IOD '09: Day Two: Fred Balboni on working with clients

Fred Balboni, IBM® global leader for Business Analytics and Optimization, stresses the importance of helping clients understand the organizational culture changes necessary to implement information-lead transformation — from Day Two at the IOD 2009 conference.


Scott Laningham (, developerWorks Podcast Editor, IBM developerWorks

Scott LaninghamScott Laningham, host of developerWorks podcasts, was previously editor of developerWorks newsletters. Prior to IBM, he was an award-winning reporter and director for news programming featured on Public Radio International, a freelance writer for the American Communications Foundation and CBS Radio, and a songwriter/musician.

29 October 2009

Also available in Portuguese

developerWorks: We're at IOD 2009 in Las Vegas with Fred Balboni who is Global Leader, Business Analytics and Optimization. Thanks for being here, Fred.

Balboni: Thank you.

developerWorks: Todd Watson, conference blogger, also joining us. Thanks Todd.

Fred Balboni says "it's all in the culture"


Fred, we've been asking this question in different ways to the executives, but I'm wondering if you could talk a bit about how your team in GBS is addressing the challenges that are associated with this whole information explosion.

Balboni: Well, I think when we talk to clients about this, they're really excited. They get the vision. They understand how information-led transformation could make a fundamental difference in their business. So when they come to us, it now becomes, "I've got the picture. I understand what I want. Tell us, IBM, how you can bring about this vision."

So we're working with clients helping them establish a roadmap, helping them build a phase-zero foundation and build an information agenda:

  • Work with them to talk about how it's going to impact their organization.
  • How their business processes are going to change.
  • What technology they're going to require.
  • How their data governance is going to change and how important that is.
  • And then finally, and probably most importantly, how the culture of the organization is going to change.

Guest: Fred Balboni

Fred Balboni is the Global Leader for IBM's Business Analytics and Optimization.

You put that together, and now you're beginning a transformation agenda for a client. That's when it gets really exciting.

developerWorks: And how's that conversation going? How receptive are people you're talking with?

Balboni: Well, it's really funny. In our session, we talked about the importance of culture and using culture as an example that was going to change businesses. And interestingly enough, it became the discussion at every breakout, every panel session.

Clients are saying, you're absolutely right. We love this technology, we want to use it and we want to deploy it. But to get the business to adopt information-led transformation requires cultural change, organization change. So the transformation dimension really, really lit up well.

Turbo: Fred, so what value can IBM customers expect from the business analytics practice and what are some of the first steps they can take to get started other than picking up the phone and calling you guys?

Balboni: So, the biggest value that clients can expect is really being able to use an analytics and optimization framework to generate value in their business. Traditionally clients have always looked to their transaction processing environment, their ERP environment. And that's about business efficiency. We're good at doing that as a company and as a consultancy.

Where clients now look to us for is a vision on exactly how they can use analytics to become far more powerful and potent as an organization, how they can put high-quality steering wheels on their big motors that they have as a company.

The way they start, they work with us to build their roadmap and build initial engagements, initial project implementation that absorbs our products and absorbs our services and delivers immediate benefit to the client's bottom line.

developerWorks: What about the conference this week? How's the topic being covered here?

Balboni: So, at this conference, we created a conference-within-a-conference called the Leadership Exchange for the Information-Led Transformation. And this is a collection of executives that have responsibility for deployment of large-scale information-led transformation programs. In many cases they were CXOs, COOs of organizations.

And when we had the session, let me say that the absorption and interest around analytics — how do they use analytics as a transformation vehicle and how do they bring about change in their organization.

The really exciting thing in this is they heard from other clients on exactly how they were making the change. And most importantly, where this was delivering benefit today and where future projects could deliver benefit to their organizations.

I got really excited about this. Why? Because clients are actually, they're adopting this and they're using analytics as a transformation vehicle. And this whole conference, this approach, is a great demand-generation activity, absorbing all of IBM's products and services.

developerWorks: So it's pretty critical to get those existing clients involved in that discussion with potential customers and IBM execs and really have that roundtable going on.

Balboni: You absolutely believe it. And the other reason it's really important is analytics ... to bring it to life and it has so many possibilities, but to bring it to life for a client, for them to really understand it, they need to have seen it. They need to get it. They need to see examples of it.

And so therefore, our proof points, our examples of [A] Smarter Planet in the New Intelligence, the way we're bringing business analytics to clients and the solutions, telling those real-life stories is essential and it becomes really powerful when the clients tell the story themselves all the way down to how they justify the project, the benefits they delivered, and how their users adopted with the programs. Really super exciting and it's been very powerful.



developerWorks: Sign in

Required fields are indicated with an asterisk (*).

Need an IBM ID?
Forgot your IBM ID?

Forgot your password?
Change your password

By clicking Submit, you agree to the developerWorks terms of use.


The first time you sign into developerWorks, a profile is created for you. Information in your profile (your name, country/region, and company name) is displayed to the public and will accompany any content you post, unless you opt to hide your company name. You may update your IBM account at any time.

All information submitted is secure.

Choose your display name

The first time you sign in to developerWorks, a profile is created for you, so you need to choose a display name. Your display name accompanies the content you post on developerWorks.

Please choose a display name between 3-31 characters. Your display name must be unique in the developerWorks community and should not be your email address for privacy reasons.

Required fields are indicated with an asterisk (*).

(Must be between 3 – 31 characters.)

By clicking Submit, you agree to the developerWorks terms of use.


All information submitted is secure.

Dig deeper into developerWorks

Zone=, Cloud computing
ArticleTitle=IOD '09: Day Two: Fred Balboni on working with clients