developerWorks: We're talking to a lot of IBM execs about their different areas and focuses and where their teams intersect with customers in this overarching information management opportunity. Given your perch over all of this, what's the one most innovative aspect that excites you about it all?
Mills: Well, I think there are two words that are stuck in my head in terms of where we are right now with technology and capability and that's real time and predictive. I think that a lot of progress has been made in improving performance and being able to deal with even larger quantities of data, being able to pull things in in real time.
You think about the [A] Smarter Planet solutions that we're delivering to the market place today. These solutions are all really predicated upon a real-time data capture and analysis model that's essential to helping to operate the world's infrastructure, whether it's power grids or transportation, different types of physical environmental scenarios that require instrumentation followed by that capture of data and applying intelligence, that's all very real time.
And of course, why would you do it if you didn't want to be predictive? It's not just knowing how things have operated, but what's going to happen in the future? Can I do a better job of planning my business? Can I find new customers? Can I prevent outages?
I mean, think of electricity. You know we're all dependent upon power grids. We want the power company to have predictive tools that allow them to understand what they need to do from a preventative maintenance perspective so that we're not without electricity.
developerWorks: This place wouldn't do very good without power here in Las Vegas.
Mills: Absolutely not.
developerWorks: How do you feel about how that message is getting across? How it's being received?
Mills: I think people are getting it. And I think in the course of the first few days they get introduced to a lot of things that perhaps they were not fully aware that IBM was doing. We have the most comprehensive portfolio of technologies associated with database, data management, information collection, organization, unstructured data, and of course, analytics.
And for some customers they're discovering that. For others, they're using pieces of it and now seeing more. And of course, we keep acquiring and adding and improving so every year there's more to learn, more to find out about.
developerWorks: Now, what about this conference, Information On Demand Global Conference? What's the big take away you want attendees to keep in mind here?
Mills: Well, as I said, I think that making things predictive in real time, the capabilities that we have which are second to none, the comprehensive nature of it, the fact that we can deal with all the data in all the places that it exists.
We're not asking our customers to abandon what they do — we'll connect with, we'll federate, we'll help them get better control of what they already have. And that's unique, frankly, amongst all the vendors participating in this market.
developerWorks: As a closing thought, you're always looking ahead and what do you think we'll be talking about a year from now?
Mills: Well I would hope we're talking about even more customers doing all the things that we're talking about this year. You know, I think what excites the customers that come to these events is to interact with others that are following the same path, might in fact be a little ahead. Everybody wants to know what's working; are the technologies not just working technically, but are they delivering business value?
And I think next year we're going to have a lot of exciting [A] Smarter Planet scenarios to talk about. We have some this year, and I think we're going to have hundreds and hundreds more as we move into 2010.