Guest post from Becky Smith, Product Marketing, IBM Business Analytics
In a way, doesn't everyone in business analytics have a little bit of Don Quixote in them?
We're all on a bit of quest to find answers hidden in our never-ending, growing piles of data. And often, we find ourselves tilting at windmills and fighting futile battles with IT, with spreadsheets or with silo'd applications that only do one specific task.
Close your eyes for a minute and let yourself dream about a world where there is a single vendor that delivers a family of products including reporting, analysis, modeling, planning and collaboration.
What if that family of products not only has a common set of capabilities but is also integrated and talks to other members of the family so they all live happily together? And, what if a mid-sized business could get the same self-service experience, what-if scenario modeling and the ability to discover and assemble their data across both business intelligence and performance management as a large enterprise?
This is a notion we call "right sized analytics." An enterprise solution might be too big and expensive for your organization, while an individual point solution might be too small and limiting and unable to provide the needed integration with a mid-sized or larger enterprise solution.
Right sized analytics means having an entire family of products built on a common foundation that enables individuals, workgroups and enterprises to access and analyze corporate information and easily share insights across the organization. Basically, it doesn't matter where you begin your analytic journey, as long as you have the comfort knowing that the solution will grow with you.
For example, an organization might have an issue with customer retention. Through the analysis of support calls, an individual user might uncover that there is a 15 percent increase in dissatisfied customers due a product defect. This information can then be shared back into the analytics solution so the manufacturing and support organizations can improve product quality, and plan to offer customers special promotions and increase customer service for the entire customer base, respectively.
Does this scenario only exist in your subconscious?
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach ... the unreachable star ...
In feedback from our customers, they've talked about the battles scars they've received in their quest for a common set of systems working seamlessly together. Stay tuned for part 2 of this post and hear why that business analytics star is no longer unreachable and how a complete family of products can:
� Address the needs for your organization � regardless of size
� Empower individual users, workgroups and enterprises
� Allow the organization to start anywhere and go everywhere
Earlier this month I presented at an IBM event entitled "The New Landscape: Social Business, Mobile Analytics, Modern Technology." It was a rather intimate affair that saw some 35 CFOs from the greater Toronto area gather at the Gardiner Museum. On the agenda was a four-course meal by top chef Jamie Kennedy, a custom wine pairing by noted wine writer David Lawrason and a discussion about social media and the CFO.
Facebook had just filed for its S1 the day before, so the timing of the event really couldn't have been better. But before the tasting notes and talk of terroir, I had been asked to present on the implications for finance professionals of "going social" and the analytics opportunities such a move would present for their companies if done well. We followed up my talk with a demonstration of IBM Cognos Consumer Insight.
Here are a few highlights, and my presentation as well.
Social Media is at an inflection point in its evolution. It's an inflection driven by maturing platforms, the addition of mobile computing and increasingly sophisticated analytics.
Like analytics, social media is a transformational technology that will impact your business whether you're "doing it" or not. And like analytics, there will be leaders, learners and laggards.
Social media adoption is quickly expanding beyond Marketing and PR and into core business processes such as customer service and R&D.
Social media data is driving the need for big data strategies to manage volume, variety and velocity.
With responsibility for risk, brand reputation and IT, Finance departments need to understand what's happening in the social sphere, even if their own organizations have yet to get on board.
The time for Finance to "get into social" is now. Finance can do this in three ways: Governance (creating social computing guidelines), Partnership (funding and advising analytics and content strategies) and Information (much of the Finance press is now social as well).
Happy RSA everyone. To check out an overview of what IBM has going on at the show, click here.
In other news, if you have ever turned on a television during a sporting event in the US, you have likely seen IBM talking about data and analytics, and the increasing number of ways that this technology and vision is being applied to all sorts of different challenges. Some of the most prominent ways this intelligence is being applied is in our business analytics solutions, many of our Smarter Planet projects, and perhaps most well known, Watson, the computer that famously won on Jeopardy. Hot on the heels of these topics, and perhaps offering similar meaningful insights, is security intelligence. With the announcement of the Q1 Labs acquisition, and the formation of an entire security division, IBM took some important steps forward in making this vision around security and analytics a reality. We promised to break down more security silos and provide more insight than ever across an organization's entire security posture.
Last week IBM announced new capabilities around our QRadar Security Intelligence platform. While we have made a number of significant announcements recently, even within the last 6 months, there haven't been any that have been as "loaded," at least from my perspective. What do I mean by that? Well, this announcement was the first that had a very direct impact on all the major things we do in security, whether that's security information and event management, endpoint management, network security, threat research, identity and access management, application vulnerability testing or database activity monitoring. It was everything integrated with the new QRadar Security Intelligence platform- all of our technology now understanding how to talk to all of our other technology, and it all happened in one announcement.
Over the course of the coming weeks and months we'll talk more about what each of these integrations mean, but for now I want to highlight some examples of new capabilities that these integrations will deliver.
Infrastructure Security: QRadar + IBM Endpoint Manager (powered by BigFix) What: Detect and prevent stealthy malware infections How: Correlate anomalous network activity with vulnerable endpoints, & determine impact Example of New Capability: Detect when a botnet has infected a vulnerable endpoint that is missing patches, and see what data was communicated back to the command-and-control server
Data Security: QRadar + IBM Guardium Database Security + X-Force Threat Intelligence What: Prevent data exfiltration and detect data breaches faster How: Correlate detailed database activity with other network activity to detect anomalous and suspicious behavior Example of New Capability: Detect when multiple failed logins to a database server are followed by a successful login and accessing of credit card tables, then followed by an FTP upload to a questionable site
Application Security: QRadar + IBM AppScan (Static and Dynamic Testing) What: Apply predictive analytics to prevent application compromise and better detect breaches that occur How: Correlate application vulnerabilities with network topologies and suspicious activity Example of New Capability: Determine when an unpatched Web application is attacked using a known SQL injection vulnerability, and identify the potential impact of the attack
User/Identity Security: QRadar + IBM Identity Manager & Access Manager What: Provide deeper visibility into user-driven threats and risks How: Correlate user identities & actions with network activity to prevent & detect breaches Example of New Capability: Detect when a contractor logs into a high-value application after hours, and then sends a large amount of data via personal email account to a third party
IBM has been working with clients all over the world for years to help them improve their security posture.
This announcement was the next step in the capabilities IBM is delivering to the market in security, a step driven by tighter integrations across technologies and by intelligence and analytics derived from correlating data and events from across all of these different domains. Stay tuned.
In a partnership with the IBM Center for Applied Insights, Kris Lovejoy, IBM's VP of IT Risk, will be publishing a series of ten whitepapers on the topic of security essentials for CIOs. To view the series website, pleasevisit us on the web.
IBM's X-Force Research and Development team called 2011 "The Year of the Security Breach." It was an unprecedented year for not just instances of data loss/theft but also a number of other different attacks where the goal wasn't necessarily to capture information. Things like DDoS attacks where company websites are brought down played a significant role as hactivists used this attack to make politically motivated commentary. We also saw new types of threats targeting things like mobile phones. What had previously been a theoretical threat, became a real threat in 2011. We saw the development of attacks that took advantage of the specific capabilities and marketplace around mobile phones, such as creating a malicious application that, when installed, would send text messages to premium numbers to run up large phone bills. We've seen elements of this type of attack before (malicious software disguised as legitimate software, attacks designed specifically for profit), but the new capabilities and connectivity of mobile phones opened up new avenues to achieve these ends.
As the world changes, and becomes more interconnected, instrumented and intelligent, security challenges, like the one I just spoke about around mobile phones, will continue to evolve. Mobile phones represent a very current and telling example of some of these changes. Employees want to bring their personal devices into the workplace, and those devices will be used constantly for a mix of work and personal use. Balancing necessary security controls with all the connectivity and capabilities that modern employees want is not an easy task. It also represents only a single example of the security challenges we will face around a hyper-connected work force (and world for that matter) as well as one in which traditional network boundaries are dissolving. Looming still are the implications of security and the Internet of things. Moving forward, we will be forced to continuously consider the ramifications of plugging "things" into the Internet in order to provide new capabilities in areas such as data collection and management.
With both cloud and mobility we are also seeing a world in which everything is everywhere. Your company's data is no longer just sitting in a company database, being accessed on a company workstation. It's walking all over the world in the hands of your employees. In addition, your IT shop might be a blend of in-house resources, strategic outsourcing and maybe you are even using 3rd party cloud infrastructure for some of your work. These changes usually happen because they represent opportunities to grow and become more efficient and we all want to do these things. However, what it is doing, now more than ever, is making security both more difficult and more important.
This new world can offer a lot of promise, and security can hold you back if it's absent, or it can help you move forward with confidence if you know what you are doing. The reality we now see is that if security teams can address the way the world is changing effectively, then they could be the real key to unlocking all of these new opportunities.
IBM believes that this change will ultimately play an important role in shaping the role and significance of security leaders. Much in the way in which the CIO has changed from someone who was responsible for IT maintenance to someone who was responsible for bringing about important strategic change within the business, so too will the role of security leaders, whether they be CIOs, CISOs or in some sort of executive risk management function, take a more strategic role in the business moving forward.
Over the course of the coming months, IBM's VP of IT Risk, Kris Lovejoy, will be doing a series of papers around "Security Essentials for CIOs." She will be talking about what she sees as the starting considerations of an effective approach to IT security. In this recent Forbes article Kris gave a brief overview of some of the topics that she will discuss.
As each new article in the series become available over the course of the coming months, I will link to each in the following post.
Make sure to follow IBM Security ( @ibmsecurity ) and the IBM Center for Applied Insights ( @IBMCAI ) for any updates on this series as well as other important news and updates from IBM.
You can visit the landing page for this series on the web, here.
IBM has pinned its reputation on advancing the cause of "social business," so it was appropriate for the company to make use of one of its largest annual conferences as a showcase for its new technologies. The October Information On Demand event had the usual branded presences on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube, but organizers went far beyond that.
Key IBM bloggers were contacted and asked to promote highlights of the conference. Six iPad-toting �social concierges� roamed the floor inviting attendees to take polls and capturing their observations in short videos. Tweets about the event were displayed on a 90-by-20-ft. screen. Some customers carried FlipCams to record man-on-the-street interviews, which were posted to YouTube. The LiveStream service was used to broadcast eight key sessions and 42 informal interviews with attendees, speakers and IBM executives. The broadcasts were viewed more than 24,000 times during the event. The #iod11 hashtag achieved a Twitter reach of 14.3 million unique users and more than 63,000 new �likes� were recorded on relevant Facebook pages.
Delivering a fun, engaging and valuable social experience to the small city's worth of information and analytics professionals who descend upon the Mandalay Bay each October is no mean feat, so I'm both pleased and proud to see the work of my passionate and persistent team members rewarded like this. Congratulations to the IOD Social Team of Crysta Anderson, Matt Carter, Alex Goldsmith, David Pittman and Tim Powers. Equally large thanks go to our roster of contributors and behind-the-scenes production wizards Stephanie Caputo, Beth Flood, Sanjay Kaupae, Scott Laningham, Jacqi Levy, Jessica Sharkey, Susan Visser, Eric Vonheim and Todd Watson!
One of the first things I ask people on the subject of data is �What do you want it to look like?�
I don't mean for the question to be complex, but I generally get an odd look and response in return. �What do you mean how do I want it to look? It�s data, it has to be accurate and structured.�
So why is it when we talk about data we picture streams of numbers, columns and rows of calculations filtering through servers or built out over multiple spreadsheets? Not all business users have the time or skills to interpret large enterprise or spreadsheet data sets.
Why is it we can't be asked the question, �What do you want it to look like?� and answer with a personal perspective? I tend to believe it's because we don't think of data as having a personality. In fact, data has quite a bit of personality.
While often quite shy and reclusive, data will talk your ear off with just a little nudge. It can also be kind of a gossip revealing interesting insight into customer behavior or an organization�s financial information. And it�s those individual users running the data analysis who can easily unleash that personality� for the good of the organization.
That�s why organizations are realizing the value and achievements that come about as a result of having a complete analytic solution built not only for the enterprise, but also for the individual user in mind.
The notion of personal analytics is about bringing agile analysis capabilities to people in an easy-to-use manner without having to rely on IT. Business users can now take advantage of solutions that bring exceptional capabilities to their desktop in terms of personalizing how they display local or enterprise data and how they solve individual or workgroup challenges � all on their terms.
Analytics is definitely becoming a more personal experience. Being able to explore data and format it in a presentation layer of the user�s choice, add built-in calculations, apply scenario modeling and do write-back on the fly, or creating traffic lights that represent key metrics that are important to the individual are all a means to answering my question, "How do you want it to look?"
Take the distribution industry, for example. What if you had the freedom to model out different scenarios based on the price of diesel fuel? An individual user can now identify the key drivers of the business, like fuel cost, then test different assumptions and identify best case, worst case and probable outcomes.
One can only imagine how this could affect you personally, with regard to your line of business in a distribution center. But what if it also affected the manufacturing floor in terms of energy prices for production costs? Would the same scenario be important to other areas of the enterprise?
In a way, building the right analytics competency is like building a business from the ground up. You need to create a growth path that combines personal analytics with enterprise scope and IT values. By providing the necessary foundation of analytics along with limited barriers of usage, you can turn your business users out to the world to explore, discover and grow as analytics professionals with a personalized capability that brings meaning and life to the data.
Knowing that these business users can turn data exploration into action by aligning their discoveries with the enterprise challenges the silos of information that personal analytics has typically produced.
Business users have traditionally created and held onto spreadsheets or data files that only they maintain and which are not reflected across workgroups for greater use. Today's organizations demand a bridge between what line of business users want and what IT requires to run a smooth enterprise environment.
Personal analytics creates that bridge.
So the next time someone asks you, "What do you want your data to look like?" tell them you want it to look interesting and attractive, prescriptive and distinctive, honest and meaningful, and actionable.
But above all else, tell them you want it to have personality!
Love and marriage. Spring and allergies. Bad economies and ROI. These concepts often come in pairs, and for good reason: when the first comes along, we need to pay more attention to the second. This is certainly true for the third example I've listed above. For both individuals and organizations, the question �How can I get the best ROI from the investments I've made?� is mighty popular right now. And for both, the answers are too elusive.
If you're an individual, perhaps you decide to talk to a stockbroker -- a guy who charges you money to tell you things you probably already knew and who probably generates no clear value over time. (It's suggestive that stockbrokers, despite claiming extensive specialized insight going back multiple decades, are practically never billionaires.)
For businesses, fortunately, the situation is a lot brighter. Particularly in the case of a portfolio of applications, there are ways to go about improving ROI that are based on sound and consistent principles. And software solutions which are built on those principles are now available.
That, in sum, is what Application Portfolio Management (APM) is all about. If you think of applications as investments -- which, for organizations, they certainly are, and on a huge scale -- it's very logical to ask: �What kind of return am I getting from my investments? Which ones are vital to my business, is there a scope for consolidation, which applications should I consider retiring? How should I optimize my investments to dial up my total ROI and dial down my total risk?�
APM solutions are particularly attractive to organizations at the enterprise level. That's because the largest organizations have giant portfolios of applications, and getting good answers to the above list of questions is therefore much harder. Similarly, in certain industries like banking, where applications have been in use for an exceptionally long period of time, the idea of introducing change to those applications is going to encounter more cultural resistance than usual. Change may be necessary, but it's really going to have to be justified with demonstrable ROI, if it's going to happen.
When you throw in the problematic economy we continue to face, in which ROI has taken on greater significance, it becomes pretty clear the need for effective APM has never been greater. Yet in many cases, organizations have barely even begun to think about portfolio management in this context.
Recently I was very fortunate to be able to talk to a real expert in this area: Per Kroll, Chief Solution Architect for Application Portfolio Management at IBM. Kroll agreed with me that at many organizations, the time for APM and also project portfolio management capabilities is now -- and not just because the economy is bad, and ROI is a touchy topic.
�The basic problems have been around for quite some time,� he said. �But they are getting worse every year and have now reached a breaking point. Companies can no longer continue with business as usual. They need to assess the value versus cost of all their current applications.�
Kroll's slant on the cost benefit ratio of current applications is particularly intriguing.
The usual approach to portfolio management in the enterprise revolves around projects -- answering the question: �What is the ROI for this business project we're thinking about undergoing, or have just finished?�
Well, that question is sensible. But it has the effect of shifting the focus away from applications. It ignores the fact that a problematic application's influence can be, and often is, multiplied because it spans multiple business projects.
How do APM solutions help? They put the focus right back on the applications. And they provide a clear, logical path organizations can follow to get more value, and lower risk, from every application in the complete portfolio.
IBM solutions including IBM Rational Focal Point, System Architect and Asset Analyzer can be used to pursue the following steps:
1. Create an application inventory.
2. Provide initial information about each application.
3. Analyze applications and determine which need more investigation.
4. Make decisions, like consolidate, modernize or move to cloud
5. Execute and track on those decisions through project proposals and project delivery
Enhance both IT development and IT operations, and receive more value from every application you have
IBM thus helps organizations optimize their application portfolios the way a stockbroker is supposed to help an individual optimize an investment portfolio -- in a balanced, objective and data-driven way that takes full advantage of proven best practices.
This approach generates many positive effects. And the more creative the company is in using APM solutions, the more benefits it will realize. Some of them are more obvious and some more subtle, but the possibilities really are endless.
Looking for something big and obvious? Think about the 80/20 rule of IT budgets. This says that typically an organization spends 80 percent of its total budget on IT operations (�keeping the lights on�) and only 20 percent on strategic innovation (�doing new stuff to make the business grow�).
What IBM APM solutions do -- unlike certain alternatives -- is deliver value to both halves of that ratio. And particularly in operations, that's welcome news in the enterprise.
�Seems to me like companies have got the 80/20 rule wrong,� said Kroll. �Many implement an objective and transparent portfolio management process only in development, to determine how best to spend the 20 percent of funds going to new projects. But what about the 80 percent on the operations and maintenance side? That's often decided based on a 'who screams the loudest' approach -- the squeaky wheel gets the grease whether it deserves any or not. Our APM capabilities make decisions like that a great deal more objective.�
A subtler, but still powerful, improvement lies in the area of information transparency. APM solutions, once applied, have the effect of pulling key information out of the shadows and into the spotlight, where it can deliver more value through wider utilization (and/or correction or revision, if necessary).
Because it's revealed, that information also becomes more resilient -- surviving the loss of key employees, for instance, who leave the organization.
�Think about what happens when people make decisions about investment levels, modernization targets or which applications to move to the cloud,� said Kroll. �Usually the relevant information is distributed in people's heads throughout the company... or hidden in spreadsheets. APM is about revealing that information (including analytical processes), prioritizing it, and making it all easily available, to anybody who needs it, at the time decisions are made.�
That reference to cloud brings up yet another point. Cloud and APM turn out to be closely related areas because APM-based insights can significantly improve the odds of a cloud's success.
How? Given an application inventory in which each application's context (risks, costs, complexity, etc.) has been quantified and analyzed, that information can be very useful in deciding which applications are the best candidates for clouds and choosing specific cloud models. This is really important, because picking the right set of applications and the right model can make or break a cloud project. APM insight not only helps ensure the chosen applications will scale well in a cloud, but also addresses other factors -- security, for instance, or business criticality -- that definitely need to be taken into account as well.
Furthermore, these same APM solutions can be used to support and enhance many other kinds of initiatives as well, some of which are hot and rapidly getting hotter.
Kroll agreed. �The interest in APM is growing so rapidly right now partly because people need to make so many new kinds of application-related decisions -- not just cloud, but also in areas like mobility, regulation compliance and outsourcing,� he said. �And once you've built an application inventory that captures value, costs and risks, all these decisions are much easier to make. IT's job is not to say 'no,' but to help business establish the constraints and trade-offs at hand.�
Innovate 2012, to be held June 3 - 7 in Orlando, Florida, offers more on portfolio management, enterprise modernization, application lifecycle management and more -- with nearly 400 technical sessions and more than 20 tracks -- to give you insight into how software can help your organization cut costs, drive innovation and reduce risk. Be sure to register < http://www.ibm.com/software/rational/innovate/register.html > by March 14 to save US $200.
Read a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting, Measuring The Total Economic Impact Of IBM Rational Integrated Solution for Application Portfolio Management
About the author Guest blogger Wes Simonds worked in IT for seven years before becoming a technology writer on topics including virtualization, cloud computing and service management. He lives in sunny Austin, Texas and believes Mexican food should always be served with queso.
IBM has beenpreachingthat customer intimacy is the new intellectual property. The more insight an organization has on its customers, the better opportunities it will have to sell them more stuff, retain the best ones, mitigate risk or even identify possible cases of fraudulent activity.
Essentially, it�s a better way to create an ongoing and meaningful dialogue with customers. This is especially important as the power has shifted from the organization to the customer.
And, those organizations that are serious about delivering a better overall customer experience should seriously consider hiring someone who speaks the customer�s language, is concerned about their well-being, can drive profitable interactions through all channels, and can accomplish that elusive task of bringing all customer focused functional departments together with a common goal. This new strategic asset is otherwise known as the Chief Customer Officer (CCO).
To help in your quest to deliver a better customer experience, we have created a job description for a CCO to streamline your efforts.
If you see anything that you might change or add to the description, please let us know. We would love your feedback.
The ACME Corporationis seekinga highly experienced customer experience professional to fill a newly created Chief Customer Officer (CCO) position. This executive will provide a comprehensive and authoritative view of the customer and create corporate and customer strategy at the highest levels of the company to maximize customer acquisition, retention, and profitability.
Key responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
� Provide managerial oversight while implementing strategic focus and tactical direction to the sales, marketing, strategic alliances, market development, and customer support business units
� Drive profitable customer behavior through the creation of initiatives such as profitability segmentation, customer retention, loyalty, satisfaction, and improving the overall customer experience
� Design, orchestrate and improve customer experiences by ensuring consistency across all channels of customer interaction
� Identify customer pain points, define and monitor service standards, enable easy customer navigation across the organization and create new ways to enrich the buying experience
� Foster direct and meaningful relationships with customers, acting as a mediator between the customer and the corporation, especially when service shortfalls or special needs have surfaced
� Develop an overarching customer-centric corporate strategy with the ability to iteratively execute on smaller, manageable goals
� Serve as a liaison between the IT organization and the business units to ensure that systems and business processes are aligned on the customer experience
� Institute a formal process for capturing, analyzing and acting on customer feedback, including leveraging social media channels to better respond to customer needs/requests
� Create cross-functional customer service processes, resulting in a seamless hand-off from marketing to sales to service and support
� Educate, instill, and motivate a broader cultural desire across the corporation to focus on the customer, with the objective of consistently improving customer experience metrics
� Balances the C-suite and Board of Directors with their traditional focus on cost cutting and revenue-growth
� Cultivate meaningful mutually beneficial relationships with corporate partners / associations to deliver enhanced benefits to ACME customers, thus extending ACME�s own value proposition
� Ensure the company's PR and marketing message reflects the company's service delivery capabilities
Ideal criteria for selection includes, but is not limited to:
� Possess strong operational, marketing and financial background as well as political savvy to bear on critical customer-related issues
� Prior executive or VP level experience leading highly successful marketing, sales and customer service business units
� Proven ability to break down corporate and departmental barriers in order to pave new paths, which may often be in direct conflict with existing corporate culture
� Previous boardroom / shareholder experience with the ability to demonstrate tangible value to all stakeholders
� Highly skilled in building cohesive cross-functional teams
� Highly skilled in a variety of enterprise software tools including CRM, ERP, and POS systems, as well asBusiness Analyticssoftware (business intelligence and predictive analytics)
�It�s a wide open market. There are opportunities to be creative." ~ Robert P. Taylor, CEO, IPAC
If cutbacks are on the minds of Canada's public servants, creativity was on the order paper as IBM held its Smarter Government Summit yesterday at the Westin Hotel in downtown Ottawa. The event delivered on its promise of �Strategies to Reduce Costs and Improve Government Performance� through a day-long agenda of keynote speakers, IBM experts and successful client presenters.
"Anxiety and resistance"
David Anthony, IBM Canada General Manager for IBM Federal Public Sector welcomed the 400-plus attendees with a direct acknowledgement of the proverbial elephants in the room � specifically, the widely anticipated budget cuts looming over federal finances and the recently released Drummond Report on the dire state of Ontario�s coffers. �It�s easy to understand the anxiety and resistance out there,� he said. �But once you get over those you can think of new and smarter ways to fulfill your mandates."
Everything on the table
If the numbers are negative, the overall story - and possible outcomes - are indeed positive. The upside of having �everything on the table,� as The Globe and Mail�s Adam Radwanski described it, is that in response, government organizations can � some would say must - up their innovation and revisit ideas once considered taboo. To their credit, each of the morning�s three keynote presenters provided powerful arguments in favor of a new and smarter way forward.
First up was Robert P. Taylor, CEO of IPAC, the Institute of Public Administration of Canada. In his presentation entitled �What�s Keeping Senior Public Services Executives Awake at Night,� Dr. Taylor presented results of recent surveys of public sector employees conducted by his and other organizations. Among the findings:
For the first time in three years, economic concerns have supplanted healthcare, environment and Canada�s aging population as employees� top concern.
Similarly, fiscal capacity ranks as management�s top concern.
60 percent of employees expressed concern about an erosion of policy capacity at all levels of government.
81 percent of employees expressed frustration at managing short-term issues at the expense of long-term planning.
Employees expressed concern about political participation in program and service delivery.
Dr. Taylor then pointed to more upbeat findings that showed healthy levels of respect and understanding between management and staff. Further, he said, managers expressed a deep understanding of risk and a strong desire to experiment. �The problem isn�t making a mistake,� he said. �Mistakes will happen when you�re trying new ideas. The problem is when you�re making the same mistakes over and over.�
Chief Innovation Officers
Dr. Taylor ceded the podium to Alison Brooks, Public Service Research Director at IDC Canada. In her talk, entitled �The Shift towards Public Sector Innovation,� Dr. Brooks examined the impact of shared services, cloud computing, social networking and mobility on the public sector IT landscape. Dr. Brooks said that IT is moving toward what IDC calls a �third platform� built on cloud, mobile, apps and analytics. Here, volume and speed trump a focus on costs; innovation wins out over cost cutting and routers and spam give way to personal relationships:
A decade of minority governments have public sector CIOs suffering from �change fatigue.�
CIOs still spend more time on maintenance and support than they do on innovation and business issues. Current figures put the split at 75/25; IDC�s ideal suggests a 60/40 split.
Bring your own device (BYOD) is emerging as a top systems and security concern.
Private clouds now account for more than 10 percent of virtual server deployments in the public sector.
But like Dr. Taylor, Dr. Brooks saw a more hopeful story beyond the numbers. She saw it primarily in the new skills CIOs must acquire and master as these technologies weave their way into historically rigid public-sector IT systems and in IDC�s own research that shows CIOs saying they�re ready to make the switch. �They want to be Chief Innovation Officers.�
Dr. Brooks left attendees with list of recommendations to begin that transformation. Among them were:
Build large, scalable solutions that you can test in a smaller scope.
Extend your information architecture to integrate information �from the fringe.� These include social business, SaaS, mobile and interactive data.
Participate in governance meetings (even if you hate them).
Identify realistic opportunities to innovate.
Establish clear goals and objectives.
Educate the public on what you�re doing and why.
Plan for roadblocks: �Working horizontally doesn�t come naturally to people.�
Souvenirs of Canada before Smarter Government solutions
Ms. Altman, too, touched on the economic conditions that weigh so heavily on our minds. But like those of her fellow presenters, her message was upbeat: �Our systems are smarter, more resilient and more sustainable than ever before. Had the same crisis happened 20 years ago we�d be much worse off than we are now.�
As an example, Ms. Altman cited the St. Anthony Falls Bridge in Minneapolis. Built in 1968 to last 50 years, it collapsed in 2007 after only 40. Rebuilt in 2008, the bridge is equipped with 323 sensors that regularly measure bridge conditions such as deck movement, stress, and temperature to help public officials informed of changes in the bridge's integrity and possible risks to motorists.
In a similar vein, Ms. Altman touched on similar stories of public sector organizations that through a combination of deep expertise, innovative thinking and sophisticated IBM analytics were able to improve not only their own performance but outcomes for their citizens. For example:
In Alameda County, a smarter social services solution gives managers and caseworkers a deep, real-time understanding of case and program status; reveals relationships between benefit recipients and programs; generates reports in minutes instead of weeks or months - for a direct savings of $11 million.
Two contrasting views of software came through my twitter stream today that got me thinking.
I do that sometimes.
The first was a blog post by Dr. Norman Lewis. The second was by Manoj Saxena. Dr. Lewis is a co-author of Big Potatoes: The London Manifesto for Innovation as well as Chief Innovation Officer and a Managing Partner of Open-Knowledge. Mr. Saxena holds two U.S. software patents for advanced discovery and non-intrusive personalization of Web services.
Clearly, these men know a thing or two about code.
In his post, "Facebook valuation: $100 billion for what?", Dr. Lewis takes the financial media to task for celebrating what he views as a colossal waste of time. Investor excitement about Facebook, he says, is not about innovation nor any social or economic benefit. Rather, he says, Faceook's financial success depends on continuing to enable a regressive worldview in which connections are ends not means and introspective narcissism are celebrated.
"[In its S1 filing] Facebook argues [...] that if it fails to retain existing users or add new users, or if its users decrease their level of engagement, then its revenues, financial results and business may be significantly harmed. In other words, what Facebook understands, and what it wants its prospective investors to understand as well, is that its future success relies upon more of the same: more people playing games, sharing photos and sending each other messages upon which Facebook can generate revenues through targeted advertising...The largest technology IPO in history, in other words, is not about a technology that can transform nature, provide new sources of energy, or new cures for illnesses or cancer, for example; it is about a platform that encourages ever more of the same unproductive, self-absorbed communications between users...Facebook is now a cultural institution, which is driven by, and nurtures, a culture of self-reflective, self-absorbed individuated entertainment and therapeutic communications. The sad truth is that the frenzy and excitement generated by Facebook�s pending IPO reflects little more than its cultural significance. And this is a million miles away from where investment ought to be focused...The Facebook IPO does show how unambitious contemporary society�s expectations are about technology. That Facebook could become the largest technology IPO in history is an alarming prospect."
"We anticipate that the technology will next be applied to other diseases and could eventually become a ubiquitous bedside and office-visit assistant for doctors and nurses�enabling them to deliver truly personalized care to everyone they serve....Watson�s potential to help transform the healthcare industry is especially meaningful to me. My mother, who was a doctor in our native India and now lives with my family in Austin, began showing symptoms of dementia two years ago. I�m witnessing close up the decline of a person who was the model of a vibrant, strong professional woman and parent. Now she�s wandering into a fog. It�s tragic. And it didn�t have to be this way. We need new tools to help physicians understand and prevent diseases, and Watson promises to be an important new tool in that battle. I don�t want others to experience what my mother is going through right now."
In other words, Watson is doing what Dr. Lewis believes technology should do.
I'm inclined to believe him, too. Yes, I'm on Facebook and enjoy trading pop-culture references with friends far and wide. But it's an amusement. One thing you learn when you work at IBM is that expectations of ourselves and of the products we build are very high,
It may be too early to know what Facebook's IPO really "means" in the grand scheme of things. Facebook users may effect real change through their thousands of connections. But for now I'm happy to work for a company that understands the importance of the role it plays in the world and the impact its products have on the way we live our lives.
9 AM: Get Bold! IBM VP and author Sandy Carter hosts a coffee talk and book signing at New York City's Birch Coffee. Listen, learn and discuss how you can create your own Social Business Agenda for greater competitive advantage. Birch Coffee is located at 5 E 27th St in the Gershwin Hotel, between 5th and Madison.
11 AM: IBM BlueIQ leader and Community Manager Josh Scribner offers his views on a panel discussion entitled �Social Business By Design.� Joining Josh will be Dave Gray of The Dachis Group and Ming Kwan of Nokia, IBM Business Partners both. The panel takes place in the Business & Innovation Content Hub at Bloomberg.
Follow along the IBM Social Business Insights Blog
Quite a few of today's organizations could learn a little something about security from my grandmother -- a thoughtful, yet paranoid creature who maintained a watchful vigilance over her home. I recall once she was going to Europe for two weeks. So, anticipating hordes of burglars, she developed an advanced domestic security architecture:
Neighbors facing the front and back of the house were asked to keep watch for any sign of intrusion, such as open windows
The doors and windows were locked, and to the doors, new deadbolts were added
Her mail and newspapers were stopped
All her more expensive possessions, such as jewelry, were hidden
There were many such hiding places distributed throughout the house
The list of hiding places was, itself, hidden -- in the dictionary, under the verb �hide�
I believe quite a few IT security concepts can be extrapolated from this ad hoc architecture. Let's go down that list and rephrase things a bit...
Data must be continually collected from many sources and analyzed for relevance, using proven heuristics
Point solutions like firewalls, though useful, are far from adequate by themselves
Proactive measures should be taken to address potential security gaps
Assets should be protected in proportion to their business value
Strategies spanning multiple domains should be pursued to maximize holistic security
Centralized oversight of those strategies will simplify and accelerate management
Not too shabby, I think, for a woman in her late seventies with no training.
And in the area of security intelligence, one finds many of the same concepts explored. In fact, security intelligence � powered by next-generation Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) and log management � emphasizes all the points above. Taken together, these assertions about data, analytics and centralized analysis can lead to a greatly enhanced security posture.
This may remind you of business intelligence, which uses advanced analytics to aggregate business data and sift through it looking for hidden patterns or insights. Security intelligence does much the same with security data. And just as with business intelligence, security intelligence works better when solutions are smarter: capable of drawing more data, from more sources, analyzing it more quickly, drawing more accurate conclusions and thus turning a spotlight on what really matters (while avoiding, what doesn't).
That, in a nutshell, is why in 2011 IBM acquired Q1 Labs, a leading provider of SIEM and security intelligence solutions that reduce security and compliance risks and better detect suspicious events that may be taking place in the IT environment.
Last-generation solutions can't cope with next-generation threats
Recently I had a chance to talk to Michael Applebaum, Director of Product Marketing for Q1 Labs, about security intelligence and how it relates SIEM.
�Security Intelligence is actually a superset of SIEM,� said Applebaum. �It involves collecting and analyzing many types of security and compliance-relevant data for real-time decision making. And to do that, it goes far beyond first-generation SIEM tools -- not just performing log data analysis, but also correlating related data like network flows and asset profiles, to provide deeper visibility into what's really happening.�
The problem with earlier SIEM solutions, it appears, is threefold: They aren't smart enough to make sense of all the data, they aren't adequately integrated with other security solutions and they aren't flexible enough to cope with organizations� changing needs.
So IT teams tend to get bombarded with false positives that, though seemingly suspicious, don't actually involve a security incident. This is roughly like the difference between �breaches� (which are security-relevant) and �breeches� (which are short pants).
�Too often, solutions dump so much data on the security professional that the solutions become useless,� said Applebaum. �Managing more data than ever before requires sharper tools to find what matters. SIEM and security intelligence, then, are about culling through the masses of data to find the signal in the noise.�
Indeed. And bumping up that signal-to-noise ratio, via smart analysis, is particularly critical at a time when hackers and malware are both getting more sophisticated and capable -- often, in ways that simply defeat last-generation security solutions.
Want an example? Consider the Conficker worm -- an incredibly resilient form of malware with multiple variations that can attack organizations using multiple, completely different attack vectors. This is not the sort of thing organizations are going to be able to recognize and eradicate using traditional, signature-based tactics, which is probably why Conficker is still around, and still creating problems, despite the fact that it was originally detected in 2008.
Organizations are, from a security standpoint, simply living in a different world than they were even five years ago, and they need solutions that are just as smart as the threats they face -- or, ideally, smarter. And that's exactly where security intelligence can play a valuable role.
What IBM's new security intelligence solutions bring to the game is scalable, fast correlation of exceptionally large data volumes, originating from a wide range of IT systems and devices, to deliver a complete view of the total security posture at any point in time. So, going beyond log analysis, that also means key capabilities like configuration monitoring, network anomaly detection and advanced persistent threat detection.
In this way, threats like Conficker become significantly more detectable and resolvable, even though they appear in multiple variations and take advantage of different security weaknesses. Instead of trying to recognize them using a specific exploit-based signature, or any other limited identifier, organizations can instead recognize that type of behavior as suspicious and worthy of investigation.
Perhaps, for instance, a sequence of failed log-in attempts to a high-value database is followed by a successful log-in attempt and a data selection, which is then followed by an email transmission of a large amount of data to an IP address in an eastern European country where this organization has never done business.
This type of comprehensive analysis and insight detects questionable behavior almost in the way a trained and experienced human security expert would. It's significantly smarter and more flexible than the siloed kind of analysis most organizations are limited to today.
Get a 360-degree, real-time view of your complete security posture
However, making all of that happen does, in turn, mean security intelligence solutions have to bridge security, network and infrastructure silos, to put the whole picture -- prioritized by business value / risk and rendered via intuitive dashboards -- at the fingertips of security pros and executives.
Fortunately, that's just what IBM's new offerings can do. And it's a compelling strength, especially for organizations who may not have realized such a thing is even possible.
�The real 'a-ha' moment is when clients see how easily they can view and drill down into security-relevant activity across the enterprise -- logs, network flows, vulnerabilities, identities, asset profiles, threat intelligence -- all with a single user interface,� said Applebaum. �Clients are so used to dealing with silos of data they are blown away by a security dashboard that provides seamless visibility.�
Still more value stems from the extensive range of report templates and correlation rules (like the kind I described above, involving a database compromise) that come with the solutions right out of the box. Through them, clients who deploy IBM's security intelligence solutions immediately inherit much of the deep expertise developed by Q1 Labs through years of real-world client experience.
That's not just better security, but better security achieved faster. And over time, as those templates and rules are expanded to include new insight from IBM's X-Force team, that argument will just get stronger and stronger.
Finally, all of these new security capabilities also pertain to a closely related issue: regulatory compliance. Through smarter, more comprehensive monitoring and reporting, organizations will find it easier not just to achieve compliance, but also to demonstrate it easily in the event of an audit.
�Clients often start by focusing on compliance initiatives because of the potential penalties for failure,� said Applebaum. �And while compliance is just a part of a security program, it�s an important step. Next-generation SIEM and log management provide central logging, reporting and monitoring, which provide peace of mind while reducing a great deal of manual effort.�
About the author Guest blogger Wes Simonds worked in IT for seven years before becoming a technology writer on topics including virtualization, cloud computing and service management. He lives in sunny Austin, Texas and believes Mexican food should always be served with queso.
Have you ever had that awkward conversation with a significant other where they tell you they just want to be friends?
Sometimes the news is hard to swallow. It forces you to ask yourself, �What could I have done better?�
This same tough conversation needs to happen with certain software applications too. People just stay in relationships with software for too long. That said, it�s time to have the �friend talk� and break up with spreadsheets.
You�ve never really loved them. It�s been a relationship of convenience � they just showed up one day on your laptop and the rest was history. Yes, they�re nice and have a good personality (as much as software can), but it�s time to cut the cord and just be friends.
Disclaimer:I am not attempting to disparage or declare war on spreadsheets. They serve a useful purpose and will always be a staple inside organizations, but they are not the analytic application you want to bring home and introduce to your parents.
Spreadsheets have been widely used for financial and cost accounting, data collection and analysis, and mathematics. But, when they are called upon to perform a task for which they are not designed or beyond the limit of their capabilities, spreadsheets can actually be a fatal attraction.
Mark Smith, CEO and Chief Research Officer at Ventana Research says that spreadsheets �can be one of the most expensive pieces of technology because of the risk and wrong decisions that are made due to their numerous errors.�
In fact, a number of studies have indicated that 90 percent or more of spreadsheets contained errors.
And Bruce McCullough, the software editor for the International Journal of Forecastingwrote that �Professional statisticians continue to write books with titles like �Statistics with Excel,� but they now warn students not to bet their jobs on Excel�s accuracy. They advise students to use a real statistical package when they need to do statistics.�
So, I guess you have to ask yourself, do you want a meaningful relationship with your data, such as being able to perform detailed analysis, find hidden patterns or make reliable forecasts, instead of a dangerous liaison that gives you little in return, besides frustration?
Speaking of meaningful relationships:
�Elie Tahari, a global fashion brand, found that its retail controllers were struggling with monthly budget reports because its 22 locations submitted spreadsheets separately. By turning this task over to a more robust business analytics solution, they were able to create a seamless reporting framework that provides granular, real-time information from the sales floor to its suppliers� inventory and production schedules. They reduced their reporting cycle from as many as two days to a few minutes, and saw a 30 percent reduction in supply chain and logistics costs. (Read the case study.)
�Checkers Drive-In Restaurants Inc., the largest chain of double drive-thru restaurants in the United States, relied on spreadsheets for financial planning processes that were taking up to three months each year. By breaking away from this burden, they are now able to get the same jobs completed in three weeks, do better forecasting and more quickly respond to changing economic conditions. (Read the case study.)
It�s been said that once you break up with someone, remaining friends is almost impossible. Things just get weird.
Not true with spreadsheets. They�ll still be hanging out on the laptop, going to the same meetings and most importantly, will play a prominent role in sharing the results of the analysis across the organization (if you so choose).
But they will be frustrated by their shortcomings and say, �I wish I could�ve done better.�
For more information:
� Registerfor the upcoming webinar: �The Risks of Using Spreadsheets for Statistical Analysis.� (February 15 at 12:00 pm ET)
� Readthe whitepaper: �The Risks of Using Spreadsheets�
� Attendour upcoming IBM Innovations in Business Analytics Virtual Launch (March 7, 2012) to see new solutions that will give you a more personal relationship with your data.
We just mailed our February IBM Software Newsletter, featuring the top stories from Lotusphere 2012. And while products like IBM Connections 'Next' and Notes and Domino Social Edition grabbed the headlines, IBM Docs and Lotus Symphony are getting a LOT of attention from our readers.
IBM Docs (previously called LotusLive Symphony) is a cloud-based productivity suite, lets team members inside and outside the firewall collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and presentations � people can co-edit in real-time, assign sections of documents for one another to work on, etc. IBM Docs will be available later this year, but you can try the beta now if you have a LotusLive (soon to be IBM SmartCloud for Social Business) account, or as part of a LotusLive trial.
IBM just released Lotus Symphony 3.0.1, an upgrade to its no-charge, on-premises office productivity suite. The upgrade adds new features like support for a million spreadsheet rows, new chart types, and more bullet and numbering styles; it also repairs a few bugs.
At Lotusphere, IBM also announced future plans for Symphony that led to some misunderstanding and panic about IBM pulling out of the no-charge office suite arena, which it isn�t. The actual story, nothing to panic about at all, is that:
Symphony 3.0.1 is the current release of IBM�s no-charge office suite
An upcoming IBM edition of Apache OpenOffice 4.0 � which will contain the Symphony codebase, and which IBM will support in exactly the same way it supports Symphony now � will be the next release of IBM�s no-charge office suite.
For more detail on this, check out Ed Brill�s blog (and the video presentation therein).
We've all turned into spooked ostriches with our heads stuck in the ground.
As Matthew Broderick eloquently re-stated in a Super Bowl commercial reprising his famous Ferris Bueller role, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile you could miss it."
In the world of social media, it seems everyone is buried in their mobile devices these days reporting on the minutiaof their lives. In fact, it was reported that tweeting records were set during Super Bowl XLVI with 13.7 million total tweets sent during the game and 12,233 tweets per second by the end of the game.
I wonder if anyone really watched the game?
Unknowingly, Twitter has turned us into play-by-play announcers, bad stand-up comedians, "Negative Nancy's,� and critics. We share everything. Is it really necessary to tell everyone what you had for breakfast, what you liked most (or for Boston fans, least) about Tom Brady's performance, the coffee shop you just checked into on Foursquare, your opinion of that Matthew Broderick commercial, or what movies and actors you predict will be Academy Award winners?
If Twitter is a never-ending barrage of babble and nonsense, does it really matter?
You�re damn right it does.
Consumers have become a force de nature in the Twitterverse. Their opinions are unfiltered and unadulterated, yet unfortunately, still quite underrated when it comes to using the data to enhance customer experience. As MTV�s �Real World� once promoted, �It�s time to stop being polite, and start getting real.�
Twitter is raw, real and in your face. Businesses have it easy these days. No longer do they have to go through the formal process of focus groups and lengthy analysis. Want to know what someone is thinking, log onto Twitter.
No dodging the mighty consumer these days.They have become increasingly influential, especially as their opinions travel faster and to a wider group of consumers.
Accountability and honesty reign supreme. If consumers don�t like an organization�s strategic business decision (e.g. Susan G. Komen), new product (Netflix/Qwikster), or advertisement (Groupon/Tibet), there�s no dodging the verbal arrows.
The organizations, however, that decide to take action and analyze the millions and millions and millions of data points created in the socialsphere will own the competitive edge and be able to respond that much quicker. It�s just a matter of separating the noise from what really matters, the consumer�s thoughts, opinions, sentiment and behaviors.
Enter social analytics, the latest in noise-cancelling devices that deliver insights into what people are thinking, why they are thinking it, and most importantly, what organizations can do about it. By eliminating the minutia, social analytics helps businesses understand positive and negative sentiment,pinpoint top influencers, measure the volume of commentary and identify the geographic origin of comments across multiple channels.
Getting back to the Super Bowl�think about the value buried inside of those 13 million tweets � for advertisers, for psychologists, for the city of Indianapolis, for the NFL, etc.
And as the Twitter feed flies off the charts with major sporting events, one can only predict the same activity for the upcoming Academy Awards, especially with the commercials, the fashion faux pas, the glitz and glamour, the acceptance speeches and most importantly, the winners and losers.
Speaking of which, IBM, The Los Angeles Times and the University of Southern California Annenberg Innovation Lab have created the Oscars Senti-Meterto establish a model for measuring the volume and tone of worldwide Twitter sentiment to better understand moviegoers' opinions and customer trends.
So yeah, I guess Twitter matters. It might be noisy, but it�s chocked full of yummy goodness.
If businesses don�t check into Twitter and look around once in awhile, there�s a lot they could miss (and a lot of customers they could lose).