Turbotodd

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IBM ImpactTV 2012 Instant Replay: Bob Sutor On Tackling The Massive Mobile Enterprise Opportunity

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Recently at IBM Impact in Las Vegas, Scott Laningham and I had the opportunity to sit down with a wide variety of great speakers, including our senior VPs Steve Mills and Mike Rhodin, whose instant replays I’ve already shared.

Most of those folks, we gave about ten minutes.  But there’s been such immense interest in the enterprise mobile topic, that when we sat down with IBM’s VP of WebSphere Foundation and IBM Mobile, Bob Sutor, we spoke for a good 18 minutes.

That’s not only because Bob was a scintillating and thoughtful guest, which he always is, but because there’s a lot to talk about in the mobile space.

So much of the oxygen recently has been around Facebook’s valuation and the rise of BYOD…but there are much more practical and necessary concerns that organizations need to think about as they start to build out their mobile strategies.

Things like application lifecycle development, cross-platform development, and that bugaboo that always rears its head in the mobile conversation, security and privacy.

Bob takes them all on and more in the far-ranging interview below:

IBM ImpactTV 2012 Instant Replay: IBM’s Mike Rhodin On Big Data, Smarter Commerce, And The Emerging LOB Tech Buyer

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Our first interview at IBM Impact 2012 this year was with IBM senior vice president, IBM Software Solutions Group, Mike Rhodin.  This was also our first ever opportunity to interview Mike, so we were especially excited about this particular interview.

Mike leads an organization which focuses on delivering integrated offerings that target high-growth opportunities, including business analytics, collaboration, and industry solutions.  As a senior vice president, Mike is responsible for a $5 billion business portfolio which represents one of the fastest growing and most acquisitive.

In our interview, Mike explained that his business is reaching more of a non-traditional technology buyer, the senior “line of business” executives who have played a much more dominant role in tech acquisition through the economic downturn, and who are looking for solutions that can help their organizations differentiate themselves in the marketplace, and and even more readily empower front-line executives and decision makers.

He also brought us up to date on what IBM’s Watson has been up to over the past year, explaining that Watson finally got a “real” job — actually, a couple of them!

In his former IBM lives, Mike has served as the general manager of IBM’s Northeast Europe organization, as well as the GM of IBM’s Lotus Software division, a stint in which he led a team to create the “human side” of IBM’s software strategy by developing IBM’s collaborative technology and solutions which integrate people, data, and business processes.

IBM ImpactTV 2012 Instant Replay: IBM’s Steve Mills On Big Data Analytics, PureSystems, And The Continued Importance Of Transaction Processing

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At last week’s IBM Impact 2012 event at the Venetian in Las Vegas, my collaborator and fellow blogger Scott Laningham and I spent much of our week interviewing thought leaders from IBM, our Business Partners, our clients, and even our keynoters, and to help spread the word, we’ll be incorporating some of those interviews in our respective blogs over the next days and weeks.

First up, the big man himself, IBM senior vice president and group executive, Software and Systems, Steve Mills.

If you’ve been in or around the software or IT industry for any length of time, it’s very likely you’ve heard from Steve.  And, as you well know, Steve always delivers — to customers, and to audiences.

This time around, Steve reminded us about the importance of transaction processing, explained the economic drivers that led to the development of IBM’s new PureSystems line of technology, and debriefed us on two recent IBM Software acquisitions in the big data analytics realm.

Impact 2012: Steve Mills On How Transaction Processing Rules

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Transaction processing.

Transactions aren’t sexy.  They’re not cool.  You don’t get points for racking them up. You can’t put them on your bookshelf and show them off.

IBM senior vice president, software and systems, Steve Mills warns the Impact 2012 audience “Nothing will get you in more trouble than if there’s a problem with your critical transactions.”

But all of that doesn’t matter, because transactions run the world — and, therefore, they rule.

They rule banking.  They rule retail operations.  They rule medical systems.  Transactions are everything.

And transactions are us.

That seemed to be the key message behind IBM senior vice president Steve Mills’ message to the gathered Impact 2012 audience for the day 2 general session.

Mills actually keynoted second, but I wanted to deliver his message first, because it’s a critically important one: IBM is thriving in an era of ubiquitous transactions, Mills explained.  “We’ve been investing in transactions for as long as there was programmable computing.  How do you do effective transaction processing?  How do you have true control over a unit of work, and do that at scale, especially in a world of increasingly bigger data?”

That’s where IBM Software lives and breathes.  Mills mentioned a typical panoply of daily transaction sizes: 9.9 billion proximity mobile transactions by 2016, 18.7 million web transactions last Cyber Monday, 864 million payment card transactions per day, 1 million transactions per second in the Amazon cloud.

Again, transactions make the world go ‘round — until they don’t.

Transactions are like oxygen — you don’t notice them until they go wrong, and then you do notice, bigtime. IBM’s role has been to not only to make sure you don’t notice, but to increasingly evolve our technology so that the systems stack works both horizontally and vertically, enabling your business partners and others to enter your transaction ecosystem.

“Nothing will get you in more trouble,” explained Mills, “than if there’s a problem with those critical transactions.”

Of course, we’re in Vegas, so I can think of a few things, but his point remains well taken.

“Millions of transactions go through IBM mainframes a day, fundamental financial activity using CICS and MQ…these are responsibilities we take very seriously,” Mills continued.

The proof’s always in the pudding, so Mills related some key customer stories: Marriott, whose reservation booking engine does 1,500 transactions per second.

Or China Mobile, operating at a scale many businesses couldn’t even fathom: 600 million customers, 148 million transactions per day — and by implementing an IBM service-oriented architecture they’ve reduced their new application go-to-market time by 50 percent!

Now, let’s flashback to our first speaker, Johan Gerber, head of processing products at MasterCard, who was introduced by the spirited Katie Linendoll, CBS Early Morning show’s “Chic Geek,” making her much welcomed return engagement to Impact.

“We needed this platform so we could innovate,” payments processing lead for MasterCard Johan Gerber summarizes for the Impact 2012 audience in this morning's opening general session. “Innovation is what provides differentiation. To stay ahead of the competition is key.”

MasterCard was more proof in the pudding, with a company that supports more than 32 million merchants and an average of 43,000 transactions every minute, each lasting a mind-boggling 130 milliseconds.

Can you say lightning fast transactions?!!

MasterCard’s business is transactions, and Gerber explained the MasterCard network can handle about 14 billion instructions per second, and has multiple layers of protection and redundancy.

“The last thing we can afford,” Gerber explained “is for that network to go down.

“And,” he quipped. “Not even Lady Gaga has this much security.”

Being the world’s most advanced payments technology, MasterCard has been investing in IBM WebSphere technology to help them continue to innovate, and Gerber explained they “needed a technology partner they could trust.”

Trust being an explicit conditions for most successful transactions, in the network or otherwise.

MasterCard launched their new transaction platform in February of this year and have already moved two key applications there, and were able to do so in hours, instead of weeks.

“We needed this platform so we could innovate,” Gerber summarized. “Innovation is what provides differentiation. To stay ahead of the competition is key.”

There are some things money can’t buy.  For everything else there’s MasterCard…and its whopping 43,000 transactions per minute.

Written by turbotodd

May 1, 2012 at 5:17 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Walter Isaacson: The Stuff Of Great Innovators

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so it was.

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

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

And so it was.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by turbotodd

April 30, 2012 at 5:26 pm

AIMing For An Immense Market Opportunity

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

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

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

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

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

The Economic Shakeout

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

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

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

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

Becoming Agile For The Upturn

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

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

The AIM Market Is Growing…and Changing

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

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

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

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

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

This Is Not Your Father’s Application And Integration Market

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

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

Application Convergence Will Rule The IT World

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

Become Your Cloud: The Great Mobile Gold Landrush of 2012

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

The Future’s So Bright…

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

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

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

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

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

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