Turbotodd

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

Archive for the ‘globalization’ Category

Live @ IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit Madrid: Steve Cowley On The Smarter Commerce Opportunity

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IBM vice president Steve Cowley sits down with Scott and Todd at the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit in Madrid for a Q&A on all things Smarter Commerce, among other topics.

IBM vice president of worldwide sales, IBM Industry Solutions group, Steve Cowley, has worn a number of leadership hats at IBM, but most recently, he’s been busy helping make over the IBM Smarter Commerce play and help his global team take the Smarter Commerce solutions to market.

In his role, Steve is responsible for acquiring, growing and selling a portfolio of industry specific solutions to meet client’s needs in todays’ rapidly changing marketplace.  If you push him, he’ll also explain that he has a passion for Formula One racing

Previously, Steve was General Manager for IBM Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, based in Dubai, where he was responsible for driving sales and helping clients to maximize their IT investments across the region.

Responsible for all of IBM’s business with some one hundred countries from the Czech Republic to Russia, all Africa and the Middle East, the CEEMEA region was at the heart of IBM’s Growth Markets strategy.

Scott and I queried Steve about a number of topics, including the evolution of the Smarter Commerce opportunity, what’s going on IBM’s growth markets, and the need for increased focus on enterprise mobile computing.

No More Business As Usual: The Road To Smarter Commerce

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I mentioned in my last post that I must have been dreaming on the way over to Madrid. Or maybe it was just all these thoughts running through my head before I actually drifted off to some semblance of jet-engine-drone-induced slumber.

The English East India Company was an English and later (from 1707) British joint-stock company formed for pursuing trade with the East Indies but which ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent. The Company was granted a Royal Charter in 1600, making it the oldest among several similarly formed European East India Companies. Shares of the company were owned by wealthy merchants and aristocrats. The government owned no shares and had only indirect control. The Company operated its own large army with which it controlled major portions of India.

One of those thoughts reminded me of the guy in the YouTube video who reminded us all what an amazing time we live in. That we can climb into what essentially constitutes a rather large beer can and zoom a few thousand miles away in only a matter of hours. In a journey that, once upon a time, would have taken a Benjamin Franklin or a Thomas Jefferson weeks by sea, and likely would have been filled with seasickness, scurvy, or worse, when all they wanted to do was get there.

That was one of my thoughts: Then I fell asleep somewhere near Dallas and woke up somewhere over lovely Spain.

Be Amazed By This Amazing Opportunity

But I also dreamed of commerce. Of its history, and its evolution, and what an amazing time we live in terms of how we conduct business.

I went and looked up “commerce” on Wikipedia, curious as to what the “crowd” out there had to say. That, too, is another relatively new concept, to be able to “crowdsource” information from people around the globe.

Their definition goes something like this: Commerce is the whole system of an economy that constitutes an environment for business. The system includes legal, economic, political, social, cultural, and technological systems that are in operation in any country. Thus, commerce is a system or an environment that affects the business prospects of an economy or a nation-state.

First, there were barter economies, where trading was the principal “facility” in which peoples bartered for goods and services from one another.

Then, currency was introduced as a standardized money, which, facilitated a wider exchange of goods and services — everything from coins to lumps of precious metals to, today, even virtualized currency like “Bitcoin.”

But these days, as the Wikipedia entry observes, commere also includes a complex system of companies that try to maximize their profits by offering products and services to the market (consisting of both individuals and other companies) at the lowest production cost.

The Early Road To Smarter Commerce

So what did some of those early commerce scenarios look like? Imagine, for example, how the domestication of camels allowed Arabian nomads to control long distance trade in spices and silk from the Far East.

Or the “Silk Road,” which was established after the diplomatic travels of the Han Dynasty Chinese envoy Zhang Qian to Central Asia, which allowed Chinese goods to make their way to India, Persia, the Roman Empire — and vice versa.

The English East India Company was an English and, later (from 1707), British joint-stock company formed for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but which ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent. Shares of the company were owned by wealthy merchants and aristocrats. The government owned no shares and had only indirect control. The Company operated its own large army with which it controlled major portions of India.

In more recent times, we saw the introduction of 23 countries agreeing to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, in 1947, which attempted to rationalize trade among nations.

Going All In…For Your Customer

Today’s smart consumers expect to engage with companies when and how they want, through physical, digital, and mobile means, and they want a consistent experience across all channels. Because they are empowered and connected, they can compare notes, quickly, and they can champion a brand or sully a reputation with the click of a mouse or the stroke of their tablet computer.

Today, circa 2012, we find ourselves at another inflection point in the history of commerce, one which begins and ends with the customer. Today’s commerce environment features a customer who is dictating a new set of terms in the dynamic between buyers and sellers, and these are very smart consumers, ones empowered by technology, transparency, and an abundance of information.

Just simply walk through your closest local retailer or your nearest airport, and you’ll see signs of this new and smarter consumer. Via smartphones and other mobile devices, they are connected real-time to an absurd amount of information that empowers them as buyers, and, in turn, requires an accelerated sophistication on the part of sellers, no matter the product or service.

These consumers expect to engage with companies when and how they want, through physical, digital, and mobile means, and they want a consistent experience across all channels.

Because they are empowered and connected, they can compare notes, quickly, and they can champion a brand or sully a reputation with the click of a mouse or the stroke of their tablet computer.

No More Business As Usual

This ultimately means, of course, that there is no longer such a thing as “business as usual.” Empowered and connected consumers are deeply linked — to their friends, colleagues, and the world at large — and they evaluate and compare the quality of their experiences with those of others. And they are the ones who can reward, or penalize, the businesses that do, or do not, give them what they want.

This is new trading crossroads of the 21st Century, and it is those companies who are interested and compelled to act to enable and encourage this new consumer who are in attendance here at the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit here in Madrid this week.

To thrive in this new age of the customer, they recognize they must understand the motivations of each individual purchaser. They must predict, and not merely react to, customers’ needs and preferences.

They must understand not only what they buy and where, but also why and how they choose to buy it.

That’s what this new world demands. That we need not only a better system of doing business.

But, also, a “smarter commerce” environment, one that puts the customer at the center of all operations, and that helps companies better buy, market, sell and service their offerings accordingly.

Happy Float, Facebook

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Happy IPO day, Facebook.

I’m not an “insider” of any sorts, so I won’t be gaining from any of the early Facebook IPO action.  I’m on the fence as to whether or not I might try to buy some “FB” shares on the open market through my Schwab account…not because I’m not interested in owning any Facebook stock, but because like a lot of investors, I want it to be a conscious, responsible investment, and one never knows what’s going to happen on IPO days.

But know this: I’m very bullish on Facebook, both its past and its future.  I’ve never seen an Internet property bring so many people together from so many different places in the world, across economic and social strata, and keep them coming back.

If you’re as bullish, but not ready to gamble on IPO day, you might give some thought to investing in the Facebook “pick and shovel” plays.

Stand back, look at the Facebook ecosystem, and rather than place all your bets on the Facebook IPO “come” line, instead spread some bets across the board and benefit from all the other players who stand to benefit from Facebook’s continued growth and adoption around the world.

The Zyngas, whose gaming ecosystem helped the Facebook tribe spread around the world.  The Dachis Corps and Buddy Medias, which are helping make the Facebook platform work well for marketers (and focusing well beyond the social graph ads that GM announced it would abandon earlier this week).

And, to be sure, hundreds of others.

Regardless of whether or not you’re a Facebook fan, and heaven knows sentiment about them can run to the extremes, if you’re a good Western capitalist, you have to be excited.

This is the classic American success story, where young kid has great idea, develops that idea in his dorm room and later small house in Silicon Valley, and eventually changes the world.

And make no mistake about that: Facebook has forever changed the world.

Just ask the folks in Egypt, or Tunisia, or Russia, or any other locale or organization that has benefited from the lower center of gravity Facebook has created that makes organizing in mass quantities as simple as a few clicks.

There is a good reason that Facebook is NOT available in China — fear of transparency and open communications.

If it were available, China would be a very different place than it is today, and it makes me thankful that the kind of open innovation and entrepreneurialism we have here in the U.S. is still alive and well.

And that, in the end, may well be the most important reason for celebrating Facebook’s entry into the public markets.

Big ideas can still have big impacts, and Silicon Valley (and, more broadly, the United States) is one of those places in the world that you can find the capital, the talent, and the political and regulatory playing field  to make those big ideas a reality.

Happy IPO day, Facebook.

IBM Impact 2012: A Q&A With Steve Jobs’ Biographer Walter Isaacson On Steve Jobs And Innovation, The Renaissance In New Orleans, And His Forthcoming Book On The History Of Computing

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The opportunity I had to sit down and interview Steve Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson last week at IBM’s Impact 2012 event in Las Vegas was a kind of career denouement moment for me.  Let me explain: In 1994, as I was finishing work on my Master’s degree in Radio/TV/Film (they hadn’t yet added “Internet” to the RTVF degree in 1994) at the University of North Texas, I distinctly remember sending my resume off to the new inner digital sanctum of Time magazine, “Pathfinder,” which had recently been started to put some muscle behind Time’s digital presence.  They didn’t hire me, but they did hire Walter Isaacson, who would be asked to run the groundbreaking digital media organization for a short period before he was later promoted to editor of Time and, later, chairman of CNN.  

As for me, information technology, and the Internet in particular, would become central to Isaacson’s life, first at Pathfinder, later at Time magazine, and of course as the biographer of great figures ranging from Albert Einstein to Benjamin Franklin to Steve Jobs, all of whom were unique innovators in and of their own right.  What’s not as well known about Isaacson is that he is a Renaissance Man of sorts himself.  To read his biography (see below) is to witness the firsthand account of a personal witness to and participant in American life over these past forty years, one whose own accounts will be cherished for many years to come. I hope you enjoy reading the interview as much as I did conducting it!

(Photo by Patrice Gilbert) Walter Isaacson is the president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan educational and policy studies institute based in Washington, DC. He has been the chairman and CEO of CNN and the editor of TIME magazine. He is the author of Steve Jobs (2011), Einstein: His Life and Universe (2007), Benjamin Franklin: An American Life (2003), and Kissinger: A Biography (1992), and coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made (1986). Isaacson was born on May 20, 1952, in New Orleans. He is a graduate of Harvard College and of Pembroke College of Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He began his career at The Sunday Times of London and then the New Orleans Times Picayune/States-Item. He joined TIME in 1978 and served as a political correspondent, national editor, and editor of new media before becoming the magazine’s 14th editor in 1996. He became chairman and CEO of CNN in 2001, and then president and CEO of the Aspen Institute in 2003. He is the chairman of the board of Teach for America, which recruits recent college graduates to teach in underserved communities. He was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate to serve as the chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and other international broadcasts of the United States, a position he held until 2012. He is vice-chair of Partners for a New Beginning, a public-private group tasked with forging ties between the United States and the Muslim world. He is on the board of United Airlines, Tulane University, and the Overseers of Harvard University. From 2005-2007, after Hurricane Katrina, he was the vice-chair of the Louisiana Recovery Authority. He lives with his wife and daughter in Washington, DC.

Turbo: First of all, thank you for taking the time to speak with me, I know you’re very busy. You’ve now written biographies across a range of iconic figures of American life — Einstein, Franklin, Kissinger, and now Steve Jobs — I’m curious across all of these if you start to see some common traits and characteristics?

Walter Isaacson: Yeah, well like I said in the speech today, curiosity, a passion for what you do, an ability to think different, an ability to be imaginative and to think out of the box. You know Steve’s great mantra was “Think Different.” He also loved “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.” The fact that Einstein and Benjamin Franklin, even in their final years, were thinking different, being creative, being innovative….to me, that’s the goal of life.

Turbo: Were there other characteristics? Some not so positive?

Walter Isaacson: They were different in some ways.  Benjamin Franklin is a nice counterpart to Steve Jobs, because Steve was more of a genius, more creative…but Franklin was more collaborative, kinder to the people around him, and more open to different viewpoints. So, Benjamin Franklin was really great at collaborating with other people. Franklin tells a wonderful story in his autobiography of listing all the virtues you need to have to be good in business: industry, honesty, frugality…and after he has all twelve of the virtues and he practices them, a person in the club he’s formed, called the “Leather Apron” club, says “You’re missing a virtue.” And Franklin says “What’s that?” And the friend says “Humility, you might want to try that one.”

Turbo: (Laughs)

Walter Isaacson: And Franklin says, “I was never very good at the virtue of humility, but I was very good at the pretense of humility…I could fake it very well. And I learned that the pretense of humility was as useful as the reality of humility. Because it made you listen to the person next to you, it made you try to see if you could find common ground.” And that was something that was part of the nature of Benjamin Franklin.  It was not part of the nature of Steve Jobs.

But, that’s why biographies are not how-to manuals…they’re tales about real people.  And you have to extract the lessons from each character that you think might apply to you. So for me, I’ll never be a genius like Steve Jobs…I’ll never drive to the concept of an iPad, drive into existence an iPad…I’m just not that genius…but I try to think about Steve’s passion for perfection, and I also try to think about Ben Franklin’s ability to bring people together, and be very nice and kind to people of all walks of life.

Turbo: I know you conducted 40-something interviews with Jobs, and I know you spoke with a lot of his friends, his family members and even his rivals…Was there anything that they all consistently said when they talked about Jobs as a person?

Walter Isaacson: I think that they consistently said that he was on the surface, very impatient and petulant. But once you got to know him, the important thing to understand, was that the petulance, that brattiness at times, was connected to a passion for perfection, and that’s what the narrative of the book is about, which is anybody can be a jerk.  It wasn’t that Steve was a jerk, it was that he had a passion for perfection and that’s why by the end of the book, you should be admiring him.

Turbo: We got to speak with Steve Wozniak at our IBM Pulse event earlier this year, and I asked him…and I’d like to ask you the same question I asked him, which is what do you think the world lost with him leaving us so soon?

Walter Isaacson: I think Steve was a person who reinvented at least seven industries: Personal computing, the music business, retail stores, digital animation, tablet publishing, journalism, phones…he would have reinvented more industries — digital photography, textbooks, television — we lost with Steve somebody who, because of his ability to think different, was able to transform industries. And that’s what the book is about: Sometimes you have to have a driven, intense personality in order to have the passion it takes to change industries.

Turbo: Okay, thank you for that.  I wanted to now take a step back in time to 1995-1996…I don’t know exactly what year it was, but I believe it’s when you took over the Time digital arm, Pathfinder.

Walter Isaacson: Yeah, actually it was a couple of years before that…when I took over Time, the magazine, at the end of 1995…

Turbo: Could you just describe for me that time at Time?

Walter Isaacson:  It was very interesting during that period.  In the early 1990s, there was a sea change happening. The Internet up until then had been based on community and networking and chat.  It had the BBS boards of the original Internet, you’d had the communities like The Well, and you had online services like CompuServe and AOL, where people gathered in chat rooms and on bulletin boards.

In the early 1990s, there was a shift from that type of Internet to a web-based Internet. That had some great advantages, but a few disadvantages.  The Web became a place that we could put all of our content up on Web sites, but it was more of a publishing medium than it was a community medium. You know, comments got relegated to the bottom of the page, as opposed to the smart bulletin boards and discussion groups, and Listserves, we used to have before the Web dominated the Internet.

Secondly, the business model for putting up your content online with a service like CompuServe or AOL, you would make money because people paid to be on those services, and people shared the money with you, if you were Time magazine. But once you started to put stuff on the Web, it sort of became free, and it undermined to some extent the business model of having journalists and bureaus around the world.

Of course it had much more of an upside than it had a downside, because it opened up reporting and journalism and commentary to everybody, not just those who owned a magazine.

Turbo: What are your thoughts on the greater impact of not only the commercialization of the Internet, but some of the trends it has enabled.  If we look at some of the workforce dislocation, and creating new market opportunities in countries like India and China, because of this wonderful connection via first satellites and later the Internet…When we’re looking back 100 years from now, what do you think historians will be saying about this time?

Walter Isaacson: They will be saying that the Internet was, like every information technology starting with the invention of papyrus and paper and Gutenberg’s movable type, that it empowered individuals. The free flow of information tends, over the course of time, to take power away from authorities and elites and empower individuals. The Internet’s role 100 years from now will be this transformation that not only did it take power away from the elites and mainstream media, but also the people running authoritarian regimes around the world.

Turbo: So, in looking at some of what we’ve seen with the Arab Spring….and China now trying with this recent situation (the social media crackdowns by the Chinese government)…

Walter Isaacson: I don’t think that it’s a simple process where free flow of information automatically leads to democracy. Because you’ll have a lot of back and forth. But, it does bend the arc of history towards empowerment and democracy and, eventually, whether it takes 10 or 50 years, what’s happening with the Arab Spring, what’s happening in China, what’s happening in many places, will be a trend towards more personal freedom and more democracy.

Turbo: You were chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and for people who don’t know them, they oversee Radio Free Europe and the Voice of America.  What’s the changing role of the Board and the VOA in this increasingly Internet connected world?

Walter Isaacson: I think that if, sixty years ago, when VOA and Radio Free Europe were being created, if they had had the ability to sketch out on the whiteboard what would be the perfect technology to help their cause, they would have invented the Internet. Something that doesn’t respect national boundaries that well, that allows people to find proxy servers to get through to information they need. So there will be a big shift towards digital information. And I hope towards community and discussion, not just handing down information the way Edward R. Murrow would have done when he ran Voice of America but creating communities and discussions that can be facilitated by the Internet.

Turbo: A couple of other quick questions…You have deep roots in New Orleans: You grew up there, you went to school there.  And after Hurricane Katrina, Governor Kathleen Blanco appointed you vice chairman of the Louisiana Recovery Authority.  We’re now seven years on — how do you feel New Orleans is doing?  Have you been back recently?

Walter Isaacson: I go back all the time.  And New Orleans has not only come back, but in most ways, it’s better than before the storm.

Turbo: How so?

Walter Isaacson: We have a better school system. More choice for kids in the schools.  More than 70 percent of the kids are in charter schools which allows innovative, entrepreneurial people like KIPP Academy to create schools that stay open until seven in the evening, eleven months a year, which is the way we should have education in our society. Likewise, there’s more entrepreneurship in New Orleans.

I think Forbes magazine called it maybe the best city for startups and entrepreneurship because so many young people are coming in. There’s a brain magnet in New Orleans.  Teach for America has almost tripled in size in New Orleans since before the storm, bringing young people in who want to be part of the educational renaissance there.  Tim Williamson has created Idea Village, which is an incubator for start-ups right in the heart of New Orleans. Tulane University has three times as many applicants as it did before the storm because eager, adventurous, entrepreneurial people want to be part of a city that’s rebuilding.

Mitch Landrieu is a great mayor — we have a political system that is much better than it was before the storm. There are even more restaurants than there were before the storm, probably more bars. So, for those of us who were worried that New Orleans would never come back, it is a great case study not only in resilience, but in reinvention — to say, if we were to build a school system from scratch, would we build it the same way we had it before the storm? No.  Let’s start a more entrepreneurial school system where the schools are open later, they spend more of the year where they compete for students, and you’ve had double-digit test score gains, every year for the past three years.

So, these are the types of things that keep me coming back to New Orleans, but also make me glad that so many young tech and web entrepreneurs have moved to the city to create this vibrant start-up community there.

Turbo: That’s great.  My ears perked up in your keynote when you talked about how you’re working on this new book about the information revolution.  Any themes you’re starting to see in your research that you can share with us in advance of its publication?

Walter Isaacson: One major theme, which is the theme of the Steve Jobs book and everything else I’ve written, which is innovation comes where there’s an intersection between the arts and the sciences. When there’s an intersection between poetry and microprocessors. Where a great feel for beauty and design is connected with a great feel for technology and engineering. That’s what Steve Jobs is all about, that’s what Ben Franklin was all about, that’s what Einstein was about.

So it starts with Ada Byron Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron, who becomes a great mathematician, because her mother doesn’t want her to grow up to be like her dad. And, she also has within her the poetry of her genetic code, of her heritage. And so she works in the 1830s with Charles Babbage, who creates the first prototype of a computer, and she helps describe and envision how computers can become universal machines, and not just mathematical calculators.

And then it leaps forward from that chapter to Alan Turing, who also has a great feel for beauty, but helps invent the first computers at Bletchley Park when they’re breaking the German Enigma codes in England. And then to places like IBM, which is doing the Mark I computer at Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania where they’re doing the Eniac, and the University of Iowa where John Atanassof is creating in the basement of the physics building an early version of the computer.

The computer and the Internet are the two most important inventions of the modern era. And yet most people don’t know how poetic, ingenious, and creative the people who invented those things were. In fact, most people don’t even know exactly who invented them.

And so this is a tale of inventiveness that will take us from Ada Lovelace all the way to, I hope, people who are doing social networks, mobile computing, and artificial intelligence today. It starts with Ada Byron Lovelace concluding that machines will never think, they will never originate their own creative ideas, and that’s certainly something that Alan Turing explores, but now it’s something that with Watson at IBM, and with the notion of artificial intelligence, is still something we look at and wonder will it ever happen?

(Blogger’s Note: I wanted to extend, as always, a special thank you to the consummate professionals with Drury Design Dynamics, a family business whose primary focus is nothing less than excellence. In particular, I’d like to thank Chris Drury and Mark Felix — they always keep me on my toes and are integral to making these Q&As happen at IBM customer events.) 

IBM SmartCamp Finalist Profile: Palmap — Building Virtual Bridges, Online And Off

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Palmap's Dr. Ronald Zhang explains to the IBM SmartCamp Global Finals audience how Palmap's point of sale and indoor mapping technology will change the way people live and shop, not only in China but around the globe.

Dr. Ronald Zhang left his home city of Beijing to attend the University of Central Florida, and didn’t go back home for eight years.

When he returned, how found there were new buildings and roads and shopping malls, and he almost didn’t recognize the place, never mind couldn’t find his way around.

After catching the American entrepreneurial bug during his time in the States, along with his PhD, Dr. Zhang concluded that what was missing in the GPS, location-based services market was the inside out view.

Google Streetview and Keyhole had captured the outside in view, but Dr. Zhang explains that people spend 90% of their time indoors — at shopping malls, restaurants, and the like.  Where was the data feed for them?

And that’s how Palmap came to be founded, a Shanghai-located company now with offices also in Beijing and Xi’an.

Though American entrepreneurialism may seem to be far removed from the Confucian approach to orderly development in the East, that’s precisely what drew Dr. Zhang to the U.S. “With American entrepreneurs, there are no rules, boundaries, you can just go mad and crazy, and only be limited by your imagination. More and more, that’s what’s happening in China, but here (in the U.S.), there’s a spirit that we want to bring back to China.”

Dr. Zhang went on to explain such people “don’t necessarily make revenue yet” but that “they have services that can change the world and make life better.”

His idea for Palmap started around the time the iPhone was released, and he explained that “the Internet changed everything in China, and those technologies are implemented by people like us. So that’s my dream, to do something with my own mind.”

Zhang’s ultimate vision with Palmap is to bridge the divide between click-n-mortar and brick-n-mortar, or as he explained it, “online to offline.”

Between those two endpoints — and not unlike his transcendence of two very different worlds, the U.S. and China — Dr. Zhang and his team plan on making a lot of people happy…and then, and perhaps only then, will the money follow.

Written by turbotodd

February 2, 2012 at 1:16 am

TurboTech: A Humorous Look At 2011 Technology Trends In Review

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It’s not many people who have the opportunity to be able to say that they’ve worked with a true broadcasting professional like Scott Laningham.

Blogger's Note: No dolphins were harmed during the making of this video. Green pigs who stole bird's eggs, well, that's a whole other story!

It’s even less people who would take the opportunity to actually come clean and admit to having done so, especially on more than one occasion.

Because I’m neither a true professional nor someone who likes to allow the skeletons in his closet to begin to accumulate, instead of facing as many of them as I can take head on like some egregious out-of-control episode of “Walking Dead,” or, worse, a full-on “Angry Birds” like assault come to life (but only if it’s the ad-supported version, as we’re too cheap to actually buy a copy), it is with great pleasure that I feature for you my readers the latest episode of “TurboTech,” another fine example supporting the postulation by Gartner and others that broadband video is here to stay…even if Scott and I are not destined to be ourselves.

The following is video documentary evidence of what happens when nature cannot simply abhor a vacuum, but instead must attempt to fill it with technology forecasting tripe at the end of another grand year of massive technological disruption.  In our case, the year 2011, which was filled with much technological wonder and wonderment, not the least of which included fabric-based computing.

It shall also not go unnoticed by somewhat regular (assuming there are any of you) viewers that Scott continues to look and sound much, much better than me in these episodes, indicating once again that Scott continues to have better technology than me.

This, too, must change.

Blame It On Rio

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IBM CEO Sam Palmisano attended a forum in Rio de Janeiro today which had a special focus on Latin America and the world's growth markets, and which convened forward-thinking government and business leaders to examine real-world approaches on how cities can tackle serious urban issues and improve the quality of life of their citizens.

Rio de Janeiro.  One of my favorite cities in the world.

The land of churrascaria (eat meat until you tell them to stop feeding it to you!) and caipirinhas, Ipanema and Copacabana beaches…oh, man, I’d better stop daydreaming.

True story: I was giving a presentation in an IBM building one time in Rio, and the view behind the people I was presenting to was breathtaking.  I was presenting to a crowd of IBMers with the backdrop of the Cristo Redentor statue atop Corcovado, when someone had the big idea of closing the curtains because the view was too distracting!

Flash forward to today: With both the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2014 World Cup being hosted in Brazil, IBM has partnered with the city of Rio de Janeiro to add new capabilities that improve the city’s emergency response system (not much unlike what IBM did for the City of Madrid), and also to give Rio citizens access to information that will help them better manage their daily lives.

The new automated alert system will notify city officials and emergency personnel when changes occur in the flood and landslide forecast. This is expected to dramatically reduce emergency response times using mobile communications.  Details of these expanded capabilities were revealed today at SmarterCities Rio, a two-day forum hosted by IBM Chairman, President and CEO Samuel J. Palmisano.

With a special focus on Latin America and the world’s growth markets, the forum convenes forward-thinking government and business leaders to examine real-world approaches on how cities can tackle serious urban issues and improve the quality of life of their citizens.

 

Also in Rio today, IBM announced the finalists for its SmartCamp in Brazil.

IBM’s Smart Camp, scheduled for November 10th and 11th in Rio, brings startups together with senior government and business leaders from Latin America’s most progressive cities to mentor them and examine how we can spur economic development, modernize infrastructures and transform our cities to create a new urban model. The five finalists have developed technology solutions that address some of the world’s most pressing issues – such as traffic, healthcare and food safety.

The SmartCamp in Brazil is the most recent of nine global SmartCamps this year. The winner will be invited to the next SmartCamp World Finals to square off against other winners from around the globe to claim the title of “IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year.”

Here are the finalists from Brazil:

  • Easy Taxi: With Easy Taxi’s mobile transportation solution people can call a taxi with a click on their smartphone. The application locates and calls the nearest taxi, calculates the fare and processes the payment online.
  • IDXP: IDXP’s consumer behavior solution installs sensors in stores and shopping carts to help retailers understand consumer behavior in real time.
  • Mobwise: Mobwise’s mobile application combines various sources of information on traffic conditions including real time data generated by users to suggest best routes and to offer rewards and discounts at partner establishments.
  • Opara: Opara‘s food traceability system for fruit monitors the entire production chain, from farm to supermarket shelf, in a more automated fashion and allows for food origination tracking end-to-end.
  • Prime Health: Prime Health uses business analytics to help improve patient health and reduce the cost of treating chronic diseases.

The event will be webcast November 10 and 11 at www.livestream.com/ibmsoftware. You can also follow the action on People for a Smarter Planet on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/9S1Jp8, and share your thoughts on Twitter at #IBMSmartCamp.

Consider this the official point at which I volunteer to fly down to Rio to be a judge.

Viva Brasil!

We Be Jammin’ @ The W3C Social Business Jam

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Have you been wanting to get your two cents in on the broad topics that impact and influence the growth and uptake of social business?

Yes?

Well, you now have your opportunity.  IBM has partnered with the World Wide Web Consortium, the international body where member organizations and the public work together to develop Web standards, to host an online conversation among leaders in business, government, and technology about the current state of social business.

The W3C Social Business Jam will explore the future role that social technologies can play in improving the bottom line, and also how social technology should evolve in order to support business objectives.

A primary objective of the jam will be to cooperatively explore key trends and concepts in social business with an eye towards how social standards can facilitate business goals.

There are six core topics being explored in the jam, including the following:

  • Identity Management for Social
  • Mobile and Social
  • Information Management
  • Business Process Meets Social
  • Seamless Integration of Social
  • Metrics for Social Business

The jam will also feature a number of key thought leaders who will be hosting and participating in the online discussions, including Tim Berners-Lee, the W3C director and inventor of the World Wide Web, Yochai Benkler, Harvard Law Professor and author of The Wealth of Networks, Doc Searls, co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, and numerous others.

The discussions are already underway and will go on around the clock until 8 PM U.S. Eastern time on Thursday, November 10th.

Go here to get started and make your contributions to this important discussion.

Written by turbotodd

November 8, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Celebrating Social Media Week: Our Big Blue Social Business

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Remember the logo, that curvy red “e” that mimicked the “@” symbol, which came to represent what IBM meant by the idea of “e-business” back in the late 1990s?

Starting in 1997, the IBM e-business logo signaled IBM's focus on helping organizations transform themselves using Internet technologies. It's now helping them pursue similar transformations with "social business" adoption.

Well, imagine replacing it with a curvy “s” instead and calling it “social business” instead, and you’d have a pretty good symbol for describing IBM’s social transformation inside the company, as well as the market it’s helping to make for other companies and organizations around the globe to follow suit.

IBM: The Social Case Study

As we celebrate “Social Media Week,” I wanted to write a post to let people know some details and facts behind IBM’s social transformation. As the largest consumer of social technologies, IBM is a case study for this transformation into a social business.

This goes beyond IBM’s business in social software and services (IBM’s collaboration software, consulting services, analytics/social media research, conducting Jams for clients).  IBM is leading social business on all fronts – technology, policy and practice.

IBM takes social networking seriously —  to develop products and services, to enable sellers to find and stay connected with clients, to train the next generation of leaders, and to build awareness of Smarter Planet among clients, influencers and other communities.

What’s Past Is Social Prologue

IBM’s social media activity dates back to the 1970’s when its mainframe programmers started online discussion forums on the System 370 consoles. For 15 years, IBM employees have used social software to foster collaboration among our dispersed 400,000 person team — long before Generation Y became fixated with social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.

I remember, because when I joined the company in 1991, I used to collaborate with fellow employees in other locations via IBM’s internal mainframe.

Then, in 1997, IBM recommended that its employees get out onto the Internet, at a time when many companies were seeking to restrict their employees’ Internet access (I’d gotten on the commercial Internet starting in 1993 myself).

In 2005, the company made a strategic decision to embrace the blogosphere and to encourage IBMers to participate (I started this blog in June 2005).

In 2007, IBM launched its own social networking software for the enterprise: IBM  Connections. My team now uses Connections to collaborate and coordinate work literally around the globe. I’m not quite sure how we got along without it (but we used to say the same thing about email!)

This is a screenshot from an IBM Connections Community that I use to manage a workgroup of people who attend a weekly call I've been holding for nearly six years now. The Connections community streamlines the time I have to take to manage basic details for the call, ranging from communicating where files are located to highlighting the call-in number. In short, I'd be lost without it, and be much less productive in my day-to-day work!

In early 2008, IBM introduced social computing guidelines to encompass virtual worlds and sharing of rich media. (Remember Second Life?? Yeah, me neither…well, kind of.)

And later that year, IBM opened its IBM Center for Social Software to help IBM’s global network of researchers collaborate with corporate residents, university students and faculty, creating the industry’s premier incubator for the research, development and testing of social software that is “fit for business”.

Social Business Means Business Change

Here’s a profound stat: According to Gartner, in 2010, only five percent of organizations took advantage of social/collaborative customer action to improve service processes.

IBM sees social media morphing into what we view as a key requirement for “social business” — as tools for organizational productivity and culture change, for engaging with diverse constituencies of clients and experts, and for spurring revenue growth and innovation for our global workforce.

Today, IBM views itself as one of the most prolific users of social networking in the industry with one of the largest corporate-wide communities on social media sites.

Some examples of IBM’s internal social media footprint today include the following:

  • 17,000 individual blogs
  • 1 million daily page views of internal wikis, internal information storing websites
  • 400,000 employee profiles on IBM Connections, IBM’s initial social networking initiative that allows employees to share status updates, collaborate on wikis, blogs and activity, share files
  • 15,000,000 downloads of employee-generated videos/podcasts
  • 20 million minutes of LotusLive meetings every month with people both inside and outside the organization
  • More than 400k Sametime instant messaging users, resulting in 40-50 million instant messages per day

The screen above has become one quite familiar to IBMers around the world. "LotusLive" emeetings have become commonplace, helping employees across multiple geographical locations come together in real-time and virtual space to meet and get work done!

If you were to glance outside IBM on the social media external to the company, you’d find a continued and expansive footprint of IBM participants:

  • Over 25,000 IBMers actively tweeting on Twitter and counting
  • Approximately 300,00 IBMers on Linkedin. This number is growing at 24%/year, which gives IBM the largest employee presence of any firm on the platform.
  • Approximately 198,000 IBMers on Facebook

Putting Social Into Action

Our social business initiatives have had a profound impact on IBM’s business processes and transformation. By way of example, well before the phrases “Web 2.0” or “social media” came into being, IBM was using online jams to drive business initiatives and values development across the company.

As our own CEO Sam Palmisano explained, “Jams have helped change our culture and the fundamental way we collaborate across our business.”  We’ve conducted jams both for IBM and our clients, including the Innovation Jam in 2006 which led directly to the development of the business opportunities that preceded our Smarter Planet agenda.

So, from that perspective, it becomes evident a massive internal social exercise that allowed the employees of IBM identify a major strategic shift for the company!

When’s the last time you let your employee base determine a massive strategic direction that your company was about to take??

Human Resources Are Inherently Social

IBM’s HR hasn’t been untouched by the social business evolution. Our HR professionals use social media for tech-enabled recruiting (think LinkedIn), employee education, sales training and leadership development.

By way of example, IBM relies on social media for leadership development from the first day on the job.  IBM’s Succeeding@IBM makes new hires become part of a social group for the first 6-12 months, so that they can get better acculturated into IBM with other new hires.

In 2006, hundreds of thousands of IBMers came together in a 72-hour virtual jam to help identify the emerging business opportunities that came to represent IBM's "Smarter Planet" initiative. This was "crowdsourcing" of a massive scale, and led to over $100M in internal investments in these important new business opportunities.

In point of fact, IBM’s recent study of 700 Global Chief Human Resource Officers found that  financial outperformers (as measured by EBIDTA) are 57 percent more likely than underperformers to use collaborative and social networking tools to enable global teams to work more effectively together and 21 percent of companies have recently increased the amount they invest in the collaboration tools and analytics despite the economic downturn.

Most recently, we’ve launched an internal initiative entitled “Social Business @ IBM” on our intranet which serves as a resource for IBMers to better educate themselves about social media and various social initiatives taking place internally, while also helping enable them to participate in the broader social media.

We also host modules that provide the IBMer with an introduction to the social web, where they learn how to use social computing tools to foster collaboration, develop networks, and forge closer relationships…with people who are often halfway around the globe!

Social = Transformational

When people tell me they still have to go into an office my response is, “How primitive.”  Don’t get me wrong, I love to press the flesh, but I’ve found that in this flatter earth, increasingly globalized realm, where my colleagues and I have to work all different hours, the question that always comes to me is “Who has time to waste sitting in a car?!!!”

But more importantly, the social business evolution I’ve witnessed at IBM is truly transformational.  When I started work at IBM in the summer of 1991 as a greenhorn intern, we DID go to an office every day and we DID have meetings face to face all the time and I DID wear a white shirt and blue tie.

These days, I can’t remember the last time I went into the IBM office, and yet I feel more connected and more productive than ever.  Why?  Well, I won’t lie, even if I sound like a commercial — the IBM technologies, from our IBM Lotus Sametime Instant Messaging to Lotus Notes and IBM Connections largely remove time and geography from the productivity equation.

But I would suggest there’s an even more transformational thought at work: IBM now trusts its employees in ways it never did before, and the democratization that social tools brought forth has also brought us a democratization in decision-making.

I now make front line decisions that, 20 years ago, would have been driven through a host of hierarchies and managers at a pace that likely would have been acceptable in terms of those times.

Today, such delays would be completely unacceptable and even uncompetitive, as decisions often need to be made instantly. But based on both the technological and cultural transformation within IBM, that’s okay, I’m expected and trusted to make those decisions.

And finally, social business, like social media, is also just plain more fun.

It’s as if these tools enable you to have the whole world at your fingertips.  And that makes for a smarter planet and  a smarter, more competitive IBM.

Managing & Mitigating Risk: The 2011 IBM Global Business Risk & Resilience Survey

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Once again, IBM has published a global business risk and resilience study, this year in partnership with Economist Intelligence Unit on behalf of IBM.

The study was conducted in June of this year, and included responses from 391 senior executives…Thirty-five percent of the respondents were C-level executives…About 39% were from North America,38% from Western Europe, 20% from Asia Pacific, and 3% from Eastern Europe.

Companies with less than U.S. $500M in revenue comprised 39% of the responses, and 48% of the respondents hailed from companies with more than U.S. $1 billion in revenue…The survey also covered a gamut of industries, including financial services (16%), IT and technology (16%), professional services (13%), manufacturing (8%) and healthcare (7%).

Click on the image to enlarge. The IBM Global Risk & Resilience Study revealed that to date, companies around the world are focused heavily on building out their resilience and risk plans, as well as putting the supporting technologies and processes in place to get them into effect.

Before I dive into the results, here’s the setup: Global organizations are increasingly emphasizing business resilience; that is, the ability to rapidly adapt to a continuously changing business environment. Resilient corproations are able to maintain continuous operations and protect their market share in the face of natural or man-made disasters as well as radical changes in the financial or economic climate. They are also equipped to seize opportunities created by unexpected events.

So, the question is, are they?

It’s a mixed bag.

The research suggests that more and more businesses will adopt a more holistic approach to risk management in the next three years ass they deal with growing uncertainty and the increasing interconnectedness of the varied risks they face.

That’s the good news, aspirational though it may be.

But in terms of today’s reality, the study indicated that only a minority of companies (37%) has implemented an organization-wide business resilience strategy…with 42% saying they’ll do so in the next three years.

Almost two-thirds (64%) say they have a business continuity plan of some sort, and a robust 58% have dedicated contingency plans for dealing with a variety of risks.

That’s the topline…now on to the deeper dive:

  • Larger organizations are more likely than smaller ones to have an integrated strategy.  They, of course, typically have more to lose, and complexity increase’s an organization’s exposure to risk. Larger firms are more likely to have assigned overall responsibility for enterprise risk management to a single executive (which means, of course, direct accountability). Still, there is a contingent of small companies that have adopted integrated strategies. These companies also rank highly with regard to indicators of success such as revenue growth, profitability, and market share.
  • Continuity, IT and compliance risks remain in the foyrefront, but companies are diversifying their strategies to build business resilience. Nearly 40% of respondents say their organization regards business continuity as primarily an IT issue. However, when they’re asked to name their “primary risk management concern,” some name more than one, including disaster recovery (47%), IT security (37%), and regulatory compliance (28%). Though most have started by addressing the largest threats first, they increasingly are expected to turn to such things as communications and training programs designged to build a more resilient culture overall.
  • Business resilience planning increasingly involves specialists from across the organization, yet CIOs and IT pros remain the most prominent stakeholders.  Hey, what happened to sharing the love…and the risk??  Because a culture that imbues responsibility for risk management at every level enables companies to respond to changes and unexpected events. A solid majority of respondents (60%) say that business resilience is considered a joint responsibility of all C-level execs. Yet as IT penetrates more deeply into every aspect of company operations, CIOs and IT pros remain key players in building more resilient organizations. Fifty-six percent of respondents say the CIO collaborates with top IT strategists much more frequently than three years ago.

Click on the image to enlarge. Silos, budget and predicting ROI were cited as the biggest barriers in the study to adopting an holistic approach to business resilience and risk.

How Can I Better Manage Risk Moving Forward?

In most organizations, improving business resilience requires a shift in corporate culture because that is what shapes values and behavior. If a company’s culture blends risk awareness with other corporate values, then people instinctively know the right thing to do when confronted with an unexpected situation, and that reduces risk.

Understanding these principles is a good first step, but in interviews, executives are clear that buy-in from the top is essential to foster broad organizational change. Promoting holistic risk management concepts to peers and employees is also critical.

Taking an incremental approach with broad participation in strategy development can help, because it is easier to promote change if a new initiative is not seen as being pushed by one particular faction.

Senior-level commitment and adequate resources are also needed to develop comprehensive communications and training programs to support integrated risk management. One of the distinguishing features of the most resilient companies is that they are much more likely than other firms to have developed a communications strategy to push the message of resilience out to every corner of the organization.

Companies that embrace these measures are more likely to create an effective business resilience plan. This will provide a robust foundation on which to build a long-lived competitive position supported by end-to-end risk management.

Go here to download the full report.

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