Turbotodd

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

Archive for the ‘thought leaders’ Category

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.

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.) 

Having Impact

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It’s the end of a long Friday, and you’re sitting there thinking to yourself, “Hmm, what in the world am I going to be doing starting on Sunday, April 29th?!!”

I’m from headquarters and I’m here to help.

If you’re a business or technology leader trying to understand and keep up with the insane amount of change going on in our industry, my recommendation is you hop on a plane and head out to attend the IBM Impact 2012 Global Conference from April 29-May 4.

No, it’s NOT “The Hangover,” thank goodness — neither part one nor part deux — but what it IS is an opportunity to mix it up with your peers and to hear from some of our industry’s key thought leaders.

Let’s start with the keynotes: Author of the acclaimed Steve Jobs biography entitled Steve Jobs, as well as president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, Walter Isaacson, will be a featured speaker this year. Isaacson is a former correspondent and new media editor of Time magazine, who went on to serve as chairman and CEO of CNN from 2001-2003.

“Chic Geek” and 2011 audience favorite Katie Linendoll will also be making a return engagement to Impact. Katie is going to be leading the day 2 general session, as well as moderating a “Women’s Panel” later that Tuesday afternoon (May 1).

And if you’ve never heard from Jane McGonigal, creative director of Social Chocolate and a world-renowned designer of alternate reality games…well, prepare to have your mind blown. I’ve heard Jane at a couple of SXSW Interactives, and Jane’s view of the world is one you’ll want to look into.  She’s also the author of the New York Times bestseller, Reality is Broken.

And those are just the guest speakers.  You’ll also hear from a powerhouse cadre of IBM experts and executives, starting with senior veep Steve Mills. Also in attendance: Rod Smith, our VP emerging technologies…Marie Wieck, GM of the AIM organization…Bridget van Kralingen, senior veep of IBM Global Business Services…Jerry Cuomo, IBM Fellow and WebSphere veep…and a host of others.

But let’s not forget one of the most important aspects of Impact: The networking prowess of 9,000 tech and business leaders all under the same roof.  You can get started in the conversation well ahead of the event by following and contributing to the Impact Social Media Aggregator, and onsite, by visiting the “Impact Social Playground,” a new social hub that will provide enhanced social networking facilities for all attendees, Tweeps, bloggers, analysts, media, and Business Partners.

If you just want to follow along on Twitter, make sure you’re using the #IBMImpact hash tag.

developerWorks blogger and podcaster extraordinaire, Scott Laningham, will also be in attendance, along with yours truly, where we will be conducting live and recorded interviews throughout the event for “ImpactTV.”  So far, we have a committed lineup of the best and brightest…and then there’s Scott and I!

Here’s the link where it all starts for Impact 2012.

I, for one, can’t wait.  Last year was my first Impact, and I had more fun and talked to more cool people than a person has a right to.  And I learned more than I could keep in my head…but of course, that’s not saying much.

And iffen your boss is giving you a hard time about taking time out of your hectic schedule, we’ve even got that covered with our “5 Reasons to Attend Impact 2012.”

I hope to see you there, and if you can’t make it live and in person, be sure to keep an eye on ImpactTV from April 29 through May 4.

Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that the Goo Goo Dolls are playing???

IBM: Top Global Company For Leadership

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Some noteworthy news on the wire this morning.

IBM was named #1 in FORTUNE magazine’s 2011 Global Top Company for Leaders study — the first company ever to earn this recognition two consecutive times.

IBM was recently named #1 in FORTUNE magazine's 2011 "Global Top Company for Leaders" study -- the first company ever to earn this recognition two consecutive times.

Released today, the Global Top Companies for Leaders is the most comprehensive study of organizational leadership in the world.

An expert panel of independent judges selected and ranked winners based on criteria including strength of leadership practices and culture, examples of leader development on a global scale, impact of leadership in communities in which companies operate, business performance and company reputation.

IBM topped a list of 470 global companies that are committed to building leadership capabilities within their organizations.

The FORTUNE survey notes that leadership, more than ever, is the single largest determinant of competitiveness in business, and that the demand for leaders will only intensify in the current business environment.

According to the study, creating a pipeline of emerging business leaders is essential to developing a strong leadership brand, and critical to helping organizations sustain business performance.

“This recognition reflects IBM’s ongoing commitment to developing leaders from deep within our global organization. This is a discipline that is both world class and uniquely IBM,” said Randy MacDonald, IBM’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources.

“As we enter our second century, leadership development will remain at the top of our agenda as we groom the next generation of leaders skilled at collaborating across teams, cultures, countries and businesses.”

You can download a copy of the Top Global Companies for Leadership study here.

To read Randy MacDonald’s personal perspectives on leadership, visit http://ibm.co/v4Aed2

Written by turbotodd

November 3, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Google Dance

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Google co-founder and now CEO Larry Page has wasted no time in shaking things up at the search giant, particularly in its bid to become more social.

The Los Angeles Times Technology column has the skinny, and is reporting that Page has elevated key leaders of a number of its business units into SVP positions, and is giving them more “responsibility and accountability.”

At the same time, Nicholas Carson with Business Insider is reporting that “all Google employees will have their 2011 bonuses either go up or go down as much as 25% depending on how well Google ‘perform[s] against our strategy to integrate relationships, sharing and indentity across our products.'”

That is, depending on how social Google gets over the next year.

Ah, Larry, welcome to the world of complex organizations rife with competing interests, internal cooperation and coopetition, and massive complexity.  Are you sure you wanted to become CEO?

As Carlson observes, there’s no question who the target is of this “social bonus.”

Call it “The Facebook Effect.”

Me, I feel like I’m back on the sidelines of the Browser Wars of the late 1990s, waiting for Netscape and Microsoft to constantly try to reup one another on browser features.

Only this time around, there’s much, much more at stake, as these platforms are laying the foundation for consumer (and, possibly, business) IT services for years to come.

So does this mean Mark Zuckerberg’s going to offer up his troops a “search bonus???”

Written by turbotodd

April 8, 2011 at 2:59 pm

IBM Industry Summit: IBM’s Jon Iwata On Making Markets For Smarter Industries

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Jon Iwata, IBM senior vice president of marketing and communications, visited the Barcelona IBM Industry Summit stage this morning with a little bit of Alice in Wonderland in tow: In order to understand how we were moving forward, Jon invited the audience to first take a glance back.

Jon Iwata, IBM Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, uses an image of the IBM System/360 as an object lesson as he explains how IBM is "making new markets" with its Smarter Planet agenda.

In a very matter of fact way, Iwata observed that it’s not very often one’s industry moves to an entirely different realm, but that when it does, it presents a unique opportunity for an organization to make new markets.

By way of example, Iwata explained that IBM will be turning 100 next year, celebrating its centennial as an ongoing business concern, and that it has made markets numerous times in its past.  It’s also missed opportunities to make them.

But by reminding ourselves of these moments, Iwata suggested, we start to see a pattern, one in which emergent technology plays a role often so powerful that new clients don’t quite know what to do with it.

In those circumstances, it’s important that we not only introduce new products and services, but also that we identify a new kind of client or buyer, possibly even a new vocabulary.

At these moments of inflection, however, it has not always been in IBM’s interest to embrace the new.

Arguably, Iwata explained, the first market IBM ever made, made IBM: The Hollerith tabulation machine.

But further innovation didn’t come when we tried to outsmart the competition, in this case Remington Rand, to try and counter their 90 hole punch card.

No, it was embracing vacuum tubes (which could compute faster than punch cards) and, later, the recording tape (which, in 1947, delivered the first recorded radio broadcast).

As Iwata explained, a whole room full of engineers in Poughkeepsie wondered whether that recorded audiotape could also serve as a new way of storing information — soon, an entire new inflection point was created.

Good thing, too: IBM customer New York Central Railway was punching 75,000 punch cards a day, and devoting entire floors of their Manhattan offices to storing those cards.

An IBM executive dropped by the Poughkeepsie office, saw the hullabaloo regarding the recording tape, and said “Interesting technology…but don’t forget the IBM company was built on punchcards.” (At the time, IBM derived one-third of its revenues from punchcards).

Yes, a good business…but still an inflection point.

Even with the new magnetic storage technology, IBM had to make the market.  That meant change, and not always change that was welcomed by customers (“We could see the data with the punchcards, but not with tape!”).

New technology, new applications, change the market.

Flash forward a few more years: A press conference presided over by then IBM CEO Thomas Watson, Jr.: The announcement of the System/360.

This was a bet-the-company move: $2B in R&D ($34B in today’s dollars), the first 8-bit byte, six processors in a family, 54 different peripheral devices.

IBM took 1,000 orders in the first month, and sold several thousand more the following months: But it took five years to ramp up to meet customer demand in volume.

Make the market. But in so doing, cannibalize virtually all of IBM’s existing product lines.

Later that decade, clients embraced radical new concepts like “online transaction processing,” and IBM technology even helped send men to the moon to allow both computing, and mankind, to go places neither could have gone before.

But at the time, it wasn’t obvious.  It was a market in the making.

Iwata explained, now flashing forward to the fall of 2008, another inflection point.

In the Smarter Planet agenda, we saw a similar pattern.

Despite the market fallout two years ago, we’ve witnessed a continued explosion in technology, much of it even now disposable, and with that an explosion of data in form, type, and speed.

New workloads, new applications — we had to develop a different vocabulary to be able to explain it both to ourselves, and to our customers.

Two years ago, we set out to make a new market, one that would open opportunities for IBM, our partners, and our customers.

We set out to modernize the understanding of IBM’s differentiation, to demonstrate IBM’s relevance to what people cared about, to take a leadership stance at a time the world was calling out for it.

But it almost didn’t happen.

When that global financial crisis hit, we hit pause, briefly, waiting for the next Great Depression…Panic…Uncertainty…All heading into a presidential election.

But as the fallout of the crisis settled in, IBM CEO Sam Palmisano hit “play” and introduced the ideas behind what drives a smarter planet at a speech before the Council on Foreign Relations.

That was two years ago this week.

It wasn’t introducing a new marketing campaign, explained Iwata.

IBM was initiating a conversation with the world to forge a shared belief.

What do you need to believe something, Iwata asked the audience in Barcelona? Facts. Data. Evidence.

In Palmisano’s speech, the word “IBM” never appeared once.  In the advertisements and editorials that began to emerge as part of the campaign, the focus was on the evidence, the data, the proof of the gathering storm that indicated the new market was emerging, but it was one represented not by IBM-speak, but rather by business-changing facts emblematic of what IBM customers were doing to improve their businesses and, in turn, the world.

The results: Two years later, 85% of IBM clients would consider IBM as a key partner having had prior knowledge of the smarter planet agenda.

Yes, it creates a more favorable selling environment, conceded Iwata.

But as IBM enters the third year of making this new market, even our friends at Gartner suggest that the smarter planet agenda is doing something more, is enabling IBM to stake a claim to a significant role in business and societal transformation.

Now, we’re providing client and partner references with hard facts, and lessons learned.  We’re helping clients understand the “how to’s” of building smarter systems.

We’re developing clearer paths to value, and we’re focused on quantifying outcomes, often via industry-specific measures.

We’re building progressive paths to provide clear roadmaps and to help partners chart outcomes and quantified value for their clients.

And we’re showcasing some of our most progressive clients, as well as using the social, digital eminence of IBM experts (by industry, technology, and so on) to reach out and demonstrate that value and make those experts accessible to the marketplace.

We’re making a new market, admittedly…but we’re trying to build a better world in the process.

The Hidden Side of Everything

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Okay, it’s Monday, and I want to welcome you back to the Turbo Monday edition of “Guess Who’s That Keynoter?”

For this particular edition, we’re going to jump ahead to the Information on Demand event being held in Viva Las Vegas, Nevada, in late October.

All our IBM conferences tend to be smokin’ hot good (and, I’ll even dare say it, fun), but the Information on Demand event holds a special place in my heart.

First, I’ve been attending and blogging at IOD since 2006.  There, I’ve had the opportunity to interview some of the coolest, smartest speakers and authors from across the landscape.

More importantly, I get to talk to so many of you, our customers.

This year’s not going to be any different.

But before we get to the keynote build up, let me tell you a few things about this year’s event.

First, we’re expecting some 9,000+ attendees.  Yes, IOD has gotten that big, but in this case, bigger is better, because we’re rolling our Business Analytics event (which Cognos once sponsored) under the IOD tent this year.

Second, this year we’ll be looking more holistically at what IBM and its partners bring to the Information on Demand table, including hardware, software, and services.

We also expect to have over 600 tech sessions, 160 Cognos and SPSS sessions, 11 industry-focused business and IT leadership sessions, 128 hands on labs, 300 customer speakers, and IBM’s largest exposition from all its events around the globe.

For 2010, we’ll also have two full days of business partner programs, and we’ll have our regular standard fare that you’ve asked to continue, including networking opportunities and 1-1s with IBM execs.

Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance

Now, back to the spotlight on our featured speakers.  They not only think out of the box — they don’t even know the box exists.  Because to acknowledge the box would be to acknowledge its limitations.

Like any good business analytics experts, they view the world through a very different lens by pointing out how numbers don’t lie, and, when carefully considered, can speak volumes to actual truths on the ground.

Do you know who they are yet?

If not, know their first unlikely collaboration resulted in an international bestseller. Its premise: If morality represents how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work…this book will literally redefine the way we view the modern world.

Anybody?

They went on to publish another best seller, and also to produce a podcast series on iTunes as well as a blog on The New York Times.

Okay, I’ll spare you the drum roll.  But I’m talking about Steven and Stephen, of course.

Steven D. Levitt, the professor of economics at the University of Chicago, and Stephen J. Dubner, an author and journalist living and working in New York City.

In their first tome, Freakonomics: A Rogue Economics Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, these two gentlemen delivered story after story that addressed ways to create behavior change and demonstrate what incentives work and what didn’t — with the research and data to back up their often controversial claims.

Hailed by critics and readers alike, the book went on to spend more than two years on The New York Times bestseller list, and has sold more than 4 million copies around the world in more than 30 languages.

Those are the kind of numbers that simply don’t lie.

This past October, they came out with their second book, Superfreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance.

You can hear Steven and Stephen speak at Information on Demand, IBM’s Premier Forum for Information & Analytics, at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Convention Center this October 24-28 in Las Vegas.  Visit here to get all the details and to register.

Meanwhile, whet your appetite for more from the Freakonomics guys by reading their blog.

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