I'm taking the next couple of days off to go sit on the Redneck Riviera and contemplate the oil rigs out in the Texas Gulf.
Hey, only in Texas can you sit on the beach, watch the seagulls lulling about, watch the flying fish jump across the waves, keep an eye out on the pelicans diving for the flying fish, and all while watching the big oil companies help to make us energy independent in real-time right off the Texas coast.
However, while I'm contemplating nature on Mustang Island, you should start to think about signing up to attend the Information on Demand event in October out in Viva Las Vegas.
I have agreed to make a return engagement to the land of the Flying Elvi, two dollar craps, and casino master data modeling so that I can cover the tidings via the Turbo blog.
I won't put on too heavy of a sales pitch on your attendance at the moment, because the seagulls await.
But let me just lead by saying early bird registration (read: discount) ends on August 31st, and this year's keynote is going to be presented by none other than Malcolm Gladwell.
If you don't know who Malcolm Gladwell is, well, you need to get a clue and go read some of his books.
I've read all of them, and am a regular reader of his pieces in the New Yorker.
Malcolm has a way of looking at the world -- and, in turn, helping others look at the world -- that is very unique and often discounts what is typically deemed to be "conventional wisdom."
In fact, his latest tome, Outliers, will make you downright rethink what constitutes what we've come to define as "success."
For me, this will be sort of a Malcolm Gladwell homecoming.
Back in 2000, right as the air was drifting out of the Web 1.0 bubble, I had an opportunity to attend the Industry Standard Internet Summit out in Laguna Niguel, California.
The roster of speakers and Internet luminaries was mind-boggling, everybody from Bill Joy, the chief scientist of Sun, to Steve Case, then head of AOL, to John Doerr, the venture capitalist and humanitarian.
It was an absolute Internet-oriented intellectual feast, and set amidst the tres chic and gorgeous confines of the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel (where everybody should spend at least one night of their life).
Gladwell's first book, The Tipping Point, had just come out, and what better venue to hear him tell the story behind the story than amongst a gathering of the best and brightest in the technology and media industries.
It was definitely a highlight of the event.
So, you can read more about Gladwell in his bio here, and that's the first reason I'm going to give you for attending this year's Information on Demand clan gathering.
Now, if you'll excuse me while I head to the beach to think about some others reasons I'll start to mete out upon my return.
And for those of you heading out to San Jose to attend the Search Engine Strategies conference next week, I'll be speaking at the event and look forward to seeing you there.
Technorati Tags: beach, information on demand, las vegas, malcolm gladwell, outliers, information management, tipping point, vacation
As a longtime blogger at IBM -- one who has a day job helping drive new business for our company via the Web -- one of my biggest challenges is keeping up with increasing volumes of information and eking out the bits most relevant to my areas of interest.
By way of relevance, IBM's Information Management group has a statistic that consistently sticks with me: Managers spend two hours a day searching for information.
And yet 50 percent of what they find is useless, and 42 percent of them accidentally use the wrong data on a weekly basis.
Think about that.
That's like saying managers spend two hours a day trying to find their way back to their office.
"Uh, Bob, I won't be in for a couple of hours because, uh, I'm lost and completely clueless, uh, and I don't know how to, uh, get to the office from here. Uh, see you then...Hopefully."
If managers spend two hours a day searching for information, you can only just imagine what bloggers spend.
Though many bloggers (including myself) use RSS readers and even intelligent filters to monitor mentions of specific words (think Google News and Blog Alerts), there's been a dearth of "smart" monitoring and recommendation capabilities available for the blogosphere.
But the possibilities are immense.
By way of example, if I'm interested in the topic of Internet marketing, it would be great to have a technology that could make automagical recommendations of relevant Internet marketing blogs based on blog viewing patterns, posting frequency, comments, and other relevant blogging indicators.
IBM's Tokyo Research Laboratory has been working on such an approach, and in March will be rolling it out in partnership with Japan Internet media firm, CyberAgent.
In its Ameba blog service, CyberAgent specifically will introduce two new functions:
- Blog recommendations. This will introduce highly recommended blog sites to bloggers based on personal interests (and not only for well known bloggers)
- Blog community. Frequent visitors to any of the some 3,500 celebrity and entertainment bloggers on Ameba will be introduced as official "supporters" of these blogs, helping create an identifiable community of like-minded individuals
Ameba has some 4.5 million users in the Japanese blogosphere, one of the world's largest by country.
What's difference about the approach taken by the Tokyo Research team is that though there has been substantial standalone analysis of text data or user activity, these folks focused on composite analysis.
This approach provides for a new data analysis platform that allows text data and user existence in a form of node, allowing for the accumulation and analyses of user activities as a linked network.
This allows for more relevant blog recommendations based on expressed interest, with both what one writes on one's blog as well as what one reads in other blogs feeding the recommendation engine.
Think of it as a sort of blogging collaboration filtering engine, except that one's input to drive the filter includes what one publishes in their own blog!
This initiative will roll out in March, and I, for one, am going to be very interested to see what comes of it.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go find my way to the office and I only have a couple of hours!
Technorati Tags: blogging, business insight, community, information management
Hey, first off, I just want to say I'm real sorry to all my New York Giants friends. I know you all hate to be beaten up on by a bunch of Cowboys (hee hee hee). Good game, though.
And speaking of getting beaten up on, I bet every last one of you loves your mobile phone carrier, right?
Ever since my second trip to Tokyo in the spring of 2000, when I saw my first NTT DoCoMo iMode phone in action, complete with WAP-like applications (including a virtual fishing game!), I've wondered about the perilous fate of mobile computing in the U.S.
So, apparently, is The New York Times in an article this morning entitled "Cellphone Straitjacket Is Inspiring A Rebellion."
Somebody bar the mobile tower's gates, the open mobile computing platform mob is gathering and they are ticked!
Me, I don't want much from my little Blackberry Pearl. Just be able to quickly load sports scores and look up that cool restaurant's address, or find an on-the-spot movie listing. I can do all that, mostly, but it sure can take a long time.
Though the Times' piece suggests the iPhone started the easy-to-use mobile computing battle, Google's recent Open Handset Alliance and bid for new spectrum licenses last January only added fuel to the fire.
For my money, it all comes down to the age-old battle: Walled Garden Hell, or Open Network Eden. Me, I'll take a bite out of the apple every time if it means more application (and carrier) choices.
And speaking of bites out of the apple, IBM announced its intent to acquire business intelligence and performance management software leader, Ottowa, Ontario, Canada-based Cognos, for U.S. $58 a share (around $5 billion).
You can read all the gory details here and there's an investor viewpoint deeper dive here.
Cognos will be integrated into IBM Software Group's Information Management business.
I look forward to eventually working and speaking with my new Cognos colleagues...preferably via a phone on an open mobile network.
Technorati Tags: business intelligence, cognos, information management, ibm software
Monday, October 15, 2007, 10:30 AM PST
With Dana Carvey and his impersonations now in the rearview mirror, and since Steven Covey will be in attendance later in the week, it's time to begin with the end in mind and look ahead to the future of information management.
After the morning break, Andrew Warzecha, VP IBM Information Management Strategy, gave us a glimpse into the headlights, outlining for a SRO audience the "State of the [Information Management] industry."
Andrew covered some significant ground in his session, so I'm going to try and just hit a few of his highlights.
First, this is a growing market, expected to reach $39.6B U.S. this year, and growing at a 7% CGR through 2010.
Though information management may have been relegated more into the technology trenches in times past, it is rapidly becoming a board level concern, with Andrew projecting at least one major company failing in the next 5 years due to an information integrity issue.
Andrew also pointed out that an SOA approach and information management are inextricably linked and that the idea of "information as a service" becomes increasingly vital.
For we mere mortal end users, search becomes the business users' consumable front-end to business intelligence moving forward -- how the heck else are you going to find what you need?
But these changes are not without their challenges: The increased business demands for trusted, in-context real-time information becomes a major CIO level architectural challenge, and organization-wide data governance practices become recognized as a major issue in differentiating the innovation, information rich from the information and quality poor.
The Net: There's going to be a lot more info to deal with and organizations not preparing for the onslaught now will find it increasingly difficult to compete, and, music to my ears, both content and Web information become first place citizens in data integration efforts.
So get with the program, and start here to review some of the significant product and strategy announcements
emerging from the Information on Demand 2007 conference.
Speaking of information overload, I'm preparing to scan the skies for tonight's Flying Elvi.
Scarves all around![Read More
Okay, so it doesn't completely rhyme like the old adage, but it's close enough for email storage.
On the announcement front, we announced today at the Information on Demand Conference (really, I was in the room!) an e-mail archiving and storage solution that includes Microsoft Windows 2003 R2 software along with IBM server and storage hardware, software and services.
Both the IBM and Microsoft software are pre-loaded and pre-tested as part of the solution. (And you thought we couldn't play nice with the competition!)
This e-mail archiving and storage solution (also available through Business Partners) is designed to help companies retain email for corporate governance and legal discovery purposes, and to help improve performance of and optimize storage investments.
In other words, major CYA technology in case the FBI comes looking at your SOWs and requires that RCPT.
Get all the skinny here.
All subpoenas now welcomed...except for the part about the kissing...er, archiving.
I lived in the Big Apple on two separate occasions. The first time, from 1984-1986, the second, from 1998-2001.
I wonder if it's a happy accident the crime I experienced there -- a girlfriend assaulted on 8th Avenue, two separate bicycles stolen while working as a bike messenger -- or if it was because NY had not yet implemented its more effective policing regime in the early 1990s and, beyond that, facilitated a novel approach on gathering and leveraging crime statistics.
While I leave Columbo to figure that one out, let me debrief you about what I learned in a session yesterday here at IBM's Information on Demand Conference in Anaheim, California, entitled "Intelligent Policing.
Fact: NYC is one of the few cities still reporting a steady decline in violent crimes over the past five years. Philly, Boston, Houston, all up. NYC, down. Why?
Well, for one, I left town.
But many believe it's because NYC instituted its own Crime Information Warehouse and "Real Time Crime Center," providing for a single and integrated source of crime information data.
This has allowed the police brass and beat cops to interface with the system in the way they see their "business," and allowed them a powerful investigative analysis tool that helps solve crimes and enable more effective deployment of resources.
Before, again following the stovepipe approach, different systems often produced different answers to the same questions. (And again, a common theme here at the conference.)
There was no single, reliable source responsible for the accuracy of the data, and any reporting and analysis required programming skill and/or intensive manual efforts. Reports sometimes took days to produce, and special ordered reports cold take weeks. In which case, John Q Criminal was well on his way out of the country.
Now, with the Crime Information Warehouse, officers can get a single, easy-to-use point of access to data on virtually all crimes committed in NY's five boroughs. IBM's DB2 Universal Database Data Warehouse Edition pulls data from various standalone systems.
This, combined with business intelligence reporting tools from IBM Business Partner Cognos, helps officers better detect crime patterns as they are forming, and in turn helps precinct commanders take proactive measures to get ahead of these trends and ward off spikes in criminal activity.
Like, perhaps, the stealing of bicycles for hard-working bike messengers??
There are some themes I hear over and over again here at the Information on Demand Conference are consistent and straightforward: Information is a strategic asset, organizations need to create new value from information, yet so many companies still live in the land of legacy stovepipes.
Yes, imagine your information infrastructure as a set of disconnected, "Castaway"-like, vertical islands of information, where one chimney doesn't know what the other is doing, because they're not connected and have no way of communicating and sharing information.
Put another way, our inflexible physical and IT infrastructures are providing insufficient access to valuable information, which, if they were better structured to facilitate improved sharing of data across the enterprise, could lead to valuable business insights and new innovation.
All this according to 450 CFOs we surveyed in a recent study.
Which is where the service-oriented architecture -- and Robert LeBlanc, GM of our Application and Integration Middleware team -- come in.
In his keynote earlier today, Mr. LeBlanc attempted to demystify SOAs.
The business drivers are simple: It's a fast-changing world but many companies don't have infrastructures quite so flexible.
CXOs need to be able to change their operational processes more quickly, get a real time view of their operations in...well, just that, real-time. And then, intervene as necessary so that they can realize results quickly.
SOA is the enabling information infrastructure. Simply put, an SOA is a style of IT architecture that supports integrating your key business processes as linked services, where information can be shared, updated, and accessed.
In other words, SOA enables dynamic interchange between people, process and information.
But, why is this necessary?
Because, business needs to stop looking in the rearview mirror, and instead become more predictive in nature. If businesses have poor information, they are likely to act on that information and, hence, make poor decisions.
And that's bad, very bad. Period. End of sentence. Bad quarter. Hang out the "Out of Business" sign.
We'd much prefer you had a great year and connected all those islands.
So, to learn more about SOA go here, or if you're really in a hurry, take our SOA Assessment. In true SOA fashion, you'll get real-time results as to your own company's SOA readiness. And hopefully, some good information for a change.
As for me, I'm off to learn more about how New York's finest are leveraging IBM information on demand technologies to help put away the bad guys.
Though I missed out on the Gladys Knight concert last evening here in Anaheim, I'm told it was a rocking show and a good time was had by all.
Me, I chilled in the hotel crib and watched in amazement as the Chicago Bears made an unfathomable comeback to beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 24-23. Ouch.
This morning, I decided to get out of my comfort zone and headed over to the Hilton to listen in on how the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) is becoming a "paperless agency."
IBM and the SSA have an enduring partnership. As longtime Social Security Administration veteran Thomas Grzymski explained in the session, IBM has been working with the SSA since its founding in 1935.
From punch cards to the installation of its first IBM computer in 1956 (the IBM 705), since the first Social Security payments went out in 1940 Big Blue has helped the SSA keep up with the changing times.
In the 1980s, IBM worked with the SSA to spare some trees through the establishment of online processing of claims and, later, through its Paperless Program Service Center project, where more data was retained electronically and all incoming mail was scanned to enable more digital workflow.
This resulted in less friction and quickened response times. Or, in other words, your check's in the mail that much faster.
Most recently, IBM worked with the SSA to streamline the distribution of checks for its disability program. Called the "Electronic Disability Process" (or "eDibs", for short), the new system is built atop a plethora of IBM Software -- WebSphere Application Server, IBM DB2 Content Manager, IBM Records Manager -- the list goes on, but I won't.
When you consider that the SSA deals with hundreds of millions of transactions per year (you should've seen the picture of the massive rollaround mail carts Mr. Grzymski demonstrated -- it looked like a bumper mail bag car rally at the Post Office!), anything that can streamline the process means improved service to disabled claimants, including hastened mail time. It also helps minimize misplaced or lost case files ("Sure, my check's in the mail!")
To read more about the rollout of the SSA eDibs system, check out this story in "Network World."
Meanwhile, know that the check is, in fact, in the mail...but that the check started out as a bunch of extremely efficient bits and bytes moving through an IBM content management system.
This is one time where you can truly say with a straight face: Your tax dollars hard at work.
I had to take four Advil over the course of the afternoon, but I think my Wayne Brady headache is gone.
I'll be sure to take prophylactic measures the next time I watch "Whose Line Is It, Anyway?" so I stave off the headache in the first place.
This afternoon presented a rush of announcements, demos, previews, and despite the fact that they call me "Turbo" around these parts, I simply couldn't be everywhere.
So, here are the highlights of the day I've been able integrate from the information I've been able to gather:
- Introduction of the IBM Information Server -- Mentioned briefly in previous postings, this new server helps companies integrate disparate data and deliver trusted information when and where it's needed, in context, to specific people, applications, and processes. And to Wayne Brady, just to cover all bases.
I had occasion to hear Jeff Jonas, the Chief Scientist for IBM's Entity Analytics team, speak about some of the capabilities of this technology earlier this PM, in a session entitled "Entity Analytics: An Innovative Information Service Serving Threat and Fraud Intelligence."
In it, Jeff explained that this technology is about how "data finds the data...relevance finds the user." His example: Think of some guy, in Vegas, who is arrested by a casino and ends up in the klink.
Six months later, an employee of the casino goes and changes a phone number in the HR database.
Turns out, that employee's new number was linked to the bad guy, and it turns out it it was all an inside job.
I'm callin' this one "Ocean's 911."
You get the picture. When that raindrop hits the puddle in your database (figuratively speaking), you want alarm bells going off so that you know what you don't know.
Check out Jeff's blog to learn more about this phenomenon (among other things).
Wayne Brady gave me a headache in the kickoff session of the Information on Demand conference here in Anaheim this morning.
Not because he wasn't funny. He was too funny!
But more on that shortly.
In his keynote presentation, IBM Information Management general manager Ambuj Goyal outlined the ideal scenario:
"Imagine if you could ask the same question twice...and get the same answer twice."
Unfortunately, it doesn't happen nearly often enough. Information in many enterprises is like the Wild, Wild West.
It's everywhere. Reuse is a rarity. A typical large company could have as many as 40 different financial systems, none of them interconnected!
Many spend 70 percent of their time looking for the right information instead of acting on it.
"Imagine if you had the information at the moment you or your employees needed it."
It's time to take back control, said Ambuj. Control of your risk. Of your future. Of your markets. Of your bottom line.
Which means it's time to take back control of your information.
In a recent IBM CEO study, those companies that have taken back that control are getting five times more value creation for their information, because the dots are connected, the services are shared, the information is getting to where it needs to go.
Ultimately, Ambuj said, it's about getting the right information delivered, in context.
Get Your Motor Runnin'
As for our customer, Harley-Davidson, CIO Jim Haney said it this way: "I work for the coolest company in the world."
Haney provided an excellent overview of Harley-Davidson's 15.8 percent CAGR, its 20 years of sales growth, and the fact that its competitors are now attempting to copy that success.
How to break away from the pack and continue its leadership? By building integration services that serve as a hub providing information to and from all its other key business systems: ERP, SCM, PLM, Data Warehouse, etc.
As the Harley video setting up Jim's talk indicated: "We believe in going our own way, no matter which way the rest of the world is going."
Now, back to Wayne.
Just imagine this: Wayne doing Prince doing "Purple Rain."
Except the artist formerly known as Wayne formerly known as Prince is doing the song formerly known as "Purple Rain" and is now known as "Pimp Your Crypto."
Wayne cracked the code, and I got a Triple DES headache.
Every time I go on a business trip, it seems, there's an earthquake somewhere in the vicinity. Okay, maybe not every time, but certainly several in recent years.
The first time, I was having breakfast at a hotel in downtown San Jose, attending a mid-to-late 90s Internet World (before they moved to LA). The table started shaking. I looked over at the people dining across from me. "Yeah, we saw it too" their wayward glances suggested.
The second time was last summer. I estimate I was on the 29th floor of a downtown Tokyo hotel, right along the outer perimeter of the Roppongi.
I was fast asleep after a 14 hour flight in coach, trying to adjust to the fact that I had flown into the future, dreaming of fresh sushi and even fresher sake, when I was awakened by a shaking bed. Actually, it was more of a rolling wobbling bed. But the point was, it was on the 29th floor of a downtown Tokyo hotel and it was clearly an earthquake.
Tying this all back to the conference notion of "Taking Back Control" and providing "Information on Demand," I promptly got online the next morning and submitted my earthquake mishap to the authorities: to the U.S. Geological Survey, to be exact, which has a nifty Website where you can report all such earthquake incidents. Entitled, appropriately enough, "Did you feel it?"
The U.S.G.S. map from the small quake revealed many others had reported it, which provided some comfort -- again, it wasn't just me.
Although I did wonder what happened when there was a really bad quake and no one had Internet access. Isn't that equivalent to a tree falling in the forest when there was no one around to hear about it?
And then, of course, the 6.6 in Hawaii (I said the vicinity...) yesterday. Fortunately, that wasn't too terrible a one either.
Meanwhile, there's this:
Walking to breakfast early this AM I passed an IBM executive who is speaking at the conference. Kudos to him, he was jogging, psyched to be presenting at the conference later in the day and getting all revved up in a nice morning high-paced constitutional.
But was disturbing was that rather than singing the theme from "Rocky," he was chanting something about "IT Service Management."
Hey, you could never accuse us IBM folks of not being deadly serious about our technology. We even hum it when we run!
Duh duh, duh duh, duh duh duh duh duh....duh duh, duh duh, duh duh duh duh duh duh...
And now, off to the arena for the kickoff session...along with me and my estimated 5,000 new friends.
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the need for better filters of information. If you're an Information Age junkie like myself, using tools like RSS, social bookmarks, e-mail filters, and any other garden variety of personal information management tools can be overwhelming at times.
The whole point of all this great technology was that it was supposed to allow us to be more liberated from singular sources of information, allowing us to keep in tune with many more sources of information.
And it has.
But boy, can trying to monitor them be exhausting.
So I had suggested in the previous posting there was a very quickly emerging need for such smart information filters and aggregators, whether they be through new businesses or individual tools.
This morning, I read about one such filter in an article on the Financial Times online. Monitor110, scheduled to launch next year, is apparently providing an automated system that will "trawl through more than 40 [million] internet sources -- from blogs to regulator filings -- on behalf of hedge funds."
Check out this page from the Monitor110 site to get an idea of the kind of real-time information hedge funds will be receiving.
What I found most interesting about the story was a quote from the COO for investment research at Citigroup, Scott Lessing, who was quoted as saying that "the service could help analysts who currently track blogs 'only to the extent that it provides an idea which the analyst can independently verify.' "
Would that be a grudging, but formal acknowledgment, that there is great potential to find nuggets of information gold in them thar Internet hills?
Ah, but the quote goes on: "It's important to know that the smoke is out there, and that others see it. They may be more information value in online trends in the aggregate: 5,000 more web mentions of a product than the week before could be an important signal for an analyst covering the product's manufacturer."
Ah, so there's also potential collective wisdom from the maddening Internet crowds as well? The site hasn't launched yet, but according to the FT story, 10 hedge funds have already signed up, so they must think there's fire out there somewhere amidst all that smoke.
The IBM Information Fire Department refuses to stand by and watch the whole Internet go up in smoke. If you want to create some information heat yourself and integrate all your disparate data sources, check out this Website explaining our new IBM Information Server.
Aggregating my Aggregation
Meanwhile, in Wired magazine's "Monkey Bites," they listed the best and worst of Web 2.0 recently, and tuned me into NetVibes, which has been characterized as a "Web 2.0 personal portal featuring AJAX." Others are calling it just another RSS reader.
Curious, I checked it out yesterday, and decided it was much more than just another RSS reader, and am going to give it a whirl as my own next personal portal (Warning to Yahoo, MyYahoo has been my window to the Web for several years, but you've got some serious competition now, in my opinion).
In my work, I have to access all kinds of various Web-based information sources (both inside and outside IBM) on a daily basis, and I have been spending WAY too much time trying to navigate my way to those various sources, as well as just monitoring key information sources useful to my job.
Within about 10 minutes, I had completely customized the front page of NetVibes with a number of key blogs (via their RSS feeds) that I monitor, as well as added my Flickr photos, a weather map, an Alexa traffic widget that helps me monitor the traffic of several Websites, my del.icio.us bookmarks...the list goes on.
But the best part was being able to mix and match and move the boxed apps from one part of the page to another with my mouse. No programming, no HTML required.
This is smart computing. Kudos to the NetVibes team based in London and Paris, which apparently just received a $15 round of financing. As my dad used to tell me, don't spend it all in one place!
I don't know about you, but I'm about CNNed, MSNBCed, FOXed, and PBSed out on terrorism and national security.
But having just finished reading Ron Suskind's "The One-Percent Doctrine," having just taken a quick round-trip flight to San Jose myself, having wondered about some good friends who were still in the U.K. when the recent bombing plot was revealed and whom I knew would be trying to come back to the U.S. with their two small children in tow, having learned about all these new acronyms (to me, anyhow) like "TATP" (which stands for "Triacetone Triperoxide," just in case you've been curious)....after all that, I realized continued vigilance was still crucial despite our collective weariness.
Of course, our continued vigilance should be exerted both in a continued focus on improving our ability to know what's going on out there, while also balancing the risks of our needing to know with the inadvertent (or purposeful) misuse of information.
IBM's Jeff Jonas recently participated in the Markle Foundation's Task Force on National Security, which last month issued recommendations on how to reconcile national security needs with civil liberties requirements.
Its report (PDF, 4.8MB) offered a "new 'authorized use' standard for government handling of legally collected information that bases authorization to view information on how the information is going to be used, rather than on the nationality of the subject or the location of collection."
In his own public remarks made when the document was released last month, Jonas observed that "The Task Force has never called for the wholesale transfer of data between systems or agencies; rather, we have called for leaving the data with the original holder."
He pointed out that this approach enables users to discover who has information specifically relevant to their case, and that holders of such information can then grant access, based on policy, to each information request. Such a "discoverability" approach delivers on the "need to share" goal by first answering the question "share what with who?"
Read Jeff's post here to learn, which also includes links back to the press release outlining other key tenets of the report.
Connecting...while protecting...the dots.
GigaOm tells us that open-source PBX and telephony software maker, Asterisk, has received $13.8M in Series A funding from a Boston-based telecom specialist venture fund, Matrix Partners.
Asterisk runs on Linux, BSD, and Mac OS X and operates with many standards-based telephony equipment, and provides voicemail, directory features, call conferencing, interactive voice response, and call queing.
Meanwhile, IBM announced its third software acquisition in a little over a week's time. This time, it was enterprise content management software provider FileNet, based in Costa Mesa, CA. FileNet's software is intended to help companies manage content throughout their organizations while automating and streamlining business processes.
We're gonna be some busy beavers back at the IBM Software Web dam.
I'm a bit of a news junkie, if that wasn't evident. My social studies teachers always told me it was important to keep up with what's going on in the world, to read the newspaper, to watch the evening news, etc. Of course, now with the explosion of personal media (blogs, podcasts, news aggregation engines and filters, etc.), it's all a bit overwhelming.
To my mind, filters are more important than ever. Within IBM, I've often distinguished between the old and new media as being the difference between hunting-and-gathering and the Domino's pizza guy. With hunting-and-gathering, during the first decade of the WWW and the early evolution of search engines, we primarily characterized our behavior in terms of going out and looking for information.
Next, with the advent of various content syndication standards (namely RSS 1 and 2, and Atom), we saw the Domino's pizza delivery guy arrive on the scene. Now, we can "subscribe" to information, filtering it upfront and indicating our specific interests so that only the most relevant information (hopefully) arrives on our virtual doorstep.
What I rapidly see happening is a whole new layer of structure both necessary and inevitable with the firehose of information being developed and distributed. Call it the "Super Duper Wisdom of Crowds Hyper Meta Information Filter" (My term!) This filter will, increasingly, with all the rapid-fire evolutionary technologies like social bookmarking, tagging, etc. work in conjuction with the increasingly meta-oriented search capabilities -- whereupon we search existing searches (Rollyo, etc.) for that single and elusive information nugget -- then have our RSS newspaper delivery boy drop it off on our doorstep.
Here's the problem with all this: One could spend more time filtering and sifting and looking for information than consuming the information itself.
Maybe I should just start back up my subscription to the New York Times?
Speaking of filters, topix.net just announced a new search filter out at the Search Engines conference. Check it out here and see how you can search for news results over the past year and beyond. It seems especially useful for backtracking and searching for past news stories on a specific topic or from a specific region (city, zip, etc.)
We announced today our new and improved database, DB2 9
(the database formerly known as "Viper." Although we never had a really cool Sanskrit symbol to visually represent it or anything).
I've just linked you to the high-level skinny, but there are a few really cool features worth highlighting, including Ruby on Rails support. From a pure tech perspective, DB2 9 greatly improves XML performance, and its new compression technology can help cut storage costs by up to 80% (Register for the Webcast to learn more about the potential storage savings.)
And just to prove there really are actual living, human beings who develop this stuff, and not a bunch of droids locked up in an underground bunker 1,000 feet below Armonk, we've agreed to bring some of them out into the fresh air to chat with the world. Be gentle...they frighten easiliy. And before you pummel them with questions, you might want to check out the DB2 9 demo.[Read More]
I don't need any help with watching more television. I watch way too much of it as it is.
But being a big proponent of time-shifting and creating a more intelligent interlock and filtering mechanism between digital cable and the Web, I couldn't help but mention "MeeVee" which I recently stumbled across.MeeVee positions itself
as a TV search company (think Google for cable), and just announced today a second round infusion of VC cash to keep its TV listings up to date.
Their 30 second elevator pitch goes something like this: They're the Amazon.Com TV Guide on the Internet. They intend to provide several mechanisms on their site by which to recommend and provide a "personalized TV guide." Marcus Welby Meet Grey's Anatomy
With respect to MeeVee and TV, I'm all about personalized recommendations for anything...when
Although Amazon's collaborative filtering mechanism works fairly well for my tastes, I take my TV watching a whole lot more seriously than I do ordering stuff off of the Internet. When I'm ordering something via the Web, I generally already knew what it was that I wanted to buy.
That's a very different animal from relying on the collective intelligence of the Internet audience, from whom I'm looking to tell me what TV shows I might like to watch that I'm not already watching.
I'll spend some time on MeeVee, and even if they don't make their Kitty Hawk escape from their earthbound Web 2.0 orbit, it's good to know there are people out there worrying about how to improve my TV watching habits.
Especially amidst the backdrop of 57 channels and nothin' on.[Read More
Following up on my post about the future of sports...we're a few days into the Olympics and I've become a complete couch potato. And I'm blaming it all on technology.
First, there's my "Enhanced TV" feature that Time Warner Cable added to my already killer HDTV signal. I can switch between stations covering the Olympics like a true channel surfer.
Two, my DVR built into the Time Warner set top box (I swear this is not a commercial for TW). I can record two separate programs at the same time at once, then play them back in fast forward action mode (with the exception of the sport of curling, which completely eludes me...sorry, it just looks like shuffleboard on ice, and I figure I can hold off on that until I'm permanently living on a cruise ship...but I do support the American curlers!)
Three...get this, as it falls into the camp of "My VCR is still flashing 12:00s..."...I finally learned how to do picture on picture with my digital cable remote!...the Turin Winter Olympics are suddenly a whole new world (Hint: Click that "On/Off" button at the very bottom of the remote to get pic on pic).
And four, I've discovered some nifty Web addresses to help me program this Olympic madness...the MSNBC Winter Olympics TV Schedule,
for example. And also the NBC Olympics RSS feeds,
for those so inclined to subscribe to RSS feeds for results in specific events.
Now if I could just another 24 hours to the day so I can keep up with it all.
The feature on this week's ibm.com home page is "The Future of Sports," and as I read through drafts of some of the story's components -- including listening to the excellent future of sports podcast
- it dawned on me that there may have never been a better time to be an athlete or
a sports fan.
Full disclosure: My name is Todd, and I'm a sportsaholic. I grew up in north Texas, near Dallas, where football was as close to a religion as one could get without going to church, and where Little League baseball diamonds were a fixture permanently etched into the landscape. In my adolescence, I played both baseball and football, and also dabbled in soccer, basketball, cross country, golf, and even rodeo (yes, we do consider rodeo to be a sport...same with NASCAR...but more on that later).
I was never a star player, particularly in team sports, but I relished the opportunity and experience of playing both organized team and individual sports, and my participation taught me no end of lessons: teamwork, collaboration, cooperation, sacrifice, perserverance, how to throw my golf putter into a lake with style and finesse but also with the appropriate amount of anger...all qualities that I would inevitably call upon in later years for my business life.Sporting Solutions for a Small Planet
In my travels for and work experiences on behalf of IBM, I've been most fortunate to have escaped the boundaries of my own geography and culture, and witnessed what sports means around the world, both virtually and up close.
Instant replay: On one of my international business trips, to Munich, I watched in fascination at the complete preoccupation of my European colleagues with the 1998 World Cup, and realized that no matter where in the world you are, football is football...except in Europe, where soccer is football, which my European colleagues were quick to point out...but my real point in mentioning it was this: sport is sport around the globe, certainly even as one man's sport is another man's bore.
I also learned that sport, like politics, is mostly local, even as it plays a crucial and necessary role in shaping national and even state identity...but it's mostly local. My tribe...err, I mean my team, is always better than your team, except when my team loses, in which case it's time to elect a new president...err, I mean hire a new coach.
Yet with the dramatic changes in technology over the past decade, what was once local has become instantaneously global.
Just this past weekend, by way of example, I watched as Tiger Woods played (and eventually won) the Dubai Desert Classic, a golf tournament halfway around the world -- sometimes in real-time and at others in instant replay. I had no end of options to read about or follow it closely, including the IBM-sponsored PGATour.Com
But the best part was that I had any option at all, something avid sports fans didn't
have when growing up with Jim McKay and ABC's "The Wide World of Sports."
The agony of victory and thrill of defeat was all well and good in the wide world of sports, up until about the time the shackles of broadcast commercial TV delayed replays or blackouts and forced you to miss the one
game you really wanted to see in that not-very-wide-world-after-all. Call it the agony of oligopoly, where the channels of opportunity were limited by the scarcity of broadcast spectrum and, in turn, the limited number of sports media outlets. The endless capacity of the Internet precludes that from being an issue for the virtual world of sports.IBM: Helping Fans Get Closer to the Action
Sport has always been very much an "on demand"-oriented endeavor, especially in terms of the need for instantaneous information and results. Thus, the global and individual accessibility of the Internet pairs nicely with the required immediacy of sports.
IBM's innovation in bringing technology to sports occurred early on in the Internet game, beginning with our early IT sponsorships of the U.S. Open, the Masters and PGA Tour, the Olympics, and others. In those experiences, we learned a great deal about the utility and applicability of our technology and the unique power of the Internet to address some very time-sensitive business problems, the lessons of which informed and shaped our product development.
These efforts helped us more effectively address other
customers' problems through the lessons we learned from these sports sponsorships, some harder than others. Like the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, when IBM stumbled onto the javelin after being unable to deliver a critical scoring results feed to the news media, who were using the timely information in that feed to inform the rest of the planet. Lesson learned.
That very same year, IBM delivered live results of Tiger Woods' historic and relentless march up the fairways of Augusta to take his first green jacket. The Java-based Internet scorecard developed expressly for the Masters was the first of many innovations in our sports coverage efforts (read my account
of a more recent one about the "Point Tracker" from last September's U.S. Open).
And from what I can surmise as I scan the fast-changing digital media landscape, this game is just getting rolling. IP-based digital media online is probably the most recent and important evolution for sports coverage in recent years, and is opening up whole new opportunities for athlete and fan interaction. You've also got fantasy sports leagues, online and console gaming, IPTV...all putting fans closer and closer to the action, and sometimes even directly into the driver's seat. Gentlemen, Turn On Your Remotes
Take NASCAR, as an example. Just recently, Time Warner Cable sent me an invitation to subscribe to its new "NASCAR In Car" digital cable offering, which will allow me to watch "6 drivers on 6 in-car camera channels with live team audio and real-time in car-data." Does that mean I also get to experience driving into the wall of the Texas Motor Speedway at 180 MPH??? (Read a recent story in CIO magazine to learn how technology is changing NASCAR
and helping it build its booming business.) Without the ability to provide multiple feeds through an IP-based broadband pipe, such a feat would have been impossible even just a few short years ago.
The point is this: Moving forward, no matter where in the world you may be, technology is going to allow you to follow your favorite team or athlete no matter where in the world they
may be at the moment of, at - and even after -- the event, and increasingly via the device of your choice (Anyone see those ESPN Mobile TV ads in the Super Bowl last night? You thought people talking on the phone at the movies or restaurants was an etiquette issue? Just you wait until you can watch them jump up and down cheering at your cousin's wedding when the Steelers go for two and make it.)
People's behavior and the technology opportunity will certainly have to catch up with one another and make some adjustments, but the best news of all is that fans are going to be able to become a more integral partner in the experience, making the convergence of technology and sports the new team to watch.
I'm personally very much looking forward to the day when I can play in a virtual 3-D foresome with Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger. Until that time, I'll keep practicing my course management on the X-Box.[Read More
Greetings. As we head into SuperBowl weekend, it seems that from all reports, the Kama Sutra worm couldn't find any love, which is a very good thing. I, personally, wasn't looking forward to rebuilding all the PowerPoints, Word docs, and related intellectual capital I'd worked so feverishly on under such tight deadlines for the past 15 years. And I was glad to have been given the kick in the derriere I needed to update my antivirus update. I hope all of you out there fared as well. Meanwhile, it's time to gear up for that favorite American pasttime, the SuperBowl.
Since my Dallas Cowboys went off their winning streak in the mid 90s, my favorite thing about the SuperBowl has been the TV ads, particularly those $20 million 30 second spots featuring monkeys and sock puppets. Ah, the good ol' days of dot com advertising. I look forward to counting advertising dollars wilting away by the millions per minute on Sunday, and am hoping for some real marketing genius this year. And also wondering what that one big surprise will be.Fourth and Long
The National Football League (NFL) and IBM recently partnered on an initiative to help the NFL better bring you even better coverage through their NFL Films division by leveraging IBM's digital media technologies. Growing up, I was a huge fan of the NFL Film shows.
Every weekend, I would wait intently for the previous week's recap show -- remember, this was long before ESPN recaps -- and watch and wish that I
would grow big enough to play in the NFL someday. Alas, I ended up playing more golf than football, but I can still hear the crunch of helmets and shoulder pads and that narrator's voice.
Next week, after the knee pads and Astroturf have been put away, and the winning quarterback has jetted off to Disneyland, my colleagues at ibm.com and I will take a closer look at the future of sports. Being a sports junkie, nothing is sacred. Golf, NASCAR, the Olympics...it's all fair game and it's all being changed by technology.
Until then, enjoy the game...and the commercials.[Read More