Our own sales guru Ed Brill is a fierce advocate for the personal and enterprise productivity-enhancing technologies that make up our Lotus portfolio...just stay out of his way if you happen to get him started talking "speeds and feeds" about things Red(mond) v. Blue (and I ain't talking about political states here, either, people).
Ed gives us the recap skinny for the announcement yesterday about IBM Workplace and Lotus Notes' support for the SAP platform. Few things in life, or information technology, are free, but you'll Note (sorry, couldn't pass that one up) that we are providing some free templates for easier integration between Notes and SAP. That's so that you can more easily integrate all those wonderful vacation, time reporting, contact management and other useful Notes applications with your enterprise SAP data.
Speaking of Lotus, if you're a Notes/Domino user and you haven't ever spent any time at Alan Lepofsky's blog, run to your nearest browser and feed your productivity head. Alan offers up more Note tips and tricks than a mere mortal like myself can consume. And while you're over in Lotus land, check out the IBM Workplace Managed Client (also free....for 180 days).
Wait a minute, where's my next paycheck comin' from if we're giving all this software away??!
Over the weekend, I'm off to Toronto to feed my own head while mixin' and mashing it up at Mesh (which, btw, is now sold out!) Hopefully I'll have some of my own buzz to report out on. The whole agenda looks Web Two Point Oh scrumptious, but I have to play favorites and say I can't wait to hear from Steve Rubel on the future of marketing, Tara Hunt on building community online, and Om Malik on the future (or lack thereof) of media.
More from the top of the CN Tower...that is, if the restless 2.0ers haven't torn it down by the time I arrive![Read More]
Overall industry commitment, as well as IBM's own contribution, to open source Web development continued yesterday with the announcement of the addition of 13 new members to the "Open Ajax" initiative.
Before the details of that announcement, some background: Ajax is a fast-growing and already widely adopted open client technology that organizations are incorporating into their external and internal Web sites to simplify the browsing experience, and to make it easier for users to shop, work, plan, correspond and navigate online.
The beauty of the Ajax technology is that it makes it unnecessary to manually refresh one's browser to send or receive information over the Web. Instead, information is automatically updated and available on demand, allowing you to "drag and drop" or input information and get a response without refreshing the browser, an experience not dissimilar with what happens on your PC desktop.
This capability can significantly reduce the steps needed to complete a transaction over the Web, and provide real competitive and time-to-market advantage for those businesses dependent on a quick-and-easy-to-use-and-navigate front-end interface to their Web applications. It's also helping empower developers creating extremely useful "mashup" applications (ones which combine the best of one application or data source with another: housingmaps.com is one great example in the apartment hunting space.) Check out Derek Powazek's blog post "Ajax, Ajax Everywhere" to get the everyman's explanation of Ajax.
The Open Ajax initiative was announced earlier this year to promote Ajax's promise of universal compatibility with any computer device, application, desktop or operating system, and easy incorporation into new and existing software programs. Initial supporting members included IBM, BEA, Borland, Eclipse Foundation, Google, Mozilla, Oracle, and numerous others.
Yesterday's announcement welcomed the likes of Adobe, Intel, Opera, SAP, Software AG, Tibco, XML11 and several others (click on the previous link for a comprehensive list), expanding total participation in Open Ajax to 28 companies.
It's great to see all these companies coming together to cultivate and expand the use of this liberating Web technology. Companies and consumers alike are already benefitting from the easy-to-use interfaces and "mixing" and "mashing" of applications enabled via Ajax, and I suspect that it will only evolve and mature as Open Ajax members come together to identify new and innovative opportunities and standards.[Read More]
Check out this story
about the "hardware hacker."
This guy's a man after my own heart. His name's Michael Ross, and he's a Scotsman who splits his home between Mamoroneck, NY, and the Scottish Highlands, and who collects old IBM computer systems...as in, really old...and really big.
According to the article, Mr. Ross's collection of old IBM systems weighs about 15 tons and "could fill a 10-car garage." It includes an IBM System/3, System/32, IBM System/34, System/36, System/38, the game-changing System/360, and many, many more. You can see his collection online at The Corestore.
I have my own collection of old computers, although I don't have nearly as many as I wish I had kept (My Kaypro luggable, my Sord Laptop, or my Compaq "Luggable," for instance). However I do still have my first IBM laptop...anyone care to guess what model that might be??? (Hint: It predates the ThinkPad line!)
Mainframes at Your Service
Speaking of old computers, the so-called IBM mainframe "dinosaurs" seem to keep coming out of their near extinction to find new raisons d'etre. By way of example, InformationWeek highlights how many companies are utilizing mainframes as the hubs for their service-oriented architectures. And Steve Lohr with The New York Times observes that the falling price point of mainframe MIPS (millions of computing instructions per second) is "growing at a healthy clip." And powering about 80 billion transaction per day's worth, according to the InformationWeek article.
Me, I'm thinking about getting a System z for my new work machine. Don't get me wrong, I love my ThinkPad T40, but I tend to be a power user (where do you think the "Turbo" came from?), and I could use a little more horsepower. I suspect that while building PowerPoints on one of our new "Business Class" mainframes might be overkill, it would make for a great Christmas Card picture: Me, wearing my Snoopy goggles and scarf, blowing down the Information Superhighway spouting off our latest TPC results, not a care in the world!
Okay, so it's only a dream. But you never know...one day in the future you might just find a pic of me in Michael Ross' online computer collection![Read More]
IBM Chief Privacy Officer (CPO) Harriet Pearson recently sat down with ComputerWorld
for an interview to discuss what CIOs and CEOs need to understand about data privacy and protection, the role of the CPO, and other relevant risk management topics.
Harriet has been a key thought leader in the data protection and privacy space for some years now, and I had the opportunity many Internet dog years ago to work with her on a number of Internet-related privacy issues on behalf of IBM. It's clear from this interview that the privacy space has matured since that time.
In the interview, Harriet also discusses ever more practical considerations, such as the optimum reporting structure for privacy officers and the characteristics that make up a good CPO.
You can also hear from Harriet directly in a podcast conducted recently entitled "The Future of Privacy."[Read More]
We find out this AM that AOL is introducing a new integrated VOIP capability
into its AOL Instant Messaging client (and boy oh boy, did I ever need
another VOIP capability!) Between Skype, Vonage, Net2Phone, my IBM Community Tools VOIP client...well, let's just say I don't exactly fear not being able to make an Internet phone call anytime soon.
The service, called "AIM Phoneline Unlimited," will cost U.S. $14.95/month and would become the first voice-over-Internet service to provide a free phone number for incoming calls. If you've got AIM already, it's a no-brainer (hey, free is free), although it will be interesting to see what happens when all those VOIP software clients ring at once. "Mr. Watson, can you come here...err, hold, please?"
MESH: The Great White North's Web 2.0 Gathering
Though I was chained to a desk here in Armonk the last several days, attending planning meetings (if it's May at IBM, it's planning time!), I'll be off to the buzzhot MESH Web 2.0 Conference in Toronto next weekend. It's been many Internet dog years since I visited the Great White North, but based on the all the pixel love being spread around the Internet about this confab, I'm looking forward to my brief, if uncelebrated, return.
I'm especially looking forward to MESH's "15 Minutes of Fame," where three Web Two Point Oh entrepreneurs per day will have a full 5 minutes to make their pitch to the anxious crowd. It oughta go something like this: Think 5 minutes in front of John Doerr and Tim Draper, with the international press and 1,000 hungry bloggers hanging on your every syllable, ready to fire out your celebrations and crashes to the world via Typepad in a virtual nanosecond.
But hey, no pressure or anything!
I've also been intrigued the last few days by Canadian journalist Stuart McDonald's comments about "Marketing 2.0," where "yelling at people via the television" is so passe, and where "marketing in the 21st Century is feeling more like a never-ending political campaign" as "set-it-and-forget-it marketing plans die as quickly as mass-reachable audiences" do.
Hey, I drank that Kool-Aid a few years ago, but it's nice to hear this new marketing mantra echoing from the north.
I look forward to sharing some serious shop talk "aboot" the Internet over a Molsen, making some new friends, and having some Canadian hockey fan explain to me why exactly it is that a hockey goalkeeper can't be sent to the penalty box![Read More]
We just conducted a survey about consumer expectations, and apparently a lot of businesses just don't get it.
Our "IBM Global Business Services Consumer Experience Survey" (hey, if the title of the survey wasn't at least seven words long, it wouldn't be from IBM) surveyed over 700 consumers and business leaders in North America and Europe and found that consumers believe companies are acting without understanding them -- and many companies even admit it!
Of more than 100 business leaders questioned, 79 percent admitted to taking significant marketing and promotional actions without clearly understanding customer expectations.
By way of example, less than half of retail banking customers surveyed had experiences that exceeded their expectations. They indicated that "higher-order emotive characteristics" (sounds painful) such as "dignity" and "empathy" as top preferences, while characteristics such as "friendly" and "informed" are less important. In other words, laugh a little, listen to what I have to say, and cash that check without a lot of questions!
But here's the rub: Only 17 percent of business leaders as a whole said that they consider such emotional factors when making consumer-related decisions. Instead, some 74 percent indicated that they act on an operational basis (e.g., "what can be made faster or more efficient"). And while many companies continue to put inspirational and emotional brand messages into the market, they often fail to deliver on those promises when they interact with customers.
My take on the study: The essence of a brand is every experience your customer has with it: in person, online, on the phone, in your TV commercials. So, listen to your customers and optimize their experience with your brand 360 degrees, and your company can demonstrate that they get it...and subsequently laugh all the way to -- and inside -- the bank.[Read More]
Once upon a time, I got a Canon digital camera. I think it was one of the "Elph" models, although the camera is back in Texas and I'm working from IBM's headquarters today in Armonk, NY, so I can't check to be sure (You'll find out shortly why Elph is not with me on this particular trip).
I used to take my Elph pretty much everywhere, and took pictures of everyone and everything. I even bought my Elph its own accessories, so that it wouldn't feel outdone by other, more chic products introduced in later generations (like the Sony Cybershot, for example...Elph was very jealous of the Cybershot.)
I even bought my Elph an underwater housing so I could keep it dry underwater and take it diving with me to take pictures of all the great sea life. It served me very well last summer in Belize when I got scores of great pictures and video of the swarm of nice, (and supposedly harmless) nurse sharks swimming all around me.
Then, one day, without any advanced forewarning, my Elph took ill. I'm not sure what happened...I didn't drop it, or abuse or it anything...it just...sort of....suddenly died. These things happen -- some call it "planned obsolescence" -- so suddenly I was forced to use my Motorola Razr camera phone to take pictures.
Now, the Razr's good for certain things -- like talking on the phone, for example -- works great for that. But for the whole picture thing, I preferred the Elph. I have absolutely no clue how to offload pictures from the Razr to...well, anywhere...and the pictures on the Razr vs. the Elph...well, let's just say it's a pixel-size thing.
So no sooner had I gotten to the Big Apple that I learned Yahoo has introduced a new consumer technology site, aptly enough called "Yahoo Tech."
Tags and Sliders and Wizards and Things
John Battelle said it best when he called content "the new black" in his review of Yahoo Tech. Seems like everyone is throwing a new content portal together these days...it's the hip and happenin' thing to do....We're gonna portal like it's 1999!
But Yahoo Tech may be onto something. First, it's aimed at non-geeks (so they're not aiming at me)...and yet even I found their implementation of some of the cool Web Two Point Oh widgets -- slider bars for pricing, tags for categorizing stuff, drag-and-drop "Save my stuff" windows -- pretty cool, and useful. The whole page seems like a virtual AJAX smorgasbord, so even though it may not be fitted for geeks, it still has some chic geek appeal in its construction.
Second, I think it's great that a big Internet media company is using new technologies to help educate consumers about consumer technologies: digital cameras, MP3 players, camcorders, PCs, etc. Sure, it's an advertising-fest (what do you think PC Magazine was?), but have you bought any of these types of gadgets lately? I need all the help I can get! Trying to figure out which camera does what, price and feature comparisons between new laptops, etc....apps like Yahoo Tech could go a long way towards helping folks make more educated consumer tech decisions. And the tools are great and very usable so far...comparison shopping online has never been more fun!!
Finally, Yahoo is bringing user-generated content into the mix, including original content coming from bloggers with pseudo-demographic names like "The Mom," "The Boomer," the "Techie Diva," and "The Working Guy." While they are generic names, they are represented by real working people who represent various segments of the Yahoo audience and who provide some seemingly useful tips. As an example, today "The Working Guy" today tells us how we can do dictation via the phone. Tres chic, lots o' potential for mucho productivity increase.
Now, if I could just talk my Elph back to life.[Read More]
As seen on CNN this AM: One Steven Martinez was scuba diving for golf balls
in Boynton Beach, Florida, earlier this week when he was attacked by a 9-foot alligator.
Apparently, the alligator went directly after Mr. Martinez's air supply by attacking his scuba tank, although I imagine what the gator was really after were the Titleist Pro V1 golf balls stuffed away in his scuba bag of goodies (a box of Pro V1s has an MSRP of $58, according to a recent visit to the Titleist Web site.)
Fortunately for Mr. Martinez, he survived and was treated for minor injuries. The alligator, however, was not quite so fortunate -- it was slated to be sent packing to those Great Everglades in the sky, sans the V1s.
Me, I'll stick with my Top Flites, and try to avoid mixing the diving and driving.
Champagne or Orange Juice?
Meanwhile, let me bring to your attention yesterday's announcement of IBM's System z9 Business Class (z9 BC, for short) mainframe computers.
Designed to help smaller companies do more work with less computers at higher rates of IT utilization, these babies can do what it used to take tens or hundreds of servers to do. Yes, there's a server utilization efficiency story there, but as oil hovers around $70 a barrel, it can also help save on energy costs and floor space (not to mention the nightmare of trying to manage and keep track of all those servers named after characters from obscure science fiction novels.)
You can read here what some analysts have said about travelling via z9 Business Class -- and mind you, while quotes about mainframe computing aren't the most pithy and quotable around, this one stood out: "...[it] should help IBM extend its reach into new markets running new workloads." Simple and pithy, don't you think?
Now, would you like a hot towel before dinner?[Read More]
Let me just state this for the record: I watch the American TV show "Lost" pretty regularly, but I don't think I have the first clue about what's going on on that island.
That's probably the point...it keeps me comin' back and all...but every time I watch Jack or John or anybody type that series of lottery numbers into what looks like my dad's first IBM PC XT, I just go absolutely berserk.
Why? Because! I want them to completely let the thing run down and see what happens. Will the island blow up? Will some little "Lost" Lilliputian elves run out and declare psychological warfare victory? What?? What's gonna happen???!!!
Now, I can get a clue, apparently. ABC has announced a new "Lost" interactive challenge. They, along with 19 other networks stretched across five continents, are introducing "The Lost Experience," an Internet game that will feature a parallel story line and which "will give insight into the top-rated show." Insight? I don't want any insight! I just want to know what's gonna happen when that clock hits 00:00!
Fast Forward Faster!
Apparently, the game will consist of a multimedia treasure hunt, one that incorporates everything from e-mail messages, phone calls, commercials, billboards, and fake Web sites that are made to seem real. "The Lost Experience" will also apparently incorporate new characters into the experience, and information revealed in the game will be applicable to the TV storyline as well!
So, let me get this straight: now I have to play an Internet game to find out what the heck is going on in a fictional TV show??? Well, of course I do. Because what happens if I don't play the Internet game and they reveal some hidden clue in the game about what's going on in the TV show, and all that time and energy I've spent programming my DVR to record "Lost" religiously every week will have been a complete waste of time!
I don't know if ABC is an IBM customer or not, but I do know we advertise on their network. I wonder if that might buy me some sort of unfair competitive advantage in the Internet game! Maybe I can use some of our media buying clout to and get the skinny on some of the clues before the rest of the "Lost" public??? (Hey, I'm just trying to think like the characters in the show!)
For your information: ABC's press account indicated that the first clue for the Internet will be incorporated into the May 3rd episode next week. I'll be watching closely...and will be prepared to hit the pause and/or rewind button on the DVR, just in case they've hidden a slow motion clue in the commercials!
Meanwhile, I just hope my remote...and my heart...can take the added suspense.[Read More]
I don't have much time to read books anymore...I'm too busy blogging and reading blogs and trying to do my day job to read many books. But one of our executives recently sent me a copy of her new book, and I was naturally curious to see what she had to say.
Linda Sanford, the author, has been with IBM for going on nearly three decades, and in fact has spent her entire career at the company. Her street cred goes well beyond what I can afford to list here if I'm going to use any pixels to start to relate the important things she writes about in the book. But suffice it to say that she's a senior VP helping IBM transform its own IT operations, and in past IBM lives ran our Storage Systems Group and System/390 division. In other words, she got game.
Based on my reading of the book thus far -- which is entitled "Let Go to Grow: Escaping the Commodity Trap" -- it's my opinion that it nicely articulates some of the key messages IBM has been delivering to the marketplace about our changing world and business climate. It also starts to explore the resultant implications for how a rethinking of core value propositions and business structures, including IT, can help organizations around the globe keep pace with those changes and be more responsive to an "on demand" world.
Figuring it's way too much information to cover in a single blog post, I've decided to give myself a homework assignment and write a serial book report. Kind of like what I used to have to do in grade school, except now there's no teacher around to grade me.
I got to hear Linda speak last year in Austin to an IBM-internal audience about some of the thoughts she shares in the book, and at her talk she related some juicy sound bites regarding IBM's own IT transformation.
So I thought the best way to get your attention was to pass along some juicy sound bites from the book, ones that jumped off the page at me in the first chapter about the ill-fated fate of many Fortune 500 companies:
- Of the 172 companies that appeared on the Fortune 500 list between 1955 and 1995, only 5 percent grew their revenue above the overall inflation rate.
- Only 16 percent of 1,008 companies tracked from 1962 to 1998 survived.
- Of the 68 companies still on the original Forbes 100 list announced in 1917, only one (General Electric) had surpassed the average return on the S&P 500.
- ...And my personal favorite: From 1997 to 2002, the 30 firms that constitute the Dow Jones index grew less than 5 percent in revenue and gross profit and just 0.5 percent in after-tax profit. When the top 5 performers were subtracted, the other 25 companies had a 2.3 percent annual revenue growth and a 1.6 percent gross profit increase essentially just matching the rate of inflation!
So what's an over-commoditized, stagnating enterprise to do?
The quick answer: Componentize your business (including your core processes). Create and participate in new value webs. Develop entirely new business ecosystems.
More about commoditization and componentization in the next section of the book report.[Read More]