Wednesday afternoon at the [Oracle OpenWorld 2011] conference started with another keynote session. In a last minute substitution, Oracle OpenWorld rescheduled Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff's keynote from Wednesday to a Thursday 8:00am morning general session, to make room for S. D. Shibulal, CEO of InfoSys Consulting.
(Forbes Magazine considers InfoSys the #15 [most innovative company]. To give this some context, Salesforce.com and Amazon.com are #1 and #2, Google and Apple are in the top 10, and Oracle is #77. )
S.D. started out saying that "Today is October 4, a very important day in history!" This was October 6, so everybody was a bit confused, checking their watches and tablets to confirm what day it was. What he was referring to was the first trans-pacific flight that happened October 4 exactly 80 years ago, the pilots were awarded medals and accolades for this tremendous achievement. This year, trans-pacific flights happen every day, and nobody raises an eyebrow. I looked this up, and the first trans-pacific flight happened [June 9, 1928] from California to Australia involved stops in Hawaii and Fiji, but [Clyde Edward Pangborn] is remembered for his October 4, 1931 flight as the first non-stop flight, from Japan to Seattle, Washington. His point, however, is that innovation has a lot of "firsts" that people don't realize until things are commonplace.
If you look at the 1991 list of Fortune 500 companies, only 25 percent of these still are in operation today (IBM is one of them!) The rest failed to stay relevant, to reach and scale as needed for market transitions. He gave examples of travel agencies and the Encyclopedia Brittanica that failed to adapt in the face of [disintermediation]. Success in today's marketplace requires three things:
- Predicting and sensing tomorrow's demand
- Influencing tomorrow's demand
- Fulfilling tomorrow's demand
Ming Tsai, Managing Director and Chief Client Office of InfoSys, asked a series of questions:
- "Is Market Research dead?" In 2010, over 4 EB of data were generated. Marketeers do not need to conduct surveys to generate more data, they are drowning in data that is all around them. 80 percent of profits come from 20 percent of your clients.
- "Who controls the message?" This was perhaps a tip of the hat to ousted Marc Benioff of Salesforce.com for being able to organize his own last-minute keynote at the St. Regis hotel using twitter and other social media. I was not there, but apparently the place was packed with a line around the building to hear Marc talk.
- "Is Product Development backwards? This is referring to the standard waterfall approach of designing a product, shipping a product, with the first interaction with the end customer being the last stage. In new "agile" development models, customers are engaged up front, with highly iterative deployments, to ensure that the final product meets customer requirements.
He showed a product called "Social Edge" from InfoSys that determines "sentiment analysis". Users can co-create their own user experience.
Paul Gottsegen, InfoSys, explained how "Mobility" is challenging existing business models. Their latest product "mConnect" offers to link web applications to any mobile device. This includes healthcare monitoring, cash for the 50 percent of the world that are "unbanked", and even Cable TV on an iPad. He brought on stage Bill Tucker, VP of IT at Nordstrom, a retail outlet of fine clothing.
(I have a collection of Nordstrom jackets that I had bought in San Francisco Union Square throughout the years. Every time that I fly from Tucson to San Francisco, especially in the summer, it is freezing cold, and I need to buy a jacket. This time I was prepared, and brought several of me jackets with me.)
Bill explained that people are not comparing their end-user experience at Nordstrom's with direct competitors like Macy's, but rather with all of their other end-user experiences like that at Starbuck's coffee, or the Apple store. This raises the bar in customer expectations. Nordstrom has been force to make drastic improvements to keep up with these expectations.
Prasad Thirkutam, InfoSys, asked if supply chains are agile and adaptive enough. He mentioned that 40 percent of Flash memory and 60 percent of circuit boards are made in Japan that were recently hit by an earthquake and tsunami. He explained product "Demand-to-Deliver" solution from InfoSys that provides multi-level inventory, identifying the safety stock levels based on various analytics. This reduces waste by 7 percent, and shortens cash from 60 days to 40 days.
Prasad introduced Vin Melvin, CIO of Arrow Electronics. His focus is to get data "correct". To increase end-to-end speed to handle order changes and cancelations, and to optimize and re-balance supply chain as needed.
(FTC Disclosure: Arrow is a distributor of IBM equipment. I have worked with Arrow many years.)