back the Ryder Cup. 

But Tiger taking Torrey by four or five strokes out of the gate in 2013, with Rory gazing on from off the side of the green, along with a host of new names we’ve never heard looking for a piece of the PGA action.

Well, let’s just say 2013 might be an even bigger year than 2012 for professional golf, and a bigger one than that for Tiger Woods. 

Written by turbotodd

January 28, 2013 at 10:34 pm

From Liking To Leading: Driving A “Purposeful” Social Business Strategy

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At IBM Connect 2013 in Orlando, Florida, IBM announced earlier today new software and cloud-based services to help business leaders, such as chief marketing officers and chief human resource officers, advance their organization’s transformation with the adoption of social business technology.

The new offerings will help business leaders integrate IBM’s industry-leading social networking and analytics technologies into their business processes to empower the 21st Century workforce and transform client experiences.

Social Business By The NumbersLeading From The Front (Office)

Just as social networking has flourished in the consumer realm, Forrester has identified social business as an emerging business category, with the social technology industry growing to $6.4 billion by 2016.

Increasingly, front-office leaders, such as chief human resource officers, are looking to form a smarter workforce to unlock human potential and unleash innovation. According to a recent IBM CEO study, 70 percent of companies surveyed cited human capital as the single biggest contributor to sustained economic value.

The new social software offerings will help companies gain deeper insights into big data generated through the use of social networks. Organizations applying analytics to their data for competitive advantage are more likely to substantially outperform their industry peers.

Today, leading organizations, including 61 percent of the Fortune 100, are licensed to use IBM’s social business technologies to transform their front office business operations. This includes connecting employees globally to empower faster decision making and analyzing big data from sources such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs and public forums, to react swiftly to customer trends and outpace competitors.

Using Analytics To Better Understand Social Behavior And Business Opportunity

At the same time, social media and predictive analytics have emerged as indispensable tools for CMOs, who are using technology to make the customer experience more intelligent, intuitive and individualized.

According to the IBM CMO study, 82 percent of CMOs say they plan to increase their use of social media over the next three-to-five years to communicate with their clients.

From Liking To Leading

IBM’s new software and cloud-based services include:

  • A new Web-based social networking environment that provides HR leaders with a better way to recruit and onboard new employees, while giving employees access to digital media and data in real-time, enabling faster decision making.
  • Software to help marketing teams design sophisticated advertising campaigns and quickly publish those campaigns to leading social networks, resulting in a consistent customer experience through every online channel.
  • The next release of IBM’s industry-leading social networking platform will further enable users to access and analyze big data from inside and outside the organization, including Facebook, Twitter, audio and video.
  • Already in beta, IBM is also announcing its plans to release the industry’s first truly social email client incorporating file sharing, activity streams and a simplified user interface. This will be the first major release of Notes and Domino in five years.

“IBM is revolutionizing front-office processes with the application of cognitive computing and advanced analytics,” said Alistair Rennie, general manager, social business, IBM. “Social business has transitioned from being an emerging idea to a fundamental platform that clients everywhere are using to change the way they empower their employees and engage their customers.”

Enabling the 21st Century Workforce

Following its $1.3B acquisition of Kenexa in December 2012, IBM today announced a new Web-based social networking environment that is expected to integrate IBM’s industry-leading enterprise social networking platform with Kenexa’s recruiting, on-boarding, learning and performance management solutions.

The IBM Employee Experience Suite will help HR leaders attract, empower and motivate talent to address skill and resource gaps while enabling their workforce to deliver better results for their clients.

For example, employees can use social networking, e-meeting and instant messaging capabilities to access applications and interactive rich media such as videos, resulting in improved collaboration and greater teaming across globally distributed teams.

The Suite intends to integrate with Kenexa’s Applicant Tracking System allowing HR leaders to more swiftly educate existing employees and identify prospective talent. HR leaders will be able to set up a recruiting site, use it to onboard employees, present training options, administer surveys to employees and manage performance. Prospective employees can view the HR data on the broadest range of mobile devices, helping HR departments reach an increasingly social-savvy and mobile workforce.

Social Business Benefits

Transforming The Client Experience

The rise of the social-savvy, empowered consumer has prompted organizations around the globe to use social business and analytics capabilities to improve the customer experience. IBM today announced new capabilities that allow marketing teams to easily design, test and optimize sophisticated advertising campaigns.

For example, a new Social Media Publisher capability in IBM’s web experience software allows CMOs to push content, such as ad campaigns or promotions, to leading social networks with one simple click and without involving already resource strapped specialized IT teams.

Social Software for the Enterprise

With today’s news, IBM is introducing the next version of its social networking platform, IBM Connections. The new software will further enable users to access and analyze big data from inside and outside the organization, including Facebook, Twitter, audio and video.

Available in March 2013, IBM Connections 4.5 will include embedded document management capabilities so that members of a network can access, analyze and act on wide ranges of data types in the context of their work to improve decision-making and business results. IBM Connections’ Content Manager feature will allow teams and communities to harness an organization’s collective intelligence to solve business problems, increase productivity, and drive profit.

IBM Connections clients have access to new social features in the cloud, including blogging and ideation in Communities and access to information. In addition, IBM Connections will include enhanced integration of social capabilities in the Microsoft Outlook client, allowing users to access their social data such as profiles, files, and communities directly in Microsoft Outlook.

In December, IBM expanded its social business platform to include social document editing on-premises and in the cloud. The recently released IBM Docs, available on-premises and as part of the IBM SmartCloud for Social Business, allows browser users to simultaneously collaborate on word processing, spreadsheet and presentation documents to improve productivity.

IBM also announced that it expects to ship IBM Notes and Domino Social Edition 9 in March 2013. IBM Notes and Domino 9 will be the industry’s first truly social email client and delivers a social experience to users, whether using a browser or on the broadest range of mobile devices.

IBM Notes and Domino are used by more than half of the Fortune 500. IBM mobile capabilities manage and support a variety of platforms, including Apple (iOS 6), Android, Microsoft Windows operating system, including Windows and Blackberry smartphones (including BlackBerry 10).

Go here for more information about IBM’s social business initiative and creating a smarter workforce.

You can also follow #IBMSocialBiz and #IBMConnect on Twitter.

Alister Rennie, General Manager, Social Business @ IBM, addresses how organizations everywhere can move “from liking to leading” and build “purposeful” social business strategies.

Connecting At IBM Connect 2013

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IBM Connect 2013 and Lotusphere are the same events this year, which kicked off this morning down in Orlando, Florida.

IBM is carrying extensive live and on-demand coverage via its Livestream channel, and this year the event is following three “streams,” including “Creating A Smarter Workforce,” “Creating an Exceptional Customer Experience,” and the “Lotusphere Technical Program.”

If you’re interested in keeping apace via Twitter, the official conference hashtag is #ibmconnect.  To get a good gander from a variety of smart folks (many of whom are attending the event), you can follow this “Team Social” Twitter list.

Speaking of Twitter, there are a couple of Tweetups, one on Tuesday from 4:30-6:00 PM EST in Dolphin Suite #10-110 (and co-sponsored by Avnet).

Tonight’s Tweetup is from 7:00-7:30 EST PM in the Showcase Social Cafe, and will feature a number of IBM Champions.

You can also follow the IBM Connect action in the blogosphere, including in the IBM Social Business Insight Blog. 

Of course, Ed Brill’s blog is a must read during the event (Ed has a new book out entitled Opting In: Lessons in Social Business from a Fortune 500 Product Managerand I’m sure will have much news on his blog throughout the week).

Finally, Happy Twitter Anniversary to me.  Twopcharts informed me via Tweetdeck that today is apparently my 6 year Twitter anniversary.

At which point I immediately started having flashbacks to that 2007 SXSW when Twitter was first “tipping” and everyone used it to make their lunch plans and to do mass migrations out of really bad sessions at SXSW. I’m sure at least a few you out there remember that moment in time, and if not, you should, because it has become part of the historical lore behind the rise of Twitter.

Written by turbotodd

January 28, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Blue Water

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Population growth, massive urbanization and climate change are placing increasing demands on our limited water supply. Forty one percent of the world’s population – that’s 2.3 billion people – live in water-stressed areas; this number is expected to grow to 3.5 billion by 2025.

And according to the United Nations, water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of population increase over the last century.

With advances in technology — deep computing and Big Data analytics linked to sophisticated sensor networks and smart meters — IBM is helping clients and partners make smarter decisions about water management.

By monitoring, measuring and analyzing water systems, from rivers and reservoirs to pumps and pipes, we can better understand the issues around water.  IBM is applying its expertise in smart systems and Big Data to help companies, governments and citizens understand and more effectively deal with these issues.

Waterfund LLC announced today that it has signed an agreement with IBM to develop a Water Cost Index (WCI).

Scientists from IBM Research will apply Big Data expertise, acting as a calculation agent, to analyze large and diverse unstructured data sets. This will be used to develop of a WCI framework that would estimate the cost of water in different regions around the world. With its market and financial product expertise, Waterfund will work to structure and commercialize the WCI.

Discerning The Real Cost Of Water

As governments are increasingly forced to turn to the private sector to fund the construction and maintenance of complex water networks, the Rickards Real Cost Water Index™ will serve as a benchmark for helping measure hundreds of critical projects on a like-for-like basis.

Index values will reflect estimated water production costs measured in US dollars per cubic metre for a variety of major global water infrastructure projects ranging from retail water utilities and wholesale water utilities to major transmission projects.

“The backlog of investment in water systems around the world by some estimates approaches $1 trillion – quite apart from the hundreds of millions of people who have never had access to a water or sanitation system at all,” said IBM Distinguished Engineer and Big Green Innovations CTO Peter Williams.

“By creating a benchmark cost for water we intend to harness the capital market to this supremely important cause. If we can make it easier to price investments in the water sector, we can improve the flow of capital into an area where it is desperately needed. We look forward to working with Waterfund to bring this about.”

Scott Rickards, President & CEO of Waterfund said, “The principal reason behind our decision to work with IBM was their unique combination of expertise in the water sector combined with the best data analytics available. Our initiative with IBM will finally bring real financial transparency to the water sector. By calculating the unsubsidized cost of freshwater production using IBM’s Big Data expertise, Waterfund can offer the first flexibly-tailored financial tools to investors in water infrastructure. The Rickards Real Cost Water Index™ highlights the energy costs, interest rate risk, and capital expenditures required to build and maintain large-scale water treatment and delivery networks.”

Smarter Water Management Examples

Typically, investors have turned to the public equity markets to gain exposure to the water sector, with mixed results. The WCI is intended to provide a market benchmark and to spur the development of third-generation financial products for both water producers and investors and to aid the growth of the water sector globally.

Here are two examples of how it would work:

Scenario 1: A Water Agency cannot obtain bank financing for Phase 2 of a seawater desalination plant project due to previous cost overruns on Phase

1. Yet the Agency lacks the water it needs to supply a contractually specified daily volume of water to its largest customer, with a consequent risk of large penalties for each day of insufficient volume. Using strike and trigger values based on the WCI, the Water Agency could purchase a $25 million, 2 year insurance product.

Payout to the Water Agency would be triggered on the total change in its Water Cost Index (as well as some other conditions, such as a specified increase in asset failure costs).  This approach would enable the Water Agency to enhance its overall credit profile with the insurance enabled by the WCI, finance Phase 2 of the desalination plant and meet its supply obligations.

Scenario 2: A large desalination and water transmission system project needs to secure private equity and institutional funding alongside that from development banks and sovereign funds, to the tune of one third of the total project cost. To achieve this, the project needs a way to reduce risk to its investors.

Based on movement in the WCI, the project could purchase $50 million in insurance. This would enable the insurance product to then be underwritten by a large reinsurer and allow the project to secure the private sector contribution it needs in order to proceed.

Go here to learn more about IBM Smarter Water Management initiatives.  You can also go here to register for a report IBM prepared on why we need smarter water management for our world’s most precious resource.

Swing Thoughts

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I’m guilty.  I just have NOT talked enough about sports in this blog yet this year, most particularly, golf.

But golf season’s just really getting underway, and with the PGA set to visit Torrey Pines in San Diego starting tomorrow at The Farmers Insurance Open, I can assure you that will start to change.

Over the Christmas holidays, I mentioned, in fact, that Santa brought me a self-imposed present: Some Ben Hogan “Red Line” irons, circa 1988.  I found them from a nice gentleman in Illinois via eBay, and the day they arrived via UPS at my folks’ place, where I was visiting, there was a few inches of snow on the ground.

Finally, later that week, back in Austin, I got to give them a go.  I’ll remind you these are the same clubs that Tiger Woods won a U.S. Amateur with back in the day, and a range of pros (including Austin inhabitant Tom Kite) played with these clubs at one point or another.

I’ll also remind you that I’m no Tiger Woods or Tom Kite…I’m a mid-level handicapper working his tail off to drive that handicap down into the single digits.

Since that first round, I’ve played a few more, and I LOVE the clubs.  But last weekend, just for grins, I went out and swung my Mizuno MP-25s, my original Mizuno set which are cavity-backed (what Mizuno calls their “Hemi Cog”).

So how did I hit those clubs now that I’d been out flirting with some blades for a few weeks?

Well, suffice it to say, my first five-iron probably sailed close to 180 yards and had this amazing trajectory and ball flight that made my want to cry.

And that happened again. And again. And again.

Ever since golf school last summer, there’s been no doubt my game improved. But, I don’t play enough as an amateur to consistently hit a thin blade in that oh-so-small sweet spot.

So, this weekend, I’m going to take the forged clubs and see what happens at a challenging course out in Blanco (the Texas Hill Country). Assuming my short game doesn’t completely fall apart, I expect to see my score drop back down into the lowish 80s, but we’ll see.

Do I regret the trial experience with those blades?  And will I ever play with them again?

No, and abso-frickin’-lutely.

Playing with those blades drives focus on the swing like you’ll never have with a forged club, because they’re not nearly forgiving. For that reason alone, I’ll continue to bring them out, because they force you to find the center of the club.

But when it comes to playing to score, and to have the most fun I can have on the golf course, I realize now more than ever why they make those forged clubs — so we “hacks” can fairly consistently hit those beautiful iron shots that we so admire when Tiger or Ricky or any other pro step up to the ball and make it look so easy.

I can’t wait for my tee time on Saturday.

Written by turbotodd

January 23, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Posted in golf

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IBM 4Q 2012 Earnings Rise On Software Sales

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IBM announced this afternoon fourth-quarter 2012 diluted earnings of $5.13 per share, compared with diluted earnings of $4.62 per share in the fourth quarter of 2011, an increase of 11 percent.

Fourth-quarter net income was $5.8 billion compared with $5.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011, an increase of 6 percent. Total revenues for the fourth quarter of 2012 of $29.3 billion decreased 1 percent (flat adjusting for currency) from the fourth quarter of 2011.

“We achieved record profit, earnings per share and free cash flow in 2012. Our performance in the fourth quarter and for the full year was driven by our strategic growth initiatives — growth markets, analytics, cloud computing, Smarter Planet solutions — which support our continued shift to higher-value businesses,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer.

“Looking ahead, we continue to invest to deliver innovations for the enterprise in key areas such as big data, mobile solutions, social business and security, while expanding into new markets and reaching new clients. We are well on track toward our long-term roadmap for operating EPS of at least $20 in 2015.”

Following are key details of 4Q 2012 earnings:

Fourth-Quarter 2012

Diluted EPS:

GAAP: $5.13, up 11 percent;

Operating (non-GAAP): $5.39, up 14 percent;

Net income:

GAAP: $5.8 billion, up 6 percent;

Operating (non-GAAP): $6.1 billion, up 10 percent;

Gross profit margin:

GAAP: 51.8 percent, up 1.8 points;

Operating (non-GAAP): 52.3 percent, up 2.1 points;

Revenue of $29.3 billion, down 1 percent, flat adjusting for currency:

Up 1 percent excluding divested RSS business adjusting for currency;

Free cash flow of $9.5 billion, up $0.6 billion;

Software revenue up 3 percent, up 4 percent adjusting for currency;

Services revenue down 2 percent, down 1 percent adjusting for currency;

Services backlog of $140 billion, flat, up $1 billion adjusting for currency;

Systems and Technology revenue down 1 percent, up 4 percent excluding RSS:

System z mainframe up 56 percent.

Full Year 2012

Diluted EPS, up double-digits for 10th consecutive year:

GAAP: $14.37, up 10 percent;

Operating (non-GAAP): $15.25, up 13 percent;

Net income:

GAAP: $16.6 billion, up 5 percent;

Operating (non-GAAP): $17.6 billion, up 8 percent;

Revenue of $104.5 billion, down 2 percent, flat adjusting for currency;

Free cash flow of $18.2 billion, up $1.6 billion;

Growth markets revenue up 4 percent, up 7 percent adjusting for currency:

BRIC countries up 7 percent, up 12 percent adjusting for currency;

Business analytics revenue up 13 percent;

Smarter Planet revenue up more than 25 percent;

Cloud revenue up 80 percent.

Full-Year 2013 Expectation:

GAAP EPS of at least $15.53 and operating (non-GAAP) EPS of at least $16.70.

Written by turbotodd

January 22, 2013 at 9:45 pm

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