Welcome to the new IBM Software for a Smarter Planet� blog. A team of IBMers from various disciplines will use this blog to share news, solicit feedback, and generate thought-provoking conversations around the future of software in building a smarter planet. Stay tuned.
I am Tiffany Winman, IBM Software social media strategist, and mainly write about social networking, community heroes, and conversations around software in social networking environments. I'm always looking for ways to improve the value IBM brings to communities of interest around software. From time to time, you'll see me ask you specific questions to inform new innovations and directions that IBM should consider around social networking. For now, If you have any interesting ideas or would like to share your thoughts on how IBM can make a difference to you or your network, please let me know.
In the meanwhile, below are ways for you to connect with professionals discussing and networking around IBM Software topics.
IBM Software community on ibm.com
� Find IBM experts on software, discover trends, share links, comment on thought-provoking blogs, and more.
� Follow IBM Software community news. Use the #ibmsoftware hashtag to see what others are sharing and thinking.
IBM Software on LinkedIn
� Network with a variety of software professionals across companies and industries, participate in discussions and polls, ask questions, get answers.
IBM Software on YouTube
� Continue the conversation on the latest IBM Software videos with IBM experts, customers, and Business Partners.
In case you missed it last week, IBM announced its plans to acquire Unica, the marketing software automation company. The topic lit up the social media universe with chatter. As Joe Chernov, with Eloqua, put it, "everyone has an opinion" about it too.
I'm not saying she's "right," but one of my favorite reads was a blog by Cristene Gonzalez-Wertz, (@hermione1 on Twitter) with Covalent Marketing. Why? She does a great job hypothesizing how Unica will work across the IBM portfolio, explores opportunities for new delivery models such as Cloud, and even ties it all back to a potential Smarter Planet idea:
� "This even gets to a smarter planet approach, my friends.� What happens when sensors detect that a power grid is likely to be reaching brownout stages?� Is there a way to alert those affected via SMS, TV messaging, phone call, email?� � Now, there is�"
I found the #ibmunica hashtag most useful for following the buzz around the acquisition. Let me know if you find better ones.
I discovered a pretty nifty eWeek slide show titled, IBM Business Analytics: 20 Ways Big Blue Rules, today. The presentation explains how businesses have new opportunities to use business analytics to predict business outcomes, optimize old systems and spot trends before they turn into a reality. It's chock full of interesting facts such as:
Prediction: Business analytics will be a $16B business by 2015.
IBM is investing heavily in business analytics, with $11B in 19 acquisitions over the last 5 years.
IBM's business analytics strategy is supported by the opening of 8 analytic centers worldwide with 6K consultants and 10K+ technical consultants in 80 research and development labs and 40 innovation centers worldwide.
Over 250K clients worldwide use IBM business analytics in industries such as health care, policing, government, transportation, oil and utilities, and education.
Beyond what IBM is doing in this space, I find the presentation interesting because it tips its hat to what's hot in the industry at the moment or in the near future: Predictive analytics and intelligence, social media, livestreaming, mobility, and interconnected and intelligent smarter systems.
If you're interested in learning more about IBM in the business analytics space, here are my top viewing picks:
Today, the IBM X-Force Research and Development team released its 2010 Mid-Year Trend and Risk Report. The report shows that vulnerability disclosures are increasing dramatically and have reached record levels. It focuses on areas rife with vulnerabilities, such as:
The report also covers some key security trends to watch for the future: cloud computing and virtualization. At theIBM Pulse conferencein Las Vegas this year, these were huge topics in the breakout sessions.� I recorded a podcast interview with a customer panel on Cloud and Security during the conference (see below). The panel touches on some of the very topics surfaced as future trends in the X-Force report and discussesIBM security solutionsmaking a difference in this space today .
Podcast: Security and cloud panel at IBM Pulse 2010
Side note: The item on smarter security relates to the BigFix acquisition news I mention on the IBM Tivoli Software blog.
I'd recommend paying close attention to another big news item not on this list: New survey shows IBM Business Partners expect social media to drive sales. A recent IBM survey with over 1000 Business Partners found that while 45% of IBM Business Partners are experimenting with social media, 74% are seeking out education on social media for business. See the video with IBM VP Sandy Carter below for more details.� You can expect to see big things in this space in months ahead, and I'm excited to be part of that effort!--more on that later.
Thinking that your training budget might be an easy and relatively safe place to cut IT costs? Maybe not. �The Impact of Training on Project Success,� an IDC report based on 2 years of research, finds that training and project success go hand-in-hand � and that IT organizations that cut back on training do so at their own significant risk.
The impact cuts across all IT disciplines. For example, compared to undertrained teams, well-trained teams are:
60% more likely to complete backups successfully
More than twice as likely to meet compliance and legal regulatory requirements for archiving email and content
More than twice as likely to automatically detect and repair virus, spyware and adware infections
This is just a small sample of the findings. Read the full report (PDF, 140KB, no registration required).
Another reason to do more training: You can receive a complimentary Lenovo netbook when you register for an eligible IBM Software class by October 29 2010, and complete the class by December 17, 2010. Get the details.
�The upcoming September 2010 issue of the IBM Software Newsletter includes three very favorable (and very popular) reports from independent analysts:
Forrester Wave catapults IBM WebSphere BPM to preeminent market position. The Forrester Wave: Business Process Management Suites, Q3 2010 positions IBM WebSphere BPM in its Leaders quadrant, and cites IBM WebSphere Dynamic Process Edition as #1 in market presence. But this report is also worth reading for its updated picture of the BPM market - and for its guidelines for choosing the right BPM suite for your specific BPM implementation.
Nucleus Research: IBM adopts SPSS Predictive Modeling internally, nets a 249% ROI in 5 months.�A Nucleus Research report documents the IBM demand generation team's switch from SAS to SPSS predictive modeling. The team got an easier-to-learn, easier-to-use solution that enabled more users to perform analysis � plus they dramatically lowered associated licensing and training costs.
It was a food fest of social conversations and activity around IBM and Smarter Planet this week! It's times like these when I want to leave my day job and spend the whole time participating in conversations and activities on how to make the world a better place. Fortunately, I work at a company that gives me lots of opportunities to do just that even during my day job. While I'm on this topic, and before I get to the business at hand, quick shout out to the IBM launch of People for a Smarter Planet on Facebook this month.
According to Twazzup, the top six links shared around "ibmsoftware" in social media circles today revolve around:
The links above give you a hint of how busy next week is going to be! While all the topics are excellent, the one that will consume my passion and attention the most is the IBM Summit at Start online activity. Start is a United Kingdom initiative by The Prince's Charities Foundation to promote and celebrate sustainable living.
From September 8-16, IBM is sponsoring a nine-day summit at Start in London to convene business, industry, and academic thought leaders to discuss challenges and next steps to enable economic, environmental and societal sustainability. If true change is going to happen, it's going to take groups like this and YOU and me, of course, to make it so. Below are some of the videos and photos at the event and a few other links if you'd like to follow the online conversation.
zEnterprise multimedia resource library. Analysts, reporters and customers can�t stop talking about the new IBM zEnterprise System � so we�ve put everything they have to say on one page packed with links to videos, podcasts, demos, reports, papers and more. Take a look.
The CityOne �serious game� is ready to play! Since it was announced in April at Impact 2010, the CityOne city-sim game has been eagerly anticipated by analysts, customers and journalists alike � in fact nearly 8,000 people registered to be notified when the game went live. Play CityOne to learn how you can make cities and industries smarter by applying IBM technologies � BPM, SOA, collaboration, cloud computing � in innovative ways. Or play just tell people you played an online game featuring content from the EPA. Register and start playing.
Over the years I�ve read hundreds of white papers (no, I�m not looking for your pity). I�ve written dozens. But it�s only once every 10 years or so that I read a paper I wish I wrote myself � one with an opening paragraph like this one:
Imagine that you go to your doctor for your annual physical. You get the usual advice: lose weight, exercise more, and watch your diet. You respond in the usual way: go home and plop down on the couch with the remote control in one hand and a family-sized bag of chips in the other. But...what if that good advice was accompanied by a sophisticated analysis of your test results and other tangible data indicating an 80% chance that you'd have a heart attack in the next two years? Being confronted with facts like those would make most people put down the pastry and pick up the organic bran muffin. Welcome to the world of predictive analytics.
Thus begins �IBM Predicts the Future,� a paper from Gabriel Consulting Group that explains why predictive analytics is the �next big thing� in computing � the third really �big thing� in computing since 300 BC � and why IBM is truly the only vendor, to date, to embrace the trend. The paper is great reading for anyone interested in information management. It�s timely reading on the eve of Information on Demand 2010 and the Business Analytics Forum. And, in my humble opinion, it should be required reading for anyone planning to write or publish a white paper in the near or distant future.
Connectors: people with a special knack for bringing the world together and who can span many different worlds.
Mavens: the information specialists we rely on to connect us with new information. Mavens are really information brokers, sharing and trading what they know.
Salesmen: these are the persuaders: charismatic people with powerful negotiation skills.
Gladwell cites Paul Revere's ride and the overnight popularity of Hush Puppies as examples. But it's also a great way to think about your business analytics deployment � because your deployment needs to demonstrate all three attributes to become pervasive.
Think about it this way:
Your Connectors are the people who can cross the IT-Business or the IT-Finance divide. They are comfortable in each others' worlds, they understand the goals and cultures of both sides and can act as mediator between them. Wayne Eckerson calls them �Purple People.�
Mavens make up your core BI team. These are your professional authors, analysts, data stewards and architects who configure your deployment to serve up insights into your business.
Salesmen are your early adopters and visionaries who see the project's potential and who can convince others of it too when there may very little to go on. Very few deployments get beyond their early stages without these folks.
So. When you look at the people on your team, who do you see? More importantly � who do you not see? Mavens without Connectors have no one to share information with. Connectors without Mavens have nothing to share. With neither of these in place, Salesmen will simply find something else to sell.
It doesn't stop there. Gladwell develops his theory further with three more important dynamics. Let's look at how they can � and should � play out in your deployments.
The Law of the Few states that a tiny proportion of people do the majority of the work. These people find out about something and through social connections and energy and enthusiasm spread the word. You need people who are willing to put in the time to spread the word about their insights.
The Stickiness Factor states that there are relatively simple changes in the presentation and structuring of information that can make a difference in how much of an impact it makes. You need to ensure that the insights you provide immediately convey the right message. Matching the data with the right display is a crucial first step to keep people coming back to your reports.
The Power of Context says that the key to getting people to change their behavior...sometimes lies with the smallest details of their immediate situation. Deployments take hold when you show people how the data you're providing make their daily tasks easier and make them more productive. Find the report or dashboard or plan they use every day. Make it better for them and then they'll actually use it.
Gladwell views The Tipping Point as a way of making sense of the world. �Changes that happen really suddenly, on the strength of the most minor of input, can be deeply confusing,� he says. People who understand it have a way of decoding the world around them.
In business it's no different. We are in a time of tremendous economic upheaval but also of tremendous opportunity. And just as Gladwell sees hope in the message of The Tipping Point, over the next four days you will see how organizations use business analytics to decode the disruptions around them and move forward with confidence.
These are exciting times for business analytics and Business Analytics Forum is an exciting place to be. I'm looking forward to making the most of it. Whatever your goals over the next week, I hope you are able to do the same and I know we're here to help.
Today information pours in faster than we can make sense it. It�s being authored by billions of people � and flowing from a trillion intelligent devices, sensors and all manner of instrumented objects. And with 80 percent of new data growth existing unstructured content � from music files to 3D images to medical records to email keystrokes -- the challenge is trying to pull it all together and make sense of it.
But what if you could tap into this information to uncover lucrative business opportunities? What if you had the �inside information� you needed to retain customers or improve research? What if you could inject certainty and predictability into the decision-making process?
Participants at this week's Information On Demand 2010 forum in Las Vegas are asking these questions, and they�re finding highly intelligent and profitable answers in clever analytics software that can organize, store and mine all of the information scattered throughout their organization and provide customized intelligence to gain faster insight from this information.
After the conference, you can find archived content here:
http://www.livestream.com/ibmsoftware/folder?dirId=add716e6-047a-4e49-a94f-adc1148de8c8 Video on Demand from Information On Demand 2010
View all of our video content, at your leisure. Videos updated daily. http://youtube.com/iodgc�
And, more than 150 tweets tagged with #cognos10 went through the ether, and now, six hours later, the conversation is still going on.
The launch had it all � a glimpse backstage just moments before the main event, explosions, a 15-foot-tall 10 and beta customers Boeing, who are already using the product in a production environment.
Yep. I'd say that's a big story.
And really, today was on only the beginning. Now that Cognos 10 is literally out of the box, we're taking it on the road to more than 100 live and virtual events around the world. You'll have the chance to get up-close and personal with this revolutionary new release. Tomorrow I'll be doing the same and reporting on what I see � I've crammed as many Cognos 10 sessions into my agenda as feasible.
Possibly the only story bigger was the complete vision for Information and Analytics we saw this morning during the official conference opening in the Mandalay Bay's Event Center. In addition to Rob Ashe, on stage throughout the session were:
Arvind Krishna, GM, Information Management Software
Craig Hayman, GM, Industry Solutions
Robert LeBlanc, SVP, Middleware Software
Fred Balboni, WW Leader for Business Analytics & Optimization (BAO)
That each presented an in-depth exploration of their respective domains of the IBM solution was impressive on its own. That in doing so each one built on the value of the predecessor was impressive on a much, much higher scale � what we saw today was a complete, integrated, innovative solution to the challenges of data overload and its continuing and dramatic impact on business outcomes.
Seriously, folks, there's nowhere you can point to in your information and anlaytics challenges that IBM can't help you solve. And given that nearly half the attendees here were first-timers I'd say they're ready to get started.
Attendees to today's opening session of Information On Demand and Business Analytics Forum saw a through line drawn by a succession of presenters, from battlefield surgeons back to the increasing � and increasingly unavoidable - issue of big data.
In an eloquent opening address that from the first unvarnished image held the audience in rapt attention, guest speaker Dr. Atul Gawande explored how data-driven insights have rewritten the rules of the battlefield surgeon and dramatically reduced casualties in the continuing military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But first, the data.
Big data is a big story
Steve Mills, IBM Software Group Senior VP and Group Executive, welcomed attendees with an exploration of data. Big data. Complex data. Fast-moving data that comes at organizations from every direction. Example? The thousands of tweets flying around this very conference made up the 7 terabytes of data that Twitter processes every day. To help organizations address the challenge Mills explained the �method to the madness� in the ongoing string of IBM acquisitions by grouping them into three connected categories: core data management capabilities, data integration, and finally, business analytics. Turbo also blogged about Mills' session in much more detail than I've done here.
Turning big data into business outcomes
Mills was followed by Frank Kern, Senior VP and Managing Partner of IBM Global Business Services, outlined the various ways that IBM solutions are helping clients improve performance outcomes across various industries. Kern drew extensively from this year's IBM Global CEO Survey and stressed the importance of innovation and creativity as the way forward in our challenging times. CEOs around the world are struggling to understand the accelerating complexity of our economy, Kern said. To respond, they must rely not on increasing operational rigor, but on increasing their creativity at all levels. �We must innovate our way through this,� he said. Kern also outlined that those organizations doing well in our current climate view technology as an essential element in their approach. Driven by �the pressure to be right,� top-performing organizations are five times more likely to use analytics over intuition to drive their decision-making and three times more likely to outperform their peers, Kern said.
Improving business outcomesdemands new skills
In the customer panel discussion that followed, representatives from Best Buy, Countrywide Insurance, Nestle and Gwinnett County Public Schools discussed the softer side of the equation by focusing on the new skills that successful organizations rely on, particularly the ability to connect and collaborate across organizational boundaries, and individual empowerment driven by pervasive insights. In addition, each stressed the importance of curiosity and patience in what is often a long journey
Putting it all together on the battlefield
The combination of data, outcomes and new skills came together in Dr. Gawande's vivid address. Dr. Gawande explored the relationship between data and progress from an unexpected source � a chart of war fatalities dating from the American Revolution to the current conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. (When you're done reading this post, check out Turbo's post as well.)
His question was simple: How do you save people in war? Since the 1950s, Dr. Gawande explained, advances in military technology and battlefield surgery had reached a sort of stalemate � with casualty mortality rates staying stable at about 24 percent up until the Persian Gulf War. In the current conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, however, casualty rates have dropped to 10 percent, despite no substantial advances in surgical techniques.
Why the drop?
Surgeons, said Dr. Gawande, began paying attention to the data. They had discovered that mortality rates improved dramatically the closer they were to the hospital. But with modern soliders moving further into the field, the solution wasn't to transport them back to the hospital more quickly, but to transport the hospital with the soldiers. Now, rolling hospitals travel with battlefield units. Within three hours surgeons can create a fully functional hospital. Further, surgeons turned to performing only the most necessary parts of a procedure to enable the wounded solider to be transported to one of several hospitals farther away. This, said Dr. Gawande, ran counter to a surgeon's training. Yet in a hostile environment lacking xrays and other amenities it resulted in a dramatic reduction in fatalities.
People make only two kinds of mistakes, Dr. Gawande said. Mistakes of ignorance happen when people lack the information they need to make good decisions. Mistakes of ineptitude happen when people don't know how to use the information in the right way.
If data driven insights can result in such dramatic transformations as to save actual lives, imagine what they can do for your business. Our challenge, said Dr. Gawande, is to cope with complexity and execute properly on the knowledge that does exist. It's going to require new teams, new kinds of people and, in his words, �could not be more fascinating.�
One more wrap-up post to write, but before I dive into my notes on that one, I thought I'd get this one up, pronto. Here, without further delay, are 10 ways to discover all that is IBM Cognos 10. Feel free to indulge in any or all of them to unleash intelligence in your own organization.
1. Give us a call. If you've already seen the simulcast, watched the demo and read the white paper, this is the next logical step. It's also the next logical step if you don't want to do any of those things and just get down to business. Our proverbial representatives are standing by to assess your analytics needs and suggest the best starting point. Our North American toll-free number is 1-866-601-1934 and you can find a full list of contact numbers here.
2. Watch the new features demo. You'll see the new unified BI workspace, collaborative capabilities and mobile BI. You'll also see how other new features drive better business outcomes for a range of user types across your organization. See it now.
3. Download our new Cognos 10 White Paper. You'll discover why insights and agility are two essential attributes of successful organizations and how IBM Cognos 10 enables both of these for individual contributors and for organizations as a whole. Get it now.
4. Download our new Business Analytics White Paper, too. You'll read how IBM Business Analytics is building �analytics-driven� organizations that overcome data silos, rigid structures, fragemented perspectives and other barriers to better business outcomes. Download.
5. Download our new book,Business Intelligence Strategy: A Practical Guide for Achieving BI Excellence. Representatives from The Nielsen Company, Johnson & Johnson, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and The Boeing Company discuss proven, real-world techniques to build your business case, demonstrate value and drive user adoption. Get the book.
6. Sign up for one of 100 live worldwide events. Now that Cognos 10 is quite literally out of the box, we're taking it on the road and around the world. If you couldn't make it to Business Analtyics Forum in person, these events are your best chance to get up-close and personal with Intelligence Unleashed. Find your event.
7. Sign up for one of our virtual events in North America or EMEA. IBM Cognos 10 can also come to you. These interactive sessions feature a keynote presentation by our own Harriet Fryman and breakout sessions that let you interact with our product experts. North American audiences can click here. Audiences in EMEA can click here.
8. Bookmark our Cognos 10 Microsite. You'll find detailed information on how IBM Cognos 10 provides you the freedom to think, connect with others and simply do. Plus, learn about the innovative new features in the IBM Cognos platform and go deep into any capability you choose. Go there now.
9. Watch the replay of the launch event, complete with countdown, explosions and business analytics on the iPad. Watch now.
Take a closer look at any large city today and you'll find another city pulsating within it, made up of interconnected systems of many different functions and activities.
Similarly, educational curriculums are being redesigned to provide students from all disciplines with the tools they need to thrive in this technology-rich, dynamically networked world � and make a difference in our cities.
For example, analytics is no longer the domain of just mathematicians or statisticians. Employers are looking for graduates who are well-rounded and adaptable in many areas, for example using analytics to help modernize health care systems, making older buildings more energy-efficient, and designing public transportation systems that run better.
IBM knows that in order to help cities tackle thorny challenges � from traffic congestion, to energy use, to the building of sustainable communities � a new set of skills is required. IBM is partnering with colleges and universities to give students access to the technologies and training needed to learn new skills and put them to work in our cities.
In Chicago, IBM and DePaul University recently opened a data mining and analytics center to train students in predictive analytics, a skill increasingly in demand by employers in cities around the globe.
And at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, a new Smarter Infrastructure Lab will be a place for IBM researchers and students from the engineering, architecture, public policy, and business schools to come up with ideas for building smarter cities.
Non-profits also play important roles in education innovations of all kinds. IBM recently announced a series of software, services and consulting grants to help local nonprofit groups better connect with communities and students in need. These Trailblazer grants are already making a difference in improving education systems in cities around the U.S. � from Philadelphia, to Milwaukee, to Boston.
Cities are vibrant, living systems that thrive on human and economic diversity, creative thinking, and new forms of commerce, culture, science and society. And to make them truly smarter, students need to have keen eyes for they way cities work.
Data is everywhere. Ideas are everything. Make the former serve the latter and you can change the world.
I came across the above in the reams and reams of notes I took during Business Analytics Forum. I had jotted it down during Wednesday's keynotes featuring Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, but I think it applies equally well to the theme of the conference more broadly.
I guess that's why they were the keynote speakers.
In addition to that little nugget, I did finally find some time to compile my "Top 10 takeaways" from Business Analytics Forum. Enjoy!
1. People were really excited about IBM Cognos 10. The news broke on Twitter like wildfire with more than 300 tweets and retweets in two weeks. By conference end there were more than 1,100. More than 900 people signed up to watch the launch simulcast in the first week alone. By the time Rob Ashe took the stage that number had exceeded more than 5,000 from more than 90 countries. In Las Vegas, more than 4,500 people filled the Mandalay Bay Ballroom to watch the big box blow up. Further, the Cognos 10 YouTube preview video has garnered 10,000 views. The product has spawned its own dedicated LinkedIn group. It's made our partner Cedric DeVroey in particular a very happy man. I thought people would be excited about the launch. I had no idea they'd be this excited. Perhaps it's an argument for some predictive analytics of my own.
2. The Manadalay Bay Events staff is a force to be reckoned with. This year's conference was the largest Information On Demand ever and, rumor has it, the largest the Mandalay Bay has ever hosted. Serving hot breakfasts to more than 10,000 hungry conference-goers was no mean feat. I have no insights into the logistics of scrambled eggs and sausage, but I do have admiration for the Mandalay Bay events staff who served them up so smoothly.
3. Small actions can have an enormous impact. The IRS employs thousands of statisticians and analysts. Yet as Levitt and Dubner observed, only one had the idea to ask parents to identify their childrens' social security number along with their names. Overnight, seven million phony children � at least one of whom was named �Fluffy� � disappeared from the U.S. tax rolls. In today's dollars that's a savings of more than $25 billion. Don't discount the small ideas � they may be the ones that make the biggest difference in the long run.
4. AQ will be the next KPI. IQ is something you're born with. AQ � your �Analytics Quotient� - is something you build. How? Through a clear strategy, well-defined goals, an engaged workforce and a business analytics infrastructure that offers up insights into the performance of every aspect of your business. It's early days yet, but something tells me we'll be hearing �AQ� a lot more in the weeks and months to come.
5. Better outcomes are possible, even on a battlefield. Luckily, few of us will know the chaos and confusion of war. Fewer still will need to deal with the carnage it creates. Yet in this toughest of all situations, U.S. Army surgeons are now able to save the highest percentage of injured soldiers in recorded history. How? As Dr. Atul Gawande explained, they followed the data and redesigned their approach. If surgeons can do this with only basic tools amid the bullets and bombs, suddenly our own analytics challenges should seem that much easier to solve.
6. Getting the right outcomes means asking the right questions. Too many organizations lose momentum or fail outright because of a reliance on accepted truths and �conventional wisdom.� Yet Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner wrote a best-selling book (and starred in a recently released movie) because they were willing to ask questions no one else would. You can move your own organization forward by following the same approach, whether it's about marketing pipeline, sales performance or supplier quality. Uncomfortable? Yes. Embarrassing? Sure. Essential to survival? Most definitely.
7. Customers are your new IP. IBM VP of Predictive Analytics Deepak Advani explained it and my colleague Tim Powers blogged about it. Your customers interact with your organization in a variety of ways � from research to purchase to advocacy and support � each of these interactions generates data, which means each can be modeled and optimized with predictive analytics. Combine your optimized process in a cycle and you've built a customer intimacy model that keeps people with you for life.
8. IBM Studies are immensely useful. IBM brings the same analytical prowess and rigor to its C-suite Studies that it does to its research and product development. And based on IBM Fellow Brenda Dietrich's presentation on smart grids, cloud and the future of analytics, that's a lot of prowess, indeed. The findings in this year's CEO Study, CFO Study and CIO Study served as the touchstone to each keynote presentation. Whether the issue was coping with complexity, boosting profits or increasing competitive advantage, each pointed to the undisputed value of information and analytics. They're equally great for convincing skeptical executives. Did I mention they're all free?
9. Social media is important; meeting actual people is more important. It's called �social� media for a reason. As useful (and fun) as it is to communicate in 140 characters or less, there's no substitute for meeting people face-to-face. So it was great to finally meet some of the people who helped carry the message of Cognos 10 and IOD/BA Forum to market. To Holly Rice, Candace Taylor, Jenny Sussin, Ranjun Chauhan, Turbo Todd and Scott Laningham, thanks for your help and support!
10. I work with some phenomenal people. One of the reasons I enjoy attending our conferences is to see the result of so many hours, days and weeks of hard work. It's no small task to host the largest IOD conference in IBM history, let alone hold a �conference within a conference� with Business Analytics Forum. Add to that our largest, most significant product launch in five years and you have a truly mammoth undertaking that spanned teams, countries and continents. That all three happened � and that all three delivered such positive results for our attendees � is a testament to their professionalism, dedication and in no small measure, their sense of humor.
There were many, many more than what I've documented here, but the "10" theme was pretty popular. And now that Cognos 10 is literally out of the box, it's your turn to discover it. I'm excited to hear your responses, so share them if you can.
�In today�s tough economic environment, companies in all industries are feeling the pressure to respond in real time to whatever the day brings � a change in supply or demand; a shift in the preferences of buyers; the vagaries of capital markets; an explosion of information; and a web of disconnected systems and processes.
IBM's strategy is to approach clients with a clear understanding of their needs, demonstrating that we have the expertise and technology specific to their business.
First we ask: What are they trying to accomplish within their industry? Then, we look at how different technologies can be used to meet their needs.
At its first Smarter Industries Symposium starting today in Barcelona, Spain, IBM is bringing together industry leaders to share best practices on how they are setting new standards, pioneering new innovations, and transforming the complex systems that undergird specific industries .� The industries these leaders work in are the driving forces of a smarter planet. Energy, automotive, telecommunications, retail, healthcare, banking and others thrive on the competition and innovation that is helping to build a better world.
Click on the image to open the picture story:
IBM's focus is on on helping clients from various industries build, deploy and manage applications that integrate their processes and information specific to their needs.� From there, it is all about creating complete solutions and help these clients get to a smarter and much more efficient way of doing business: from making everything occur in a seamless flow; to making collaboration a fundamental part of how work is done; to quickly pulling together and making sense out of any type of information and data.
The dynamics of the healthcare sector are not the same as those facing financial services companies. The issues confronting major retailers are different from those faced by clients in transportation and government. Simply put, different industries are diverse in nature and needs but all require solutions that provide them with a smarter and more efficient way of doing business.
That is why IBM has created industry frameworks � collections of industry specific data and process models, middleware, servers and storage, design patterns, and other assets that have been proven to perform well in prior customer engagements.
A framework is like a supporting structure around which something can be built. Like building blocks, they enable teams to put into practice technologies that can be reused throughout the enterprise, making it easy to tackle the critical issues on a client's plate.�
Developed by the Aberdeen Group, the newIBM Collaboration Assessment Toolasks you a series of questions about your company�s collaboration habits, practices and goals � and then generates a report telling you how your company compares to 450+ other companies, including companies Aberdeen rates as �best-in-class� collaborators. If you�re in banking, insurance, healthcare or government, the tool compares you directly to companies in your industry; if not, it compares you to a group of companies in all other industries. The report also recommends specific collaboration practices and technology that can transform your company into a �best-in-class� collaborator (if it isn�t already).
There are a couple of things I really like about this tool:
It�s fast.It took me about seven minutes to complete the questionnaire. If you want the most precise assessment possible, you may need to pause to do a little quantitative or qualitative research on a couple of questions � e.g., your company�s decrease or increase in travel costs over the last 12 months, how long it takes your company to bring a new product to market, etc. But you can get an insightful assessment without entering that information.
It reveals some pretty juicy low-hanging fruit.In the report, between the results and recommendations, you�ll find little nuggets of that suggest some clear and sometimes surprising opportunities to put real distance between you and your competition. One that jumped out from my report: Even in today�s relentlessly connected world, it still takes the average company 148 hours (more than six days) to assemble a team in response to a key business threat, whereas best-in-class collaborators can assemble these teams just 11 hours. That�s a big space for improvement � if your company is near the average now, and can implement collaboration capability that drives your response time down to even two or three days, you�re going to leave a lot of other companies in the dust.
TheCollaboration Assessment Toolwould be great preparation for anyone going to Lotusphere 2011 � but especially for a business user, first-time attendee, or anyone else looking for some guidance building his or her Lotusphere agenda. But I�d recommend trying it even if you think you�re not interested in collaboration � you may become very interested ten minutes later.
Our first in what will no doubt be an extensive exploration of the innovative features of IBM Cognos 10 looks at the increasing importance of collaboration in creating the ideas that drive better business outcomes.
Behind every great innovation, invention or paradigm shift is a great idea. But the jury is still out on how and where this stroke of genius comes from, and better yet, how you nurture it.
In some cases, an idea can be a single thought, an illuminating moment � a flash, a blink or an epiphany. After years of working on the general theory of relativity, Einstein saw the solution in a dream where �a huge map of the universe outlined itself in one clear vision.�1
Newton framed an idea after observing an apple fall to the ground. While Roy Plunkett invented teflon by accident when he was attempting to make a new CFC refrigerant.2
Ideas can also germinate over time. Steven Johnson (seen in his TED talk) spoke recently about the notion of the �slow hunch.�
As he puts it, lots of good ideas have long incubation periods.
It took years for Dr. John Snow to find the source of London�s cholera epidemic, articulate the cause and then convince others how to implement the solution.
Consider also the Sputnik launch in 1957. At the time, scientists figured out how to track the satellite in space by following its time signatures. Later, they were asked to use the reverse idea to track something on earth from space, which led to the first GPS.
It is this thoughtful, collective idea-making that we should be fostering, Johnson says. We ought to build spaces and �liquid networks� where people can come together, be creative, and share skills and interests to feed new ideas. In his view, �chance favors the connected mind.�
Social and �liquid� networks
Fortunately, technology now is well suited to this paradigm. We have the Internet, social networks and collaborative platforms for sharing information and content at any time and in any place.
In short, we have the means to apply these principles of collaboration and creativity in our work and lives.
Smart organizations pull creative elements out of compartments or silos and integrate them into the mainstream. In this kind of collaborative environment, people proactively exchange knowledge and cooperate with one another.
Collective intelligence improves an organization�s ability to be ready for what comes. Most notably, it can serve as a hotbed for adaptation, new ideas and innovation.
Creativity in a complex world
This year�s IBM Global CEO Study suggests that the way forward in our challenging times is through creativity and innovative thinking.
Successful organizations need the ability to collaborate across boundaries, to share tactics and ideas. Add to that a platform that invites the free-flow of data and information, and you have a network of informed, connected individuals who together can find innovative ways to do business.
Collaborating with IBM Cognos 10
IBM Cognos 10 provides collaboration and social networking capabilities to connect people to information to ideas � to make the creative decisions that drive better results.
The platform features access to reports, analysis, blogs, wikis and message boards that let you share and assess information and gather input from different perspectives. So you can build a central hub of collective intelligence that everyone can use.
It�s all about putting people and content together to make that spark or slow germination happen. Chance may favor a connected mind. Collective and business intelligence can nurture the next great idea.
Today we�re seeing the coming of age of a whole new generation of intelligent systems and technologies -- more powerful and accessible than ever before.
Oil exploration, earthquake prediction, water conservation, and traffic management all are using smart systems to find the big answers to the big questions.
IBM Software has a long history of helping clients transform their organizations,integrate their business and IT environments, and operate diverse objects and platforms � from production facilities to electric grids to pipelines and railways.
Now its technologies are being used to make these grids, infrastructures, facilities and products more intelligent so as to save money, improve operations, manage risk, and better manage the use of natural resources.
The phrase �X of the future� gets thrown around pretty liberally, but the Volt actually earns the �car of the future� title by being unlike any other car � or any other hybrid � anyone has ever driven. It�s the first hybrid that can run on battery power only, OR on electricity generated by a gas-powered motor, OR on gas only (at a pretty damn economical 40 mpg). And on-board software, developed using Rational tools, enables everything from the Volt�s space-aged graphical dashboard, to a system that picks the most fuel-efficient hybrid mix based on preference or driving style, to a smartphone app that lets the justifiably smug owner remotely monitor the Volt�s battery and fuel levels, or warm up the interior.
An IBMer might say the Volt is the rolling definition of a �smarter product.� Even Motor Trend calls it �the world�s first intelligent hybrid.�
Here are few links for getting to know the Volt:
The IBM Volt Press Kit includes a great video in which GM folks explain the role of IBM Software in the Volt�s development. (Favorite fun fact: 6 million lines of code in an F-35 fighter, 10 million lines of code in a Volt.)
2011 Motor Trend Car of the Year: Chevrolet Volt. One indication that the Volt is unlike any previous car is that this article is unlike any previous�Motor Trend Car of the Year article. It actually includes the phrase �systems integration.�
Chevy Volt on Wikipedia. Links from this article explain such terms as �serial hybrid� and �parallel hybrid,� which help you understand how the car works.
As today's systems become increasingly interconnected, instrumented and intelligent, they are also becoming more complex, forcing organizations to protect themselves from all kinds of security and compliance risks.
Many security strategies resemble a patchwork quilt of products and services that, no matter how costly, still contain tiny holes that hackers can slink through.�
And as organizations introduce more technology into their different systems and devices, they are introducing more holes and more risk � that�s just the way it works.
That�s why IBM software engineers and consultants areworking behind the scenesto help organizations secure their digital and physical infrastructures � and prepare them for the new risks posed by a connected and collaborative world.
I�m only 50 or so pages into Kevin Kelly�s new book, What Technology Wants, but I can already tell it�s going to be a fascinating read.
A timely one, too, given we're only a few weeks away from the showdown between Watson and its human challengers.
More on Watson further down. First, a description of Kelly's book straight from the publisher:
This provocative book...suggests that technology as a whole is not a jumble of wires and metal but a living, evolving organism that has its own unconscious needs and tendencies. Kevin Kelly looks out through the eyes of this global technological system to discover "what it wants." He uses vivid examples from the past to trace technology's long course and then follows a dozen trajectories of technology into the near future to project where technology is headed.
Given this description and Kelly�s background as co-founder and former executive editor of Wired, I was surprised to on the first page that for most of his life he �owned very little, dropped out of college and for most of a decade wandered remote parts of Asia in cheap sneakers and worn jeans, with little time and no money.�1
Not surprisingly, though, this existence helped him develop an acute sense of the organic rhythms and reality of nature:
Living close to the land, I experienced the immediacy that opens up when the buffer of technology is removed. I got colder often, hotter more frequently, soaking wet a lot, bitten by insects faster, and synchronized quicker to the rhythm of the day and seasons.2
Good technology "can lift your soul"
These experiences helped Kelly develop an appreciation for truly great technology:
If my travels in the old world had taught me anything, it was that aspirin, cotton clothing, metal pots and telephones are fantastic inventions. They are good...Anyone who has ever held a perfectly designed hand tool knows that it can lift your soul.3
Steve from the moment I met him always loved beautiful products, especially hardware. He came to my house and he was fascinated because I had special hinges and locks designed for doors. I had studied as an industrial designer and the thing that connected Steve and me was industrial design. It wasn�t computing...Steve had this perspective that always started with the user�s experience; and that industrial design was an incredibly important part of that user impression.
Technology evolves like we do
In chapter three, History of the Seventh Kingdom, Kelly draws a convincing parallel between the evolution of genetic organisms (amoebas, zebras, your uncle Bernie) and the evolution of technology � the sum total of which he refers to as the technium. Consider this passage:
The two share many traits: The evolution of both systems moves from the simple to the complex, from the general to the specific, from uniformity to diversity, from individualism to mutualism, from energy waste to efficiency, and from slow change to greater evolvability.4
A few sentences later, he explains how disparate ideas within the technium often merge into entirely new entities:
Most new ideas and new inventions are disjointed ideas merged. Innovations in he design of clocks inspired better windmills, furnaces engineered to brew beer turned out to be useful to the iron industry, mechanisms invented for organ making were applied to looms, and mechanisms in looms became computer software.5
Is it me, or does this sound a lot like a mashup?
Language is technology is language
On the next page, Kelly explores the importance of language - specifically language as a technology:
A prime example would be the transformation of alphabets (strings of symbols not unlike DNA) into highly organized books, indexes, libraries and so on (not unlike cells an organisms).6
Transitions, Kelly writes, are a key part of evolution. Just as single-celled organisms transform into multi-cell organisms (outlined on page 46), technological evolution drives a transformation from oral culture to writing and mathematical notation (outlined on page 47).
Language drives transition
No transition in technology, he continues, has affected our species, or the world at large, more than the creation of language:
Language enabled information to be stored in memory greater than an individual�s recall...The invention of writing systems for language and math structured this learning even more. Ideas could be indexed, retrieved, and propagated more easily. Writing allowed the organization of information to penetrate into many aspects of everyday life.6
Where Watson and business analytics come in
This, I thought, is where Watson comes in. It's also, I thought, why Watson is so important, not only to the evolution of the technium, but also to business analytics. Here are three reasons why:
First, Watson relies on those highly organized books, indexes to find the responses to the Jeopardy! clues. As a self-contained system, its algorithms must be able to quickly access and analyze every piece of data from nearly infinite perspectives. It must also trust the accuracy of the data for its confidence algorithms to be of any value. This isn�t far removed from the queries you do on your structured corporate data every day, or the trust your users place in the data they receive from those queries.
Second, as odd as it may sound, you could view your data as a �living� entity in continual transformation. In nearly every organization, text now merges with audio, data cubes mesh with images to create entirely new sources of business insight. It's a much more accurate reflection of the world's activity and knowledge, and Watson must make sense of it to beat the world�s best. As a BI professional, you need to make sense of this same complex mix of data types to drive better business outcomes.
Finally, Watson is driving another important transformation in what many computer scientists see as the final frontier in human-computer interaction: solving natural language.
For we humans, language codifies knowledge, thereby enabling it to be shared down through generations and across different communities to share ideas and drive progress. In a similar vein, the most effective business analytics deployments rest on effective communication between IT and Business, in which definitions, expectations, time lines and thresholds are all commonly agreed upon and widely shared.
Should Watson beat the Jeopardy! champs it will show us the way to reach - and perhaps surpass - that final frontier. In doing so it has the potential to make world of insights instantly available to anyone who asks. And given how many questions come up in a typical business analytics deployment, that possibility should be enough to get anyone excited.
A quick note to shine the light on some upcoming and excellent events from across the IBM Business Analytics spectrum. Some are live and repeated in a global roadshow, some are online (then to be available on-demand). I'll be attending as many of these as humanly possible (curse you, space-time continuum!) and I'd encourage you to do the same. I've listed them below, in order of appearance on the Gregorian Calendar for the year 2011, with a link to their respective Web sites for more info.
Business Analytics Government Forum: January 28, Ottawa, ON Business Analytics Government Forum 2011 has been designed to enable you to learn and discuss how to improve performance outcomes within your department, regardless of which level of government you are in. Through general sessions, expert panels, and breakout sessions, you will learn how to:
Align strategic goals with program performance
Model alternative program strategies through �what if� analysis
Manage key performance indicators on an ongoing basis
Make informed budgeting decisions and reallocate resources most effectively
Prepare for the government of the future at our special Government 2020 panel discussion
IBM Finance Forum (North America) 2011: Starting February 8 in San Jose
Join us to learn how leading finance teams are meeting these challenges and driving greater value through better analytics and business insight. Hear David Axson, author of The Management Mythbuster and Best Practices in Planning and Performance Management, describe the tactics, tools and disciplines that can help you:
Deliver insightful analytics to drive sustainable growth of revenue and profit
Ensure effective management of risk
Reduce the cost and improve of the quality of compliance
Strengthen financial governance through improved transparency
Attract, develop and retain talented finance professionals
Join us on March 2 for the 4th Annual IBM Global Online Education Conference. Learn how analytics and performance management software from IBM is helping schools and universities take advantage and make sense of their rich data so they can monitor performance levels against scarce funds, all the while freeing up principals and deans to lead and teachers and professors to teach. See how to use analytics to get insight into data so you can improve student and teacher performance, drive recruitment, manage endowment, lower program costs, drive improved student outcomes and more. Learn more or sign up now.
It's funny, the way we perceive time in the technology industry. In this, the most forward-thinking, fastest-moving industry our perception of what constitutes a "long time" is being continually cut short. Before being aquired by IBM, Cognos took pride in its 30-plus years of existence - long enough to found, shape and re-make an entire section of enterprise software. Our own group saw IBM Cognos 10 as part of that 30-year journey toward better business outcomes through better and more innovative uses of corporate data.
In our new, social age, we see ideas become concepts become prototypes become products in the space of a few months. On Twitter, a rumor can start, spread, correct itself and delve into self-parody all in a few hours. We think back to the 486 computers and applications we used to write our undergrad assignments through a haze of nostalgia at "how things used to be."
All of this makes today so remarkable.
Today, IBM kicked off the celebration of its centennial year with a rich new Web focus on 100 Icons of Progress - a retrospective of the tremendous innovations and business visionaries who in shaping the course of IBM technology have driven many of our society's greatest achievements. In the new video below, 100 people take us through those innovations and in doing so, create a remarkable through line connecting the promise and and potential of our emerging Smarter Planet with the motto created by the company's founder, Thomas J. Watson: THINK.
This is but the first of many posts that my colleagues and I will be devoting to IBM at 100. I hope you enjoy them. For as much as this year is about looking back at what's changed and what IBM has changed, our Age of Analytics is just getting started.
Thoughtful, collective idea-making is clearly the way forward for innovative companies. Business intelligence (BI) cannot exist in a vacuum; shared insights result in better, smarter decisions.
So, when IBM set out to revolutionize BI with Cognos 10, collaboration became a key capability. After all, how effective is a sales review process if the projects and initiatives contributing to sales results are not visible and stakeholders and expectations are not clear? Or how can you address customer service issues if you don�t have a single point of reference for notes, actions, links to reports and dashboards and information?
Everyone involved in a decision or a solution needs to know who else is involved, what transpired before they were asked to contribute and what other ideas are out there for that decision or solution.
When you combine BI software with collaborative software, everyone wins. And that�s why Cognos Business Intelligence software capitalizes on the collaborative features of Lotus Connections.
It�s also the reason I�ll be attending Lotusphere and I�m hoping I�ll see you there. For those of you who are attending, here are 10 things you can do to prepare.
1.Follow me on Twitter. I will be tweeting updates throughout the conference, along with information about the collaborative BI vision, what I am learning and what others are learning from me. I'll be using the #cognos10 and #ls11 tags.
2. Make a note of the IBM Cognos software sessions at Lotusphere. Join us at one or more of these sessions to learn more about IBM Cognos BI and visit us on the solution showcase floor to chat one-on-one with experts and view live demos that show how IBM Cognos software can address the needs of diverse users who want to know more, do more and make smarter decisions:
Monday, January 31:
1:00pm-2:00pm, SW Pelican
ID310 � IBM Cognos 10 Business Intelligence: Smarter Decisions. Better Results
Speaker: Brendan Farnand
2:15pm-3:15pm, SW Pelican
ID311 � Managing the Social Media Maturity Cycle for IT Professionals
Speaker: Chris Wright
Tuesday, February 1:
10:00am -11:00am, SW 1-2
INV111 � Making Decisions Collaboratively with Cognos Business Intelligence and Lotus Connections
Speaker: Gene Villeneuve
Wednesday, February 2:
Day 3 Keynote Panel Session with Chris Dziekan
11:15am -12:15pm, DL S Hemisphere II
INV113 � Connecting People with Insight: Becoming an Analytics-driven Organization
Speaker: Eric Sall
ID906 � Lotus and Cognos Business Intelligence: A Powerful Combination
Speaker: Dan Galt
Thursday, February 3:
11:15am - 12:15pm, SW 1-2
INV206 � Collaborative Decision Making (featuring 4 demos illustrating the value of Cognos BI and Lotus products)
Speakers: Ted Stanton and George Brichacek
3. Learn how collaborative BI can enable better decision-making by viewing my archived Techtalk webinar. You can register at the Techtalk website and download the webinar to hear me talk about collaborative BI. I use live demos to show you how IBM Cognos 10 delivers built-in collaboration and social networking so working groups can engage in more meaningful ways; powerful decision networks for sharing insights and creating a "corporate memory" and the transparency and accountability to drive alignment and audit decision-making process.
5. Check out theexcellent blog post by Tina Groves, Senior Product Manager for Collaborative Decision Making, Business Analytics, IBM. Tina uses real-world examples to demonstrate how the integration of Cognos Business Intelligence and Lotus collaboration software can benefit your company. You can also follow Tina on Twitter.
6. Discover what David Menninger, VP and Research Director for Ventana Research, thinks of Cognos 10, Lotus Connections and collaboration in �Cognos 10 Breaks Down Barriers To Business Intelligence and Analytics.� Here�s a teaser: �Cognos 10 recognizes that BI is part of a decision-making process and includes collaborative capabilities to support that process.�
7. Get a glimpse of how collaboration can help create the ideas that drive better business outcomes in an earlier article on this blog, called �Collaboration, inspiration and the connected mind.� Because we now have the means to apply the principles of collaboration and creativity in our work and lives, it is now easier than ever to nurture the next great idea.
8.Visit the Collaborative BI page on ibm.com. This page is full of good information about the Cognos Business Intelligence collaboration capability and includes a demonstration of the built-in collaboration features of Cognos Business Intelligence. Just click on the banner at the top.
10.Visit the Lotusphere web pageto learn more. This page provides previews of the conference, updates you on special events, provides you with registration information and gives you the lowdown on all the sessions. You can also join the Lotusphere social media page and join in the Lotusphere conversation.
I challenge anyone working in the IT industry � or anyone with even a casual interest in technology � to visit the new IBM 100 Icons of Progress web site and not lose track of time. The site is intended as a retrospective of a century of IBM innovation, but in a lot of ways it tells the history of large portions of the modern world � that is, the history of stuff we take for granted today that no one could imagine 100 or 50 or even 25 years ago. A few of my favorite highlights:
Er, keep up the good work. In a single, two-page letter dated January 26, 1939 (see the left-hand sidebar) IBM chief scientist James Bryce updated president Thomas Watson on progress made on such projects as recording data magnetically, replacing mechanical computing devices with electronics, using photoelectric cells and light rays for high-speed computing, and a computing array for performing calculations related to �the study of physics, astronomy, electricity, television and the like.� Do you think Bryce got a bonus?
The Da Vinci (of the UPC) Code. N. Joseph Woodland patented the concept behind UPC codes �� a printed pattern that could be scanned and converted to digital data � in 1952, but the idea couldn�t be put to use until optical scanning became practical in 1973. That means Woodland envisioned a scanning system before anyone knew there could be, well, scanning. Okay, maybe it�s not on a par with Da Vinci imagining the personal computer before anyone knew there would be electricity. But it�s still pretty visionary.
When I was a kid, we walked five miles to school�but that was a picnic compared to programming. Before there were keyboards or punchcards, programmers �wrote� programs using the plugboard, a device that looks like it was designed by a very bitter and sadistic 1920s telephone operator. The IBM 1401 may have been the first computer that was compact, flexible and affordable enough to bring computing to the corporate masses, but you have to believe programmers remembered it most fondly as the computer that wrote the plugboard�s obituary.
Guest post by Dan Potter. product marketing lead, IBM Cognos Mid-Market Business Unit.
Let�s face it. The last few years have been more than a little challenging. To survive, many midsize companies pulled up their bootstraps and trudged on with a simple mantra: cut costs and gain efficiencies.
But times are changing. Signs of a gradual economic improvement are making midsize companies feel bullish about 2011. In fact, a new focus is emerging as midsize companies are dramatically shifting their efforts to place more emphasis on growth and innovation.
The findings are made clear in the just released IBM study, Inside the Midmarket: A 2011 Perspective. When asked about their strategic mindset, 79% of midsize companies cited customers, innovation and growth as their major priorities, with 21% primarily focused on reducing costs and increasing efficiency. Compared with last year�s data, this represents a dramatic shift of more than 30 points.
Moving from a defensive, cost-cutting strategy to an offensive strategy centered on innovation and growth sounds simple. But what practical steps can a midsize company take to put growth and innovation at the top of its strategic and operational agendas?
Many are making better use of the information and resources already available to them. By turning information into actionable business insights they can increase productivity, attract and retain customers and improve competitive positioning � all within a cost-effective business model.
Here are three methods for implementing a forward-looking, growth-based strategy:
1. Make business analytics a top priority. Most companies have a mountain of information that sits idle or is used sporadically. With business analytics solutions you can corral trusted information and make it available to the decision makers who need it. Fast.
2. Join forces with IT. Technology has moved from being a back office function and enabler of cost reduction to a driver of growth and value. Focus on finding the right balance between empowering business users with self-service access and maintaining the control and governance required.
3. Demonstrate value early and often. The demands of today�s �new normal� financial environment require that midsize firms remain focused on efficiency and cost control. This includes finding cost-effective business analytics solutions that help manage costs and drive growth.
Want to get a handle on your company�s current business analytics capabilities? Use this online business analytics ROI assessment tool. And for an easy and affordable entry point into business analytics, check out IBM Cognos Express, an integrated reporting, analysis and planning solution purpose-built for midsize companies.
Young government employees want instant information for decisions on the fly. Citizens want instant responses and demonstrated value for their taxes. Business analytics solutions make both of these outcomes possible, but Smarter Governments need both business analytics and visionary leadership to drive improved results. This was among the themes Business Analytics Government Forum, held last Friday in a snowy and overcast Ottawa.
Attendees from the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government had the chance to discover innovative solutions and discuss their views on the myriad challenges they�re facing. Be they revising outdated budgeting processes, breaking down information silos, revamping organizational hierarchies or a combination thereof, there was no shortage of insights and opinions on-hand. This was particularly apparent during the closing Government 2020 panel discussion featuring three individuals well-versed in the area of analytics and performance management in the public sector.
Jon Desenberg, Senior Policy Director, The Performance Institute, who served as moderator.
David Pratt, CMA, Partner, Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM Global Business Services.
Rob Dolan Jr., Worldwide Government and Education Industry Executive, IBM Business Intelligence and Performance Management.
The questions to the audience were simple:
What does success look like in 2020?
How do we change or improve the way government leaders use analytics?
Read on to discover their answers and insights:
Jon Desenberg: Governments are seeing an influx of younger employees who have very different expectations for how a workplace should operate and how a government should serve its citizens. What is the impact of this demographic change on the way governments operate?
David Pratt: The younger population is using technology in very different ways that current civil servants do. When they get into management ranks the decision-making style in government is going to change. They�re extremely agile. They know how to source and use information and they�ll want to make decisions on the fly. That�s not the way we plan now.
There�s a shift to agile and real-time planning that�s going to happen in the bureaucracy and at the political level. Governments need to plan now for what that�s going to look like and put that infrastructure in place. Technology is certainly part of it, but culture and process are big parts, too. It�s a more grassroots-up approach.
Jon Desenberg: Does this change the traditional government hierarchy?
David Pratt: I think you�re going to see more honeycomb-shaped structures rather than a vertical hierarchy. Management teams are going to have to come together from different groups to tackle one problem, then disperse and recombine in different ways to address another. That�s already started and it�s going to get much more prevalent. Governments and businesses are becoming much more project-based. Teams come together and work for a period of weeks, not years.
Jon Desenberg: Rob, you�ve seen governments in transformation all around the world. What can you tell us about this shift?
Rob Dolan: You could call it the �Amazon effect.� People expect 24/7 access to government, and that�s a challenge because most governments aren�t used to providing services or access that way. Citizens want instant access to their government and instant responses from their government, whether they�re doing business with it or just want simple tax information. That�s what governments are struggling with right now. It�s not traditional but it�s going to accelerate and change the way governments deliver services.
Jon Desenberg: There are a lot of information silos that get in the way of better performance and better outcomes. Why do we still struggle to break through them to share knowledge? What are the incentives and disincentives to change?
David Pratt: A lot of it has to do with culture. Change needs to happen in service delivery across the organization to make sure there are consistent and reliable performance metrics that are shared across organizations and that management and citizens are holding people accountable.
Question from the floor: You�re talking about a fundamental change in how organizations work. Currently, from a performance management point of view, many of the tools we rely on are aligned to the organizational structure. How does this new honeycomb structure affect the tools we use?
Rob Dolan: You need to look at the goal or the mission that an organization is tasked to deliver � to find the commonalities among those silos and leverage them. Take juvenile crime rates, for example. Increases are often driven by higher student truancy ratings. But most police forces don�t enforce truancy rules. Likewise, school boards can�t arrest students for committing crimes. But both organizations have a vested interest in making sure they share information about truancy rates because we know that the longer kids stay in school, the less likely they are to commit crimes. You need to find leadership that�s willing to challenge the traditional way of doing things.
David Pratt: This is a challenge in the private sector as well. When you look at performance measures, you need to look at life from the outside in, not the inside out. Organizational structures are irrelevant when you look at an issue from the citizen�s point of view.
Rob Dolan: Take performance-based budgeting. it�s based on an end goal, regardless of who is actually contributing. It�s designed to cut across silos. If the goal is to combat homelessness and there are three organizations responsible for doing that, then the measurable goal is what should be funded and the associated metrics are carried across all three organizations. The goals need to take precedence over the budget. When that happens you avoid the collisions and arguments that often come into play.
Jon Desenberg: Two terms I keep hearing are �data calls� and �data overload.� We�re still not making intelligent decisions with all the information we collect. Many of us are tasked with gathering it for unknown people, and it�s probably useless. How did we end up here? How do we get away from this?
Rob Dolan: Data overload happens when we try to measure everything. And we often use �data� and �information� interchangeably, but there�s a distinct difference between them. The remarkable thing about this generation that�s coming on board now is their innate ability to filter information and decide what�s relevant to them.
David Pratt: Governments also need to know where they�re going to put this expertise. CMAs are now learning strategic analytics and using complex algorithms. We need to think about how we take advantage of these abilities that are coming into the workforce.
Rob Dolan: At IBM we�re working with colleges around the world to train people to become more analytical. They�re no longer in the back room � they�re in the front office, looking at how analytics can be supplied across the board. These people are in very high demand.
Jon Desenberg: Who should people responsible for analytics and performance management report to?
David Pratt: There�s a lot of debate on this subject. I don�t think they should be in Finance, because that discipline is too biased toward financial markets and results. It�s not based on business outcomes. Analytics departments should report to the operational side, where the emphasis is on outcomes and citizen interactions, where you want to know if what you�re spending is having the desired effect, not whether or not you�re spending to meet your budget.
Question from the floor: Sometimes a switch to new metrics doesn�t paint as positive a picture as before. How do you deal with the impact and cultural issues that result?
Rob Dolan: Sometimes it�s leadership. Take Clark County, Nevada. Their Family Services Department had to change the way they provided services, so they brought in a new person who said �Our goal is to keep children safe. It doesn�t matter what we did before.�
Question from the floor: Where does the panel see the greatest impact of the private sector on government analytics in the coming years?
David Pratt: Customer Relationship Management. The algorithms that companies in Telco and Retail are putting behind their search engines and pricing and recommendation engines to segment their customers are just amazing. They�re building dynamic pricing and services engines that operate in real time and they�re learning a tremendous amount about their customers.
Another area is social analytics. Companies are using analytics solutions to scour blogs, message boards and other social sources to find out what their customers think of their products and marketing campaigns. Governments can take the same approach to find out what citizens think of their policies and and initiatives.
Jon Desenberg: What�s one thing we can do to get our leadership to pay more attention to metrics?
David Pratt: We need to act as citizens. If we want answers, we need to ask for them.
Rob Dolan: Agreed. It�s us. If governments have put data online, it�s because we�re demanding that access. Governments need to provide that information because the generation behind us will take no prisoners.
This just in: The deadline to submit your entry to the Gartner BI Excellence Award is March 16, 2011, with winners announced at Gartner's BI Summit event May 2-4 in Los Angeles.
A short list of Finalists will be selected from the applications by a team of Gartner analysts. Criteria will be based on levels of maturity and scope of applications. The BI Excellence Award candidates will define their solution using the Framework outlined in the Gartner research note titled Business Intelligence, Analytics and Performance Management Framework.
Winners will receive at snazzy trophy, plus two passes to the event and boatloads of press.
If Watson shows us where analytics is going tomorrow, what does it mean for the solutions you use today? I sat down with three IBM Cognos product experts to get their take on the opportunities Watson presents to business analytics software. With me were:
Don Campbell, IBM Distinguished Engineer and Chief Technology Officer for IBM Business Analytics
Craig Statchuk, Software Architect,Technology and Innovation, IBM Cognos software
Colin Moden, Product Manager for IBM Cognos software
Don Campbell: Increased confidence for better decisions
There are two aspects that are commonly thought of in large-scale analytics: size and speed. The first one says �I have a whole bunch of data that I can analyze� and the second one says �I can do this quickly.� I can do both of these because I can massively scale.
Watson has a few elements that make it different and applicable to business analytics. The first is understanding different kinds of questions, because when we�re in our business we need to understand the questions in front of us as well. Another is that it breaks down the question and attacks it in parallel and in different ways. It looks for the answer from a variety of sources � celebrity factoids, puns and language tricks, structured and statistical information - and then pulls all that information together for a single answer. When we think about business analytics, that�s the value that we bring to customers today by pulling together what Sales says about a customer, what Marketing says about a customer and what Competitive Intelligence says about a customer. We pull all those things together into one answer for a decision. Watson also introduces the confidence element, which I think business analytics will need to deal with more and more. Yes, there�s lots of information out there to draw from to find an answer - especially once you go out into the social realm and start scouring the blogs and Twitter feeds. But how confident are you that you'll get the right answer? Watson can find possible answers to a question but it also knows how confident it is in the different domains it�s searching. Then it rolls these confidence levels together and looks for corroboration between what it saw when it looked for something similar in previous questions. From there, it can determine whether it has enough overall confidence to buzz in.
The confidence element is really important because in Jeopardy!, you actually lose money for giving the wrong answer. In business, you lose money as well. Confidence is a really big part of the problem that we as humans in management teams frequently overlook, and that�s what I think makes Watson more relevant to a typical business problem than number crunching on its own.
Watson�s Deep QA technology is also a very interesting place for us, because I can imagine all kinds of assisted decision-making capabilities that it could bring, especially at those decision points that are very real time � when people can�t sleep on it, or consult with 10 people before deciding what do to. This is what we enable today through various technology capabilities and human intervention. But with Watson as a growing part of what we have in our back pocket, we can streamline a lot of the things we do today and do it in a more facilitated way. It�s all in line with making informed decisions from disparate content.
Craig Statchuk: Better semantics for more effective query and search
Watson highlights 3 research concepts I am very familiar with.
The first is UIMA (Unstructured Information Management Architecture), which is a way to categorize and add expertise in vertical subject areas. You may buy a generic decision-making system that knows how to deal with HR, but doesn�t know manufacturing, logistics or sales. UIMA is used to train these systems to more fully understand source context so they ultimately do a better job digging for answers.
The second concept deals directly with business intelligence (BI) where we have consistently strived to find �the single version of the truth.� Now we�re starting to better understand a concept that I describe as �the best supported version of the truth.� With deep analysis of Big Data sources, we�re finding the multiple data lineage paths that improve search recall and disambiguation. This will advance our governance and decision-making capabilities because we provide answers that are backed with the greatest amount of primary data while highlighting inconsistent and incorrect data. This technology is still in its infancy but I think Watson is showing us the way.
I came from the search side of the business. We have always done statistical indexing of terms and words. In recent years, we�ve added UIMA-style topic categorization. The result: we find the best match for a handful of simple keyword terms. But answering questions � and actually understanding the implied semantics � is at the other end of the spectrum. Watson teaches us the value of Natural Language Processing or NLP. This helps us understand the context and semantics of your search question � including the subtle nuances of what you meant. When we apply more of this technology to search, we�ll have systems that can disambiguate your questions and ultimately answer queries like �Which manufacturing components had the greatest supplier cost increases last quarter?� or �What are that factors that will negatively affect sales next month?�
The last thing to keep in mind is that Watson is getting smarter the more it �plays� because it has an algorithm that rates its own success. In other words, Watson it is calculating its own �return on investment� with every round it plays. We are doing the same with business analytics software by adding algorithms that manage and improve themselves.
Colin Moden: Thinking beyond the data warehouse
We see Watson as leading-edge research in the area of analytics. Like the Apollo program, we expect to see spin-offs in technology that's developed from projects like this into commercial solutions.
The history of analytics and data warehousing has focused very much on the numeric domain to help people understand of what they did as an organization in the past. But understanding where you've been won't work if you want to make the forward-looking decisions that optimize business outcomes.
Our world is becoming increasingly instrumented, intelligent and interconnected - it's getting smarter. And to optimize outcomes on a smarter planet you need to take into account of a lot of other types of information, We need to answer questions like What do our customers think of our products? What are competitors up to? How many customers enter our store and leave without buying anything? What route did they take? Online retailers have been doing this kind of analysis for a while; now it's possible to do - and even automate - in a physical store as well.
The information sources you need to analyze, though, are much more diffuse, much more unstructured and require a "mining type" mentality. Think about mining the Web, in particular the blogosphere. Think about processing RFID information, web log information, satellite pictures, even weather predictions. Making good decisions means analyzing data from an increasingly wider perspective.
The technology being pioneered in Watson provides an opportunity to continue that journey by further exploring future strategic business analytics capabilities. I'm thinking of searching large data sets, processing text with semantic and context understanding, responding to questions that require statements rather than numbers, evaluating possible responses with a degree of confidence.
That last area is very interesting to me, because not everything is certain or totally unknown. There are many shades of grey in between and it's quite different from the traditional data warehousing mentality. For example: suppose Watson told you that 10 percent of your customers can't figure out the camera on your smartphone and give up on it, and that figure is accurate within five percent 19 times out of 20. Is it definitive? No, but is it good enough to do something about to keep them happy and using your product? Most likely.
Traditional business intelligence - the kind that helps you understand the numbers - isn't going away. But it's going to be part of a broader solution. For example, IBM Cognos Consumer Insights is based on Hadoop.
Watson is ample evidence of the IBM ability to capture the market with an ambitious vision and deliver leading-edge innovation that delivers real value to our clients and the world. As we and our customers move forward on a journey toward better decisions and better business outcomes we'll continue to leverage the innovative technology developed through IBM Research.
What's your take on Watson?
Create an account on the IBMWatson Social Media Aggregator to share your views and see what others are saying in one convenient spot! (Be sure to tag your blog posts and tweets #IBMWatson)
Begin your own journey to better business outcomes
David Axson is the author of From Data to Decisions � Best Practices in Planning and Management Reporting (Wiley 2003), Best Practices in Planning and Performance Management (Wiley 2007) and The Management Mythbuster (Wiley 2010).
He's also the keynote speaker at more than 20 of this year'sIBM Finance Forumevents. I had the chance to talk to him last week and on the eve oftomorrow's kickoff event in San Jose, we look back at his 2007 interview and ahead to Finance priorities in 2011.
Let's go back in time for a bit to look at some of your observations from March 2007. It was only three years ago, but already it seems like a lifetime. You said: The major change now is a ready acceptance from CEOs and CFOs that business as usual is no longer acceptable. They're having to create more flexible and more adaptive risk-aware performance management practices that can accommodate the reality of their current environment. That sounds great. It�s a solution that any CFO would want. So how well did they do? Is finance any more flexible? Are CFOs any more risk�aware?
It�s pretty interesting, because I wouldn�t take back a word of what I said. But we were at the beginning of the journey at that point. And we�ve almost taken a two to three year time out. Not long after that interview the cracks began to emerge, particularly in the housing market here in the U.S. As we went through 2008 things began to get bleaker and bleaker until that fateful day on September 15 when Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. So I don�t think we�ve made a lot of progress on that route, and therefore, if there was any doubt that this was important three years later, it�s gone. Everyone knows that we need to do this.
In that same interview, you said: Perhaps the biggest change is that we're now seeing systems and technology that can deliver the things we've been asking for for a long time � real time information, rich analytical toolsets, the ability to share collaborate on information as you go through a planning and decision-making process. It's our fault if we don't leverage it fully. Has finance taken advantage of these new tools? If not, why not?
�Again, it was a time out. When the crisis happened, the usual actions took place. Projects were frozen, budgets were cut and basically it was �all hands to the pump� just getting the job done � restructuring businesses, cutting costs, trying to get expenses back in line with falling revenues.
Quite frankly that was the right reaction. We were dealing with an environment that wasn�t quite unprecedented, and with government stimuli and bailouts happening all around the world there was real tension in the system about whether it would hold together or not. Finance has had to do a lot of dirty work during the last three years.
The interesting thing is that during those years, the pace of technology development hadn�t slowed. The tools now are richer and certainly more cost-effective, so the opportunity is still there. There�s never been a better time to make the business case. If you go to a your CEO and say �Let me explain to you what happened to our business over the past three years and what the implications are for our finance team.� If you can make the case for investing in tools that help you better forecast, better manage risk and do it with shorter cycle times so you can integrate your analytics into your decision-making process, that�s a very compelling and powerful case to make today.
The beauty of the toolsets is that you can apply them where the pain is greatest and deploy them more broadly from there. A lot of the companies I�ve been speaking to in preparation for IBM Finance Forum are delivering tangible value from their implementations in 90 days. That makes it easier to sell the change and also to build momentum so you can deploy more broadly as you push them out and start to think about global implementations.
Let�s look at Finance in 2011. Depending on who you talk to you there are some flickers of a recovery in the global economy. What is Finance going to be asked to deliver, and if you�re a CFO, how will your performance be evaluated?
The basics haven�t changed. Integrity and accuracy are still paramount. Some flaws were exposed in some systems and processes over the last few years, so ensuring integrity and accuracy for internal and external consumption remains job one. But that�s the price of admission. Doing that alone won�t make you a great CFO.
Beyond that, risk management and analytics are the becoming the two principal differentiators for finance organizations that are really contributing successfully. Outside of the financial services sector, where you typically have a chief risk officer, in most other organizations that position is largely an add-on to the CFO�s role. So the ability to understand your risk profile � and I�m not just talking about financial risk, but reputational risk, technology risk, risk of business interruption � the CFO is on the hook for assuring you have the right risk management and mitigation strategy in place.
The second major component is analytics. The window for making profit is increasingly transitory. We�re dealing with a global market that responds far more quickly than it has in the past. Companies need to identify those profit opportunities in very short order and very quickly translate that into execution. So the ability for Finance to craft insightful analysis and more importantly ensure that it�s acted upon will be the key.
You write about Finance needing to go the �last mile.� Can you explain the concept?
We�ve accomplished quite a bit in Finance over the last 20 years. Productivity has skyrocketed. Costs have come down dramatically and we can now support much larger organizations with finance teams that are the same size as they were 20 years ago. A lot of that has been due to retooling infrastructure. But what we haven�t yet done is go the last mile � in telecom that�s a euphemism for the network connection to your home or office � and that�s really the point of tension. There�s a phenomenal capacity out there, but without going that last mile, your ability to benefit from it is really limited.
Finance has done the same thing. We�ve now got a pretty solid infrastructure in place. We�ve done a lot of the heavy lifting around integration of sub-ledger and transaction processing systems with ledgers, we�ve built data warehouses. A lot of that heavy technology is in place. But if you ask the average finance professional how their job has changed, they�ll tell you that back then they used Lotus 1-2-3 and now they use Microsoft Excel.
The potential to go that last mile � to really drive insight around analytics and risk management - is the biggest opportunity that�s out there. There�s a compelling reason why it needs to happen so we can be much more agile and responsive to react to changes in the marketplace. I don�t think there�s anyone out there who would say they expect their business to become more predictable and less risky over the next five years.
�As the systems that run the way we work and live become smarter, the workplace as we know it is changing in significant ways. Everywhere we look, new devices, social collaboration, and shifting mindsets are transforming how we work today � how we share information, build relationships and make decisions.
Thanks to clever social software tools that make collaboration happen easily and naturally, new delivery models like cloud and mobile computing, and new ways of finding and sharing information, businesses are becoming social businesses � ones that are connected in a variety of ways, both inwardly and out.
Starting today, IBM is hosting a Social Business Jam -- a live online conversation with leaders from around the world about the growing influence of social technology in business� . . . and the new ways that work gets done.
The Yukon Quest kicked off last Saturday and upon hearing the news I immediately thought of another important kick off � namely, IBM Finance Forum 2011, our annual event series for Finance professionals that begins today in San Jose.
What? You don�t see the connection?
Let me explain.
The Yukon Quest is a 1,000-mile sled race between Fairbanks, Alaska and Whitehorse, Yukon. Physically and mentally grueling for driver and dog alike, the Quest traverses some of the harshest, coldest and loneliest of terrains. Not for the faint of heart, only the most serious mushers need apply.
Yes, "mushers" is the right word.
For 25 years, the Quest was a fixture in the calendar of one Frank Turner (no relation). Turner raced in the first Quest, won in 1995 and set a course record that stood for more than 12 years. Now retired from racing, Turner runs Muktuk Adventures, where from his home off the grid he leads less taxing one-day excursions, conducts team-building exercises and conducts leadership seminars.
If you have three hours to spare on a Sunday afternoon (as I did last fall), Turner will gladly give you a tour of his facilities, where you can meet more than 120 dogs and snack on home made brownies in his living room as he recounts tales of endurance and lessons for success.
An important transformation
There�s been a transformation in sled dog racing, Turner says. However fixed in the popular imagination, the crack of the whip has given way to a more enlightened, more analytical team-building approach. Now, he says, the best mushers build their teams over months of rigorous training and careful evaluation to learn each dog�s disposition, strengths and weaknesses. Some dogs excel in dry snow, some like the slush. Some dogs love running into the wind, others prefer to draft.
These days it�s not the best dogs that win, Turner says, but the best team. It�s not how hard you can push your dogs, it�s how well you can manage them to keep them motivated and happy. To that end, mushers must pay careful attention to each dog�s physical condition and keep precise records of each dog�s injuries and overall health throughout the race.
"Keenly and continually attuned" to their surroundings
Further, Turner explains that the best mushers are keenly and continually attuned to their race surroundings. One of his anecdotes involves a previous Quest winner (a former Green Beret) who rearranged his dogs in response to the sound of the snow coming off his sled rails. Why? Different sound, different snow.
What does all this have to do with Finance?
I see two connections. First, the transformation story. As David Axson will recount at more than 20 events across North America (Speakers and event details for European events are forthcoming) high-performing Finance departments are pursuing their own transformation away from pure cost-cutting toward a more agile, analytical and risk-aware mindset. Both transformations have been shown to drive better outcomes for everyone involved.
Anticipate and shape outcomes
The second (and for me more interesting) connection is the increasing need to anticipate and shape outcomes in your favor. Much like the most successful mushers, top-performing Finance departments don't explore analytics simply when there's a crisis. Instead, they make acting on insight a daily discipline that keeps them continually attuned to changes in their markets. Further, they build teams with the skills to anticipate and model different scenarios. They predict changes, understand their consequences, and act quickly to reallocate resources to maintain momentum, profitability and competitive advantage. They�re what the most recent IBM CFO Study refers to as Value Integrators and you�ll learn how to become one at IBM Finance Forum 2011.
Change your perspective
Neither sled dog racing nor Finance is for the faint of heart. The Yukon Quest is the pinnacle of the former, attracting the most experienced and most ambitious mushers. Whether you�re a CFO, or hoping to become one, you�ll be doing yourself a favor by attending one of our events. You may not yet be the lead dog on your team, but that doesn�t mean you can�t take steps now to change the view. Mush!
Such was my experience last night during the Jeopardy! online contestant trial. 50 questions covering everything from mollusks to luddites to ancient mariners and it was all over in less than 10 minutes. It's doubtful I was competing against Watson, but if the comments on the Jeopardy! Facebook page were any indication I was competing against nearly 200 other people.
The questions were served up automatically through a Flash interface. It wasn't a complete replication of the show experience because I didn't have to respond in the form of a question and thankfully, spelling didn't count. The toughest part was having the categories change with each question, which made it impossible to build up some momentum by increasing my familiarity with specific domains on the fly. Understanding the category titles added another processing step and with only 15 seconds to answer I thought I'd have a better chance of getting it right relying on the clue itself. This, I imagine, is why so many contestants focus on entire categories rather than skipping across them and it will be interesting to see if this is how Watson will plays when it has control of the board.
So, how did I do?
Unless any of us gets a call in the next few weeks we'll never know, because the Jeopardy! team doesn't reveal the answers. But of the 45 or so I did answer I was either completely certain or pretty confident of being right. I didn't guess on any, choosing instead to skip them altogether.
But even if I don't get the call it was an exciting, if taxing experience. "This must be what a database feels like," I thought to myself. "Non-stop queries coming at you from every conceivable domain, and a pressing demand for an immediate, accurate answer every time. And no prizes for second place."
Sounds like a typical day in the life of a business analytics professional, doesn't it? What if there was a better way to serve up all these answers?
Here, quite briefly, are the notes I took from last night's airing of The Smartest Machine on Earth on the PBS show NOVA. I had intended these to be paragraphs, but sometimes we don't get what we want. Enjoy!�
It�s official: Watson is a �He.�
10:08 PM ET: First reference to HAL.
The typical Jeopardy! contestant takes less than three seconds to buzz in.
Computers have historically struggled to understand subtleties and recognize objects, something that comes naturally to humans.
The question that got it all started: �What if a computer could play Jeopardy! as well as Ken Jennings?�
Great quote from David Ferrucci: �Maybe this isn�t as impossible as we think it is.�
Watson researchers plotted Jeopardy! winners and their scores in a cloud. �It was a scary metric,� wrote researcher David Gondek during the live blogging session. [But] to Dr. Ferrucci, �the cloud made it clear that Jeopardy! was about answering accuracy and confidence.�
Early struggles:Jeopardy! champions play at a 90 percent accuracy rate. Early versions of Watson struggled to get even 10 percent of the clues right.
Early Watson systems were fed hundreds of Jeopardy! questions. To answer them, Watson scanned and cross-referenced keywords in its database, but confused Edmund Halley with the Pink Panther.
Why Watson is different than Deep Blue: Chess is �easy� for computers to understand because the rules are clear and well-defined. The board has a fixed number of squares, each piece can only move in certain ways and there's only one goal: Capture the King. However, computers play it differently than humans. Whereas humans approach the game using strategic concepts (control the center, attack from the flanks), computers look at every possible move and play out the repercussions 40 steps ahead. It�s sheer brute force. Jeopardy! by comparison, is much less predictable.
Can you teach a computer common sense? Yes, up to a point. You can write code that tells it that �dead is forever� but the approach will never help it understand basic principles needed to answer sophisticated questions. For that, you need to pursue Machine Learning.
Machine Learning is the way computers learn that �A� is an �A,� whether it�s rendered in Helvetica, Uncial or Crayloa. Of the dozens of pieces of data that go into an answer, Machine Learning is the technique that helps it decide which pieces are important and which to drop. It replaces brute force with flexibility. It�s the same technology that�s used to generate predictive weather models and Netflix recommendations. Once Watson researchers turned down that path, the system�s accuracy headed straight for the champion cloud.
Watson�s audition in front of the Jeopardy! producers was �one of the tensest days� the team ever had. In the early days, the system wasn�t ready for prime time. The performance was too erratic and had trouble pronouncing Roman numerals: "Who is...Henry Veeee?"
Ferrucci: Watson is an information-seeking tool capable of understanding your questions and dialoguing with you to make sure you get what you want.�
To my ears, that last point sounds a lot like the conversations between IT and Business in a typical business analytics deployment. Could Watson be the bridge between these two solitudes?
Four years of research and the future of analytics are unveiled tonight at 7:30 PM Eastern, as Watson takes on Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter on a special three-day run of Jeopardy!
As of this writing, Watson remains in the lead in the Web visitors' poll at 55 percent. However, Brad Rutter has made significant gains at the expense of Ken Jennings, moving from single digits a few weeks ago to 26 percent, seven points ahead of Jennings. No doubt these numbers will shift again based on the outcomes of tonight's episode.
It's been a fascinating and fun ride so far, and if you're curious to know what Watson means for your own analytics-driven future, here are seven things you can do before tuning in:
I saw the future of analytics last night, and that future was fast.
Fast enough for Watson to jump ahead by a few thousand dollars, before Brad Rutter (and the audience) caught their breath and finally caught up.
With the questions getting more difficult in Double Jeopardy, tonight�s game one finale will no doubt be a barn burner. Blink and you�ll miss it.
Along those lines, Steve Baker had a great op-ed piece in the L.A. Times this morning that addressed some of the fears that Watson may engender to the casual observer. Whether he allayed them is a question for another day, but I think I can summarize his point this way:
The machines aren�t taking over. They�re taking us forward.
It's all too easy to see Watson do its thing and conclude that legions of such machines will soon relieve us of our brainwork and our jobs, if not our souls. In fact, machines like Watson will no doubt displace people who are paid to answer questions, probably starting with telephone call centers.But humans will adjust, as we always have. When our inventions, from tractors and cotton gins to spell-checking software, take over certain chores, we move to niches beyond the range of these tools. And believe me, after watching Watson in action for a year, I can assure you that there's plenty of room in the work world for the still-peerless human mind.
This, as I see it, is the true potential for Watson. Watson doesn�t �know� anything � at least not in the same way that we know things. But we can feed it raw data from our own vast stores of knowledge and experience. We can ask it questions that we thought were too difficult to answer. Or that we thought would take too long to answer. Or that we thought we had insufficient data to answer. And through its algorithms and sheer processing power, it can reveal things we didn�t know and reveal them sooner.
With every advance in technology comes a corresponding advance in our own capabilities. Watson can reveal insights about our business and our world that we can�t arrive at on our own. And ideas and insights are what drives us forward.
As Baker writes:
We've already outsourced long division, spelling and much of our highway navigation to machines. Now we'll look to them more and more to dig through mountains of data and come up with answers for us. This should free us up to do what remains uniquely human, at least for now: generating fresh ideas.
[T]he true implications of Watson�s technology will come after it retires from the stage and pursues a workaday career in offices and labs. That�s when Watson will shed its avatar and revert to its true nature, that of a powerful machine working for us, not against us. Watson will be a tool [...] Once you regard this technology as a powerful supplement to human cognition � and not a replacement � Watson suddenly starts to look much friendlier.
Fourth: After watching Jeopardy! for two nights now it finally hit me: Yes, Watson is a tremendous technological achievement. But the real story is what it says about our own human intelligence. It was invented by humans � incredibly smart ones, at that � and filled with humanity�s collective achievements. That it took IBM researchers four years to get here is a testament to the complexity the human mind. Watson is a fantastic way to augment humanity�s collective wisdom and achievements by making them available � instantly � to more people in the most natural way possible. That�s big. Moon landing big. And befitting of a company heading into its second century with its original motto - THINK - more in evidence than ever.
I ask that question not only of Watson itself, but of ourselves in the long-running and fascinating relationship between humans and the machines they create. Both questions are inextricably linked, and both have multiple answers. I�ll posit one for each:
First, Watson could go into production quite quickly. Many of its components are currently available and several industries � healthcare and finance, for example � are ideal candidates for first-phase proof-of-concept deployments. As the global economy emerges from the turmoil of the past three years, these industries � not to mention the various functions within them � will be more in need of answers and insights than ever before.
As for the second question, Watson could usher in a new and exciting chapter in the story. Now that the lights have come down on the Jeopardy! set, it� s no longer man versus machine, but man with machine. The former may have made for entertaining television, but it�s the latter that we must focus on now.
To that end, I�m inviting you to tune into today's TED Talk on the Future of Watson at 11:30 AM ET featuring members of the research team. You can submit your questions using #ibmwatson or #askwatson I'll also invite you to add your voice to our ongoing exchange on LinkedIn. Finally, I'll leave you with a few quotes from the people who put us down this exciting new path. Ours is becoming a Smarter Planet. Watson may bring us there sooner than we think.
�This was a big accomplishment for people.� Dr. David Gondek
�I would have thought that technology like this was years away.� Brad Rutter
"I think we saw something important today.� Ken Jennings
"Wow. This is history." Dr. Jennifer Chu-Carroll
"This is about taking technology to solve problems that people really care about." Dr. David Ferrucci
Hello all.���I'm Bryan Casey and as a market manager within the IBM Security Solutions organization I have the privilege of working with some of the smartest folks in the industry. It's an exciting time of the year to be in the security business with RSA happening this week and Pulse coming up at the end of the month. But before we all head down to Las Vegas, let's first take a quick stop in San Francisco.� �
RSAhas been dubbed as the conference where "the world talks security" and this year the world has been talking a lot about IBM.��With new product announcements, several IBM�led speaking sessions, client and business partner events, and the SC Magazine Awards,IBM's agendahas been full and exiciting.� While RSA is coming to a close, it's worth noting some of the key�conference highlights.�
�For the past 14 years SC Magazine has honored the achievements of the people and organizations that have made significant contributions within the field of IT Security. With over 650 annual nominations across a variety of categories, these awards take a very comprehensive view of the security industry. This year,�IBM Tivoli Identity and Access Asurance was selected as the Best Identity Management Application.� This is an great win for IBM�because the�dedication to providing innovative�security solutions as they relate people and identity is one of the core elements�of our overall strategy and of the IBM Security Framework.
�The�framework represents�the way we help�organizations approach security from a�holistic, business driven perspective, and IBM Tivoli Identity and Access Assurance was recognized as a leader�for its ability to help�organizations achieve�those results.� It gives the right users, the right access and information, at the right time.�
"It provides identity management from on-boarding users and assigning appropriate access rights, to changing user roles and modifying privileges, to terminating user access rights at the end of the user lifecycle.� Access management provides secure authentication of users, including unified SSO (enterprise, web, federated), and enforces access policies once the user has been authenticated.."
������ - SC Magazine
IBM Tivoli Identity and Access Assuranceadditionally reduces costs and headaches by automating several of the�key processes associated with compliance and audit.� To read more, you can read the SC Magazine Article by clicking here.�
It�was not the only IBM Security product that was recognized.� IBM Tivoli Access Manager for Enterprise Single Sign-On was a finalist for the Best Multifactor award, and IBM Security Network IPS was a finalist for the Best Web Application Firewall award.
Turns out there's a little bit of O-town know-how in the code coursing through Watson's massive brain. On the eve of Wednesday's finale, Vito Pilieci of the Ottawa Citizen reported that a team from the Ottawa IBM lab contributed to the Java Virtual Machine that helps move masses of information through Watson's internal networks at astoundingly high speeds.
�The team here in Ottawa has been developing virtual machine technology for years,� said Rob White, director of the Ottawa software lab site. �It was very natural that the Java Virtual Machine would underpin the Watson project.� The Virtual Machine is a programming language that routes information quickly through a computer network. In effect, the employees at the Ottawa labs provided a central nervous system for Watson allowing it to react quickly much like a person feels a pin prick in the finger the instant it happens thanks to nerves sending a pain signal to the brain."
The team celebrated with a "Watson Watch Party" at Oliver's pub at Carleton University and entertained questions from curious computer science students after the show.
Left to right, they are: Andrew Low, Rick Kenny, John Duimovich, Karl Taylor and Charlie Gracie. In front with the J9 t-shirt is Ken Walker. Congrats, guys!
David Axson is the author of From Data to Decisions � Best Practices in Planning and Management Reporting (Wiley 2003), Best Practices in Planning and Performance Management (Wiley 2007) and The Management Mythbuster (Wiley 2010). He's also the keynote speaker forIBM Finance Forumevents in North America. In the second half of my interview, we talk about making analytics a daily discipline and how he explainsIBM Finance Forumto his finance peers.
When you talk about getting analytics through that"last mile"and starting where the pain greatest, what does that look like?
A couple of points to preface that. First, we really need to get analytics out of the back room. At the moment, in many organizations, analytics are something we do when there�s a crisis. �Is there a major problem? Oh, we�d better analyze the root cause to make sure it doesn�t happen again.� Or it�s something we do when we have some spare time, which isn�t that often. Analytics needs to be a core capability. It needs to be part of the weekly agenda for the Finance organization and for the broader management organization.
One particular area of analysis I�m seeing companies focus on today is Revenue at Risk. Do you understand the portion of your revenue that is at risk? What is your exposure in your customer base in different markets? If you were doing all your business in the automotive sector over the past two or three years, you�d have had a pretty rough time. If you were doing similar business but were focused on military and defense contracting, you�d have weathered the storm a lot better.
A simple example: I sit on the board of my children�s school. It�s a private school in northeastern Ohio. We did a revenue at risk analysis of our parent population to understand the occupation of the parents who were writing the tuition cheques. We wanted to know our exposure to financial services and brokerage, to real estate, to construction. We were pleased to find that we had a very broad and well-diversified parent population. If we had done that analysis in this part of Ohio 20 years ago, we�d have had a heavy concentration of parents in manufacturing ,which would have put us at significant risk when the manufacturing sector had a downturn. In fact, the school almost when bankrupt in the early 80s for exactly that reason.
Instead, we now have a high preponderance of professionals � lawyers, doctors, accountants. There�s still some exposure to manufacturing in the industries that remain, but also a high percentage of people focused on education. That provided us with a comfort level that our exposure to revenue at risk was limited. This analysis was done by a two-person finance team in a 500-pupil school. If they can do it, anyone can do it.
Have you seen companies out there that are taking a similar approach? Who�s getting it right?
Certainly retail and hospitality have had a focus on yield management and margin management for a long time. You see rich analytics there.
In the financial services sector, which has been battered, one company that stands out is American Express, which has been very smart about profitability in its customer base. In 2009, the Wall Street Journal reported that the company was willing to write some of its customers cheques for $300 to take their business elsewhere. They�d discovered a segment of their customer base that cost them money, so it actually made sense to write them a cheque. There�s some cool stuff going on out there.
If you were sitting with a Finance professional, what would you tell them about IBM Finance Forum? What would they learn?
We�re seeing the global economy heal. There are some signs of growth � it seems a little patchy, but there are some green shoots out there. It really is time to think ahead. Finance largely took a time out over the last three years. We�re now seeing predictability return but we are seeing stability return. Now is the time to plan ahead and think about how Finance is going to make significant change over the next two years.
I�m going to talk about the Finance agenda for 2011 and beyond. Where we should be prioritizing our time and effort? There�s going to be very practical discussions about how we move forward, taking into account the lessons of the last three years, but also beginning to understand that this is the best opportunity we�ve ever had to integrate technology into our analytics and risk management practices, which as I�ve mentioned is no longer a nice to do, but imperative.
If you�re the CFO of a big box home improvement retailer, do you really need to know how to mix paint?
Not necessarily, but it doesn�t hurt.
Carol Tome, the CFO of $68 billion home improvement giant Home Depot, does know how to mix paint. She learned how in the course of her weekly visits to stores. And this particular bit of knowledge came in handy in 2009, when the company was deciding whether or not to spend millions on new paint-blending equipment for the 2,244-store chain.
The CFO as "strategic partner"
Tome was profiled in a recent story in Bloomberg Businessweek.1 She is a prime exemplar of the growing trend�and growing need�to get CFOs more involved in operations and more active as �strategic partners� in businesses of all kinds.
CFOs and finance organizations in virtually all industries are now being asked to go beyond the traditional duties of processing transactions and delivering financial reports. They�re being asked to contribute their perspectives on decisions across the entire enterprise agenda�in operations, sales, human resources, supply chain and more. In fact, in the IBM 2010 Global CFO Study, when asked to rank the importance of all their activities, CFOs named �providing inputs into enterprise strategy� as their number one priority.2
Collecting and reporting on data no longer enough: CFO magazine
CFO addressed this topic in its December, 2010 issue in an article titled "Strategic Inquisitions." �It�s not enough to simply collect and report on financial data,� said CFO. �You have to figure out how to help your companies capitalize on it.�3 CFO interviewed a diverse group of CFOs who were actively involved in creating and implementing corporate strategy and found that �[f]or CFOs, being �strategic� often hinges on addressing the many tasks that turn an idea into reality.� One CFO observed that, �finance training allows [CFOs] to understand the business, end-to-end. They are able to look at a strategic idea and see how it will connect across the company, in terms of impacting current business or accelerating it.� He added, �I don�t know why companies divide �financial analysis� from business analysis.� They�re the same thing.�
Experience in operations a plus
Another CFO, from a multi-billion dollar restaurant company, cited his experience in operations and marketing in helping to make him a better strategic partner. �My operations experience gave me great respect for the other disciplines as I engaged them from an accounting standpoint. � I am better equipped and more confident in how I support and fund the growth initiatives that come out of the strategic planning process.�
But how does a CFO gain operational insight? What if you�re not familiar with the nuts and bolts (or the eggshell and semi-gloss) of your particular business? While it�s useful for any executive to get out on the �shop floor� from time to time, the fact is that the economic turmoil of the last decade has produced significant turnover in the ranks of corporate CFOs. Thus, the Carol Tomes of the world, with 15 years of experience at one company, are something of a rarity. But CFOs and other finance people can bring the business reality, if not the sights and sounds of the shop floor, to them, in the form of operational KPIs and metrics based on input from people in all areas of the business. And they can do that with financial analytics software from IBM.
Three ways to get there
Here are three basic ways that CFOs and other finance leaders can use IBM Cognos technology to gain and share insights about operations:
1. Model the business to gain a better understanding of the drivers that affect performance. Use multiple dimensional views that include product, customer, region and sales channel.
2. Use scorecards and dashboards to monitor performance and align individual or departmental goals with long-term company goals. Link operational and financial KPIs and connect those KPIs to broader corporate strategy.
3. Perform �what-if� scenario planning to examine options for changing business conditions. Include factors such as cash flow, customer profitability, product profitability, and revenue performance.
When CFOs see timely, relevant operational metrics alongside their financial metrics, they gain a broader view of performance and the operational insight they need to be strategic business partners.
It�s also worth noting that, while knowledge of operations enables you to serve your company better as a CFO; it can also open the door to that other C-level office that many CFOs aspire to. In the case of Home Depot�s Carol Tome, her deep knowledge of the operational side of the business has helped to make her, in the words of Bloomberg Businessweek, �a leading contender to be the retailer�s next chief executive.�
Cognos users: Clarity Systems (now an IBM company) was acquired back in October 2010, to extend the IBM Business Analytics offerings within the Office of Finance and signal the company�s commitment to address financial governance and risk management.
Clarity Systems delivers financial governance software that enables organizations to automate the collecting, preparing, certifying and controlling of financial statements for electronic filing, in support of mandates by the SEC and other financial regulatory agencies.
Clarity Systems software � in particular, Clarity FSR � significantly reduces the risks of potential error and the lengthy times finance usually needs to create and file financial documents such as 10-Ks, 10-Qs, annual reports, quarterly reports, board book, and any other statutory or regulatory filings. The software allows finance professionals to seamlessly integrate information for more efficient planning, consolidation and financial reporting.
Together, IBM now has a comprehensive portfolio of business analytics software for financial professionals to plan, forecast and analyze performance, identify and manage key business risks, and report to external stakeholders with confidence.
Make yourselves comfortable, will you? I think you�ll have a lot to talk about.
First off, let�s talk Vision 2011: The 8th annual conference for Clarity Systems customers takes place May 15-18 at the Sheraton Dallas hotel. Already a must-attend event for current Clarity Systems customers, Vision 2011 � now bigger, and better and newly titled �The Premier Event for Financial Management� � also offers much that should pique the interest and encourage the attendance of IBM Cognos software users as well.
Expanded tracks and content: We�ve expanded from the typical two tracks to four to accommodate what is now a much more robust IBM analytics offering for the Office of Finance. You can view the track sessions and build an agenda here or read about the tracks below:
Track 1: Financial Governance: External Reporting Managers and Controllers will learn how the right technology and proven best practices can improve timeliness and quality in reporting, reduce risk; better facilitate audits; extend ERP transactional controls; drive confidence and efficiency; and effectively meet new regulatory demands, such as reporting in XBRL.
Track 2: Close, Consolidation & Reporting: Controllers and Financial Analysts will learn how to identify gaps and opportunities in their existing processes and use technology to reduce risk and optimize internal controls. Sessions will address the entire close and consolidation process, as well as management and regulatory reporting.
Track 3: Performance Reporting & Scorecarding: Controllers and Financial Analysts will see how scorecards are used to quantify and communicate performance metrics. They�ll also learn how executive management can leverage technology to gain greater insight and make better business decisions.
Track 4: Planning, Analysis & Optimization: Controllers, Financial Analysts and FP&A Managers will learn how their teams can use advanced technology and best practices such as driver-based planning and rolling forecasts to drive greater efficiency in the resource allocation decision-making process.
Second, a fantastic keynote speaker former SEC Chair Christopher Cox: From 2005 to 2009, Cox drove the technological modernization of the SEC, introducing most notably the mandate for XBRL and the EDGAR submission system in 2008. Happily, these very innovations drove the creation of Clarity FSR. Under Cox, the SEC oversaw the creation of a taxonomy of more than 11,000 XBRL data tags that catalog every element of U.S. GAAP. Cox�s insights should prove invaluable to you as you drive the modernization of the processes within your own organization.
Third: You�ll learn a lot: like how the leaders lead using business analytics. Thriving in our fledgling recovery means anticipating and shaping business outcomes, driving transparency to manage risk and drive better decisions. The 2010 IBM CFO study shows that companies that invest in business insight and finance efficiency to do this deliver 20x revenue growth, 49 percent greater EBIDTA growth and 30 percent higher ROIC compared to laggards. At Vision 2011, you�ll see and hear how your peers are progressing down this most exciting path.
Fourth, you�ll expand your skills and professional network: Finance executives don�t get much time to network and up skill at the same time. But at Vision 2011, you�ll have the opportunity to do both in the company of like-minded professionals from around the world. Through workshops, roundtables and the odd coffee break you�ll have the chance to share best practices, swap business cards and discover new techniques to increase your own productivity. Plus, you�ll also qualify for NASBA CPE credits for selected sessions.
Last, once you get back home you�ll be better equipped to build a more effective finance department and begin your journey to becoming an �analytics-driven� organization. The theme of this year�s conference is �See Beyond� and by joining us in Dallas you�ll most certainly broaden your outlook and expertise in one of the most challenging and exciting professions on the planet.
Plus, I hear the weather in Dallas is nice that time of year. Will you be joining us?
It's a beautiful day in Las Vegas.� The sun is out, the breeze is cool, and IBM Pulse (#ibmpulse) is now in full swing.� Lots of excitement and a packed agenda, but I thought that I'd take a moment to share a little insight into what to look for on today's agenda from a security perspective.�
As most of you already know, today is all about Business Partners, and the security agenda kicks off at 1:45 pm in room 120.� Steve Robinson, General Manager IBM Security Solutions, Rob Lamb, Vice President WW Sales and Clifford (Jay) Leary, Director WW Channels, will be hosting an insight session- IBM Security Solutions: Driving Revenue and Profits Selling.
Description: During 2010, IBM established a cross-brand, cross-company approach to security offerings by linking research, design, development, marketing and support to create the most complete and robust security portfolio in the IT industry. IBM Security Solutions allow your customers to address todays security challenges of cost, complexity and compliance. This session will include a discussion of IBMs security offering strategy and channel strategy, and provide you with examples of how Business Partners can increase revenue and profits leveraging IBMs offerings, support and incentive programs.
From 3:30pm - 5:15 pm there will be three different Business Partner Summit Breakout Sessions.�
In room 109:
BigFix:� Capitalize on Convergence: Leverage BigFix to Address the Market Convergence of Lifecycle Management and Security Configuration Management.�
In room 120:�
Security: Expanding your Security Practice with Tivoli ISS Offerings.
In room 115:
Security: Expanding your Security Practice with Heritage Tivoli Offerings
All of these sessions will be held twice during this time period, but you'll still have the difficult task of picking only two.� Good luck!
A few other things to keep on your radar.� The solution expo hall and welcome reception is at 6:30pm today and I hope to see many of you there.� If you'd like to stop bye and say hello I'll be the IBMer in the blue suit and white shirt.�
I'd also encourage everyone to use some of the different web assets that we have available.� The Pulse Smart Site is a great place to build your agenda and get a sense of what's going on around the conference.� Pulse Conversations is a tool that enables you to join the virtual dialogue using social media tools like blogging and Twitter.� I look forward to talking with many of you over the next few days and you can find online me on Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn, and of course here, on the IBM Software Blog.�
For a glimpse of what's ahead in the coming days, I'll include some of what we saw last year.�
As I mentioned in my post, IBM Cognos 10 at Lotusphere: 10 Ways to Prepare, when IBM set out to revolutionize BI with IBM Cognos 10, collaboration became a key capability. What I really didn�t realize until after I attended Lotusphere was that IBM Cognos 10 collaboration would also revolutionize Lotusphere.
�Where once it was very much about Notes and Domino and their overwhelmingly loyal developer and customer base, this year the focus not only included the broader Lotus portfolio, but also various other groups within IBM such as Rational and Cognos�what was particularly interesting was the positive response that these integrations received from the audience�especially the integration with Cognos.�
The first inkling that we were making waves came when about 200 attendees showed up for my session called �IBM Cognos 10 Business Intelligence: Smarter Decisions. Better Results.� This session highlighted the features and benefits of Cognos 10 and introduced the audience to the collaboration capabilities of Cognos 10.
It was very gratifying to hear that my presentation was �stunning,� but one of the most compelling responses to the session was �I didn�t realize these synergies existed.� I now know that at least one attendee came away from my session with a new understanding of the power of combining IBM Cognos and IBM Lotus software to improve decisions and results.
But the most compelling demonstration of the impact we were having on the conference was the attendance for and reactions to the session held by Gene Villeneuve and Tina Groves, which was called �Collaborative Decision Making.� The session covered the integration of Lotus Connections and Cognos Business Intelligence v10.1, the value of collaboration and showed how tapping into the collective intelligence of an entire organization can help companies drive collaborative decisions, learn from the decisions and create a better corporate memory.
First, the session was sold out and �standing room only.� The enthusiasm of the presenters was infectious and at one point, an independent consult got up and announced, �I am not an IBMer and I think this is awesome!�
So, what does all this mean? To me, it says that the world is ready to embrace the revolutionary integration of collaborative and business intelligence software. There�s been a lot of talk in the last two years about how merging social networks, messaging tools, metrics and analytics could help corporations, but with the collaboration capability of Cognos 10 and our integration with Lotus Connections, IBM is at the forefront of showing that business intelligence and collaboration are a winning combination. We have the right combination of tools to help organizations use social software to make smarter decisions and reap the business benefits.
I believe that people really get the inherent value of collaborative BI to help make better decisions when they see it in action. It is something that changes the face of decision making in our organizations, yet is a natural extension of the way we do things today. The looks on the faces of Lotusphere participants when seeing it for the first time said it all.
My time at Lotusphere empowered me. The enthusiasm of attendees and presenters was contagious. How can you not be fired up by people who tweet, �Social business becomes a true IBM Software value by combining Lotus, Cognos, ECM and Rational� or �IBM way ahead of competition in business analytics and business intelligence. Cognos brings in social for better decision making?�
1.It�s a convenient way to learn what IBM means by Smarter Systems. IBM defines smarter systems as fully-integrated hardware, software and services optimized for particular workloads. The Virtual Event keynote features a terrific presentation by industry analyst Merv Adrian, who very clearly explains what we mean by a �workload,� and how workload-optimized systems can mean faster time-to-value, improved performance and lower short- and long-term costs. Adrian does a terrific job of translating technical concepts into plain English (without lapsing into marketing-speak).
2. It gives you access to a HUGE store of educational resources. Eighteen (18) analyst papers. Six (6) e-books. Sixteen (16) IBM technical white papers. That�s a very partial list of what you�ll find in the Virtual Event�s Resource Center, which is packed with media and information related to Smarter Systems in general, and the individual IBM technologies from which Smarter Systems are composed. You would have to fill a whole mess of separate registration forms to get this information otherwise, but you get access to all of it when you register for this one Virtual Event.
�At Pulse, we�ve all seen hundreds, if not thousands of Smarter Planet slides detailing how our world is rapidly becoming more instrumented, interconnected and intelligent. �Steve Robinson�s keynote Tuesday morning was no exception to that.�
As the General Manager of IBM Security Solutions, his talk took a bit of a different angle on the conversation though.� He wanted to ask the question...
We've seen a lot over the course of the past year in terms of internal and external security incidents.� From stuxnet...
...to Wikileaks, to the recent events at Nasdaq, to patient records being breached in Arizona.
One of the questions that we have to ask ourselves is, "what do these events mean?"� At IBM, we have an entire advanced research team dedicated to looking at these single incidents and understanding them in the context of the broader security landscape.� Twice a year, IBM X-Force publishes their findings in the annual IBM X-Force Trend and Risk Report.� Their job is to be constantly evaluating the question...�
There are a few things that they've noted and that Steve focused on during his talk.� There's a lot of debate around whether internal or external threats represent the greater threat, but one thing is for certain- a good security strategy will take both into account.�
Mobile devices offer lots of new opportunities from both a personal and enterprise perspective when we think about efficiency and convenience.� However, as these devices develop in popularity, and they are increasingly used to access sensitive information, we must also consider some of the emerging security questions.
Steve also spoke about the continued rise of government regulation.� Every company is dealing with extensive compliance mandates and that trend doesn't seem to be slowing.� However, at Pulse we've started to notice a subtle shift in the way executive level security professionals are thinking about the relationship between security and compliance.� While in the past they may have been focused on becoming compliant, organizations today are starting to think about doing whatever it takes to become secure, with compliance following from that.� Again, the shift is a subtle one, but it's interesting once we realize that this is really a change in who is actually driving security requirements.� It's transitioning from governments, to the individual organizations.�
One of the most significant points that Steve made is that security professionals can no longer say "no."� Security needs to become an enabler of...
Cutting edge security is ultimately what allows organizations to confidently adopt emerging technologies. � With that in mind, the question you're probably asking is,
IBM recently released the IBM Security Network Intrusion Prevention System.� Boasting 100% inspection and speeds twice that of our closest competitors, this product is an enormous step forward in network security.� It is also just one example of how IBM has a significant focus on what we would consider to be traditional security.� We...
With 9 security operations center around the world, we are also focused on...
..so that our clients can consume security in the way that's right for them.�
We're seeing a convergence of systems management and security management with the endpoint being prime example of this.� Built on Bigfix technology, Tivoli Endpoint Manager was designed with the philosophy that a well managed endpoint is a secure endpoint.
The real key is to take these technologies and practices and deploy them in a way that is focused on
Security is all about building in that top layer of visibility, automation and control, but to do that, to make security "operational," we need to first build security into the core foundational elements of the IT Infrastructure, into the elements of the IBM Security Framework (people and identity, data and information, application and process, network, server and endpoint and the physical infrastructure) .
Listening to Steve talk reminded me of a quote from one of the recent IBM Centennial videos.� A former Director of IBM Research made the comment that, "doing science in isolation will not work."� Both Steve's discussion, and IBM Security seem to be built on that foundational understanding.� Our technology and approach is based on, and driven by the world we live in.� IBM X-Force takes information about security events and vulnerability disclosures and turns that information into real intelligence.� They then turn around and build that intelligence into our products.� These products are then deployed into environments that are often under the management of our Managed Security Services team.� As mentioned earlier, IBM has 9 security operation centers around the world, and from these centers we managing over 4,000 clients and 13 billion security events every single day.� We take that first hand information and experience and funnel it back into our X-Force research team.� The cycle of information, intelligence and innovation begins again.�
The circular nature of our approach to security helps to ensure that our technology is constantly being evaluated and created with an understanding of the world it will be deployed into, your world.�
A quick recap on some important reading for Finance pros that you may have missed the first time around.
Last week was "Finance Week" here on Performance Perspectives and in those five days (well, four if you count Family Day in Ontario) we featured a heady mix of news, insights and information about some pretty important events in the Business Analytics universe. The first is IBM Finance Forum, our global roadshow for Finance professionals. It's happening now and you can see the dates and locations here. The second is Vision 2011, the annual conference for customers of Clarity Systems, which is now an IBM company. Do check out the posts below and consider one of these events, won't you?
David Axson interview, Part 1 of 2: Going the "last mile" in Finance: Our keynote speaker for Finance Forum events in North America borrows a metaphor from telecom to explain the value of business analytics
It�s not so crazy to think that the number of people accessing the internet from mobile devices will very soon outnumber those accessing the internet using traditional computers.� It makes sense because mobile devices offer lots of new opportunities from both a personal and enterprise perspective when we think about efficiency and convenience.� However, as these devices develop in popularity, and they are increasingly used to access sensitive information, we must also consider some of the emerging security questions.� Is my my mobile phone protected?� Is my data and information safe?
While its true that vulnerabilities and attacks associated with mobile phones aren�t currently widespread, it�s worth noting that they do exist and that the best practices for securing mobile computing devices are still immature.� When we start thinking about the approach to establishing these best practices, we need to really focus on the ways that we actually use these devices.� Security for mobile phones should be strategically, and pragmatically, approached with the understanding that people are likely to use the phone for both personal and business purposes.� As such, being successful will mean striking a balance between ease of use and proper security controls.
Earlier this week I sat down with David Merrill, a mobile security expert within the CIO�s organization here at IBM and had the opportunity to talk with him about some of the topics that we�ll be covering in the upcoming IBM X-Force 2010 Trend and Risk Report.� The following is the discussion that I had with him.
Bryan: So, how real is the threat to everyday smartphone users? Should only high value targets likes C-Suite executives be concerned about mobile security attacks?
David: Well, we know that we see malware on some smartphones and we know that employees do lose their devices so both of those risks exist and are present today. Certainly the current concern is primarily around data protection (rather than malware) but we certainly feel the risks here are very real based on the data points we have today. As it applies to Senior Executives � or any employee holding high value data- we believe in intentionally taking a more conservative approach. This type of approach would include the selections of platforms that we�d advise them to use as well as the use of web browser-based mail and calendar versus approaches that allow the data to reside on the device itself. I think it would be naive to not acknowledge that Senior Executives could be targets of mobile attacks so taking a more conservative approach to this community makes sense to us.
Bryan: What risks are involved in allowing enterprise employees to use their personal smartphones for personal use while at work?� What controls should be put in place for personal smart phone use while at work?
David: At IBM, we believe that you should not lower or differentiate the security requirements based on device ownership. The same security requirements should apply to personally owned as well as company owned computing devices.� As such, all of this really points back to the need for well documented and well managed security requirements as they apply to mobile devices.� Additionally, companies should be weary of even beginning pilots until the platform under consideration can be secured to the requirements in their standards. I think the broader primary question as it applies to the use of personally owned smartphones is the employee�s willingness to allow their company to manage their device.� Companies should look to be very clear in the Terms and Conditions of their program.� This way, employees immediately acknowledge that their company will enforce required security controls, including, but not limited to, the right to wipe all data.
Bryan:� Building on that idea of foundational platform security, in the upcoming trend report you said that there will be years of vulnerability disclosures ahead of us because the platforms are untested.� What are some ways that we can proactively address this issue and try to shorten this length of time?
David: I think much of what we can do proactively revolves around engineering of the mobile security ecosystem. Let me explain what I mean. Today there are some fundamental hurdles that need to be overcome and I feel it starts with an ecosystem that allows security vendors to monetize their research in this area by way of products and services. While I absolutely acknowledge that a lot of great security research occurs in our universities and by independent researchers- the real heavy lifting- the bulk of a lot of research in the area falls to the security vendors in the field � and not just in the discovery of new vulnerabilities, but also in the development of proper security models to address concerns. If these vendors don�t have a marketplace that allows them to monetize their work, I feel it will occur at a much slower pace, if at all. Of course, this circles back to their customers, the enterprises and our understanding of our requirements in this area. Obviously, if we don�t understand the problems, it is unlikely we�ll be willing the spend the money � again, development of the ecosystem is very important in my opinion. I also think we all should have a secondary concern � and one that I�ve discussed with a number of the involved platform vendors and carriers in this space � that being our collective ability to close vulnerabilities thru �patching� when they are discovered. While security vendors can certainly develop products that help protect us before we can patch, ultimately, these are computer operating systems and the notion that a 1-2 time per year firmware upgrade will satisfy the closure of vulnerabilities as they�re discovered is ill-advised. I think this will challenge all of us because the current model is really not aligned to rapidly address vulnerabilities as they are discovered.
Bryan:� In the report you mention that there hasn�t been any significant attacks targeting mobile platforms specifically.� Do you expect that to change in the next 2-5 years?
David: Significant is obviously a relative term and perhaps a better term might be pervasive. While we�ve definitely seen small amounts of malware on smartphone as detected by our malware protection solution, it has been very small in comparison to what we see attacking Windows-based machines. Personally, I feel that the shift to seeing pervasive attacks to smartphones is probably related to a couple of factors; primarily the ramp toward End-of-Life for Windows XP machines and secondly, the marketshare battle between smartphone platforms. The reason behind the shift will largely be dictated by financial opportunities for the actors that typically exist as part of the underground economy. As their opportunity for Windows XP compromises starts to dry up, I think we should expect that at least a portion of that will be focused to smartphone attacks. Certainly things like the development of malware toolkits to support those mobile platforms as well as the discovery of smartphone vulnerabilities will directly influence their shift.
Bryan:� Ok, last question.� As smart phone security matures, and people more frequently use this platform to access sensitive information, doesn�t this make them a more attractive target for attackers?� Essentially, does enhanced security make them a bigger security risk?
David: It is my belief that people will use these platforms to access sensitive information regardless of the level of protection we can provide. Most users of smartphones are not even aware of attack vectors, vulnerablities and what could be done to improve security so I think that they will use their devices regardless. In fact, I�d suggest as enterprises, we really have a very simple choice; we can spend our money in implementing the proper security measures for our employees or we can spend that money developing ways to prevent them from circumventing controls to enable it themselves. While I think this could vary from corporate culture to corporate culture, I firmly believe folks will invent ways to circumvent controls that exist � and rather than end up in an arm race with our employees in preventing them from what they want to do, we�re all better served to properly educate as well as implement security programs that allow the proper use of this technology. That isn�t to say that we all have all the controls figured out as it pertains to best practices � I think this is a journey � but not unlike the previous generation of personal computers. Let�s face it, things like IPS and DLP were not part of best practices in 1982 either.
And there you have it folks, your first look into the new mobile security section of the upcoming 2010 IBM X-Force Trend and Risk Report.� Keep your eyes peeled and your ears open because the full report could be coming any day now.
Dateline NBC ran asegmenton Sunday night discussing how bullying has become a worldwide epidemic, reporting that 1 in 3 teens were bullied while at school causing failing grades, depression and even suicide.
In fact, in the United States it has even reached the attention of the White House. On Thursday, March 10, President Obama will be hosting a conference on bullying prevention with students, parents and teachers to discuss ways to address the issue.
As a new parent, I hope our policymakers begin to create better prevention programs and help young people empower themselves to stop bullying, especially online.
In the United Kingdom, I know it�s already well underway led byBeatbullying, aleading bullying prevention charity. The organization has developed innovative, evidence-based and highly successful prevention programs across the UK.
Beatbullying is using IBM SPSS predictive analyticsto build in-depth profiles of children most at risk of being bullied � including the ability to map how bullying is most likely to occur.
This analysis has helped the charity shape their programs and assist educators, parents and guardians and other professionals in understanding the short-, medium- and long-term effects that bullying has on children and young people everywhere.
And, they haveestablished the statistical significance of its findings lending significant weight to calls for action from policymakers.
The results have been tremendous as well � with schools, youth groups and community organizations announcing that incidents of bullying are down by up to 39 percent, and the reporting of bullying by young people is up by more than 60 percent.
Understanding Attitudes and Behaviors to Combat Bullying
Beatbullying is no different than successful commercial and government organizations (healthcare, police departments, insurers, retailers, etc.) that collect and analyze data to spot trends and make better decisions.Beatbullying believes that to maintain momentum on anti-bullying strategies, it�s vital to capture and monitor attitudinal and behavioral changes in the outlook of young people, and identify relationships, trends and patterns of bullying.
A crucial part of their work involves conducting a large number of surveys across many schools and communities. Through this feedback, they understand the nature of bullying and evaluate the impact of its initiatives.
By using IBM SPSS predictive analytics, Beatbullying:
���������Can go beyond simple analysis and measure actual attitudinal change, motivations, prejudices and relationship confliction concerns in adults, as well as children and young people.
���������Disproved the assumption that bullying is a character trait. That viewpoint made children and young people who were being bullied feel even more hopeless and convinced that no one can help them.
���������Saw a marked shift in the government response to bullying through the vigorous campaigns developed to ensure youth are educated and empowered to defend themselves.
���������Uncovered the most frequent online venues for bullying were the social network bebo.com and Microsoft�s instant messaging service MSN Messenger. This lead to bebo.com introducing a button allowing users to report incidents of cyber-bullying to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.
Beatbullying now has a quicker and more precise way of analyzing patterns among young people, and understanding and deploying successful bullying intervention tactics. They also can now better monitor and assess other strategies in their ongoing effort to beat bullying.
Thanks to organizations like Beatbullying, young people have a better chance in an increasingly challenging world.
I love the smell of a new book. I also love the pull of a new idea.
Lucky for me then, that Enchantment has both.
Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions is the ninth and latest book by tech legend Guy Kawasaki � former chief evangelist for Apple, co-founder of Alltop.com and founding partner of Garage Technology Ventures.
Enchantment � the concept � is the process of delighting people with a product, service, organization, or idea. The outcome of enchantment is voluntary and long-lasting support that is mutually beneficial. Kawasaki says his first enchanting moment was meeting his wife. His second enchanting moment was seeing the Macintosh, which convinced him of its ability to make people more creative and productive than they�d ever dreamed.
Enchantment � the book � distills Kawasaki�s experiences as an evangelist into valuable lessons and examples that you can put into practice in your own career.
Enchantment � the concept � can happen anywhere, Kawasaki writes, whether you�re trying to win over a skeptic, attract new followers to your cause, or even change the world.
At 224 pages (including a quiz), Enchantment � the book � is a short enough to consume over a weekend, even for a slow reader such as my self. It�s divided into 12 chapters including �Why Enchantment?,� �How to Make Enchantment Endure,� and �How to Enchant Your Boss.� Each chapter is further divided into several sub-topics that make for remarkably easy navigation and easily digestible bits of content. Kawaski writes in a breezy and personable style whose simplicity belies the hard-won lessons underneath. And it comes with one word of caution: It can take weeks or months for enchantment to occur, Kawasaki writes, so prepare for a marathon, not a sprint.
Given that adherents of IBM Business Analytics software spend a lot of their time trying to convert more people to their cause for better business outcomes, I thought it appropriate to highlight some of the more pertinent passages from the first 90 pages.
Enchantment � the concept � rests on two fundamentals that everyone must master: likability and trustworthiness. Kawasaki devotes an entire chapter to each and in each includes specific activities to help you along. For example:
To be more likable, perfect your handshake, use simple words, project your passions, and swear- but only when your audience supports you.
To be more trustworthy, it�s important to �Bake a bigger pie.� Kawasaki divides the world into �eaters� and �bakers.� Eaters think that if you win, they lose. Bakers think everyone can win with a bigger pie. Twitter, for example, made a bigger pie because anyone can provide news and updates. Google made a bigger pie by taking advertising out of hte hands of big ad agencies and giving it to small businesses. When you�re baking up a business analytics deployment, think of how eveyrone can benefit, not just you or your immediate team.
I found chapter four � "How to Prepare" � particularly useful for its discussion of a �Premortem.� It�s an idea Kawasaki borrows from Gary Klein, author of Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions. Companies rarely conduct post-mortems on a failed product because there�s usually no money or people left to investigate. Premortems, on the other hand, are useful because they can help you prevent failure rather than explain it. To conduct a Premortem, Kawasaki suggests assembling your team and asks everyone to assume the project failed. Your task is to find out why the failures occurred and come up with ways to prevent them from happening.
Chapter 5 � "How to Launch" � is useful for its discussion of storytelling. Enchantment runs on inspriation, not information, Kawasaki writes. And the ones with the best stories are the ones who win. When you�re pitching your product, find the narrative that best suits your goals: Will the world be a better place because of your project? Is this David vs. Goliath, or perhaps a Profile in Courage? Structure your proposal with a beginning, middle and end and you�ll increase your chances of success.
The chapter is also useful for its suggestions for demos: if you�re trying to wean people off their spreadsheets, make sure your TM1 demo shows these attributes:
Easy � people must be able to try it without much training, guidance, expertise or time.
Immediate � When people are interested, let them try it out right away. Don�t waste their time with forms and approvals to get started.
Inexpensive � Ideally, the only cost should be time.
Concrete � at the end of a trial, people should observe concrete changes in the way they work. (think back to the importance of stories).
Reversible � if people try your cause and still don�t like it, they should be able to reverse their decision.
There�s lots more I could cite, but I�ll stop here for now. With any luck I've already enchanted you. If I haven't, you can always check out Guy's site or these reviews. If you're trying to enchant people with IBM Business Analytics, our Champions' Kit has bountiful resources that can help.
Organizations today only half-listen to their customers. Sort of like a teenager only half-listens when a parent asks him/her to take out the trash or walk the dog.
Sure organizations might hear a customer complaint or praise of a new product, but do they really understand these comments?� Are they able to capture customer dialogue and then use the interactions to better inform the business?
According to a recent report fromHypatia Research, �Operationalizing Voice of the Customer (VOC): How Top Performers Create Actionable Insight,� only 4 percent of all companies surveyed have attained a visionary level of maturity in using VOC. (Download a free copy of the report here or register for an upcomingwebinaron March 22 to learn more.)
�The good thing is that organizations have an incredible opportunity ahead of them. And, the technology to enable successful VOC best practices. In fact, according to the report, IBM SPSSwas ranked as the top vendor for providing VOC technologies.
I recently caught up with Leslie Ament, vice president, research and client advisory, at Hypatia Research to discuss the report, VOC best practices and measuring these programs:
What was the biggest surprise you uncovered from your research?
Companies seek to monitor both social media and capture survey data in order to track VOC and capture a 360-degree customer viewpoint.�However, nearly all organizations lacked the maturity, expertise, processes, organizational structure, appropriate incentive programs and enabling technologies to do so. Most focused on either multi-channel survey capture for VOC or utilized social media for monitoring or listening without analysis or taking action on contextual VOC.
Given these findings, what is the best advice you'd give to organizations thinking about implementing a VOC solution?
Create one or two measurable goals and operational plans for execution. Don�t try to boil the entire ocean.
Establish standard performance metrics, benchmarks and processes to help improve consistency of VOC practices.
Improve the ability to collect, analyze and apply feedback more frequently targeting one or two business applications.
Hire expertise and train employees and/or create a Customer Intelligence Center of Excellence.
IBM talks about how customer intimacy/intelligence (CI) is an organization's new intellectual property. �Would you agree with that?
While I agree building the capacity for customer intimacy / intelligence is a positive step and certainly a type of intellectual property, the ability to consistently operationalize this CI through standardized decision-support rules is what creates a true differential competitive advantage. As we foodies are fond of saying, �the proof is not in the pudding, but rather in the enjoyment derived from eating it.��An organization that operationalizes VOC via the creation of CI establishes a win-win scenario of customer intimacy that benefits both the customer as well as the company itself.
Almost 50 percent of those surveyed said a barrier of investment in VOC programs was management buy-in. �Why doesn't management see the value in developing deeper customer intelligence?
Au contraire mon ami!�Management absolutely realizes the value of VOC.�However, getting management buy-in is a very different issue. Quoting from our research study, �Multiple views and diverse expectations exist as to which business processes, technologies, organizational structure and expertise are necessary to effectively leverage and operationalize VOC across a department, geographic region, product line or enterprise.�Currently, corporate-level alignment in regards to the following seems hard to achieve:
���������Have we identified a clear business case(s);
���������Which customer touch points qualify for VOC capture;
���������Which role or function is accountable for customer information management and analysis;
���������Which VOC tool(s) do we have in-house and should we compliment, upgrade or augment our portfolio; and,
���������How should we establish and standardize our customer insight processes.
Given this lack of alignment, it was not surprising to find that the top barrier to investment in VOC is management buy-in.�
What is the best way to measure if these VOC solutions are providing value?
Measure metrics aligned with the business application or objective! Case in point � don�t use Net Promoter Scores to measure agents� call center performance! More than 430 end users said they seek VOC tools and services for four primary business applications, and yet most are uncertain as to which metrics should directly correlate to these VOC initiatives.�Is it a wonder attaining management buy-in is such a challenge?
The research showed that only 4 percent of companies attained a visionary level of VOC processes. �What makes them visionary?
Visionaries do the up-front strategic and operational planning before executing on closed-loop (continuous improvement techniques) VOC initiatives.�Visionaries have addressed the granular issues (e.g., what data sources should we utilize or how should we organize for VOC initiatives) and are more rigorous in continuously refining how VOC insights are operationally applied.
In other words, visionaries design, embed and operationalize effective customer intelligence strategies with the goal of enhancing corporate performance and/or accelerating growth. And, VOC insights direct decision-support rules that operationally guide business processes. Oftentimes these rules are configured or embedded in enabling technologies.
When evaluating a vendor, what are the three most important questions an organization should ask?
Hypatia briefed more than 20 technology vendors and even more end-user organizations while researching this study. Regardless of which VOC vendor(s) a company considers, they should thoroughly understand:
���������Software capabilities and functionality, consulting services and/or training offered.
���������Terms of service.
���������Underlying infrastructure and compatibility with existing architecture and systems.
We also urge potential purchasers to evaluate vendors against internal business requirements coupled with this checklist.�Vendors that already have enabling VOC technologies in use by current customers should also be willing to provide multiple references for your specific industry, function or role-based application and similar volume and velocity of daily data.
What is VOC panacea?
Most companies, regardless of size or industry, have a sales cycle and concerns about customer retention, product or service quality and profitability. Structured VOC programs provide companies the opportunity to track their progress, using key performance indicators, with baselines and milestones in a way that may not have been possible in the past. Ultimately, the brass ring is for organizations to turn these customer insights into structured business processes � either manual or automated � designed to address customer issues rapidly.�
As commerce becomes more global, connected and social, there�s a new mindset emerging that is all about trying new approaches, expanding one�s social media repertoire, and serving the connected customer�s needs at every turn.
Here�s a video that explains how smarter commerce works using simple narration and hand-drawn illustrations:
If you're one of the millions filling out a bracket this year (all for fun of course), I'm sure you've been asked or have asked that question.
Yes, it's time when the NCAA men's basketball tournament distracts us from our jobs as we maniacally scan the internet and listen to so-called experts hoping to get that edge and finally master the ancient art of bracketology. Sadly,Paul the Octopuspassed away recently so that �secret weapon� is no longer viable.
Sure, accurately predicting which teams are in the Final Four is important, but what separates the masters from the novices is predicting the winners/upsets in the early rounds. You can play it safe and pick the higher seeds to win, but that's a silly strategy. Besides, all four top seeds have only advanced to the Final Four once in 30 years. (Sorry President Obama.)
Rely on the data. On Monday, Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight ran anarticle entitled, "How We Made Our NCAA Picks," which took an analytical approach to predicting the winners.
Like IBM, he sees the value in analyzing historical data to make informed � and better � decisions.
And let's be honest, everyone is looking for that competitive edge � whether its bragging rights for the brackets, or outmaneuvering the competition in business. The answers are as simple as mining mountains of data to find Key Performance Predictors (KPPs) � those 15-20 data variables that are the most relevant.���
KPPs then help guide any organization to build an amazing level of intimacy and knowledge, allowing them to determine how a specific customer is likely to behave at a precise moment in time.�
In the NCAA tournament, Nate analyzed the results for all tournament games since 2003 (a total of 512 games) and evaluated which factors best predicted success. As Nate pointed out, "The goal is to have a system that makes good statistical sense and also makes decent basketball sense, as opposed to identifying a bunch of spurious correlations."
Not all data is created equal.In fact, sometimes the correlations you think exist, turn out to be counter-intuitive. That's where KPPs come into play. And, it's why predictive analytics makes good business sense. For instance, one of our insurance customers learned that clients who remove pets from the house prior to a fire are often convicted of claims fraud. And, phases of the moon are a predictive indicator of when crime is likely to occur.�
In the NCAA setting, Nate discovered that teams playing games within 50 miles of their campus have a 24-2 record; and, conversely, teams traveling at least 1,000 miles are 121-174.
Does this change the way you think about your bracket?
That's why IBM is "betting" big on predictive analytics.IBM is hoping businesses will realize that picking "winning" customers based on mascots, team colors or flipping a coin is also a silly strategy.
Today, it's better to rely on the data to be told how to take action than making a haphazard decision that could seemingly be based on unnecessary bias (like picking an alma mater such as Boston University over Kansas). Sorry Terriers!
What if you could determine when a part might fail in a car?� Or the right time and conditions to perform surgery?�Or when a crime will occur in a specific part of town?
Or, what if a call center agent at a communications service provider could quickly and easily determine which inbound customer calls are the best candidates for an up-sell, cross-sell or retention offer, and then deploy personalized, real-time recommendations that have the greatest likelihood of acceptance by the customer?
Thousands of these types of daily decisions can now be automated and optimized for significant � and measurable � benefit.�No longer are the same bad decisions made over and over again.�
I could tell this was a tool for grownups. This was a serious machine, built to do serious, grown-up work. That�s why my library put it in the reference department � that quiet, serious room where quiet serious people did quiet, serious things.
I knew because each hour I used it cost me 25 cents. I was only 12 years old. But when I first flipped the switch on that big black beauty and brought it to life I knew I had entered a new stage. From then on, all my essays would be proudly and impeccably typed.
The IBM Selectric � yesterday�s IBM Centennial Icon of Progress � was introduced in 1961 and immediately disrupted the typewriter market. Suddenly and almost overnight, people saw unprecedented increases in the speed, accuracy and flexibility at their disposal to create the written word.
Don't believe me? Check out the charming video commercial below.
Like the rest of my peers, I learned to type on a manual machine - and very quickly I learned its shortcomings. It was always loud. It jammed when I typed too quickly. It made errors nearly impossible to correct.
The Selectric changed all that.
This thing was fast. Faster than anything I�d ever used. That little silver ball jumped excitedly at even the slightest touch. This thing was alive. And fun. And a blast to use. And after I had used it, I�d never go back.
The Selectric is yet another example of that remarkable through line connecting the IBM achievements of the past with the innovations of today � and the remarkable effectiveness of the IBM approach to making us and our world work better. It�s a willingness to bring the best people, the best thinking and the the best ideas to bear on challenges others say can�t be solved.
Wow. We're already talking about Vegas.
Yesterday the Call for Papers for Information On Demand and Business Analytics Forum opened. This year, attendees will be keenly interested in best practices to accelerate their deployments; innovative strategies to drive more business value from their data; tangible, proven techniques for using analytics more effectively, and; success stories that highlight business benefits and ROI.
From October 23 to 27, Information On Demand (henceforth "IOD") and Business Analytics Forum 2011 will bring together the best business and technology leaders for four days of in-depth education that spans the Business Analytics Enterprise Content Management and Information Management offerings from IBM. Last year saw the launch of IBM Cognos 10 and broke the 10,000 attendee mark (a record), and this year's event is bound to impress on an equally impressive scale.
Good question. It's actually a pretty good gig. Consider the benefits:
You'll get a free conference pass on us.
You'll have one-to-one access to a wide range of IBM product experts,
And, you'll increase your organization's visibility (as well as your own), and expand your network of professional connections.
Business Analytics conference tracks for 2011 include:
Business Intelligence (We're looking for Cognos 10 implementations)
IBM is celebrating its Centennial year with 100 Icons of Progress � ideas, inventions and events that have transformed a century. And behind several of the Icons is clever IBM software that helps make everything work.
Ireland�s Galway Bay is a fragile ecosystem of many interconnected parts. And its health and sustainability are dependent on understanding an abundance of marine data that, until recently, could only be collected and analyzed by going out to sea.
Hazards like pollution spills cause damage more quickly in confined waters like Galway Bay than in the open sea; therefore, scientists and environmental agencies need to access and decipher information about the bay quickly and react to any signs of distress without delay.�
The solution the IBM team came up with involved turning volumes of raw data into intelligent information through a network of sensor-equipped buoys and analytics, and then delivering it to multiple stakeholders on the bay � from scientists, to ocean energy developers, to fisherman, to the harbormaster.
The technology at work here � called InfoSphere Streams � is a clever piece of stream-computing software from IBM that enables massive amounts of data to be correlated and analyzed for patterns and trends at more than 200 times a second � faster than a hummingbird can flap its wings!
InfoSphere Streams was one of the technologies making everything work inside the Watson supercomputer, and its strength is that it can handle very large volumes of data and do real-time analysis as it happens.� Another magical thing about this software is its ability to embed complex predictive modeling into its real-time analysis work.
We see this capability at work in Galway Bay, where scientists were able to help predict water conditions and provide an early warning system for pollution, harmful algal blooms, and the long term effects of global climate change, among other things.
Plans for the project's next phase includes extending the system out over Ireland�s continental shelf and down into the sunless depths of the abyssal ocean plain � more than two miles below the ocean surface � as well as incorporating the information collected by SmartBay into Web-based lesson plans for schools in the Galway area.�
Thanks to InfoSphere Streams and other innovative technologies, the people of Galway Bay are offered a unique window into the underwater world . . . and the wonder of a complex and changing ecosystem.����
Most midsize companies have shifted their strategic focus and are looking for ways to improve profitability and drive growth. And many are viewing business analytics as their number one priority.
But what is the best way to get started with a business analytics solution? More than 95 percent of customers who have purchased IBM Cognos Express have done so through IBM Business Partners.
There are good reasons why. Our Business Partners have deep analytics and industry-specific expertise. They provide fast and personalized assistance in your region, and they offer value-added services that help you streamline implementation and achieve quick business results.
Thousands of IBM Business Partners worldwide specialize in midmarket solutions. (See the IBM Business Partner locator for a business partner near you.) So how do you find the one that�s right for you?
1. Identify your needs. Business Partners provide a wide range of services, including implementation, customization and training. Does your company need help with fast deployment? Business user training? Customized dashboards and reports? Be sure to match your needs to their strengths.
2. Look for industry expertise. Some partners have deep experience in specific industries such as healthcare, banking, or government. If your industry has unique requirements, find a partner who understands those needs. Check out IBM Cognos Express in Action for a collection of partner demos that showcase some of these industry-based solutions.
3. Get all your questions answered. It can take time to find the right partner who can deliver the most value to your business. Discuss your specific requirements in detail with different Business Partners before you make a final selection. Attend events such as the IBM Cognos Business Analytics Midsize Business Virtual Summit for easy access to a variety of partners.
4. Have them show you the value. Good partners have great references. Ask them to put you in touch with other midsize companies that they have helped. Look for quantifiable results such as time savings, costs savings, and revenue generation.
5. Set clear goals for success. One IBM Business Partner, Philadelphia-based ISA Consulting, recently saved Concept One Accessories, a midsize wholesale manufacturer of accessories, two weeks of time per quarter on time otherwise spent manually gathering data and developing reports. With IBM Cognos Express and consulting services from ISA, Concept One Accessories is now able to quickly tap into ongoing performance results then analyze sales and corresponding inventory figures and budgets before building quarterly forecasting. You should set similar goals that are specific and measurable so you and your partner stay focused on results.
Dr. Howard Rubin, CEO and Founder of research firm Rubin Worldwide, has found a couple of messages in the years of data he�s collected from companies around the world, in virtually every industry:
1. Choosing the right computing platform can result in powerful returns;
2. In cases where the mainframe is the right platform, those returns are particularly massive, and measurable not just in technical terms (like cost per server or MIP), but in raw business terms, such as cost per transaction in banking, cost per bed in healthcare, etc.
Watch Rubin make his case in the video below (if the video doesn't appear below, you can find it here). Then read a brief report (PDF) that details the TCO benefits for multiple industries (and makes clear the Ferrari reference).
Twice a year our X-Force team releases their insights and observations on the security landscape, and today we�re announcing the release of the IBM X-Force 2010 Trend and Risk Report.� In 2010 we saw the continued rise in the number of disclosed vulnerabilities as well as the continued prevalence of web application vulnerabilities.� However, 2010 also gave us a lot of new things to mull over.� We�re seeing sophisticated threats and attackers become more prevalent then ever before.� Mature exploit code for mobile devices, while not yet commonplace, is becoming increasingly more available.� We saw spam volumes rise dramatically before tapering off and the SQL slammer completely vanished.
This week I sat down with Tom Cross, Manager X-Force Threat Intelligence and Strategy to discuss in a bit more detail some of what we�ve seen over the course of the past year as well as what we should be looking for in years ahead.
Bryan: So, let�s start with this number.� 8,562 vulnerabilities disclosed last year.� This is a 27% increase from 2009 and is the most ever disclosed in a single year�What�s driving this rapidly increasing number and is it something that is necessarily cause for concern?
Tom: We think this increase is a consequence of software development houses taking the security of their software more seriously. Many companies that develop software are currently investing in improvements to development and quality assurance processes that are intended to identify and eliminate security vulnerabilities before products are shipped to customers. However, there is a lot of code out in the field right now that didn�t benefit from the latest in software engineering practices and so vulnerabilities are getting discovered that have to be patched.
It�s not necessarily a cause for concern. It represents progress toward a safer internet � but for those of us who work on remediating vulnerabilities and defending networks from attacks that target them, it means we�ve got a lot more work to do.
Bryan: Do you anticipate that vulnerability disclosures will continue increasing in 2011 at the rate they did in 2010?� Will we reach 11,000 next year?
Tom: As improved software engineering practices result in better code out there I think that we will eventually round the corner and start seeing sustained decreases in these numbers, but it is hard to predict exactly when that will happen. We thought we were already on the way last year, and then this year surprised us. The total number of vulnerability disclosures has been up and down for the past 4 years, so next year�s totals are anybody�s guess.
Bryan: The� new report mentions that often exploits are released tens to even hundreds of days after the public disclosure of the vulnerabilities they target.� Why does this happen? Are exploit writers just slow?
Tom: We think that the bad guys develop exploit code quickly after vulnerabilities are disclosed. In some cases exploits are circulating before disclosure. But they aren�t made public. They are used to break into computers. Eventually, as systems get patched, these exploits become less valuable as attack tools, and some of them find their way onto public websites and mailing lists that we track.
The fact that this is taking a long time indicates that people aren�t patching quickly enough. The window of opportunity for an attacker has two components: the amount of time between vulnerability disclosure and patch release, as well as the amount of time between patch release and installation. In some cases it can take a long time for software vendors to release patches, but they are often made available quickly, particularly for critical issues. We think that attackers are holding on to exploits for a long time primarily because those patches aren�t getting installed everywhere that they need to be.
Fixing this requires improvements in endpoint management. Network managers need to know what computer systems are on their network, what software is on those computer systems, what vulnerabilities are in that software, and what patches are available. This is an area that is going to be a focus for both technological and operational development over the next 5 years. Of course, it also makes sense to have good threat prevention in the network as well.
Bryan: We see some recurring year to year trends in this report, such as the significance and prevalence of web application vulnerabilities.� However, I�m curious what�s new this year.� What�s changing in the security landscape that people need to be aware of?
Tom:� Lots of new technologies � such as Mobile and Cloud, Virtualization, IPv6 and DNSSec. We keep making new software and software systems that have new security implications. While we�re getting better at making software, it still has a maturity lifecycle. When a new software program is released there are very few vulnerabilities that have been disclosed in it, but the code hasn�t had much of an opportunity for independent audit and real world use. Over time, people find bugs, and the number of known vulnerabilities in that software increases. Eventually, if the software remains static, it can reach a stable state where few new vulnerabilities are being discovered. However, most commercial software doesn�t remain static. New features are added. Things are changed. Product management occurs. Entirely new technologies like IPv6 can present large code bases to the Internet that haven�t been subject to much real world use. There are bugs in there, and also people need to learn how to deploy these technologies safely and that takes time as well.Another notable thing that happened this year is broadening awareness of sophisticated, targeted attacks that may be state sponsored. These kinds of attackers are hard to keep out of a computer network. They really do their homework on the organizations they are targeting and they are very patient. They are also coming at you with vulnerabilities that no one else knows about and custom trojans with covert command and control protocols. It�s a hard problem. A few years ago it was a problem that only governments and other critical sites had to worry about, but the sorts of organizations dealing with this today seem to be widening.
Bryan:� It seems like there�s a lot happening in the security world right now.� From the continued rise of advanced persistent threat, to mobile platforms and cloud computing each introducing new risks and challenges, to the scale and sophistication of an attack like Stuxnet�security seems to be everywhere and I�m hoping you can boil some of this down for us.� As we look back on 2010, what were the key things we learned?� What should we expect to see in 2011?
Tom: Concerns about things like Advanced Persistent Threat are driving the adoption of different approaches to network security, which includes more physical network segmentation, better endpoint management and awareness, better log retention and analysis, and a more forensics driven approach. All of these developments make networks more resilient against everyday threats.I think that Stuxnet also shined a light on the risks that customized industrial control systems face. Computer security people are familiar with being ignored when we point out potential risks until a real event occurs. People have been talking about the computer security risks of Internetworked control systems for years. Hopefully now those warnings will not be ignored.
What should we expect to see in 2011? I think Wikileaks has gotten people thinking about information control in their organizations. What stuff does your enterprise know that is just sitting out there on internal file servers and could easily be leaked on the Internet by a disgruntled employee? A clear set of best practices has yet to emerge around this but people are starting to think about how Data Loss Prevention and Watermarking technologies might be brought to bear on the problem.
But, I expect 2011 to surprise us. Every year there are developments that we don�t anticipate. A few weeks ago the SQL Slammer worm all but disappeared from the Internet. Computers infected with that worm have been a reliable source of malicious traffic on the Internet since the worm first emerged back in 2003. One day in March, poof, the thing just disappears. We�re currently looking through the evidence that we have to see if we can find an explanation, but so far it is proving illusive. The Internet is a big place � it�s unpredictable.
For other Trend Report highlights, including interactive graphics, please see my recent post on the IBM Institute for Advanced Security.� It can be found here.��
If I can choose between promoting a case study or some other type of marketing asset, I usually choose the other type of marketing asset � not because I have something against case studies per se, but most case studies are so formulaic that people read right past them (newsletter and Twitter response data backs this up). I�m not saying that if you�ve read one case study, you�ve read them all, but I am saying that if you�ve read one, you�ve probably read all the subheads � unless you�ve been lucky enough to find the rare case study that doesn�t include the subheads �Challenge,� �Solution� and �Results.�
Keep your eye on the #ibmcloud tag in Twitter this week. IBM is hosting an IBM Cloud Forum tomorrow (April 7) with more than 150 C-level executives and direct reports in San Francisco to discuss Cloud in the enterprise and will be making quite a few IBM Cloud announcements.
The forum will cover:
Cloud insights based on thousands of IBM client engagements
Opportunities cloud presents to clients to transform their IT and business operations
The unique role IBM will play in this transformation
For more information, try the following social networks:
For now, I'll leave you with an interview Scott Laningham did with one of our IBM Cloud Computing executives, Jose Spagnuolo, at the IBM Pulse conference. They discuss some of the questions our customers are asking about Cloud today.
With already 20 million end-user clients using its Cloud software and services, making it one of the world's largest providers of software-as-a-service, IBM expects to drive $7 billion in revenue by 2015. IBM differentiates itself with extensive research and experience in developing and implementing Cloud solutions across different business models. Steve Mills, Senior Vice President and Group Executive - IBM Software & Systems, sums up IBM's perspective well with, �We have a track record of helping clients safely embrace and accelerate enterprise adoption of new models and technologies � from e-business to Linux and open source � and we're doing it now for Cloud.�� IBM demonstrates its Cloud commitment as a member of Cloud Standards Customer Council, "joining with 40 of world�s leading enterprises to help advance cloud adoption prioritizing key interoperability issues such as management, reference architectures, hybrid cloud, as well as security and compliance."
Today, IBM is announcing that, "For the first time, enterprise clients will be able to select key characteristics of a public, private and hybrid cloud to match workload requirements from simple Web infrastructure to complex business processes, along five dimensions," including:�
Security and isolation
Availability and performance
Management Support and Deployment
Payment and Billing�
IBM Software plays a very important role in these announcements with solution offerings such as:
As a social business strategist, one of the areas I'm particularly interested in around these announcements is how clients, like educational institutions, use our social business Cloud offerings. A great example, in the video below, is how the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising uses LotusLive for its social collaboration needs.
As I mentioned before, keep your eye on the #ibmcloud tag in Twitter this week. And stay in touch with these networks to follow the IBM Cloud conversation:
Tony Hocevar is responsible for leading Clarity Systems' corporate and product marketing initiatives. Under his guidance, the marketing team drove lead generation and built a marketing infrastructure spanning North America, Europe and Asia. Prior to Clarity Systems, Tony held marketing, management consulting and sales positions at Workbrain, Deloitte and Nortel Networks, respectively. I had the chance to ask him about the appeal of Clarity FSR, the benefits to Clarity customers of Clarity being acquired by IBM and what to expect at this year'sVision 2011customer conference.
Could you describe Clarity Systems, an IBM company?
Clarity Systems was founded as a consulting company in 1995 and began selling software in 2000. We launched Clarity FSR in January 1997 and we were acquired by IBM last October. We�re headquartered in Toronto, with regional headquarters in the UK, France and Singapore, with smaller offices around the world.
We deliver software solutions to the Office of Finance. We have two products � Clarity 7 and Clarity Financial Statement Reporting, or FSR for short. Clarity FSR is the major reason IBM bought Clarity Systems � it�s the leading software solution that helps companies automate financial statement reporting to create annual and quarterly reports more quickly and reduce the risk of mistakes in those reports.
Because Clarity FSR can be used as a platform for any complex report that combines lots of data with narrative text, we�re finding that companies are also using it for regularly produced internal reports as well as external reports. Last year we were the world�s fastest-growing CPM vendor, largely as a result of the growth of FSR. Its support for financial statement reporting aligns nicely with IBM�s focus on the Office of Finance.
Could you describe what Clarity Systems software does, who uses it and the value it provides?
Clarity FSR is really dedicated to the Office of Finance, especially to the CFO and anyone involved in external report creation, because getting annual and quarterly reports done accurately and on time is really important to outside investors. When something goes wrong with one of these reports, the CFO is really on the hook for it.
For example: United Technologies is a multi-billion-dollar, multinational company based in the U.S.. It makes Sikorsky Helicopters, Otis elevators and Pratt and Whitney aircraft engines. They bought FSR a few years ago because they saw problems with their financial report creation processes. For example: each division had to export the latest numbers from lots of different databases and unsecured spreadsheets, which meant a lot of spreadsheets in a lot of people�s hands. Then they had to consolidate all of these spreadsheets without making any mistakes. Then someone would embed the most important numbers inside a narrative text to explain the numbers to investors, which is what you see in a typical annual report.
Then the all-important review and approval process saw hundreds of emails going back and forth all over the place. So the report creation process was really manual and inefficient. And if a mistake was found in one of the numbers, it might require edits in several places and even impact the narrative, and that�s assuming the mistake was even found. Once the final document was ready, it would have to be exported into different formats, which introduced more opportunity for error.
So the process is tough. But on top of that, the SEC in the U.S. mandated the tagging of every number in the financial reports using XBRL format, which means extensible business reporting language. XBRL tagging was a huge amount of work at the end of the process which increased the risk of late filing.
So in essence you have a manual, inefficient, risk-prone process for a really important report that�s read in detail by external investors. You can see why any CFO who has to sign off on the final numbers would find this a little scary.
This is where FSR came in. With FSR, the exports feed into a single database, so there�s lower risk of error. The numbers are viewed in Excel spreadsheets and easily link into standard Word documents, where much of the standard narrative explaining the numbers exists. And since the numbers automatically flow from the spreadsheets into the Word doc, any time a number changes, it�s automatically changed in the document. That guarantees consistency throughout the document even after last-minute changes.
These links reduce the risk of error and the use of Excel and Word make it easy to set up. It also leverages automated workflow between groups that need to review of approve the datat. And because all the outputs are coming from a single data source, you�re guaranteed that the outputs are always consistent and accurate.FSR also uses something called Integrated XBRL, which means you only have to tag the data fields once � after that all your future reports will use the same tags.
So after deploying FSR, United Technologies lowered their process costs, reduced their risk of late filing and error, and reduced their risk of insider leaks because people could be given access on a need-to-know basis, and they had a good audit trail showing how they came to the results. The CFO lowered cost, lowered risk and increased confidence in the accuracy of the final report. That explains why we�ve had over 300 companies buy it.
Clarity Systems software is now part of the IBM Business Analytics software portfolio. What additional value do Clarity customers gain because of this? What additional value do IBM customers gain?
There are a lot of benefits for Clarity customers. The power of IBM R&D means Clarity products deliver more features sooner than clarity could have delivered on its own. The scope of IBM delivery engine spans every country in the world, so local subsidiaries can easily leverage a local IBM Clarity resource.
The products will be integrated within the IBM business analytics portfolio, which increases the scope of benefits customers can get. At the time of the acquisition, IBM had invested more than $14 billion in 24 analytics-related acquisitions, dedicated more than 7,000 consultants and opened eight analytics centers of excellence around the world, which is a phenomenal amount of investment that our customers will benefit from.
On the IBM side, the IBM Office of Finance customers will obviously benefit from using FSR. And FSR complements the IBM business analytics software portfolio for finance professionals nicely. Also, IBM is also adding 400 Clarity financial management experts from Clarity, so it expands IBM�s capacity in the sales, services and support.
Vision 2011 is the annual Clarity Systems customer conference. What will attendees see and what is different from past years?
We�ve repositioned Vision this year to be the Premier Event for Financial Management. We�re expecting close to 700 attendees, so it�s a lot bigger than in past years, with more sessions spanning both Clarity and IBM, including some great general session speakers including former SEC chair Christopher Cox. We�ve got fantastic case study presentations done by well-known companies including Prudential, Time Warner, CIGNA, Omron Healthcare, Holt Cat, Exelon, and attendees are going to learn about the latest innovations in our products, have a chance to network with their peers and ask questions of IBM and Clarity executives regarding the acquisition.
The big difference from last year is that people will see more � more speakers, more keynotes, more networking and more demos. Essentially, everything you�d expect at something called the Premier Event for Financial Management.
Christopher Cox was instrumental in modernizing the technology driving the SEC, including the creation and adoption of XBRL. Could you comment on his story as it relates to Clarity Systems software?
Christopher Cox was a champion of investors� transparency rights. He spearheaded the �plain english initiative� aimed at eliminating legalese from investor communications. But the biggest thing he did that impacted Clarity Systems was mandating a new interactive disclosure systems using XBRL. Tagging every number in an investor report with XBRL made it easier for investors to extract and compare data across or betwen different companies, which further helped the transparency initiaitve.
Clarity FSR had an Integrated XBRL engine, so we could not only automate the creation of external reports, but we could embed the XBRL tagging process inide the external report creation process, so the mandate that Christopher Cox initaitived a huge amount of interest in FSR, so we have him to thank in many ways for our growth.
It�s almost as if with XBRL, every number tells a story and through Clarity FSR you can read the story more clearly.
As you know, we're pretty excited here at IBM since 2011 marks IBM's centennial birthday, and we have all sorts of cool activities planned to celebrate throughout the year. You can learn more about these activities at the IBM100 Web site.
One fun new social media activity that Kate Motzer, IBM Centennial social media butterfly, recently started on Twitter is a "Name That Icon" contest that will run on select Fridays until September, 2011.
Over 6000 business and IT leaders will be attending the the IBM Impact Conference in Las Vegas next week to discuss building smarter systems and more agile, efficient business processes. The conference begins this weekend and runs from April 10-15. An Unconference will also take place as a further breakout venue for developers and technical professionals.
You can watch live portions of the IBM Impact Conference in Las Vegas remotely from the IBM ImpactTV Livestream channel. The keynote general opening session begins at 8:15 am Pacific Time on Monday, April 10. General sessions will also take place at 8:30 am Pacific Time Tuesday and Wednesday next week.
This morning, IBM officially kicked off Impact 2011, with an opening general session hosted by comedian Larry Miller, and appearances by IBM executives John Iwata, Nancy Pearson, David Farrell, Marie Wieck, among other guests.� The session focused both on IBM's history of innovation, and on how this history positions IBM to help business become more agile in today's marketplace.� If you missed the keynote, you can check out the replay on Impact TV.� In addition, stay tuned to Impact TV throughout the day for live interviews, conference insights, and more.
For IBM Business Partners, the conference actually started yesterday, with the Impact 2011 Business Partner Summit.� The Business Partner summit provided partners with a series of sessions and keynote presentations tailored to help them optimize growth and deliver results.� Business Partners also got a preview of Impact product announcements, such as IBM's new Business Process Management platform, as well as insight into how they might expect these announcements to impact their businesses in the coming year.� A full list of announcements from the Business Partner Summit, as well as presentations from the Summit breakout sessions, is available on PartnerWorld.
One of the biggest announcements of the Business Partner Summit was official recognition of the 2011 Impact Business Partner Award winners.� The awards recognize Business Partners who have demonstrated excellence in delivering business value solutions to our clients based on their integrations with WebSphere software.� The 2011 Impact Business Partner Award winners are as follows:
Impact 2011 Distributor Excellence Award
Winner: Tech Data GmbH and Co-Azlan
Finalist: Arrow ECS
Finalist: Nippon Information and Communication
Impact 2011 Best of Show Award
Winner: Zobrist Consulting Group
Impact 2011 Cloud Innovation Award
Winner: Haddon Hill Group
Congratulations to all of the 2011 Impact Award winners and finalists!
And finally, for those of you who could not make it to Impact this year, you can get all of the details on these and other announcements with our WebSphere Business Partner Webcast, live from the conference in Las Vegas.� The webcast will feature Nancy Pearson, Vice President of Marketing for WebSphere, BPM and SOA, and David Wilson, Worldwide WebSphere Business Partners, General Business and Enablement.� The two will share their impressions of the conference, speak with partners in attendance, and inform you of what's new and exciting from WebSphere and IBM's Business Partner Programs.� Here's the details:
Interested partners will need to register in order to attend. � Once you have registered, you will receive a confirmation email with the call-in information and e-meeting details.
Looking forward to seeing you at the Business Partner Summit next year!� In addition, don't forget to attend the Impact Business Partner Reception, Tuesday from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. PDT in the Palazzo Ballroom on Level 5.
Everyone who works in corporate finance has probably at least heard of XBRL. And if you�re an IT person who supports your company�s finance department, you�ve definitely heard of XBRL.
XBRL is the abbreviation for �eXtensible Business Reporting Language.� It�s the name given to both a method of formatting financial statements and a worldwide initiative aimed at making corporate financial information more uniform and more transparent. XBRL is here, and here to stay. And in this article, we�ll introduce you to a few of the basics.
The serious game of �tag�
XBRL involves the labeling or �tagging� of information in a financial report or regulatory filing with metadata that precisely defines what each term means. The definition is consistent from one company�s documents to another�s because the tags are referenced to an agreed-upon taxonomy (essentially, a dictionary), which gives an exact definition for each term.
Here�s the reason we need XBRL. If you�re in the market to buy, for example, a new car, you�ve got plenty of ways to research your choices and make �apples to apples� comparisons. But if you�re an investor trying to research publically held companies, the apples-to-apples part is a lot more difficult. Figures like earnings per share or net income are easy enough to find and compare. But the pages and pages of numbers that appear in an annual report, for example, can have slightly different�or significantly different�meanings from one company to another. And important details can be hiding in plain sight in the footnotes. XBRL is intended to change all that.
XBRL is in the process of being adopted by regulatory authorities around the world. In the U.S., XBRL reporting has been mandated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and is being phased in over several years, with the largest companies already submitting their filings in XBRL-tagged format. One of the key individuals who began the drive for XBRL several years ago is the former Chairman of the SEC, Christopher Cox. During his tenure as Chairman, Cox stated that his goal for XBRL reporting was nothing less than the �democratization of financial information and analysis, and the empowerment of individual investors.�1 (Mr. Cox will be the featured keynote speaker at the Vision 2011 Conference in Dallas on May 16, where he will give an address titled Technological Modernization in the Era of Transparency.)
The benefits of XBRL, however, are not just for investors and regulators. For the finance organizations that use it, XBRL �dramatically expedites the automated processing, collection, and analysis of business information.�2
Let�s get granular
XBRL tags are not altogether different from the HTML tags you can see when you open a Web browser and go to the View menu and click Source. There, you may see a <b> that indicates boldface text, or a <p> that indicates a new paragraph. In XBRL, the tags all refer to the taxonomy, which is consistent for all companies filing in XBRL, so you can be confident that a given number means the same thing for Company A as it does for Company B.
In the early phases of XBRL reporting, �block tagging� is sufficient. That�s where a discrete block of text, such as a footnote, receives only one tag. In the latter phases, �detail tagging� is required for virtually every number in the report. In the final phase of detail tagging (called �Level IV�), several thousand tags may be applied to documents in a single filing period.
It�s a complicated process, but it�s one that must be done at every publicly held company, and must be done accurately.
Outsource, �bolt-on� or integrate?
How can finance and IT work together to meet the XBRL mandate in the most efficient way and with the lowest risk of error? Finance organizations have been taking three different approaches, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
The first approach involves outsourcing the tagging process to a third-party service provider. This option saves the finance team a lot of work, but it�s costly and it leaves the finance team with less control over the process and less opportunity to make last-minute changes. Responsibility for any errors, of course, still rests with the company making the filing.
The second approach involves a �bolt-on� solution, in which a report is created in the traditional manner and tags are added or �bolted on� afterward. This is cheaper than outsourcing and keeps control of the process in-house. But it still adds an extra step to the reporting process and does little to help you catch errors.
The third approach uses an �integrated� XBRL solution. In this approach, XBRL tagging is incorporated throughout the reporting process. An integrated XBRL solution has many advantages, the most important of which is that it streamlines report creation and improves consistency over time and across different documents. An integrated solution gives the finance team the greatest control over the process and the greatest assurance that the tagging will be correct and the risk of error will be minimized.
For your short list of XBRL solutions
Most industry analysts prefer the integrated approach. And we�d like to recommend one integrated solution for your short list of XBRL alternatives. It�s CLARITY FSR from Clarity Systems, an IBM company and one of the most recent additions to the IBM Business Analytics family.
CLARITY FSR enables you to tag documents once and then automatically re-use the tags in future reporting periods, thanks to the solution�s unique Tag OnceTM functionality. CLARITY FSR also makes collaboration and workflow management easier, so you can keep track of who is responsible for various part of a document and keep the taxonomy current with minimal effort. In addition, CLARITY FSR includes features that help you audit changes to your documents, so you know who changed what and when. It also enable you to maintain consistency when a document is produced in different output formats, such as Microsoft� Word, PDF or Adobe InDesign.
For further information�
We could go on, but we promised to give you just the basics. So if you�d like to learn more about XBRL, you can get an excellent overview by downloading a free PDF of the book, SEC XBRL for Dummies from our website. (Look for the familiar yellow cover on the right-hand side of the web page.) And if you�re deeply involved in your own company�s XBRL initiative, you won�t want to miss the Vision 2011 Conference, May 15-18 in Dallas. It�s the best place to see the CLARITY FSR� solution in action and learn in depth and in detail about a full range of topics in financial management.
People like former SEC Chairman Christopher Cox have high hopes for XBRL�s capacity to make financial information easier to find and easier to use for everyone. And with the right approach, it can be a boon, and not a burden to your finance organization.
�In case you missed the press conference livestreamed from the IBM Impact conference yesterday, see the replay below. It covers some of the great announcements around Smarter Commerce, business process management, cloud computing, mobility and more in the Impact press kit.
On Day 2 of the IBM Impact conference, IBM sponsored a Smarter Commerce press conference. IBM General Manager of Industry Solutions, Craig Hayman, introduces a panel of speakers and provides an overview of the Smarter Commerce announcements in five key areas:
1. Advanced analytics: IBM Websphere Commerce and IBM Coremetrics Web Analytics help IBM customers better understand the effectiveness of marketing campaigns by giving them better visibility into their campaigns through detailed metrics and insights.
2. Cloud computing: IBM Coremetrics Lifecycle helps IBM customers track key customer advancement milestones as they decide on how to invest on targeting customers. The solution helps tracks marketing programs or new content and products launches.
3. Cross-channel commerce: IBM Websphere Commerce combined with IBM Coremetrics Intelligent Offer enables IBM customers to hop between channels such as web and mobile devices to gain immediate insight into behavior of customers. In the B2B space, IBM combined IBM Sterling Commerce with IBM Cognos Analytics to help in the� configure, price, and quote process for customers to give a detailed understanding of pricing configurations.
4. Social business: IBM Coremetrics Social Analytics combined with IBM Websphere Commerce helps customers to get insights into metrics around terms and marketing aspects important to their social marketing campaigns.
5. Supply chain planning and execution: IBM Sterling Commerce Order Management combined with IBM Websphere Commerce helps customers manage the order as an item to be tracked through its entire life cycle. The solution allows IBM customers to optimize inventory, reduce stock outs, and more.
See the entire Smarter Commerce press conference below.
I've been involved in a lot of behind-the-scenes kind of stuff lately, but I thought I'd pop back in briefly to shed some light on some of the great work my colleagues have been putting out there in the last two weeks or so. Ready? Here goes....
Performance 2011 - Make the leap from Insight to Foresight
If you're new to Performance, here's the scoop: It's a live, one-day where you'll be able to see the latest products (including IBM Cognos 10), talk to the people who built them and meet people who are already using them. You'll also get to learn about the latest thinking from our business analytics brain trust about how to best leverage IBM business intelligence, predictive and analytics, as well as financial performance and strategy management software for better business outcomes.
There's something for everyone at these events, whether you've been using our solutions for years or merely kicking the tires. Here's the keynote abstract:
Accurate, confident and the first to buzz in, Watson showed us what�s possible when you apply powerful analytics to complex questions by winning on Jeopardy! What could you do with similar capabilities?
For starters, you could anticipate and shape business outcomes to outperform your peers with clear and immediate insights into past, present and future performance. You could cut costs, boost profits and minimize risk across all facets of your organization. You could minimize disruption and capitalize on trends through better predictions about your customers and your market. You could compare �what-if� scenarios to build better forecasts, drive better decisions with immediate and relevant information and break down information silos for more effective collaboration.
In short, you could begin your journey to becoming an analytics-driven organization.
Drawing on the most recent offerings from our rich and robust portfolio of IBM Business Analytics software, this keynote is sure to spark your imagination.
The Finance Forum Switzerland was held at the famous and gorgeous Dolder Grand hotel. It is situated high above the city with breathtaking views left and right. Steve Morlidge, the author of �Future Ready� delivered a refreshing keynote about best practices in forecasting. He will be speaking at many different Finance Forums across Europe this year. We also had a customer speaker from a 500 year-old company (can you believe that?): Mr. Binzegger from Orell-Fuesseli talked about their innovative use of SPSS software to develop highly accurate credit ratings for companies. We also heard Mr. Wirth from Nycomed talk about how to build an effective reporting and information strategy in a global environment. The Dolder Hotel staff also served up some amazing food and coffees during the break. Great event.
Government Forum: Hear from Jimmy Wales, Build a Smarter Government
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is the keynote speaker for this year's IBM Government Forum 2011, our eighth annual event dedicated to improving outcomes in the U.S. federal public service.
This one-day event is happening Wednesday, May 4 at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center in Washington, DC. This year's event will feature breakout sessions, hands-on workshops and panel discussions with government officials, thought leaders and IBM business analytics executives including Rob Ashe. It's also being sponsored by The Performance Institute, a non-partisan think-tank and one of the nation�s leading authorities on performance-based management practices. The tracks include "Tying Performance to High-Priority Goals," "Achieving Better Outcomes with Predictive Analytics, " and "Assessing and managing Risk." The impressive list of speakers includes:
Elizabeth A. McGrath , Deputy Chief Management Officer for Department of Defense
Cherreka Montgomery, Director of Evaluation and Measurement, Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Office of Policy, Planning and Resources, Department of State
Kristine Leiphart, PhD, Assistant Inspector General for Administration Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Commerce
BARC, the Business Application Research Center, is conducting its 10th BI Survey. Dubbed "The Customer Verdict," it's the world's largest survey of business intelligence and performance management users. The Center is asking BI users to answer the survey (all answers are anonymous) in exchange for a summary of the full survey and a chance to win one of 10 $50 Amazon gift vouchers. The Survey will run until the end of May and is available in four languages. BARC provides great insights into companies' buying decisions implementation cycles and the business benefits they realize. They say the survey should only take 30 minutes to complete, so why not contribute to the research?
Phew. There's lots more I could write about, but I think I'll end it there. Until next week, keep up the good work in pursuit of better business outcomes. We're all in this together.
This blog is written by Mauricio Godoy, IBM Analyst Relations.
IBM�s Cloud Forum in San Francisco introduces Quora into the IBM SWG Analyst Relations program.� Quora�s interactive Q&A features provide cloud computing executives with a social platform to exchange questions and answers with their analyst audience.
The goal of using Quora at IBM�s Cloud Forum is to provide analysts with access to executives and valuable knowledge about how clients are benefiting from IBM�s cloud computing services.� Quora is growing, and its ability to unite analysts with tailored information is a valuable opportunity for events.�
Analysts can publish their questions; executives can publish their answers.
Executive participation plays a major role in Quora�s success at this event. Their participation is appreciated and their expertise is valued. The following IBM Cloud Computing executives are now participating on Quora�s IBM Cloud Forum Topic:
Lauren States - Vice President, Technology Strategy, Growth Initiatives, IBM
Jim Comfort - Vice President, Portfolio & SO Offering Management, IBM GTS
Angel Diaz - Vice President, Software Standards, IBM Software Group
Knowing which analysts are on Quora is key. Informing them a topic has been created so they may participate, and including a link to the topic in an email is helpful.
Your ideas or suggestions are welcomed in the comments.
I joked to a friend the other day that I don't throw around the term "most awesome person on the planet" all that much, but when I do it's usually because I'm either talking about Batman and/or Felicia Day.*
Of course, it helps that Codex...err, Felicia...is a real person.
The reason I'm talking about her is that she's the keynote speaker for Innovate 2011.
How Do You Know Her?
As an actress, you've probably seen Felicia Day on any number of television programs, in various films and as "Penny" in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.
But it's her own award-winning web series, The Guild, that makes her one of the most innovative creators working in the entertainment industry.
What Is The Guild? (or, "Which came first? The pirate, or the hook?")
The origin of the series is familiar: Actress is not getting the roles she wants so she decides to write her own vehicle to showcase her talents.
It's similar to what Matt Damon and Ben Affleck did with their Good Will Hunting screenplay.
But that's where the similarities end. Hollywood said "yes" to Damon and Affleck, they sold their screenplay and made their film inside the existing studio system.
With Day, Hollywood said "no" to her television idea for a sitcom about gamers (Hollywood deals in broad strokes, not niche markets). So, instead of letting the system dictate the rules, she decided to go another way. She decided to make the show herself and distribute it on the Internet.
And that is where it got interesting.
How She Did It
The Knights of Good (Day's production company) own The Guild. Funding has/is done through a combination of online donations, merchandising, sale of DVDs, a distribution deal with the Microsoft Live network and sponsorships from companies like Sprint.
There have been (and are) other web series, but part of the charm of The Guild is that the writing taps directly into the zeitgeist of modern nerd culture and gaming. Of course, it helps that Day is a child of the Internet and a gamer ("write what you know").
It also helps that, see above, she owns the show. No "studio notes." No focus groups. "Final cut" is something entertainers spend years trying to obtain inside the Hollywood system but the new rules of ownership, going outside the system, give Day "final cut" now! "Studio notes" and focus groups have been replaced by direct audience feedback and interaction.
To that point, one of the reasons The Guild works is that Hollywood tends to keep comedy as broad as possible (focusing on the mass audience). The Guild cuts out the "middleman" and manages to combine classic situational and relationship comedy with jokes about hit points and character inventory to an audience that was just waiting for a show that spoke to them.
The Loyal Fanbase By The Numbers
Building a web series business meant that Felicia Day had to become an entrepreneur and as she rose to the challenge, becoming an innovator; building her audience one loyal follower at a time.
Twitter. Facebook. Conventions appearances. She and the cast and crew have any number of ways to interact with their audience and foster their loyalty and participation.
That's one of the most innovative things about The Guild. The level of customer loyalty to the business is considerably high.
As a guy who sits in a room all day doing marketing, I can tell you that fostering customer loyalty is extremely difficult.
But the numbers don't lie. Just looking at Felicia Day's Twitter stats, she has 1.8 Million followers. That doesn't include any of the cast or crew or the official Twitter ID.
To put this in perspective, The Big Bang Theory is a network television show that is targeted towards a similar audience. Of the three actors from that show on Twitter, the one with the highest following is only at 158,000 (and the show itself is nowhere to be found on Twitter, the unofficial ID barely clocks in at 30,000 followers).
Even American Idol, a show that has some level of "active" participation from the audience who vote as they watch the show, only has 220,000 Twitter followers.
While Twitter is only one metric, it does show a level of active participation that indicates Day is doing something right here.
The numbers are just one indication that Hollywood is still struggling to make this Internet thing work for them. The future is in the untapped niche markets, and they're still struggling to get there. Let alone build customer loyalty.
Felicia Day not only has it figured out, but she's successfully pushed well ahead of the curve. Heck, I haven't even gotten into her side project; working with BioWare on a web series for their new game, Dragon Age Redemption.
I could easily go on for another fifty pages further elaborating on why she is one of the most innovative people working today.
If you're working in software, and you're not attending Innovate...what are you waiting for? In addition to hearing her keynote, there's a ton of amazing sessions and interactions with customers, Business Partners and IBMers waiting for you in Orlando.
Here's the welcome video from Day. Watch it and get yourself over to Innovate. You will be entertained. You will learn from her. And you will be inspired to innovate.
Go here for registration and we we look forward to seeing you there.
PS the funniest thing about this blog post is that Tiffany Winman "asked" if I would write up something about Felicia Day. It's like "asking" your kids if they want to go for ice cream...at DisneyWorld.
PPS I got to meet her at SXSW and I can say without a doubt: one of the nicest people I've met.
If you want to know what someone thinks, just ask. Better yet, just listen.
Unsolicited feedback is everywhere and oftentimes people will tell you what they�re thinking without any prompting.
The world is a noisy place and the advent of social media has resulted in nearly nonstop dialogue in countless locales. In fact, we'd go so far as to say that we live in the "Age of Over-Sharing."
Social media has unleashed the power of self-expression. Gone are the days of the internal monologue. Today, we live under the banner of "TMI" or Too Much Information. People share everything � maybe it's therapeutic � from medical ailments to stories about their kids and pets to recipes to life's aggravations to their favorite (and more often least favorite) restaurants, brands and products.
This over-sharing might seem useless to some, but this �babble� actually has incredible hidden meaning, relationships, patterns and trends.
Companies today would be shortsighted to ignore what their customers are saying about their products and services, in their own words. Those opinions are essential nuggets and reveal much more insight than traditional demographic or transactional data.
The challenge in analyzing customer insights used to be in gathering enough data to make informed decisions. Social media has created a new challenge: understanding the rich content from endless streams of data.
That is why IBM continues to innovate and expand itsbusiness analyticsportfolio to help organizations use social media to gain insight into consumer opinions and spot trends related to products and brands.
Today, IBM announcedIBM Cognos Consumer Insight, a new social media analytics application based on technology research assets developed byIBM Research Labsin Almaden. IBM Cognos Consumer Insight allows customers to listen, measure and analyze large volumes of publicly available social media content from billions of blog posts, thousands of online forums and discussion groups, as well as publicly available content on Facebook and Twitter.
A recentWinterbury Groupreport claims that social media marketing is expected to increase 13.2% to $1.2B, where direct mail and broadcast advertising remain unchanged.
Recognizing the amount of critical data resting within these social media sources is important for businesses to capitalize on, and offers an opportunity to extract this intelligence to better interact, react and mine customer opinion and feedback.
For example, if a retail merchandising manager from a high-end fashion line wants to gain better visibility into how a newly released woman�s print dress is being received by consumers, IBM Consumer Insight identifies, captures and reports on millions of pieces of social data to provide instant feedback on that particular item.
Managers can now use this critical feedback by analyzing key words found associated with the dress to better understand buying trends � if the red print dress is being described as too loud or too bold, brands can now make recommendations to the designer on creating the dress in blackinstead or red in order to adjust to customer preferences.
It also helps organizations analyze the success of their marketing campaigns, such as what are consumers saying and hearing about my brand? What are the most talked about product attributes in my product category? Is the feedback good or bad? How are consumers responding to our new advertising campaigns? What is my competition doing to excite the market?
For example, what if a famous pop star is doing more harm than good as the spokesperson for the brand? Brand campaign managers can now evaluate data from prime social sources to make smarter decisions around advertising campaigns moving forward and tweak current campaigns.
All of this information can be easily displayed on a dashboard with tables and crosstabs, as well as pie charts and trend charts to easily understand and share what is being said in the social media landscape.
A Truly 360 Degree View of Customers
It is relatively easy for organizations to analyze transactional data to learn which customers spend the most on goods and services. Adding demographic and attitudinal data from a satisfaction survey can help further segment customers into meaningful groups and thus drive different responses or communication strategies.
The cherry on top is social media data. It provides even richer insights into customers� true feelings because they�re speaking in their own words and by their own initiative. The ability to now incorporate social media data from IBM Cognos Consumer Insight intopredictive analytics solutionsgives businesses a comprehensive understanding of their customers. By understanding customer preferences and buying patterns, businesses can build predictive models to better determine future outcomes with a great deal of confidence. Knowing that customers who complained about customer service tend to leave for competitive offerings, businesses can preemptively act to retain those customers.
Marketing no longer has a mute button. With business analytics software, organizations are better enabled to transform their customer relationships by actively listening to what customers are saying onpublic social media channels.
Most customers expect (and demand) greater levels of intimacy from the companies with which they choose to do business. The analysis of social media data moves organizations one step closer to the goal of achieving truly scalable one-to-one marketing.
By turning up the volume, organizations are more agile, precise and responsive to market and customer demands.
Are you a technical evangelist on the Rational product line? Do you blog heavily in this area or regularly respond to forum postings? Have you written books on Agile methodologies or other aspects of collaborative development?
If so, you may be prime candidate to join the cadre of IBM Champions.
Launched earlier this year, the IBM Champion program aims to recognize those individuals who make a valuable contribution to the technical community. As Redmonk�s James Governor has pointed out, developers are the �new kingmakers�: an important constituency in technology. So IBM will offer IBM Champions the following benefits:
Recognition -Increased visibility and recognition within IBM communities, events and conferences; Featured profile on developerWorks and more
Exclusive access to IBM product teams, exclusive preview to new product briefings
Preferred access to free IBM software for evaluation and demos
Invitation to events - discounts for events and conferences
This short video from developerWorks Director Alice Chou spells out what it takes to become an IBM Champion and what you will receive:
Think you have what it takes? Come visit us at the developerWorks pedestal at the Innovate conference to learn more about the IBM Champion program.
The annual Impact follow-up issue of the IBM Software Newsletter is always popular, and this year's was no exception. What WAS exceptional was how evenly reader interest was divided among the Impact related articles in the issue � based on click-through, it was basically a 9-way tie for first among the top stories. So in case you missed the issue � or, for some unimaginable reason, aren�t an IBM Software Newsletter subscriber � here are quick links to ALL the Impact items in the newsletter:
I�ll be attending Government Forum and hope to see you there. For those of you who are attending, here are 10 things you can do to prepare:
1. Follow me on Twitter. I will be tweeting updates throughout the conference, along with information about smarter government, what I am learning and what others are learning from me. I�ll be using the #IBMGF tag.
2. View our demo, Analytics for Smarter Government, and find out how IBM Cognos and IBM SPSS solutions give leaders the trusted information they need to improve programs and services, lower risks and achieve better government outcomes.
3. Tune in to the big picture. IBM Business Analytics solutions can help you tackle challenges around cyber security, customs and immigration, crime prediction and prevention, performance management, traffic congestion, tactical defense data and more.
4. Think about how your organization uses social media. Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, is the Forum�s keynote speaker. He�ll discuss how governments use social media to interact with citizens to improve services and drive better outcomes.
I�m not a big royal watcher, but I did enjoy the pomp and precision, and the sense of a shared occasion. It�s not every day you get to wake up knowing that half of humanity is watching and sharing their views on a few meters of fabric.
Performance events on now
We can�t promise quite the same level of pomp at our Performance or Finance Forum events, but we can promise that you�ll come away with a better understanding of how much better your business could perform with a little help from IBM Business Analytics software and the people who build them. Performance events are taking place now in North America, with events in Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific to happen starting in September.
The tireless Christoph Papenfuss continues his blogging unabated, with a new post on our Best Practices in Rolling Forecasts Workshop. The result of our longstanding collaboration with Finance Forum speakers David Axson and Steve Morlidge, the half-day workshops help you develop proven practices that many of our customers are using to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of their Finance processes. Here�s a sampling of the questions on the agenda:
Is a rolling forecast right for your organization?
What�s the right time horizon? 90-day? Four quarter? Six quarter? Three year?
How often should you update the forecast?
How do you use a rolling forecast as an early alert of threats and opportunities?
What is the role of scenarios?
What role can driver-based modeling and tools play in the forecast process?
How do you sell the need for a rolling forecast?
What does the business case look like?
How can you measure the efficiency and effectiveness of your process?
Christoph has delivered more than 100 of these in the past three years, so I think it�s safe to say there�s a lot of interest in finding out the answers. If you�re interested in conducting one for your own organization, simply send Christoph an email to learn more.
The centerpiece of the supplement: An interview with IBM�s Tom Rosamilla (general manager of Power and z Systems) and Hayden Lindsey (Rational vice president and Distinguished Engineer, Enterprise Modernization) who talk about 1) IBM�s recent zEnterprise and Smarter Computing launches, 2) ways companies are accelerating enterprise modernization on System z and Power systems using the latest IBM development tools, and 3) what customers can expect from the IBM Innovate 2011 Conference (June 5-9 in Orlando).
The supplement also includes links to information about the various products discussed, a couple of videos, and the complete schedule of sessions in the System z and Power Systems tracks at Innovate.
And here�s a secret: Even though the link provided here takes you directly to the supplement, once there you can page through the rest of the magazine. I heartily recommend you do it � it�s a terrific publication � and then subscribe to the IBM Systems Magazine Digital Edition, which is FREE (and pretty impressive as free publications go!).
But you know what they say...you have to be in it, to win it! Nominations are now open, and will be closing at 11:59 p.m. EDT US on May 12, 2011. You can get in on the action by submitting your leading edge solution for consideration in one of four categories. This year's categories are:
Innovation in IT Development
Innovation in Systems Development
Innovation in Enterprise Modernization Development
Innovation in Sales and Marketing
Each category will have one winner and one finalist. Winners will receive a number of benefits, including an engraved crystal trophy, an IBM-crafted press release, inclusion in the worldwide Rational Innovate Conference press release, a signed photo with a Rational executive, and an award graphic to use on their website for one year. They will also get a mention on THIS blog! But perhaps the most exciting benefit will be a single free pass to Innovate 2011. Can you beat that?
In this first in a series of posts about dashboards, Jane Farqhuar, IBM Business Intelligenceand Performance Management Product Marketing Manager, blogs about the benefits of personalization.
The concept of a dashboard is a familiar one to anyone with a driver�s license. The dashboards on our cars tell us how fast we�re going, whether we need gas, our RPMs, what our oil levels are and if the temperature of our engines is sufficient. The location of this information in the dashboards differ by car make and model, but the information there is basically the same no matter what kind of car you drive.
As comfortable as you are with your car�s dashboard, don�t you sometimes wish that you could control what information you see and where you see it? Maybe you�d like to see information about your last trip or how far you�ve gone on this trip without pressing a button. Maybe you think it would be great if your GPS were right there next to your gas gauge.
The fact is, however, that we don�t get much of a say in what our car dashboards tell us and how the information is positioned. In some cases, we have to purchase a more expensive version of the car we want to get information in our dashboard that we think should be basic to all cars.
The same can be said of business intelligence dashboards. Over the years, there have been articles and papers telling us what dashboards should look like, what colors work best and how they should present information. However, the information they should be presenting has been missing from the discussion. There has been more concern about appearance and how easy a dashboard is to use than what the dashboard is telling us and whether it�s telling us what we really need to know.
So, the result is that most dashboard users are looking at the same information. There might be some variation based on levels of authentication or roles, but the basics are the same. This might be okay in a car, but it�s not as effective in business. Everyone in a business needs to be able to see the information that is relevant to their daily tasks and their long-term goals and presented in a way that makes the most sense to them.
This is why the dashboarding capabilities in Cognos 10 are personalized. We�re doing more than putting you in the driver�s seat�we�re putting you at the engineer�s table so that when you�re in the driver�s seat, everything you need to drive your business is right where you can find it. There are no buttons to push and no graphs or metrics that you don�t need to see unless you want them there.
For example, if you need to focus on performance, you can put together different elements and views of performance and create a dashboard that could look like this:
With Cognos 10 dashboarding capabilities, you can create the dashboard you need depending on your role in the company, your region, the displays you can understand best or even the day of the week. You can see information from the past and in the present and you can even predict what might happen in the future. You can assemble everything in one unified workspace.
Think of it as your dream dashboard in your dream car�only in this case, your car is your business. You can see the temperature of your business, check the direction your business is headed and review what you�ve done over the past few months all without having to do a thing except look. There�s no scrambling for maps in the glove compartment or trying to figure out how much gas you�ve used by doing math in your head. And that makes it easier for you to make decisions and address issues when needed.
For more information about Cognos 10 dashboarding capabilities, you can download our dashboarding white paper or view the demo. You can also follow me on Twitter (JFarquharIBM).
Today's guest post is by Business Analytics Senior Writer Paul Bard
Any company that�s looking at an investment in software wants to know, 1) who else is using it, and 2) how it�s working for them. That�s especially true when the software involves critical financial processes and compliance with SEC mandates. And that�s why we�re happy to share the names of some of the top corporations who will be presenting customer breakout sessions at Vision 2011��The Premier Event for Financial Management.�
Vision 2011 will be held from May 13-15 in Dallas, Texas. It will give finance professionals and the IT professionals who support finance an opportunity to learn about the very latest tools and disciplines for financial management and governance. (Yes�it�s less than two weeks away. But there�s still time to save $200 off the on-site rate if you register today.)
Best Buy, Intel and Time Warner are among the customers who will describe how they use IBM solutions to improve essential financial processes like budgeting, forecasting and consolidation, as well as financial governance and compliance with regulatory mandates like XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language).
Here�s a sample of the customers and sessions you can see at Vision 2011:
Time Warner Entrusts CLARITY FSR with 10-Q, 10-K, Press Releases and Internal Analysis Reports Learn how media and entertainment giant Time Warner uses CLARITY FSR as a secure, centralized reporting platform to ensure that data is always up-to-date and internal groups like Tax, Legal and HR can upload information directly into their reports.
Retail is Detail � Fast, Flexible Operational Planning at Best Buy Learn how retail leader Best Buy uses the real-time collaborative planning technology of IBM Cognos TM1 to translate high-level targets into pragmatic operating budgets without sacrificing detail or complexity.
Optimizing External Reporting at Intel Corp. with CLARITY FSR In this session, you�ll hear how high-tech icon Intel implemented CLARITY FSR to automate its reporting and enhance controls, replacing a manual process that suffered from multiple bottlenecks.
SEC Reporting and Beyond: Exelon Takes CLARITY FSR to the Next LevelLearn how Exelon Corporation, one of the nation�s largest electric utilities, uses CLARITY FSR to automate their internal and external reporting.
You�ve Got Mail�Utilizing Clarity Report Books at Omron Healthcare See how Omron Healthcare uses Clarity Report Books to meet complex reporting requirements and hear about easy-to-implement solutions that enhance the Clarity Report Book experience.
Better Budgeting with IBM Cognos TM1 at Pillar Hotels & Resorts Learn how a property management company with a portfolio of more than 230 hotels in 37 states replaced a manual, spreadsheet-based process with IBM Cognos TM1 for budgeting and forecasting.
Multi-Tiered Integrated Forecast Architecture at Prudential Hear how financial services giant Prudential used CLARITY 7 to reduce forecast cycle time by over 50%.
In addition to customer sessions like these, Vision 2011 will include panel discussions, product demos, breakout sessions that showcase IBM Clarity solutions as well as other components of the IBM Business Analytics portfolio, and a keynote address by Christopher Cox, the former Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission,.
Vision 2011 also offers an invitation-only event for senior finance executives called Leadership Exchange, which gives the leaders of your finance team the chance to gain insight into economic policy-making at the highest level and learn how organizations use analytics to drive better financial performance in today�s economy.
There is a lot more to learn about Vision 2011, but with less than two weeks to go, please visit the. conference website for more details and register today. We hope to see you there!
Follow us on Twitter!
Connect with other attendees and stay up-to-date on event news through @OfficeOfFinance and use the #Vision11 hashtag.
It's something we talked about a lot at Pulse this year. There was a time when new technologies would come along and it would be the responsibility of the security team to basically say "beware!" or "no!" However, we are seeing a significant shift in this approach. Security professionals can no longer say "no," because being competitive in today's market means being able to confidently adopt these new technologies. When we think about the qualities that come together that make something an innovative technology we often talk about things like ease of use and adoption, better performance, scalability, automation, deep analytics, the list goes on.
However, as the computer industry has matured over the last twenty years, so has the market for criminal activity. In the recent IBM X-Force 2010 Trend and Risk Report we saw a dramatic increase in the number of sophisticated, targeted attackers. It seems like we can't go one week without hearing a major news story about a data breach. But that does not mean that this is the time for companies to say "no" to adopting new technologies, to innovating, because of the potential risks associated with them. Sure, we need to be smart about how we approach things like clouds, and which workloads we put where, but what we are really seeing is that companies are adding one more capability to the list of qualities inherent in real innovation. Security.
Nowhere is this message more clear than in the application development space. Web applications account for about half of all vulnerability disclosures, and what we see is likely just the tip of the iceberg. That said, nobody wakes up in the morning to go out there and write a bunch of really porous code that's going to put users at risk. That is why IBM offers a set of tools that use a combination of dynamic and static testing to find the vulnerabilities in code and help you to remediate them. It's not just about security though. It's about building and designing a better application from start to finish. It's security helping you innovate.
To that point, this year security will have a really exciting agenda at Innovate 2011 and I would encourage any of you to attend who have an interest in this space. We'll have experts from all over the company including Rational, Tivoli, GTS, Research and X-Force. In the below podcast, Brian Moran talks a little about what you can expect to see at Innovate this year.
Some of the speakers will include Steve Robinson, General Manager IBM Security Solutions, Jack Danahy, WW Security Executive/Rational, Steve Hikida, Director Rational Security, Tom Cross, Manager IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence and Strategy and many more.
The best part of any movie is when they go around putting the team together. Think Ocean's Eleven. Or when they go to the police academy in the Untouchables to find George Stone (Andy Garcia).
It's in those scenes that you ramp up to the rest of the film, cause you know that whomever gets selected for the team are the best of the best. The A-Team. The elite.
Well, that's what we're doing at IBM. We're putting together a team of our own, and we're looking for people like you?
Yes. Like you.
Here's the deal:
The IBM Champion program recognizes innovative thought leaders in the technical community -- and rewards these contributors by amplifying their voice and increasing their sphere of influence. An IBM Champion is a non-IBM developer or IT professional who leads and mentors his or her peers and helps them make best use of IBM solutions and services.
What's all that marketing speak mean?
Simply, the strong relationship that IBM has with you, our customers, is something that contributes to everyone's success.
Which is why I think this program is such a great opportunity for you and others like you. It helps put you in a position to elevate your thought leadership to your peers and at the same time helps IBM recognize some of our best customers.
Win. Win. And we didn't need to pull a Miss Daisy in the process.
What's Your Next Move?
Go to the IBM Champion website. Read more about the program. Watch the video. Check out some of the current members on the home page (there's a great filter option for the search field). Follow the action on Twitter (#ibmchampion).
There are champions for each and every one of our Software Group brands. And it's not just software, my old buddies over in Systems & Technology Group are also joining in on the fun.
Translation: if you are an expert around IBM products and the technologies that support them, then chances are there's a champion program waiting for you.
So, if you think you have what it takes, go to the nomination form and submit your application.
And while you're waiting for when we announce the winners to the nomination process, migh I suggest another great "putting the team together/heist" movie; Kelly's Heroes. What it lacks in IT-related thought leadership conversations, it more than makes up for in Clint Eastwood awesomeness.
If you were to look at the Service Management Simulator Experience as an observer, you might say something like that.
But the reality is, the people attending it know exactly what they're yelling about. They know exactly what the stakes are.
What is the Service Management Simulator Experience? It's a hands-on game that my team runs where we focus on the challenges and business value of implementing Service Management best practices.
The scenario we create in the room is real. It's a few hours of role playing that mimic the stressful interactions IT has with the business as they try to balance requirements to achieve a common goal.
My colleague David Ojalvo said it best in his post, "In the end, you will come away with an actionable understanding of how the effectiveness of IT processes impacts your business!"
Since a good portion of Integrated Service Management is focused on Design & Delivery (Rational and Tivoli) we are hosting a session at Innovate 2011.
If you are interested, we'd love to have you attend. Registration is closing fast, so to get included in the event send an e-mail request to email@example.com.
With regard to the Service Management Simulator Experience we did at Pulse 2011, attendee and analyst Rich Ptak wrote:
In my opinion, this was, by far, the most fun and engaging workshop session I�ve attended in a long time. This opinion was confirmed with other attendees after the session and in casual encounters over the next few days at Pulse 2011.