In my last blog post, I said that one very common idea underlying best practices today is this: �faster is better.� There are different ways to get faster, though. And some are certainly more appealing, in a given context, than others.
For instance, consider the context of IT development. This is a world of business logic, algorithms rendered in specific code and the software development environments, in which the first is alchemically transmuted into the second, to create software-driven services.
Faster software-driven services mean faster (and more) business transactions. This is certainly better than slower (and fewer) business transactions.
Now: What's the most efficient way to make your software faster?
If you're an IT ops guy, you probably see the world through the lens of technology infrastructures. So your response would be something like this:
�We need to buy a faster host. Or, even better, redeploy the app on a grid or cloud architecture. That means we need to get the IT dev guys to rewrite the code so the app's work can be distributed in discrete chunks across that architecture for parallel processing. At that point, to get more speed, we can just add more physical hosts and virtual servers, as well as other resources like virtual storage or network bandwidth as required. Easy as pie.�
But if you're an IT dev guy, you probably got a headache reading all of that, and you see IT ops guys as the enemy. (I'm kidding. Everyone knows IT management is the enemy.)
The idea of completely reworking and redeploying mission-critical applications along these lines sounds slow, risky and impractical. It's difficult enough doing the thing the organization already asked you to do: add new software capabilities to the existing codebase, which was created by completely different guys, at a completely different point in time years ago and intended for completely different hardware.
As far as performance optimization of the whole codebase goes? Well, every neat little trick you might add to the code, to speed it up, introduces the possibility of that app now breaking unexpectedly. And that is a totally unacceptable concept, because your organization depends on the software to create value for customers and thus miraculously make headway even in the current gloomy business climate.
So to you, the IT dev guy, what is the best way to speed up mission-critical software? Ideally, it would involve:(a)
no new coding or code-tweaking required(b)
no new risk that the code will break (because of the clever tweaks you added to speed it up)(c)
no catastrophic service downtime (that creates lots of media attention and generates an estimated $1 bazillion in lost revenue)(d)
no pink slips allocated to IT dev guys, due to the above(e)
no new hardware required
That sounds pretty dreamy. Is it actually possible?Recompile your code, get faster software-driven services
Turns out that it is. I was fortunate to be able to talk to Roland Koo, Product Manager for Compilers at the IBM Software Solutions Toronto Lab, and he gave me the inside story.
�Upgrade your compilers,� said Koo. �Move to better compilers, and all of that can happen. The compiler's job is to make life easy for programmers, so they can focus on getting the business logic right.�
How do compilers
deliver on this value proposition? Just consider what they do -- and how they work. After a programmer writes up business logic in code (using a specific language, like C++ or COBOL), the compiler then cruises through the code, translating it into machine code (processor instructions) for a specific processor. This machine code, in turn, is what actually runs on the IT production servers (or mainframe).
And because compilers are not all created equal, some do a much better job than others at generating fast machine code. The smarter the compiler, the more efficient will be the machine code it generates -- translating directly into faster software-driven services.
In this sense, then, compilers are much more than just one more technical element of a software development. They are the most direct liaison between your software development team, which speaks one language, and the hardware your applications run on, which speaks another. So by investing in superior compilers, organizations can get both superior software and a superior business outcome from it.
Koo put matters even more directly than that: �You cannot maximize your return on investment unless you stay current with compiler technology.�
I have to agree with him. Note how quickly organizations can get that improved ROI: simply install the new compilers, recompile the code as-is and deploy the new applications the compiler generates. No risky code-tweaking is required. No new hardware is required. No new business risk of service downtime is introduced, because the code itself wasn't changed -- only the efficiency of the software.New IBM compilers offer accelerated performance with no hardware upgrade required
Look at how that applies in the case of IBM System z compilers, for instance. System z mainframes run some of the most mission-critical services in the business world -- customer-facing online banking services, for instance. Better performance is always needed for such services, yet customer tolerance for downtime is practically zero.
So banks need a way to accelerate services without introducing new risk. That's exactly what IBM's new System z compilers, for COBOL, PL/I and C/C++, can deliver -- and not just for banking, but for any industry in which mainframe-based services face the same context.
Koo emphasizes that no new hardware had needs to be purchased. �You do not need to upgrade hardware to upgrade compilers,� he said. �In fact, upgrading compilers is a cost-effective way to get more out of existing hardware technology. You can take advantage of new improvements in both optimization and programmer productivity.�
In that second category, programmer productivity, another point to consider about IBM's compiler technology is that it leverages IBM's strengths in related areas, such as development tools, middleware, databases (like DB2) and transaction systems (like CICS and IMS) and modem application development tools such as IBM Rational Developer for System z and Rational Team Concert for Enterprise Platforms providing a high productivity environment for developing business critical applications. Because IBM offers them all, it can also optimize its compilers in ways no competitor can, to deliver even better performance for code that involves IBM middleware via integrated, pre-processor support.
Finally, while hardware upgrades aren't essential to get impressive, measurable business benefits from a new compiler, a new hardware/new compiler combination is unquestionably a great way to go, given the option.
In fact, there is to a 60 percent performance improvement on zEnterprise (the eleventh generation of System z mainframes) for C/C++ applications , when compared to running the same applications on System z10. That's what IBM's own internal tests have shown, and that's probably not too far from what organizations with IBM mainframe-driven services can expect to get as well.
How are you accelerating mainframe applications these days?Additional InformationSee how the latest IBM compilers can help you save moneyRegister for this webcast to see what IBM�s latest compilers can do for youConnect to the IBM Rational Caf� CommunitiesLearn more about IBM Software for System zRead about System z components (including compilers)Read a paper on The Economic Impact of Mainframe ComputingAbout the authorGuest blogger Wes Simonds worked in IT for seven years before becoming a technology writer on topics including virtualization, cloud computing and service management. He lives in sunny Austin, Texas and believes Mexican food should always be served with queso.
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Can you really get lone-wolf scientists to work with each other? Can you get them to put aside their egos and career paths to create something that could change the world?
You can if you did what David Ferrucci did.
First on the list was the risk of failure: Most scientists I approached favored their own individual projects and career tracks. And who could blame them? This was an effort that, at best, would mingle the contributions of many. At its worst it would fail miserably, undermining the credibility of all involved... I was willing to live with possible failure as a downside, but was the team?.
Then there was the solitary and ego-driven nature of scientific research: Scientists, by their nature, can be solitary creatures conditioned to work and publish independently to build their reputations. While collaboration drives just about all scientific research, the idea of �publishing or perishing� under one�s own name is alive and well.
As we now know, Ferrucci was able to entice enough researchers to his cause (the team grew from 12 to 25). And yes, to a member they were indeed brilliant and accomplished. But Watson was a project unlike any other. Ferrucci knew he'd need to change the way team members worked with each other.
This is where collaboration comes in. Ferrucci writes:From the first, it was clear that we would have to change the culture of how scientists work. Watson was destined to be a hybrid system. It required experts in diverse disciplines: computational linguistics, natural language processing, machine learning, information retrieval and game theory, to name a few.
Likewise, the scientists would have to reject an ego-driven perspective and embrace the distributed intelligence that the project demanded. Some were still looking for that silver bullet that they might find all by themselves. But that represented the antithesis of how we would ultimately succeed. We learned to depend on a philosophy that embraced multiple tracks, each contributing relatively small increments to the success of the project.
Ferrucci and Watson succeeded because of vision, collaboration and a willingness to break down cultural barriers. Whether you're at Lotusphere or simply following along, I invite you to think about where those attributes can take your own organizations.
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The curtain came up on Lotusphere
and IBM Connect
this morning down in Orlando, and if the initial flurry of social media activity is any indication, the first IBM software conference of 2012 is off to a great start. With an opening general session featuring guest musicians OK Go and
actor Michael J. Fox, it took less than 30 minutes for attendees to drive #ls12, "Michael J Fox" and "Social Business" to the top of Twitter's trending list.
You certainly seem to be enjoying yourselves.
Up here in the Great White North, I took in the excitement through the Lotusphere social media aggregator
, which gave me not only a live video feed of IBM executives Alistair Rennie
, Sandy Carter
and Mike Rhodin but a steady stream of tweets, blog posts and photos.
It was almost like being there, were the temperature not 20 degrees below zero.
A whole lot of blogging going on
News! News! News!
This being an IBM event, the day also featured official news releases. Here's what we sent across the wire today:
And that's just Day 1
There's a lot more collaborating to do and I'm looking forward to tuning in again tomorrow. Remember, if you can't be there in person you can watch tomorrow's opening general session and follow along with the fun through the Lotusphere / IBM Connect Social Media Aggregator
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Understanding Big Data: Analytics for Enterprise Class Hadoop and Streaming Data is written by a team five (5) IBM data management experts. It tells, in very straightforward terms, what �Big Data� is and why it�s important. It provides a terrific primer on the what, why and how of Hadoop, the open source Big Data platform � plus lots of the other lingo that all Big Data customers (soon to be everyone) need to know. And � truth in advertising here � it describes IBM�s Big Data solutions in some detail.
Oh, one more thing: It is flying off the virtual shelves. I don�t think it�s an exaggeration to call it the Big Data �must-read� of the moment. So download your copy before the moment passes.
Must-see Social TV. Starting at 8:00 AM ET on Monday, January 16, you can watch Lotusphere 2012 General Sessions � including the ever-popular live product demos � on the Livestream IBM Software Channel. And you can return to the channel often for interviews from the show floor, recorded sessions, and other videos you can watch live or on-demand. It�s nowhere near as good as being at Lotusphere, but it�s required viewing if you wish you were there. Tune in.
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�All right stop, collaborate and listen��
Some people might argue, but former rapper and musician Vanilla Ice was a visionary.
Truth be told, he probably wasn�t talking about business analytics when he eloquently penned those famous lyrics in �Ice, Ice Baby.� But, he could have been.
We live in a collaborative world today�whether we like it or not. The realm of �social� is slowly morphing personal and professional, ultimately making life more efficient and transparent.
And some people and organizations are still rejecting this notion altogether.
Which is why at a company of approximately 400,000, with team members spread across the world, collaboration is a way of life, and a necessity in the IBM survival kit.
It bridges the gap of the world of social with the world of business. It allows us to now connect people and insights to gain alignment inside of the organization, as well as hold people accountable.
Decision making is no longer a game of telephone where important elements of that decision are lossed as it is passed on�one person at a time. When the decision is finally executed, does anyone even know if it was right, if the right people were involved, who made the decision, or why?
That�s where the power of business analytics and collaboration come together.
Organizations can lose tremendous productivity as they search for invaluable information hidden in various meeting notes, manual processes, emails and people�s notebooks.
Collaborative business intelligence(BI) streamlines and improves decision-making by providing capabilities for forming communities, capturing annotations and opinions, and sharing insights with others around the information itself.
It also allows organizations to communicate and coordinate tasks to engage the right people at the right time.
In fact, industry analyst Dave Menninger from Ventana Research commented that �innovative organizations recognize the processes involved in BI are as important as the technology and take steps to provide collaborative support to their BI activities.�
With built-in collaboration and social networking, collaborative BI harnesses the collective intelligence of the organization to connect people and insights and gain alignment.
What was once a dysfunctional buffet style decision making process is now a formal dining experience, with collaborative BI as the lazy susan passing reports and dashboards around the table for feedback and discussion.
Everyone now has input into the process, can easily connect with and understand context with others who are relevant to the decisions being made,and can now learn from history with a centralized corporate memory.
But realistically, before we can all sit down and enjoy this collaborative feast, it must be an accepted practice in the organization.
Culture is at the heart of this. It has to want to happen. Collaboration cannot be forced.
And, once you have embraced it�well, there�s no turning back.
Before too long, you have access to the people and expertise you need to discuss and refine ideas, data and information for the best results.
Had Vanilla Ice lived in today�s world of social networks and business analytics, he might have been able to lengthen his career, better market himself, sell more records, write better songs, connect with fans and shave less eyebrows.
Ok, maybe not.
But, he would have lived true to his mantra of collaborating with his producers and writers and listening to the general collective before making any decisions.
(I apologize if you now have Vanilla Ice stuck in your head for the rest of the day, but at least you�ll be thinking about how you can establish collaborative BI processes across the organization.)
Learn more about IBM Cognos Collaboration by:
� Registering for the January 17 IBM TechTalk: �Enabling Better Decision Making Through Highly Collaborative BI� (Begins at 12:00 pm ET)
� Watching the demo to see how to use built-in collaboration and social networking tools to connect people and insights
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What's the ideal private cloud? The one you never have to think about. Lately I've done a certain amount of writing on best practices. And as usual, when I write about something, this means I find myself wanting to apply the root idea in all sorts of new ways.
So almost against my will, I come up with best practices for things like making espresso, playing scales on a guitar and finding a restaurant in an unfamiliar part of town.
This morning it struck me that there are underlying concepts that practically all of these best practices have in common:1.
Faster is better.2.
Cheaper is better.3.
More consistent results are better.4.
More automation is better.
That last idea is particularly powerful.
The less I have to think about any of the details of (for instance) making espresso in the morning, the more I can think about whatever I actually need to do that day instead.
This is helpful because without coffee, I am nearly useless and can be confused by doorknob locks. I need all the brainpower I can get. So it's nice being able to pull a shot or two of good espresso -- not a trivial job -- completely on autopilot.
It also occurs to me that if you apply those four concepts I list above to IT infrastructures, you get a pretty clear sense of where things have gone in the last 10 years -- and where they're heading. To wit: higher performance, lower costs, greater consistency and smarter automation.
And once again, the fourth one is particularly powerful. Especially in a cloud context.
A significant chunk of the appeal of cloud architectures, to business leaders, is simply this: You don't have to think about the details of the technology (which is relatively unimportant). You can instead think about what you're trying to accomplish with the technology (which is very important). You can more easily go, in a business sense, from early-morning, pre-coffee haze to clarity about your strategies and their execution.
And this is surely part of why, in recent years, pay-as-you-go public clouds have flourished, but private clouds (despite lower operating costs over time) have been a little slower off the mark. Private clouds, being private, require creating and maintaining the actual cloud infrastructure in-house. I imagine business leaders look at that idea and say, �Oh, geez, we're back to the details of the tech.�
This being so, the more IT solution providers can simplify and accelerate private cloud creation and maintenance, the more successful private clouds are likely to be.Day one: No private cloud. Day two: Killer private cloud.
Well, the IBM SmartCloud initiative, launched last fall, strikes me as being directly on point in this respect.
When I talked to Murtuza Choilawala, Product Manager for Cloud Solutions with IBM Tivoli Software, he agreed -- pointing specifically to provisioning as a key cloud capability.
�Simplifying and accelerating private cloud rollout -- of new services, new servers or the whole cloud -- is really what SmartCloud is all about,� he said. �A big part of that comes thanks to a particular element of the offering called IBM SmartCloud Provisioning
. Using it, organizations can easily get a private cloud up and running, starting with nothing but the hardware, in less than a single business day. If you're looking for a fast, effective implementation of business strategies, where you don't have to struggle with the technical details? You can't do much better than that.�
A single business day? To go from no private cloud to an up-and-running private cloud? �Game-changer� is not a phrase I like to use, but it seems to apply in this case. In fact, an upcoming Tech Talk on Cloud Computing
to be held January 18 with Choilawala will show you why.
Further conversation revealed that this is no coincidence. SmartCloud Provisioning was designed specifically for the scenario I described above: An organization is interested in private cloud. It likes the idea of the reduced operating costs that come from owning its own cloud. But it's leery of the expected setup, maintenance and management a private cloud will require.Forget about the usual hassles of setup, maintenance and management
What IBM SmartCloud does is reduce all three of those problem areas to a bare minimum.Setup,
for instance. In this area, SmartCloud Provisioning discovers new host (node) hardware, then allows administrators to create new virtual servers that will run on that hardware, and provision those virtual servers from an image library, at blistering speeds. How blistering? IBM cites up to 100 VM�s in less than 3 minutes
This strikes me as an incredibly fast, Usain-Bolt-level rollout. I'd watch it happen with a sort of stunned expression, blinking at the painful memory of what it was like to be an IT guy manually provisioning one server at a time, and envious of IT guys who will never have to deal with that experience.
The setup capabilities get stronger yet. Let's say your private cloud services are more successful than you expected and demand is higher. So you decide to scale up your private cloud by adding more hardware.
Turns out that you can simply add that hardware and start using it right away -- basically, hot-swapping in new hosts -- without bringing down your cloud or cloud services. This is because SmartCloud Provisioning will automatically detect the new hardware you've added, reflect the addition in your management console and give you the option to create new virtual servers running there.
Then your services will automatically leverage those virtual servers, scaling to meet the higher demand. It's really that simple.Maintenance
is similarly effective because IBM SmartCloud Provisioning can leverage these same capabilities when things go wrong. Let's say one of those physical hosts, for whatever reason, goes offline. As it does, SmartCloud Provisioning will detect that change. It will also try to solve the problem on its own via rebooting/microbooting (or reinstallation of PXE, which is used to boot servers remotely).
Either that will work, or if it doesn't (due to true hardware failure), the IT team can simply pull the problematic hardware and replace it with a new host. Then SmartCloud Provisioning will detect the new host and reprovision it on demand.�SmartCloud Provisioning
is actually so advanced in this area that we're using the term self-healing to describe it,� said Choilawala. �The idea is that when things go wrong, the private cloud should always notice that and, whenever possible, fix the thing that went wrong by itself -- like somebody with a headache taking an aspirin. It should hardly ever be necessary to go to the doctor. So medical bills (operational costs) go way down. And cloud productivity? Given the headache-free reality, that goes way up.�
If you've gotten this far, you can probably see that management
-- our third potential pitfall for a private cloud -- is also really straightforward. SmartCloud Provisioning keeps administrators constantly apprised of which virtual servers are up and where they are on which hosts. It also supports multiple virtualization environments ranging from VMware to Xen to KVM (Linux). The everyday management functions it doesn't handle automatically, it empowers IT team members to handle with minimal ado and (more importantly) practically zero service downtime.Learn more at Pulse 2012
All this means that the private cloud becomes a much simpler, less intimidating and more pragmatic possibility for organizations today. And over time, as IBM continues to revise and enhance SmartCloud, that's just going to become more and more powerful an argument.
�SmartCloud Provisioning is best understood as a foundational offering,� said Choilawala. �Already we offer complementary solutions like IBM SmartCloud Monitoring, that tracks cloud assets and status levels in more granular detail, to give organizations higher service availability and performance with what-if analysis and capacity management. And as more capabilities are added to SmartCloud, in areas like service management, it's going to become an increasingly superior private cloud platform.�
Interested in knowing more? Attend Pulse 2012
, to be held in Las Vegas March 4-7. Attendees can expect both an in-depth look at SmartCloud's capabilities today, via technical demos, as well as a sneak peek into its future roadmap of development for the immediate future.Additional InformationRead about IBM SmartCloud
Be part of the Cloud Computing conversation at Thoughts on CloudWatch this webcast: Automating the Cloud to Drive ROISee what Pulse 2012 has to offer in Cloud and Data Center OptimizationRegister for Pulse 2012About the authorGuest blogger Wes Simonds worked in IT for seven years before becoming a technology writer on topics including virtualization, cloud computing and service management. He lives in sunny Austin, Texas and believes Mexican food should always be served with queso.
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With Lotusphere 2012 and Connect 2012 just days away, people are buzzing about social business. One of the most popular items among @IBMSWNewsletter Twitter followers this week was an a video interview with Sandy Carter, IBM VP of Social Business Evangelism, about social business adoption. Sandy explains why companies should care about social business (hint: it�s the results) and how IBM can help companies overcome some of the obstacles to social business adoption. It�s a terrific 5-minute, 15-second introduction to the topic.
IBM Business Partners looking to become social businesses should check out another hot item this week: IBM PartnerWorld's Social Media Marketing Boot Camp, an 8-week step-by-step program to help you use social media in your marketing and sales efforts.
Enjoy the weekend. And watch for the January 2012 issue of the IBM Software Newsletter, which mails January 11. If you�re not a subscriber, you�ll miss it � so subscribe now to make sure you get it!
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A few weeks ago I was in Toronto visiting some very nice people at the Lassonde school of Engineering at York University. Before going into visit with the Dean to discuss his vision for a new kind of engineering school, a few of us met in the local campus coffee shop to discuss issue prioritization. One of our group blurted out an apology for playing �telephone tag�. It hit me like a thunderbolt... �telephone tag� It was a world (actually two words I guess) that I used some number of years ago many times a day, but a word that I had not used or thought of for many many years. It was strange. Its was like some vivid childhood memory that gets provoked somehow and then suddenly hits you between the eyes... bright and vivid. I suddenly remembered that my life use to be dominated by telephone tag. I sat there and marveled that something that had been such a prominent fixture in my professional life had all but disappeared form my vocabulary.
The reason why telephone tag disappeared from my consciousness was that IBM's culture of communication and collaboration had shifted quite dramatically over the years. We are voracious users of Instant Messaging, or in our vernacular �Sametimeing�. We have a culture where no one calls someone out of the blue. Don't get me wrong, we still talk to people on the phone, heck we live much of our lives on the phone, phone conferences and increasingly video conferences. It is just that we don't initiate a dialogue with a telephone. Our culture is such that we �ping� people and ask them if they have 5 mins to chat. Most times the answer is �no not right now� (our lives our often highly scheduled with meetings running back to back) but there is always a �how about in 30 mins� or �how about at 4:00 this PM�. We negotiate a mutually agreeable time and often tee up the topic ahead of time. When the time rolls around we type �free now?� and then �calling� so they know it know who it is. Admittedly this is somewhat redundant as the systems are smart enough to notify a person who is calling, but still, for some reason, it is part of our culture. The point is that you never just call someone if you don't know they are there, ready to answer the call and know that it is you calling.
As this epiphany hit me I was embarrassed to realize that I couldn't remember the last time I checked my office phonemail (it has been many years and for that matter had no idea what my password is or how to change it).
This episode got me to thinking. As we get exposed to new kinds of technology infrastructure our culture changes and we start taking new things for granted. Obviously the virtual rooting of phone calls to many different devices changes our behaviors. SMS and MMS and IM messaging changes our behaviors. Mobile telephony and computing in various forms changes our behavior. Video and web conferencing changes our behavior.
As all of these ideas were running around in my head a colleague forwarded me a Forrester paper titled �Social Enterprise Apps Redefine Collaboration�. The title seemed very promising and the subtitle read �for Vendor Strategy Professionals� of which I am one, so I sat down with enthusiasm to read it. One thing that surprised be up front was that the paper was authored by Henery Dewing who wasn't one of the Forrester analysts that I regularly interacted with on Social Business topics but instead a unified communications specialist. I read on with curiosity.
I got a few pages in and started to appreciate his core argument which perhaps not surprisingly was an issue my strategy team had been mulling over for quite some time. Namely that Unified Communications has failed to deliver on its promise because it: �Operates outside of information worker's business processes�; �Does not leverage the most current knowledge and information�; and �Fails to capture personal information dynamically�. That is to say, it is about helping 2 people communicate better but not about achieving the true collaborative potential of an organization. To do that you need: much more context; better discovery capabilities; to better appreciate and navigate across the linkages between people and content, and access �information based on multiple attributes that can be defined and searched by users to connect to groups of experts�. If you have this social backbone in place then a unified communications capability that incorporates multiple communication modalities becomes quite valuable. Without it UC's value is limited.
Dewing argues that UC will increasing be integrated into social enterprise apps which I happen to agree with.
As I though through these arguments and reflected on my epiphany about telephone tag, I recalled an episode from about 9 years ago. A colleague and good friend of mine from our software laboratory in B�blingen, Germany sent me a Sametime message, asking me if I knew of an IGS person with SAP on Oracle skills who was in charge of the Oracle relationship or had access to Oracle headquarters in California. Now this isn't someone that I should know off the top of my head but my friend figured that I was in IBM HQ in NY and likely had a better idea of how to find this person than he did. Well in about 30 seconds I Sametimed him the name, phone number, email address, and let him know that this person was in his office right now and available to chat. I didn't think much about this but my friend was blown away at how fast I had the information for him. So I explained how I had used advanced profiles and the embedded org charts and some �social network� information to find him. This was of course teaching someone how to fish so to speak.
The point of this story is that the best Unified Communications technology in the world would not have found the right person, and for that matter it may not actually be the person that is required, but instead something that he/she had written. For that matter even if my friend had know the person's name at some point there is some likelihood that that person would have moved to some other position or might not have been available at that moment. It is only with the social context that the communications technology really starts to deliver on its promise.
I think Forrester's Dewing is right and that the UC market will be transformed in the next few years. I think that communications through many types of communication mediums will be initiated by and large from inside a social and business process context. I think that more and more people will drop �telephone tag� from their vocabulary. I think that more and more some social navigation and discovery will precede actual communication and for that matter some significant amount of communication will be made obsolete as information becomes more transparent and discoverable.
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I have the good fortune of being able to spend a fair amount of time talking to business leaders about the value of Social Business. Increasingly these conversations tend to break down into 3 major groupings of value. I often call these 1st, 2nd and 3rd order value propositions. For the most part you have to go through the first order value proposition to get access to the second 2 and most often the buying decision follows this order. There is a special case where the buying decision moves directly to the 3rd order value proposition which I will discuss later.
The 1st order value proposition is Collaboration/Discovery. This is all about making employees more productive. It builds upon the email and content sharing collaboration models and adds an essential new element of grouping people and content with many much more efficient attributes. This allows expertise and content to be much more readily discoverable. It allows for high amounts of high value reuse and content and expertise leverage across the organization. It allows for the serendipitous connection of people and ideas and accelerates ideation. Its allows people to get more, better quality work done more quickly because of a more efficient leveraging of resources.
The 2ndorder value proposition isInsight. One of the very important side effects of a social business platform is that through an �engagement model� lots of information is collected. Not just the explicit information in the form of shared content and ideas, but also the information about the linkage between people and people, content and content and people and content. Who wrote what? Who commented on what? Who approved what? Who thought what was important and relevant? What is related to what? What is derived or inherited from what or who?
All of this semantic information can be extraordinarily valuable. It can help you generate metrics to understand adoption rates of different technologies or policies and allow you to quickly modify adoption strategies. Applying analytics against this data can give you insight about your organizations' sentiment about some initiative and insight about your customer's satisfaction with your products. You can garner data to help you optimize employee development or team formulation. It can give you advanced warning about market shifts or product development or supply chain issues. The application of sentiment, text, social and predictive analytics against this semantic data can also help filter content, make recommendations about related information expertise and communities, thus further improving and encouraging the �engagement� of employees in the social dynamic. By doing so it magnifies the value of the �Collaboration/Discovery� value proposition and the quality and quantity of the semantic data which in turn magnifies the the �Insight� value proposition thus engaging a virtuous mutually value-reinforcing loop.
You only get access to this 2ndorder value proposition only if you are are successfully getting value from the 1st. That being said, tapping into the insight value proposition and exploiting metrics and analytics can substantially accelerate the adoption of the collaboration/discovery attributes of social business. You can never loose track of the fact that much of the value of social business comes form wisdom of the crowds and the real secret to success is to develop strategies that get you to critical mass quickly. With critical mass the social dynamic is self-sustaining and value to the organization is greatly magnified.
The 3rdorder value proposition isTransformation.A social business behaves differently than a traditional business. Value in the organization does not derive from your ability to be a gatekeeper to information and expertise, instead it stems from your reputation in the organization and how quickly and efficiently others can leverage the work you do and the ideas you have. In a social business employees have a more direct emotional stake in the success of the organization. They have a voice and can make a difference. If they have an idea or opinion they can express it and engage in a dialog to refine its merits. When things are bad they can directly participate in fixing it. When things are good the can take satisfaction that they were part of its success. I am convinced, for example, that one of the biggest reasons that IBM has been so successful in reinventing itself into a company dedicated to solving some of the biggest problems the world is facing and building a �Smarter Planet�, is that so many of the core ideas of our Smarter Planet mission was derived from an series of �Innovation Jams� that engaged our entire employee population as well as many of our partners and customers in group ideation. We all have a stake in making Smarter Planet succeed because we all had a part in coming up with the idea in the first place.
The social business is much more agile and flexible. It generates ideas and intellectual property much more quickly. It identifies and responds to threats more quickly.
The significance of this 3rdorder value proposition should not be under estimated. Social technologies will change business culture (I related an anecdote exploring this idea in more detail inanother post).
Typically The �transformation� value proposition follows from successfully realizing value from the first 2 orders of value. That being said, I mentioned earlier in this post that there are some examples where some buying decisions move straight to the 3rdorder, and from what I am seeing I suspect that will become more common. This buying pattern typically involves the CEO deciding that he/she wants to rebuild or reshape a company's business culture. There may be many different reasons for this decision ranging from a shifting competitive landscape or a technology disruption or a merger, but no matter the motivation, the basic idea is that business culture is becoming a board level strategic imperative for many companies and Social Business is a pragmatic way to achieve it with many examples of successful patterns deployed in many industries.
As social business increasingly gets integrated into the fabric of business processes the value creation potential of Social Business will be magnified. Some of this transformation will be accidental and happenstance. Some will be prescriptive and planned and most will be a bit of both. By breaking the desired value into some parts we may be able to better quantify the investment/return equation. Hopefully by appreciating the size and nature of 2ndand 3rdorder value propositions we can find the motivation and discipline of making sure we are successful and realizing the 1stone.
Join in the conversation!
Remember, you can stay in touch with all the developments from the floor of Lotusphere using the #ls12 or #ibmsocialbiz Twitter tags!
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A little more than 3 years ago I was visiting one of IBM's major manufacturing customers. I was there to talk about collaboration technologies with the CIO and his core staff, and as you can imagine, at that time, in late 2008, most of the conversation centered on how to take costs out of the business. I talked about the new compressions algorithms would save him storage space, how Sametime can offset load from the email infrastructure etc... of course having started my career in sales I couldn't resit expanding the dialog and hopefully opening up new opportunities.
The discussion came around to newly emerging social space. I stated to tell the story about how IBM had changed over the last number of years; how we used Sametime to reach out to experts; how we had 598,000 entries in our profiles database; how we hit hit that profiles database a number of million of times a day; how we had 470,000 activities, how we had 27,000 bloggers, how we had 1.2 million social tags and how that had improved search results and the ability to quickly find information (of course IBM's adoption of Social Business technologies is considerably more advanced now). I talked about how we were using wikis and how all these technologies allowed us to work in a new and very exciting way.
.... He put his hand up to stop me and said " that's fine and well... but you guys are IBM. You are all alpha geeks.... we make tires". His point was that it was easy for our tech savvy culture to adopt this new social infrastructure but his culture couldn't possibly absorb it.
There was a kernel of truth in his objection but after a few seconds of silence I pushed back pretty hard. I said " With all due respect sir, I think you are looking at this whole question form the wrong point of view... and it may turn out to be a very big problem for your company. One of the most important lessons from history is that when a group of human beings gets together and decides to leverage some new kind of infrastructure, whether it was that they located their village on a coastal plain, or on a river and built some boats, or they built a road system, or a rail system, or an electrical grid, or a communications grid or a data grid.... a few things always happen. First of all specialization, higher quality specialized skills get combined in order to produce increasingly complex and valuable composite goods and services. Second of all, accelerated ideation and creativity. As people with bits and pieces of a puzzle come together and as new ideas provoke new thinking and serendipitous connections are made, innovation happens, wealth is generated and societal agility and resilience is increased. The question shouldn't be 'I have this kind of business culture and thus what infrastructure can I absorb?' The question should be more like ' If I had access to this kind of infrastructure what kind of business culture can I build and does that business culture support my organization and business objectives?'"
There was about 30 seconds of silence as this CIO and his staff digested this adhoc history lesson. Then some heads started to nod.
Of course different companies in different industries will have greater and lesser abilities to adopt social business technologies but still I think it is important to think about this space as a transformation opportunity and to adopt fit for purpose strategies to accelerate adoption.
I think we need to move beyond feature and function discussions and have some real business discussion with our customers about what kind of company they want to build and how social business infrastructure can help them build it.
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The reports of e-mail's death are greatly exaggerated. As a close observer of IT strategies for quite a while now, I sometimes find myself classifying them into three groups.1.
Very Smart Strategies
Walking through the woods, you never step into a bear trap.2.
Not As Smart, But OK-That'll-Work Strategies
Walking through the woods, you step into a bear trap. Then, to escape, you cut off your foot.3.
Really Unwise Strategies
Walking through the woods, you step into a bear trap. Then, to escape, you cut off your head.
Recently, reading through the daily IT news, I discovered an example of a strategy I would probably classify in the third group.
It seems there's an IT services company in Europe that has decided to abolish internal e-mail
, claiming that only 10 percent of it is useful anyway. This organization's plan is, instead, to migrate within 18 months to the exclusive use of instant messaging and Facebook-style wall posts.
Well, I can understand the frustration at work here -- the e-mail tsunami most of us confront daily is a real problem that demands real solutions -- but I think tossing e-mail onto the scrapheap may be a bit of an overreaction. The reality is that e-mail is, and will continue to be, very important at this IT services provider and practically all other organizations.
Even if you decide to move to alternate communications platforms, you can't make the rest of the world do so, too. You'll still need your people to read and reply to e-mail from customers, business partners, etc., outside the organization. And if you're going to preserve e-mail for external purposes, you might as well leverage it for internal purposes, too -- albeit in ways that make good sense.Is the problem really with your tool? Or how your organization uses (and misuses) it?
What do I mean by �good sense?� One way to look at this is in terms of best vs. worst e-mail prac-tices. Most organizations I've encountered don't even have best e-mail practices; instead, people just wing it. This is a major opportunity to improve.
For instance: If you want to get more value from e-mail, encourage people to think very carefully about functions like �reply to all� that inevitably lead to a giant proliferation of unwanted and use-less e-mail. Taking five seconds to edit the cc line will deliver a world of improvement.
The same idea applies to �FYI� e-mails, which might or might not be of interest. In cases like that, a blog post (which can be read voluntarily by interested parties) is a better platform than e-mail sent to a mass audience, which didn�t consent to receiving it.
Also helpful is encouraging people to edit e-mails instead of simply leaving them totally intact and typing a comment at the top. If only two lines of a 1,000-line e-mail chain are relevant, employees can and should delete the other 998 lines, and then type their own contribution, before hitting the Send button.
These three behavioral changes alone, trivial though they may seem, can make a tremendous difference.
There�s also the question of what e-mail does well, and other collaboration platforms don�t, such as private communication. Do you really want your boss posting your annual evaluation on your Facebook-like wall? Granted, your boss can jump through various hoops to approximate privacy with such platforms, but it�s clumsier than it should be.
Finally, there�s integration potential. As your social collaboration strategy expands to incorporate new platforms, such as the aforementioned instant messaging and Wall platforms, you may find that e-mail can also integrate with them in natural ways, thus multiplying the total business value it generates.Add new communications platforms to address new needs
Admittedly, social collaboration for business purposes, though a fascinating topic to me, isn't really my area of expertise. So I thought I'd run these and related ideas by a couple of guys who are experts: Jacques Pavlenyi, Market Segment Manager for IBM Collaboration Solutions, and Louis Richardson, Social Business Evangelist for IBM.
My take on best/worst practices being critical for e-mail value seemed confirmed right away.
�E-mail doesn't kill productivity,� said Richardson. �People kill productivity. They just use e-mail to do it.�
So, in other words, it's not just the hammer; it's also the carpenter. If you want to build a better communications experience for your team, focus on team behavior as well as the tools they're using.
The conversation also soon turned to related topics -- such as the fact that new issues of transparency, and time to value, really are driving a fundamentally new approach to how ideas move through (and evolve inside) the organization.
In large part, that's because e-mail is, by its nature, mainly intended to foster discussions inside a specific group of people. It's not designed for widespread perusal by all people.
So ideas that come up in e-mail aren't read by, and don't benefit, a larger audience unless some secondary action like forwarding comes into play. And while that might happen, it's slower and clumsier than if the larger audience could see the ideas directly and immediately. Transparency, in short, is just not what e-mail is all about; it's not the best available tool for that purpose.
This is where the Wall concept -- rendered as �profile boards� by an IBM solution called IBM Connections
, and used routinely inside IBM -- has tremendous appeal.
�Recently, a guy asked a technical question on my profile board,� said Richardson. �I'm not a soft-ware engineer, so I didn't know the answer. But before I could even see the question, somebody else did, who did know. And he answered it. So the first guy got his question answered really, really fast. When I asked him why he posted it on my board, he basically said he knew that would happen. He decided to ask loud enough that people would see it and answer it. And it worked.�
That's a pretty compelling example as is, but let's explore it a little more.
You can see right away how profile boards and e-mail could integrate well in such a case. Sup-pose the answer had turned out to be too long and complex for a simple profile reply. If so, the guy with the answer could simply e-mail it to the guy with the question, having initially used Richardson's profile to discover each other.
Berlitz Corporation, the Japanese-owned provider of language services, also used social net-working and profile boards to leverage intellectual capital and employee expertise among its staff of nearly 12,000 instructors and employees at more than 550 centers in over 75 countries. For some time, the company operated separate internal websites for each geographic location -- Asia, Europe and the Americas -- which did not allow employees to share knowledge easily across the globe.
To enable faster communication and collaboration across the entire global workforce, the com-pany created an enterprise-wide intranet called SPACE (Smart Place to Accelerate Community of Excellence), and incorporated profiles to help employees quickly find and interact with colleagues who have a specific expertise, background or skill set for answers to questions, consultation or project staffing. Social networking and collaboration, including the use of wikis, blogs and instant messaging, transformed
this once regional operation into an agile, global one that can more easily share successful strategies and educational content across its global centers.When you integrate platforms, you multiply their business value
Furthermore, to my mind, this example hints at a larger concept: that different communications platforms, while they naturally serve different purposes, should combine in many ways to create different forms of value. It's not really about one tool or platform replacing another; it's about choosing the best tools for a given purpose, and linking tools to help information flow as usefully as possible among them.
When you do that, you've not just improved communication -- you've embraced what IBM calls �social business
.� You've literally made your organization more social through the use of technology.
In the course of writing these blogs entries, I have always been fond of analogies. So here's my homemade analogy for this idea.
Consider natural language; it's formed of parts of speech, like nouns and verbs and adjectives. They each have particular functions. If you want to refer to a refrigerator, you're going to need a noun. If you want to talk about moving a refrigerator, you're going to need a verb.
But the real magic happens when you combine parts of speech to express more complex abstract concepts: �Don't drag the refrigerator over the hardwood floors in the dining room or my wife will throw a fit.�
Similarly, social collaboration platforms used in business -- like e-mail, like profile boards, like instant messaging -- can be, and should be, combined logically to achieve the most powerful communication.
Getting rid of one particular platform, such as e-mail, is probably not your best bet, any more than getting rid of nouns or verbs would really improve the English language. You want to combine it with the others and use them all wherever they make sense, based on your needs, to achieve your target results.
Or, as Pavlenyi puts it
on his own blog :
�From all the data and discussions and feedback I've seen, one of the keys to e-mail's future is integrating it with other, more social, capabilities. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say that this in-tegration is critical to making a successful social business transformation.�
What�s your viewpoint on e-mail and social collaboration?Additional InformationLearn more about integrating social collaborationGet up on your collaboration soap boxTell us what you think about social collaboration
Attend Lotusphere 2012, the premier worldwide IBM collaboration community eventLearn how to turn social business into measurable business success at IBM Connect 2012About the authorGuest blogger Wes Simonds worked in IT for seven years before becoming a technology writer on topics including virtualization, cloud computing and service management. He lives in sunny Austin, Texas and believes Mexican food should always be served with queso.
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Twas the night ofbusiness analytics, when all through the org
No one in IT was stirring, the business felt like a morgue.
Cognos Mobiledashboards were delivered to the iPad with care,
In hopes that the CEO would soon review them there.
The business line managers were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions ofDecision Managementdanced in their heads.
With business rules and predictive models working in sync,
Automated, optimized decisions happen in a blink.
While over in finance there wasn�t any stress,
WithFinancial Performance Managementit�s no longer a guess.
Away to the budgets everyone flies like a flash,
To create flexible, rolling forecasts to always know how much cash.
And as the year ends, it�s time to look back
To close, consolidate and report to keep everyone on track.
When, what to the CFO�s wondering eyes should appear,
But an easy way to complete thelast mile of regulatory reportingto stay in the clear.
All across the organization, so accurate and quick,
Predictive Analyticsis just the trick,
To anticipate customer behaviors, it�s hotter than a flame,
The industry is shouting, and calling for business analytics by name!
"NowCognos! Now,SPSS! Now,AlgorithmicsandOpenPages!
IBM is taking business analytics out of the Dark Ages!
Lose the excel spreadsheets and head to the top of the charts
Measure yourAQ, that�s where the journey starts!"
With all these pieces any organization should be so proud,
Confronting the obstacle of big data? Let�s take it to the cloud.
And to not forget about all the social media noise
There�s alsoCognos Consumer Insightin IBM�s bag of analytics toys.
Taking things a step further, and to make all business users merry
2012 is when analytics gets personal, like a sundae topped with a cherry.
Interact and explore, build models and share insight
All without the help of IT, oh yeah, that�s right!
So spring to the laptop or any mobile device,
Away the business will fly, decisions no longer made by a throw of the dice.
And hear all employees exclaim, analyzing with all their might,
"Business Analyticsto all, and to all a good-night!"
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Someone recently asked me how it was possible that cloud computing began to take off at just about the same time the economy got cold
-- circa 2008. This argument had a culinary simile: that major new technology shifts (such as cloud) are like ice cream. Delicious when things are hot, but forget about it when things are not. And cloud rolled along at a not-hot time. Ergo, cloud should have failed.
My counter-argument was that they had the wrong culinary simile in mind.
Cloud computing, or so it seems to me, is not like ice cream in winter. Instead, it's more like a super-efficient oven in winter. Less about the eating, more about the baking. And if you're a baker, baking is a big deal.
So, for instance, let's take the case of commerce. How do you best implement that in a problematic economy?
Well, it stands to reason that any architecture responsible for the flow of business transactions needs to be as efficient, and scalable, as possible. That way, you can minimize costs when demand is lower, and maximize market responsiveness when demand is higher. And the more unpredictable demand is, the more appealing that idea becomes.
Cloud computing services are a perfect match for that description. So it�s easy to agree with a recent blog post I read hat predicted continued steady growth of cloud computing -- even in a �challenged� economy -- over the next five years. With cloud, organizations don't have to shell out for the sum total of the hardware and software of the cloud. They can simply lease someone else's cloud as they see fit, to handle specific requirements they have at any given time. If they need more resources, they can pay for those resources as they go, dialing back at will. More, they can zero in on exactly the services they want, and skip the ones they don't, making changes month by month as circumstances change.
Added up, this amounts to remarkably flexible, granular control over how much they pay to handle commerce over time. It also substantially reduces the business risk that would have come from a private, on-premise commerce infrastructure -- a huge investment that might not pay off at a time when demand isn't something that can clearly be foreseen.
So, to a risk-averse business leader, commerce on a cloud probably looks better in a cold economy -- not worse.Cloud-ifying your commerce architecture can really pay off -- if you get it right
�Probably� is, admittedly, a little dodgy as qualifiers go. So I thought I should probably confirm this opinion with someone who knew better than I did.
A chat with Dave Carmichael, Manager of Cloud Business Solutions at IBM, was a major help. Carmichael's take was similar to mine -- though he also suggested the story was more complex than that.
�Economically, things are volatile right now, and that's having a real impact on the world of commerce,� he said. �A volatile economy brings with it threats; companies need a strategy to handle the threats. But they also need to take advantage of the opportunities that volatile economies have historically presented.�
Opportunities? This was something I hadn't really considered, but on reflection, it makes perfect sense.
If you think of a volatile economy as exerting pressure on organizations, you can see that the pressure probably forces them to take a new look at how they get things done. It acts, in other words, as a catalyst for change: steering organizations toward smarter, more efficient, more capable and more cost-effective strategies.
If the sum total of that change is effective enough, then a volatile economy has, in a practical sense, become an opportunity.
Carmichael sees commerce in the cloud
in much this way. �Cloud can be more than just a part of commerce -- it can be central to business strategies in this area,� he said. �That's because cloud can deliver IT without boundaries, help organizations build enduring customer relationships and, in doing so, transform the economics of innovation.�
How specifically does this work -- this idea of �building enduring customer relationships� via cloud?
Regular readers of this blog may recall that I wrote about the IBM Smarter Commerce
initiative some weeks ago. The idea there was very similar: to put customers at the center of every phase of the commerce cycle, from Buy to Market to Sell to Service. By improving each phase in sequence, the overall customer relationship could be both strengthened and extended.
The IBM cloud commerce strategy is, in essence, a super-efficient, super-flexible way to pursue that idea. Software capabilities brought to IBM via recent acquisitions -- Sterling Commerce, Unica, Coremetrics and ILOG among others -- are now providing the technical foundation of commerce solutions hosted in an IBM cloud.
This means IBM clients can simply pick the commerce solutions they need to get the outcome they want, targeting some or all of those four commerce phases. And when they do, they'll receive best-in-class performance and features without having to worry about any of the implementation and management required by a private cloud architecture.Weigh the pros against the cons
Carmichael was careful to point out, though, that cloud-based commerce -- like everything else in this world -- has its cons as well as its pros. Cloud Commerce ProsHigher business acceleration.
Because you don't have to implement or manage the cloud itself, you can concentrate on what really matters: your services. This significantly reduces the time needed to bring those services to market; collaborate with customers, suppliers and partners; and analyze incoming data in real time to understand, and serve, your customers better. You can also scale services up or down far more quickly than you could without a cloud.Lower business risk.
No capital investment is required in IT infrastructure (hardware or software). Your IT team can worry less about technical details, and more about business strategies. And your total cost for cloud services becomes both remarkably predictable and remarkably adjustable -- helping you dial in just the right commerce formula while keeping a close eye on the price tag.Cloud Commerce ConsLong-term versus short-term costs.
Not leveraging the cloud and looking to an on-premise, private commerce implementation is a huge capital expenditure, but since you own it, it costs less month by month than cloud services over time.Lower customization potential.
If you don't own the cloud, you can't customize the cloud and cloud services -- at least, not to the same degree as if you owned it.
The IBM approach, though based on cloud services, really aims at a best-of-both worlds. It gives organizations the option to stay in-house for some capabilities, but outsource others to the IBM cloud whenever that makes good business sense.
True Value, for instance, decided to leverage IBM Software supply-chain management capabilities in this way. The retailer-owned hardware cooperative�s logistics challenges come as a natural result of their distributed presence worldwide: every year, they distribute more than 600 million pounds of freight to more than 5,000 stores in more than 50 countries.
Via the IBM Sterling supply-chain visibility solution, True Value
was able to establish more quickly, and more easily, where different shipments are at different times, and why delays are occurring -- contributing to a 57 percent reduction in lead time, a 10 percent increase in fill rate and a stunning 85 percent reduction in backorders.
A different organization might find there�s no problem with supply-chain management, but that, instead, analytics of customer purchases are weak. Organizations in this situation could buy analytics services from IBM and call it a day, leaving supply-chain capabilities as is. The IBM idea, in every case, is simply to give customers the best available range of choices.
Carmichael's expectation, though, is that going forward, more and more organizations will pursue an approach to commerce that involves cloud to at least some extent, because the pros will increasingly outweigh the cons.
�Cloud is changing the game for companies, forcing them to rethink their IT so they can reinvent their business,� he said. �Cloud really is one of those once-every-fifteen-years phenomena, like the world wide web, the PC, the mainframe and the typewriter. All of them really were paradigm shifts. And notice that all of them have IBM in common, too. For the last hundred years, we've been helping our clients get the best possible business value from all kinds of change in technology. Commerce in the cloud is no different.�Additional Information
About the author
Guest blogger Wes Simonds worked in IT for seven years before becoming a technology writer on topics including virtualization, cloud computing and service management. He lives in sunny Austin, Texas and believes Mexican food should always be served with queso.
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There's a series of AT&Ttelevision commercialsrunning in the U.S. that portray how quickly things move in today's digital age.
Twitter, Facebook and YouTube (among others) make it easy � and difficult � to keep up with the latest news, trends and funny baby or animal videos.
By the time you see these items on your desktop or mobile device you quickly realize you are behind the times. That was so :27 seconds ago. Or worse.
In the world of analytics this has never been more true.
27 seconds (or less) is all a retailer, telecommunications provider or insurance company has today to effectively interact with a customer and take the appropriate action � making an offer, fixing a problem, or identifying possible fraudulent activity.
Time is the essence�especially in the world of social media.
Reigning in social media chatter has become a necessity. It�s not just listening to what people are saying, but understanding what they are doing, what they�re thinking and how to better engage with them.
Henkel, a leading producer of laundry and home care, cosmetics and toiletries and adhesive technologies based in Germany, recently deployedIBM social analyticsto better understand what its customers were saying about its brands in the social sphere, and more importantly where, so it could refine its message and take better action.
One of the interesting discoveries for its cosmetics business was that customers that were talking about hair were doing it on a cooking social network. They figured that once at a site, people were likely to remain on that site and continue talking about various topics. Knowing this, Henkel was able to better optimize keywords and better market appropriately on this same site.
While Henkel is finding success, many organizations are still unable to tap this precious resource due to lack of understanding of analytics or lack of in-house analytics skills.
This is why more and more universities are creating programs specifically focused on analytics, includingNorthwestern University, who recently announced two new programs, a full-time Masters of Science in Analytics in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and a part-time Masters of Science in Predictive Analytics program in the School of Continuing Studies.
Students coming out of college today are byproducts of the digital age and intuitively understand social platforms. They are not only the largest consumers of digital information, but also the purveyors of the content, and are the ones that will parlay their social media prowess into a lucrative career that will turn this social data into business value.
Scott Kellert, a student at the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern, commented that organizations will soon realize they need his skills to turn vast quantities of data, especially social media data, into something meaningful that can be quickly applied to improve the business.
�What I love is that analytics can be applied to everything � from insurance fraud to marketing to student retention,� said Kellert. �The new program at Northwestern will take my skills to the next level. Future employers will have confidence that I will know exactly what to do when I encounter large data sets and how to get value from them.�
Value is the operative word�and quickly.
If 27 seconds is all organizations have, they better be precise � and be adaptive to data that changes every minute to catch trends as they are happening, such as in the entertainment (X Factor) or fashion (high-heeled shoes) industries.
Think about if organizations are actually still using a spreadsheet to analyze their data, let alone social media data.
Forget 27 seconds, that�s so five years ago.
What do you think?
For more information on IBM Business Analytics:
� Watcha demo of IBM Cognos Consumer Insight.
� Reada case study on BBVA, who recently deployed IBM Cognos Consumer Insight.
� Downloadthe whitepaper, �Social Media Analytics: Making Customer Insight Actionable�
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As the Social Business era progresses it will increasingly be targeted at specific industry requirements. One of the most interesting industries that will be impacted, which has in turn an impact on pretty much everyone, is healthcare
Healthcare is a very large and growing cost to society. It is straining both public and personal purses in every country in the world. The economic impact of this cost center will increase in most countries because of the development of advanced treatments, therapies and diagnostic systems as well as because of increased use by an aging population.
Healthcare is a very special industry because it is personal and emotional; because health is a form of public infrastructure that supports labor stability, mobility, and productivity and defends against the ruinous societal and economic impact of pandemics; because it is highly dynamic with the continual introduction of new drugs, new treatments and protocols, and new technology. It also doesn't behave with the same demand and supply market behavior as most industries due to the inelasticity of demand.
For all of these reasons healthcare has been an intense focus for not only governments, company benefit programs and political discord, it has been the subject of intense investment and research by the IT industry.
These investments are trying to find new ways of using information technology to drive more cost effectiveness and more productivity. Certainly records automation is already delivering substantial benefits such as improved accuracy, fraud reduction, administrative efficiency. Billing has been well automated. Certainly the web, and increasingly rich consumer web based interactions, is allowing consumers to be better informed and, as a consequence, make better quality decisions about their own healthcare. Scheduling and consultation have also been impacted by information technology.
There are a number of emerging technologies that have enormous potential for really moving the needle. Modeling of molecular or drug interaction enabled by super computing will likely have a dramatic impact on pharmaceutical development. The advent of �evidence based medicine� facilitated by �Deep Q&A� engines like IBM's Watson will significantly improve the speed and accuracy of diagnosis. Deep Analytics will help give warning of disease outbreaks and help inform public policy formation, and medical protocols. Simulation technology will allow surgeons to prototype operations and optimize their strategies.
I think that I first encountered the word �triage� while watching M*A*S*H many years ago. It is of course, a staple of medical dramas on TV and in the movies. When you are trying to figure out how to most efficiently deploy a finite amount of resource against a large and urgent need, to achieve an optimal result... you have to triage. That is to say, figure out how best to prioritize your efforts. In many ways this describes the overarching challenge that healthcare is up against. How can it prioritize the finite resources it has to deliver the best result?
It turns out that just as was the case on M*A*S*H, people are the key. Social Business has the potential to transform the healthcare industry. Healthcare is fundamentally an intellectual property industry. It embraces continuous ideation. It uses trial and refinement. It involves a lot of people and a lot of ideas making a lot of very critical decisions. It is inherently social.
How does Social Business impact Healthcare specifically?
It engages the social network effect. It allows consumers of healthcare to share opinions, recommendations, experiences, and consolation. It allows healthcare practitioners to discover expertise, share best practices and knowledge and coordinate their activities. It allows health care administrators and public policy agencies to divine sentiment and discover patterns. It allows hospitals to more efficiently manage their workforce,better coordinate their teams and deliver highly targeted education.
Social Learning: It allows great ideas, and expertise to be shared efficiently and globally.
For example: Boston Children's Hospital. They are using Social Business technology to redefine education for doctors, nurses and other caregivers. Their solution connects to doctors and caregivers in remote areasof the world to provide expert training on how to treat children with life-threatening illnesses. They have created aninteractive, virtual, education solution thatreplaces old apprenticeship models. This gives them much more effective and efficient reach with a much broader impact on the health of many more children. Putting the right information in the hands of the right people at the right time has had a significant effect on reducing infant mortality.
Resource coordination and prioritization:Capturing, linking and analyzing social content.
For example:The Chilean Red Cross is exploiting Social Business using a cloud-based disaster and resource management solution, �enabling employees and volunteers to coordinate and synchronize relief efforts more efficiently and respond to crises faster, exchange information across geographies using any type of device, and help mobilize rescue specialists and required emergency aid items swiftly.�
Innovation:Captures and refines ideas
For example: Presbyterian Westside Healthcare is driving innovation through Social Business. I am looking forward to hearing Douglas Johnson, Director of Innovation is delivering a presentation tilted �Presbyterian Healthcare Services Puts Innovation into Social Gear at the Connect 2012 Conference in mid January 16thand 17th.
Insight:Making better quality decisions based on better quality information
For Example: All of the case reports and comments that you see doctors write on those ubiquitous charts at the end of a hospital bed or dictate into a digital recorder are valuable data points. Not only for your case but for all the other cases that may benefit from the description of the diagnosis, treatment and outcome of your case. Other doctors and nurses, and radiologists etc. may add to comment on, and refer to that content. A lot of this content is observational. It is unstructured all mostly social. It is kind of like a specialized blog entry. Content that benefits not just the author but also others and almost always involves many authors who are collaborating. All of this material is rich fodder for deep analytic engines. You may have read about the work that IBM and Wellpoint are doing to harness the power of Watson (of Jeopardy fame) to improve diagnosis.
There are lots of other examples. The bottom line is that social business in healthcare, as in other industries, can capture and efficiently focus the collective and distributed creativity of a distributed group of people, generate insight through pattern analysis, and distribute information and expertise to people who need it. With the extraordinary pressures that health care providers are under these days it shouldn't be surprising that more and more of them are developing explicit social business strategies.
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If using analytics in the Office of Finance isn�t particularly new, the kinds of analytics now available to finance professionals most certainly are. Finance still builds budgets and closes the books, but now it�s in areas such as model-based forecasting, advanced fraud detection and portfolio optimization where Finance professionals are finding new sources of value and competitive advantage. Here, I speak to Miles Ewing
and Scott Wallace
. (Download the podcast version
Miles is partner in Deloitte�s Finance practice and leads Deloitte�s Integrated performance management practice
in the U.S. Scott is a Director in Deloitte�s Risk Information practice
and leads the U.S.-Cognos Alliance Relationship.Analytics can mean different things to different people because you can do so many things with them. Can you explain how Deloitte defines analytics for its clients?Miles Ewing:
Analytics is a very broad term, and from our perspective they�ve been going on since humanity created fire and decided it was warmer to stand next to it than further away from it. But when we think about what�s different today, there are three aspects. First is the fundamental volume of data that�s available today. There will be more information created this year than in the past 5,000 years. Next is the speed at which we can analyze this data. If it took us 10 years to code the genome a decade ago, we can do that it in a week today with our processing power. Third, there�s the reach and breadth of the data. From social networks to sensing technologies there�s a dramatically broader reach.
These combine to give us an enhanced capability to look at both patterns in data and advise on specific individual transaction-level data. Because of this we can make decisions either at a higher level or lower level that we weren�t able to do in the past. And it�s that combined capability and bringing those disciplines to business that is really where Deloitte defines analytics.Scott Wallace:
More tactically speaking, it's really bringing what used to be back-office functions � either with your statisticians and actuaries - into the front office, where Finance professionals can use capabilities to do this analysis on their own. There�s an ability to do more with analytics tactically than before that�s bringing it to life.Deloitte has different analytical disciplines. Can you provide us with some examples?
We break analytics into three areas. The first is core analytics � from basic variance analysis in your budget to the analysis that goes into your external reporting. It�s not just in your traditional FP&A group, but the analytics in your tax department, treasury, investor relations and operations. Companies have been doing that for a long time will continue to do so.
There are two things that are new. The first is where Finance teams are taking advanced analytic methods such as model-based forecasting - algorithmic-based forecasting, advanced fraud detection or portfolio optimization - and bringing those capabilities to their core, either to improve the efficiency and accuracy of these functions, or to add a different way of looking at it and get more bang for their buck on the core analytic side.
The second area is what we would call Finance-supported analytics. And these are areas where Finance is bringing its cross-functional capabilities to the problems faced by other parts of the business, be they in supply chain, procurement, IT or sales and marketing. What we see here is Finance taking a cross-functional view of the situation and coming out to support things like pricing, or vendor spend analysis or technology investment prioritization. These are areas where because of the reach and speed of data, Finance can support decisions at the micro level and provide better, more effective decision-making in those functions in a way that they couldn�t in the past.Scott Wallace:
It�s been core to Finance for a long time to have access and visibility across the organization. The CFO and his or her team need to be aware of what�s happening in other parts of the organization. What you�re seeing with analytics is that coming together and making it more meaningful and more impactful to the organization. Lately we�ve have a lot of requests from our clients asking how to integrate their sales or operational planning with their financial planning. So not only has Finance typically taken a cross-functional view, now there�s a demand pull for that view across organizations because of the capabilities of the tools and the data availability.What areas of Finance need the most help?Scott Wallace:
As you read the different literature around Finance and analytics from firms like ours and from the academics, they�re really pushing the envelope on how to become a more value-added function using analytics; yet many organizations are still fundamentally trying to fix core processes. I do see a continuing demand and convergence in the area of forecasting. That�s where you�re seeing this convergence of the analytic capabilities and when you think back to what Miles said about the different kinds of analytics, the ability to have insight into other functional information and data, and then how do I move that kind of information into predictive forecasting � identifying those real key drivers of the business across the functions that I can model based on historical data, based on external data, and start to have more confidence in my ability to predict the future financial performance of the company. That�s where we�re asked to provide help.Miles Ewing:
Companies are at very different places. Some are still trying to get the core right and they need to get that set first. Organizations that have been unable to get that core right over the past decade will find it difficult to really advance into that support. They may lack credibility as analytical leaders in their company. Focusing on that core becomes increasingly urgent for them.Where does the demand for analytics come from? Is it from a CFO setting out a new vision, or does it come from the bottom up? What trends are you seeing?Scott Wallace:
Right now we�re experiencing lot of top-down demand from the CEO and CFO. A lot of it is borne of frustration � despite all the data they have in their ERP and their more advanced operational systems they still don�t feel they�re getting the right levels of transparency and insight. Also, because of the influx of information about analytics and tools and methodologies and success stories they�ve seen, CFOs are really asking themselves how they can continue to grow their relevance within their organizations. They�re really pushing on analytics.Deloitte has six guiding principles for getting started with analytics. Can you outline them?Scott Wallace:
First off, link your goals and objectives with clear business drivers
. If you�re going to use analytics, make sure they tie to your existing strategies or other initiatives you have inside and outside Finance. Ask yourself: What am I really trying to do? What are the competitive differentiators I�m trying to find in my data set?
The second is to know your data
. Many of our clients have a good vision. They know what they want to do and how to tie their analytics together, but they run into data issues because the data isn�t in a single location or it�s not clean enough to provide the right insights.
The third is to start simple
. Analytics needs to be something that can be accepted by your organization. Pick an area where there�s a need or pent-up demand. Stay focused on that area, get the numbers right and get them delivered properly. Build the confidence within your leadership team that the predictive capabilities and outcomes you�re providing make sense.
The fourth is to leverage existing insights
. If you�ve got programs under way � customer analysis programs, working capital analysis programs, for example � look for ways to enhance them using insights you can get from analytics. How can you better project things that are already being looked at by the organization? You�re adding insight to a point of view that�s already being used in the organization.
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Think you've learned everything you can from social media? Think again. I played a little chess as a kid. And the older I get, the more it seems to me the lessons of chess apply pretty well in a business context, too.
Consider this timeless advice, for instance:1.
See the whole board.2.
Develop your strategy quickly.3.
When the other guy isn't looking, take some of his pieces off the board.
Or, among the subtler lessons, here's my favorite:4.
If you see a great move, don't just make it. Look for a greater move or, even better, a combination of great moves.
It seems to me that businesses today can really benefit from this last idea -- specifically, with respect to social media.
They have already, almost without exception, made one great move: they've participated in social media for promotional purposes.
This has sometimes been followed up with another great move: they've applied analytics tools to social media data, and can now detect emerging customer trends very quickly.
A chess combination, though, involves at least three moves. And one of the best third moves businesses can make, to build on the first two, is this: develop Web 2.0-inspired collaborative platforms internally.
Why? Quite simply, because they work. We know from their growth rate that Web 2.0 environments are incredibly popular worldwide; why not reapply that popularity in a business context, for business value?
If you want team members to share, collaborate and lead, it certainly helps to provide communications platforms of the type they already like, and use, the most. That description has Web 2.0 written all over it.
It seems I'm not alone in thinking this. Recently I read online that organizations already �realize the power of bringing social behaviors, processes and platforms behind the firewall.� It turns out that IBM is a leader in this field -- social business -- and has specific predictions
for how it's likely to change in 2012 in the areas of social analytics, community managers and gamification.IBM Software leadership in social business began at home
Well, that was enough to get my curiosity going. The next logical move was to talk to an IBM expert, and so I did: Rawn Shah, who is both a Social Business Strategist for IBM and the author of a book on exactly this topic
Shah was quick to point out how IBM isn't just developing solutions in this area -- it's leveraging them internally and increasingly every year, because the business case for doing so is overwhelming.
�At any given time, 40 percent of IBM is not located in an office, but instead working from home, traveling, etc. -- as an IBMer, you never see all the people you work with,� Shah said. �But we really want to empower people to connect and contribute as much as they can. So we've built innovative collaborative systems, implemented with social media concepts in mind and linked in many ways.�
The business value to IBM and its enormous team of more than 400,000 employees is very clear: talent and ideas aren't constrained by geography, but multiplied by technology.
IBM can hire people anywhere they happen to be instead of requiring them to move. It can create and connect virtual teams drawn from specialists all over the world, and thus populate those teams with the best available people.
And it can do all of that more quickly than less foresighted organizations, who still haven't gotten on board with the idea that Web 2.0 concepts can be applied internally.Empower your people to collaborate, and leverage the best ideas
The specifics of the IBM approach are expressed in a number of different ways, but the focus is always the same: a better business outcome through superior collaboration.
Consider the IBM spin on social analytics, for instance. Today, analytics solutions are used by leading organizations to sift through massive volumes of public social media data, and discover and quantify useful trends and patterns.
They can accomplish much the same inside the firewall. And when they do, good ideas not only get a longer shelf life; they're developed better, and more likely to be reused whenever that's possible.
�Given internal digital communities and the tremendous daily interaction they involve, [organizations] have the ability to learn and work in a better and faster way,� said Shah. �Good ideas never vanish. Conversations aren't limited to a phone call and the people attending it. Instead, they can be archived, rediscovered, improved and reapplied by others. This helps the organization avoid reinventing the wheel and creates more business value, faster, for lower cost.�
Making that happen, of course, will require powerful analytics solutions to focus on the right ideas (and, just as important, not focus on the wrong ones).
�Solutions like IBM Cognos Consumer
Insight already do that with public social media data,� said Shah. �And what works for external data can often be reapplied to internal data, too.�
One great source of such data: internal digital forums and communities. Organizations increasingly use these to get people talking and collaborating about business issues of all kinds -- from technical challenges to team coordination across different time zones.
Such was the case with Colorado-based Russell�s Convenience
, a subsidiary of HJB Convenience Corporation. With 25 stores spread across three states in three different time zones, the retailer struggled to keep track of daily operations, resulting in growing operational costs and delays in resolving problems.
Through the use of social business and collaboration tools, Russell�s Convenience was able to share information across stores more seamlessly and transparently. As a result, the retailer increased sales across multiple markets by identifying best-selling products, reduced travel and meeting expenses and accelerated problem resolution through the use of engaged communities across the organization.
To really fulfill their potential, such communities in most organizations require a little oversight. Community managers can play a crucial role -- if it's understood how that term applies.
�What's the best kind of management in this context? At IBM we're taking a very deep look at that area,� said Shah. �Part of that is because IBM is huge -- we have tens of thousands of internal communities. So just assigning people to be part-time community managers isn't the best approach. Instead, we're defining community managers more seriously: as skilled, dedicated professionals who understand community dynamics, guide progress in desirable directions, help people take joint action and even foster new leadership wherever it's needed the most.�
What skills do you need to do that? �Well, there's no handbook, but we do have a mentoring program to guide people,� added Shah. �The ones who do it well are like diamonds -- you want to find them and keep them.�Get your game-face on
Gamification is yet another angle IBM is taking in its approach to social business. That makes sense when you consider how games throughout human history have often had the practical value of helping players build useful real-world skills.
And games are unquestionably among the most popular services available on leading Web 2.0 sites worldwide -- a suggestive trend. So suggestive, in fact, that it implies organizations should create them with business value in mind.
�Games are a fast, fun way to develop excellence,� said Shah. �So games and game concepts often translate very naturally in a business context, where ongoing excellence is required to maintain a competitive edge.�
That doesn't necessarily mean a big, complicated game. In fact, it might be something so simple it doesn't even appear to be a game. Shah cites the idea of a sales leaderboard -- a familiar sight at many organizations, and a really straightforward instance of combining analytics and human performance to drive a target outcome.
IBM is also, however, pursuing gamification in much more sophisticated ways. For instance, IBM offers an online service management simulation game
, in which small teams of players can collaborate to make a virtual business successful. This game gives players a chance to see for themselves if (and why) best practices really are best, continually reflecting the likely business outcome stemming from player choices.Attend Connect 2012 to learn more
If you'd like to hear more about using social business to achieve measurable business results, you'll get an outstanding chance to do it next month at the IBM Software Connect 2012
event, to be held January 16-17 in Florida alongside Lotusphere� 2012.
No event this year will offer more concentrated value in the area of social business. You'll get the inside scoop on an extensive range of social collaboration capabilities, including live demos and product roadmaps. You'll interact with leading experts, and connect with professionals who may already have solved the problems you face today. And you can find out what other organizations are doing in social business, bring the best ideas back to your organization and leverage them to collaborate and compete more effectively.Additional Information
Learn how Social Business can benefit your organizationSee what Connect 2012 is all aboutRegister for Connect 2012Great blog post about the difference between Social Business and Social MediaAbout the author
Guest blogger Wes Simonds worked in IT for seven years before becoming a technology writer on topics including virtualization, cloud computing and service management. He lives in sunny Austin, Texas and believes Mexican food should always be served with queso.
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As I have talked with business people and public servants around the world this past year, many of them has asked me what the difference between social media and Social Business is. It is a fair question. With all the facebook traffic, the highly visible bog entries, and the viral videos on Youtube it isn't surprising that most people have a very good idea what social media is. As pleased as I am about the wide spread understanding of what Social Media is all about, I am very encouraged that more and more many people are asking what Social Business is and even more please just how many are starting to tell the stories of how their businesses were transformed by Social Business. I am convinced that 2011-2012 we be remembered years from now as the period that the social business phenomenon came into its own.
One of my colleagues recently challenged me to complete the following sentence: �Social Businesses go beyond using social media as a new marketing channel....�
I thought about it for a few minutes and wrote back:
�...they are accelerating business velocity by capturing and efficiently harnessing the collective creative potential of their employees and partners to improve process efficiency, increase the quality and speed of decision making, and build a culture of innovation.�
It is perhaps a bit wordy but let me explain the rational of why I chose these words.
- �Accelerating business velocity�: This, I think, is the fundamental business objective. In a global economy with its global competition and its global market opportunity and ever increasing linkages... agility, nimbleness, and flexibility will be the hall mark of durable and prosperous business models.
- �Collective creative potential of their employees and partners �: Successful organizations will increasing recognize that they must engage their employees and partners in decision making and ideation. There is extraordinary creative potential just waiting to be tapped. There are two people in different countries on opposite sides of the planet who each have a piece of the puzzle but neither of them the whole on their own. They will be brought together. There will be someone who makes and observation or tries something that works that will share it so that others may benefit from the experience. The cost of engaging employees and partners has fallen so much and the analytic technology to analyze, filter and encourage connections and recommend content and expertise is becoming so good, that the value of strategically adopting and �engagement� strategy will become very obvious and compelling.
- �Improve process efficiency�: Businesses processes have been significantly optimized by ERP, SCM, CRM, and PLM business solutions over the last 20 years, but still there is significant latency in the system. That latency has to do with the people attributes. People need to consult, they need context to approve something, they need access to relevant content, and also, and often forgotten, there needs to be a mechanism to capture the feedback and ideas of the people who are involved in these processes so that those processes might be continually improved. Business solutions will change quite dramatically in the era of Social Business. They will become... well, more social. Social will be baked into their fabric. This space will likely evolve in the typical way where incumbent business solutions will adopt and package some social features, (expertise location, wiki composition tools, activities and to-dos, instant messaging). But I think that, because of the need to manage the horizontal attributes of directory and social information, the value of aggregating this information so that analytics can be run against it to derive value and insight and because of the desire to de-stovepipe business disciplines, that many companies will move to a horizontal social platform (such as IBM Connections) and that they will demand that solution providers leverage standardized Social Business middleware.
- �Increase the quality and speed of decision making�:This is one of the biggest attributes of a social business. When employees can bring the right expertise to bear... when they can access the right context sensitive content, that the whole �engaged� organization is continually creating, they can make much better and well informed decisions much more quickly.
- �Build a culture of innovation�:This is the long lasting effect of becoming a social business. Social Business is transformative. It isn't just about making employees more productive. It is about changing they way that they work. It is about changing they way they think about work. It is about engaging them in a way that they are emotionally involved and have a stake in not only the success of the organization but in it's continually evolving strategy and future.
These are exciting times. The nature of the workforce, the nature of value networks and ecosystems, and the nature of the very structure of the corporation are all in the early stages of a very fundamental transformation. We have seen the impact of discrete bits of the social phenomenon in the rise and fall of products and companies and even governments and political regions. As these bits are aligned, integrated and coordinated.... and harnesses in a systematic way in a business context, the business landscape will be substantially transformed.
There are already wonderful, amazing , and inspiring stories about companies, universities and government agencies that have decided to become social businesses. There will be countless more in the next couple of years..... Exciting times indeed.
If you are interested in learning more about Social Business have not already considered it I would strongly recommend you look into the IBM Connect 2012 and Lotusphere 2012 conferences in Orlando in mid January.
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A quick follow-up to yesterday's post about the most interesting things to have graced my screen in the last few days.
First, from LeWeb:
I watched the video feed from Europe's largest conference for all things digital and came away with a few observations:
- Whither, America? Growth outside the U.S. was a recurring theme. It's a global playground. With smartphones, the world is literally in everyone's hands.
- Oh, SoLoMo! Marketers, take note: your initiatives must excel in three attributes (social, mobile, local) to be successful.
- Get smart: Smartphones let consumers participate in the global community and be intensely local at the same time. What's happening right now, right in front of you is as accessible and as important as what's happening half a world away.
- Instagram is just getting started. Apple's "App of the Year" has almost 14 million users but doesn't have a web site. Nor does it advertise. What the service does do exceedingly well, however, is make a popular and meaningful activity even more so for millions of people. "We're at 1 per cent of where we want to be,� said CEO Kevin Systrom. �Talk to me again when we have 100 million users ... and even then I'm not sure if we will have made it. "Everyone wants to document their lives."
Second, from the IBM Blogroll:
- Steve Hamm has a great piece on the Smarter Planet blog called "Lessons for the United States from IBM's Centennial Journey" that provides some insights into why the country's economy continues to flag. He cites the work of Mary Meeker, a partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, who remarks that if the U.S. were a company, it would be going out of business. Hamm finds helpful parallels between the country's current predicament and IBM's own near-death experience in the early 1990s.
- Jobs in the Age of Watson: IBM Fellow Irving Wladawsky-Berger recounts his experiences as a panelist along with MIT professor Erik Brynjolfsson back in October. Up for discussion was the impact of technology on the labor market. Specifically, will there be enough jobs to go around? Wladawsky-Berger segments the world of work into a 2X2 matrix (Routine/Non-routine, Cognitive/Manual) and forecasts the possible impact of technology and automation on each type. It's fascinating reading, with serious repercussions for everyone as they try to understand what solutions like Watson and Siri mean for their own careers.
- Finally, on the Collaboration front, Ed Brill provides a more thorough listing of the new products announced this week in advance of Lotusphere and IBM Connect. Enterprise collaboration and social business, ho!
Feel like sharing? Tweet this post using #ibmsoftware
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The Colonel�s eleven herbs and spices. The Big Mac�s special sauce. The Coca-Cola formula. Everyone wants to know the secrets of successful companies, Trouble is, those companies typically guard those secrets with their corporate lives. (Maybe you remember the hoopla when KFC�s recipe was relocated a few years ago.) So it�s a pretty big deal when a company like Google decides to �open the vault� on its inner workings � and why our readers are stampeding to the on-demand webcast, �How Google Tests Software.� Here James Whittaker, Google�s Test Engineering Director, explains how Google � a company that continually and rapidly releases software to hundreds of millions of users worldwide � can keep quality high, even with a completely lopsided developer-to-tester ratio. (Okay, it�s not the Crabby Patty formula, and it may not even impress your robot spouse, but it�s information any software development organization will want to know.) As a bonus, Whittaker talks about testing tools that Google is releasing to the open source community � meaning, tools you can use free of charge. Register and replay the webcast.
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