Actually, I'm not dreaming of a green Christmas, but I know many e-retailers who will be soon if they're not already.
Well, the early holiday e-shopping estimates have begun to emerge, even before shoppers have fully cranked up their browsers, and the prognostications are once again decidedly bullish.
eMarketer, which I like to use in my day job because they rely on multiple sources of data, is forecasting in its "Online Holiday Shopping Preview" that Web merchants will ring up sales worth $24.3 billion during this holiday season, a 22.1% increase over the same period (November and December) last year.
eMarketer's Q4 2006 retail e-commerce sales forecast is some $33.2 billion, accounting for nearly 31% of all 2006 online retail sales!
Online or Off, Green is Still Green
Being an emarketer myself, I also like to understand how and why folks rely on the Internet for their shopping experience.
Majestic Research discovered in a survey last December that people shop online primarily for three reasons: convenience, product selection, and price.
However, KPMG's 2005 holiday shopping study found that crowd avoidance becomes another important reason the closer Santa's big day draws near.
And the key question retailers everywhere want Santa's elves to help them answer? Where do online buyers typically start their online shopping?
Well, 50.9% of them appear to be brand-conscious shoppers who go directly to the e-retailers' Web sites. 26% of them start at a search engine or directory.
21.4% of them start at a catalog, store, or other offline site. 17.6% go through a shopping portal.
And 16.6% of them use, my favorite, a comparison shopping engine (Think PriceGrabber or MySimon)
Click, Brick, and Mortar
But here's what I suspect is Santa's dirty little e-shopping secret that nobody's paying nearly enough attention to: The impact of online communication on offline retail sales.
Case in Point: I'm way down south here in Mobile, Alabama, spending the Thanksgiving holiday with family.
Digital cameraless, I decided to seek out a new digital camera to take some holiday photos.
I spent a couple of hours online, searching product manufacturer sites, consumer and professional reviews of digital cameras, and finally, BestBuy.Com, where I was able to locate the closest brick and mortar store where I went and made my purchase.
I suspect I'm not the only one, which is why more and more I believe that both brands and offline retailers must increasingly pay more attention to their online reputations.
Word of mouth is still king in Santa's workshop...we little elves like to talk, and it is often our opinions that can influence a product purchase to one brand or another.
Provide a positive brand or retail experience (online or off), and you'll make a friend who will tell all their friends.
Provide a bad experience, and they'll tell everybody.
It's not every day you get to have dinner with an advertising legend.
"You deserve a break today." "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there." "Two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun!"
Those are just a few of the famous ad campaign slogans that DDB Worldwide Chairman Emeritus Keith Reinhard was the creative force behind.
But judging by the kick-off dinner here in Austin last night for "Chaos: New Agendas in Advertising," a conference hosted by the University of Texas at Austin's Center for Brand Research and GSD&M, a prominent Austin-based ad agency, Mr. Reinhard may be saving his best campaign for last.
Though the dinner conversation rambled across all sorts of timely and fascinating topics (including my recent favorites, exploring virtual worlds), and included the participation of several prominent UT professors as well as some very thoughtful agency and client siders from the Left, Third, and East Coasts, it was Mr. Reinhard's commitment to changing the face of the ugly American overseas that most caught my attention, and one firmly rooted and with very real implications in the real world.
Reinhard has been the driving force behind an organization called "Business for Diplomatic Action" (BDA), a private-sector task force led by preeminent business leaders working to counter the increasing prevalence of anti-Americanism that has appeared on the flattened earth landscape post 9/11.
The argument? Anti-Americanism is bad for business, plain and simple. It brings unnecessary increased security and economic costs at a time when we can ill afford them, and hurts America's ability to recruit the best and brightest.
The BDA effort, however, is not about selling -- it's about sensitizing Americans to this trend, and helping educate American citizens as to how they can counter them through their own conduct and through public, but personal diplomacy.
So, the next time you're in Paris strolling along the Champs d'Elysses in your spiffy white sneakers desperately in search of a cup of ice for that Coca-Cola in your hand, consider grabbing a bottle of Evian instead or, better yet, a nice glass of vin rouge.
And hold the freedom fries.
It couldn't have been planned, but what a fitting tribute on the day we hear the sad news about economist Milton Friedman's passing that three of the heavyweights in search -- Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft -- come together and demonstrate that the free market works by their agreeing on a common way for developing search sitemaps.
You can read more about Mr. Friedman's life and legacy in The New York Times' detailed obituary -- they do it far more justice than could I.
And as to the Sitemaps agreement, allow me to explain.
Sitemaps are an important way for Websites to point out which areas of their site that search crawlers should visit to ensure that the site is getting maximum coverage in that particular search engine.
Essentially, a sitemap is an XML file that lists the URLs for the site and some additional metadata about each URL (when itt was updated, how often it changes, its relevance and importance, etc.) so that search engines crawl it more effectively.
Think of it as a sort of traffic cop for search engines.
Though this initiative originated with Google's Sitemaps, Yahoo and Microsoft have also come to the table to announce their support for the new 0.90 sitemaps.org protocol.
Yeah, it's pretty geeky stuff. But it's also important cross-industry collaboration that, when taken advantage of, has the potential to help your site become more findable across these key search engines.
That means your goods, your services, whatever it is you're selling can become more findable across these three search engines. That's all good.
I don't know who, if anybody, played Switzerland in this deal, but kudos to the "coopetitiveness" shown by these three competitors. Far as I can tell, everybody wins on this one.
The free market works. Thanks, Milton. God Bless and Godspeed.[Read More]
As I mentioned in a post yesterday, IBM CEO Sam Palmisano is getting himself an avatar -- two, actually (one dressed a little more casually than the other), which he used to pay a visit earlier today to an IBM meeting held in a recreation of the "Forbidden City" inside the virtual world Second Life.
In this electronic global town hall meeting, Sam used the opportunity to announce a $100M investment in ten new business opportunities that were generated via their own unique online venue, our recent InnovationJam, which involved more than 150,000 people from 104 countries.
One of the ideas that emerged from this virtual jam was funding for R&D to accelerate the exploration of virtual worlds for use in business and society...the "3-D" Internet, if you will.
For those of us who have been early advocates inside Big Blue around the notion of "v-business," particuarly in Second Life, this is very exciting news, as it clearly indicates our own bullishness about the promise of virtual technologies in business, educational, medical, and other organizations that can benefit from a more visual Web environment.
There have been a number of IBMers who have been paving the way in this brave new world, working to establish new technologies and to build collaborative relationships and IBM and client "facilities" to explore business applications.
In today's meeting, Sam entered into a 3-D virtual world filled with more than 200 IBMers from around the globe -- Australia, Florida, India, Israel, New York, and dozens of other locations -- moving through various IBM "islands"in Second Life -- including the Almaden Research Island, Hursley Island and ThinkLand, where IBM recreated the Forbidden City.
The virtual participants were joined by IBM's chief scientist, Irving Wladawsky-Berger, and were able to watch a feed of Sam's talk from China, then interact with Sam's virtual avatar (hopefully they behaved themselves). During that interaction, Sam announced that a major part of the $100 million InnovationJam investment will be to innovate and build a business around the future of the Web with these immersive 3D environments and virtual worlds.
Just as we did in the early days of e-business and Linux, our goal is to build a community and drive the business opportunities for virtual business, or "v-business."
Having been at an Internet World press conference where IBM's commitment to "e-business" was announced over a decade ago, I'm very excited to see a similar commitment to these emerging virtual worlds, and to see them announced very much in the spirit and energy this new frontier presents to businesses and organizations around the globe.
If you've experienced them firsthand, you know that it's only the limits of your imagination that will shape what can be done there.[Read More]
Beam me up, Scotty. Fast!
I tell you, I leave town for a week to get in a little R&R, and it seems as though the earth spun off its axis. The Democrats took over both Houses of Congress, Britney announced she and K Fed were splitting up, we announced a $10M investment in 3D virtual worlds (including an expanded presence in Second Life), and now word on the street is that we're making a bid for a stake in China's Guangdong Development Bank.
As a colleague related to me in an email, "maybe you should go on vacation more often."
Although I made jokes before my departure to go scuba diving (click here for a glance of me surfing over the stunning underwater coral life in Bonaire) about having limited Internet access in the Dutch Antilles, the reality was much worse than the fantasy.
As opposed to last year in Belize, I had no wi-fi either close to or near my room. In fact, there was hardly any wi-fi anywhere on Bonaire island.
Upon visiting the main town of Kralendijk, which was right down the street from our hotel, I was able to track down wi-fi and land-based Internet access for the princely sum of $10.00/hour, but ended up using a similar service in the business center of our hotel.
When the Internet is $10.00/hour, I noticed that my surfing habits changed dramatically. I bolted in an out of email accounts, quickly scanning for relevancy and darting in and out of accounts. You'd be surprised how efficient you can be when the Internet equivalency of a NYC taxicab meter is running.
Honestly, I didn't miss it, although being out for six business days one realizes what a huge Alaskan pipeline of information flow one misses, what between all the email, the blogs, the online media, etc. I felt like I was on another planet. And to some extent I was.
All this changed, of course, the moment I stopped off in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where the lobby of the Sheraton hotel had a lightening fast, free wi-fi connection that allowed me to refresh my IP-constipated Macbook.
The damage? A little over 300 work emails. But that's okay...it was like inhaling 100% oxygen!
And I consider myself lucky: both that I had only that many emails, but more importantly, that I was able to (mostly) disconnect from the e-umbilical cord for a few days.
But it's also nice to be reconnected. I'll be in a painful catch-up mode for the next few days, but the hurt of the withdrawal was worth the price of swimming with the sea creatures (no sting rays!) undisturbed by the outside world.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a bit of email to get through.[Read More]
The early autumn of October has faded and given way to the frost of November, so I'm about to head south (very far south) to do my part to check in on the state of global warming.
And well, even if I cannot stop the rising temperatures around the planet, I can at least check in and see how bleached the coral reefs are getting off the coast of Bonaire near northern Venezuela.
As I contemplate the slowdown in underwater photosynthesis and the even slower October retail sales, I leave the country with the confidence that Diebold facilitated the casting of my fall election's e-vote, Microsoft just announced it has entered into a partnership with Novell to provide "sales support" of Suse Linux, and Tom Cruise has announced a partnership to revive Mary Pickford's and Charlie Chaplin's United Artists studio.
All is clearly right with the world...
Where I'm going, there is apparently only a singular Internet umbilical cord at the main office of my lodgings, and to this day, I've been able to avoid any sort of underwater wireless Internet connections...to this day being the operative statement.
For my sojourn, I've duly promised my mom I would steer far away from sting rays...on shore, in the boat, on the airplane, at the bars...wherever those ubiquitous sting rays might appear...and have promised myself that I would limit my sipping of the Internet straw to checking up on the American election's tidings next Tuesday evening...otherwise, I'll be firmly ensconced on the IP packetless bandwagon for a full week. Think I can do it?
So, it is without further adieu that I note this blog will be blogless until my return on November 13th. My Big Blue colleagues have strongly urged me to take a real vacation, and being the team player I try to be, I consider it my utmost corporate responsibility to take them at their word and heed their advice.
Rest easy in knowing that I am off to swim with the fishes, and the whales, and the octopi, and any other still functioning sea life that will have me, and in the spirit of being truly cyberless, leave the "spear phishing" to the spam professionals.
Bon voyage...and don't forget to hit that infamous e-voting "Cast Ballot" button next Tuesday, no matter which direction your political inclination....your vote will surely end up somewhere...perhaps even I'll see it floating past me somewhere deep down underneath the Caribbean.
I'll be sure to wave!
If you're hankering for a Halloween Web fix, Search Engine Journal brings us these scary links.
I'm pretty partial to the ghost photographs myself...now you seem 'em, now you don't.
Speaking of virtual apparitions, IBM recently held a Virtual Universe Community meeting inside SecondLife. Apparently it included a pumpkin-making tutorial (here's a screenshot on Second Life Insider.) I imagine there is just all sorts of freaky stuff going on for Halloween inside Second Life. Me, I'm gonna stick with the real world pumpkin' carving this year.
Of course, while others are carving up virtual pumpkins, though, no flies are sticking on our leadership team. We continue to expand our presence in the East, having announced overnight more big plans for both China and India.
Specifically, IBM announced close to $1B in investments in two services-oriented architecture solutions centers in both India and China (Pune and Beijing, to be precise).
Calcutta's The Telegraph covers it here, or you can read the official IBM press release here.
The story cites that we've gone from 9,000 to 43,000 employees in India, and a network of 2,500 business partners. We also now employ some 7,200 in China.
These new SOA Solutions Centers are intended to provide industry-specific business services, and will help us build out a new, globally integrated model for delivering SOA-based services to our customers.
These centers will create and manage a portfolio of repeatable, industry-specific services components (based on technology from our recent acquisition of Webify Solutions) which can be delivered more quickly and consistently than was previously possible.
If you're looking for an SOA refresher after an exhilirating night of trick or treat, check out this SOA overview for business leaders.
Watch out for that Accounts Receivable service, though. I heard he can be pretty scary and downright elusive![Read More]
Over the weekend, a friend of mine from HP sent along this article about addiction to the Internets.
First off, let me just state for the record I believe that that makes her an Internetaholic, sending me links to a story about Internet addiction over a weekend on which both the Texas Longhorns and the Dallas Cowboys were playing football games, and recognizing that she, also, lives and works in the great state of Texas and was hence too busy surfing the Internets to watch football like other normal Texans.
I'm just sayin'.
Second, my name's Todd and I'm an Internetaholic.
But I'm a pretty useless case. I've had an online addiction since 1988.
But Turbo, you protest, how could that be possible when the Internets didn't get commercialized until around 1993 (I can't remember the exact year...a sure sign of Internetaholicism)??
Well, way back in the early days of the online pioneers, little Susie and Jimmy, they had this thing called "CompuServe." Think of it as a very primitive sticks-and-stones kind of Internets.
For a mere $10/hour, one could get on the CompuServe CB radio (using a 1200 baud modem...you'll have to look "baud" up on Wikipedia if it means nothing to you, digital greenhorn).
I remember one particular time, in my room at the fraternity house, when I had the opportunity to "chat" with somebody from Sweden.
Mind you, at the time, never having been to Europe, I had no clue where Sweden was (this was way before Google Earth [or even Google, for that matter], when you still had to walk five miles through the snow to the library to even find out where Sweden was on the map at the library, which was this place....oh, never mind!)
But there I was, galloping bravely across the Internets frontier with my 1200 baud modem, chatting away with people whose country I couldn't even find on an atlas talking about who knows what at ten bucks an hour.
Now, admittedly, it was hard to get addicted at 1200 baud. The bits moved pretty slow and many of them got lost somewhere out there between me and Sweden. But if anybody was going to get addicted, it was me!
And, apparently I'm not the only one, considering my Texas football-less friend at HP.
So if you're wondering what brought this digital nostalgia on, my friend sent along this story from the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal Interactive -- the staff of which is also clearly addicted, posting stories over the weekend -- which indicated that more than one in 20 U.S. adults questioned in a national survey released this month admitted that their relationships have suffered from excessive use of the Internet.
Furthermore, an additional 12% said that they often stay online longer than they would like to, and 14% say it's hard to stay offline for more than a few days.
Click here to learn more about the study, which was conducted by researchers at Stanford University. Just be aware that by doing so, you could be admitting your own Internet addiction.
It's okay...just breathe deep....and.....click your mouse. It's okay, I understand. If you need to step away for a quick IM chat, it's perfectly understandable.
Meanwhile, let me just say that as a Web marketing person for a major multinational information technology provider, if I'm not online at least 8-10 hours a day, I'm not DOING my job.
Relationships? Are you kidding me? My relationship IS with my computer and my Internet connection.
Everything I do, from the moment I get up in the morning until the moment I go to sleep has to do with being online.
My email is IP-based.
All the e-learning I do through IBM's internal educational system is online.
I call my colleagues using IP-based telephony (Vonage).
I instant message over IP.
I use Google about a gazillion times a day to find information both inside and outside our firewall.
I use IBM internal Web-based applications to look up my colleagues' phone numbers, email addresses, areas of expertise, etc.
I use IP-based Lotus Notes to schedule meetings.
I make my travel reservations online.
I find dates via the Internet (although not dates from Sweden...uh, not yet, anyhow).
Etc etc etc ad nausuem ad infinitum. Need I go on?
I didn't think so.
And they think I might be addicted? Really!!!? Ya think?????!!!!
Yeah, I'm addicted. Bigtime. But at least I'm addict enough to admit it.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get on over to ESPN.com to get the lowdown on tonight's Monday Night Football Game...before I get back to work...here on the Internets.[Read More]
The Trojan horse wasn't just a wooden distraction in Virgil's "Aeneid."
With all the talk around cybertheft, phishing attacks, worms, spam, identify theft, and other Internet-related crimes, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that much of the risk from corporate espionage and intellectual property theft comes from the inside.
Learn more about how to fend off data losses caused by internal human error and fraud in our white paper entitled "Stopping Insider attacks: How Organizations Can Protect Their Sensitive Information."
You can also listen to our "Stopping Insider Threats" podcast, featuring Mark Ramsey from IBM's Global Business Services team, and Stuart McIrvine from the IBM Software Group.
I read through the podcast transcript and have to say it's downright scary what's going on out there, from organized criminal gangs attempting to recruit employees for corporate extortion to good CRM reps gone bad, selling Social Security numbers to the highest bidder.
This white paper and podcast can provide a good start for reconsidering how you think about the possibility of Trojan horses inside your own workforce, and what you can do to corral them.
I love a good, healthy, embittered fall mid-term election campaign as much as the next guy. And as the campaign ads ramp up, along with the vitriol, the Internets (or should I say, "Intertubes") seem to be playing a fitting and useful role for this early 21st Century election.
We've seen candidates from both sides of the aisle use the Web to great effect over the past six years, for everything from online fundraising to spreading their messages via blogs and email distribution (I get more emails from candidates and political organizations these days than from my friends...no peanut gallery comments, please).
But the politicos are clearly getting much more sophisticated in their use of the Internets.
MSNBC's Heather Greenfield wrote in a story yesterday that the 2006 U.S. campaign is about to get "Google-bombed," with both liberal and conservative bloggers planning to manipulate Google to ensure negative articles about opposing candidates appear near the top of search listings.
Although I hate to see election campaigns come to this, at the same time I'm kind of proud of the fact that we've evolved our political cybermaneuverings to this new level of sophistication.
I work with a team involved in search optimization here at IBM, and going after the competition on the search engines is great fun and can be most productive. And really, it kind of proves what I've been saying about search inside Big Blue for some time now.
It's fine to spend all this time, money, and energy on mass media advertising and direct marketing. But when I really want to talk to a prospective customer (or voter) who is expressing their intent to learn more about a product, service, or, in this case, a candidate, give me a search engine any day of the week.
Why? Because people using search engines are "in the market," so to speak, and therefore more open to the opportunity to get information about a product, service, or candidate, eager to listen and learn.
Their intent has been expressed: Talk to me. Tell me something I didn't know. Explain why your big screen TV is better than all the rest. Help me understand why I should vote for your candidate versus "the other guy."
Call it "demand side marketing."
Using search as a mechanism by which to intercept citizens' electoral investigations of the candidates is just one more useful tool in the campaign toolset, as well as for empowering intelligent (if sometimes mudslinging) democracy.
Never mind most such uses of Google searches will be used for attack ads on the other guy -- I suspect they will also lead curious voters in many different directions, encouraging them to learn what each candidate is saying about themselves, and also about what they're saying about the competition (which also ought to figure into the consideration set for making such an important decision as to whom to vote for).
So, stand back and let the political Google-bombing begin!
And if you are a political junkie, be sure and check out the Google Election Mashup inside Google Earth. It's a great way to follow the individual Congressional races and learn how to register to vote in your area.[Read More]
A few moments ago, IBM announced it has filed two patent infringement lawsuits against Amazon.com for unspecified damages.
According to the press release, these suits come after nearly four years of attempts by IBM to resolve its concerns with Amazon.com over infringement of IBM's patents.
All the details are here, and emerging coverage from the Wall Street Journal (Registration required) is here.
Every once in a blue moon (and not nearly as you might expect), one of IBM's PR folks sends me blog suggestions. This one came in this morning on the backend heels of our Information on Demand Conference here in Anaheim.
The timing's impeccable, the convergence harmonic, so I thought I would pass it along.
Written by Allen Brown, CEO of the Open Group, the article explains that "the past 50 years focused on technologies that assisted with data collection, storage, transmission, analysis, and presentation, not the information" (emphasis added.)
Moving forward, we must be "driven by the need to put the right information in the right people's hands at the right time." The new information environment will require "a technical infrastructure built on open standards" and be designed to enable both "individuals as well as their distinct IT systems to all work together."
We couldn't agree more. To learn more about how to get started, check out this interactive overview of the new IBM Information Server (registration is required).
Me, I'm off to hear from Dr. Irving Wladawsky-Berger (man, I hope I spelled his name right) in a session on technology innovation.
Out of all the keynote talks here at the Information on Demand conference, it was former Walt Disney Company CEO Michael Eisner's speech that I was most looking forward to, and he certainly didn't disappoint.
After opening with a funny and self-deprecating comment about the conference theme "Take Back Control": "Or, how not to lose control in the first place"...Mr. Eisner used the simple concept of a box as the orchestrating concept for his talk.
The box being the simple container, the size of which must expand or contract enough to reflect the opportunity for the idea that fills it...and the practical fiscal reality required to keep the box from outgrowing either the idea or the budget! (Eisner was certainly adept at shaping Disney's own box, growing its revenues from $1.7B in 1984 to more than $30B when he handed over the reigns a couple of years ago.)
But what's past is not necessarily what's present.
Eisner went on to comment that what will be most key to filling the box successfully in the 21st Century is an amalgamation of technology, innovation, and creativity.
But, he indicated, creativity must always be combined with a healthy dose of micromanagement. Not the overbearing, get-out-of-my face kind, mind you, but rather the kind that delivers results and effective oversight of all the George Seurat pointillist details that make up the millions of dots involved in running any complex, modern enterprise.
By way of example, Eisner explained a situation for the movie "Outrageous Fortune," where, when a set the creative team wanted to build just wasn't in the budget, he pushed that team to create an hilarious scene where Shelly Long begged her parents for $5,000 in their NY apartment building's foyer over the intercom.
As he went on to explain, "A successful brand (Disney) is the gift that keeps on giving and is more than the sum of its dots."
Sometimes those dots were more obvious by their failure to appear, as when Eisner and crew opted not to include casinos in Disney's cruise ship business, even after research indicated it was a mandatory for success in the cruise business.
"We had to say no to something that we felt would be damaging to our brand."
The Disney cruise line business sailed on to great success sans casinos, with Eisner concluding that "Creativity can Trump even slot machines when it comes to ROI."
Huge chuckle from the audience on that one.
Ultimately, though, it wasn't just creativity that prevails. It's also a willingness to allow people in the organization to fail.
In a nod to his IBM-leaning audience, Eisner cited IBM founder Thomas Watson on the subject of failure: "The way to accelerate your success is to double your failure rate."
"An intelligent stumble is nothing to be afraid of," said Eisner. "Otherwise, you encourage mediocrity. One bad dot cannot ruin the painting."
Eisney used the example of his own internal "Gong Show," where ideas good and bad were proffered in internal Disney brainstorming meetings, from one of which emerged the idea for "The Little Mermaid."
As to the future, Eisney spoke glowingly about the opportunity Tom Friedman's "flattening" of the planet (via the Internet) presented to creative people around the globe.
"The world has become a single dot," he explained, with time, money, and language removed as key barriers, and one where anyone with a video camera and a computer can make a movie.
Creativity now becomes the only meaningful variable. The filmmaker in Africa can reach out to the producer in Santa Monica.
Yet Eisner believes we'll still need filters, both the wisdom-of-crowdish ones that come in the masses voting with their computer mice, as well as the Simons, Randies, and Paulas of the world, those "experts" who help us winnow down the list of the next big stars.
Eisner called it the "American Idolization" of the Internet.
But ultimately, it was the more widespread effect this phenomena that seemed most profound. "It's hard to imagine any industry that won't be impacted by this trend."
Indeed, some would argue it already has.
So think outside your box, make sure it's the right size, make sure you have plenty of dots to fill the box, and learn how to micromanage it intelligently.
And finally, dance with all the creativity you can muster.
You do all that, and your dot could become a star...just so long as it doesn't get stuck in its own box!
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.
Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip...
I arrived in Los Angeles yesterday afternoon to blog the inaugural IBM Information on Demand conference. I opted to come out a day early to take in the sights and sounds of greater Los Angeles, a city I haven't visited in several years.
Feeling a bit nostalgic, and after my friend Ed explained that Marina Del Rey was where the Minnow set out before Gilligan, the Skipper, Ginger and all the rest got lost somewhere in the Pacific Ocean at the start of the 1964 TV season, I decided to set out for Marina in search of the hapless sailor.
Alas, there was no sign of the Minnow's point of debarkation, but I was able to find my way to a much-heralded steak house, The Galley, in Santa Monica, which had its own interesting lore and bills itself as the "friendliest and oldest restaurant bar in Santa Monica" (since 1934).
Older even than Willy Gilligan, the Galley came complete with a seafaring interior and small portholes for checking out the action on Main Street in Santa Monica. And fortunately for me, the New York strip was more than ample enough to stave off any seasickness I might encounter on my voyage.
Meanwhile, like so many other conference attendees, I've been working in the background to map out the most strategic and enlightening conference agenda possible. I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that one needs an information integration solution simply to figure out the Information on Demand conference agenda!
It's an embarrassment of content riches and speaker expertise...so I think I'm going to head on over to the Universal Studios Tour to help clear my head and prioritize.
Meanwhile, know that I'll be writing in this space over the next several days about what I'm hearing and learning at the conference. Feel free to send any tips, tricks, and other relevant various and sundry conference observations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Usually around this time of year, I'm down in Orlando paying a personal visit to Mickey Mouse -- and the always intellectually stimulating Gartner IT Symposium.
IMHO, if you've never been to a Gartner Symposium, you've not earned your information technology stripes. The Gartner events I've attended in Orlando have always been some of the most useful, actionable, and intellectually stimulating IT events I've attended. Seriously.
Of course, IBM is usually there as a vendor, so my focus has normally been on working the event. But I had the opportunity to blog from there last year, and judging from the media coverage I'm already seeing come out of Orlando this week, there's already some very good stuff going on.
No sooner than the fumes from the Google/YouTube deal are starting to get inhaled and processed by the wisdomish crowds, Gartner analysts were reported to have said today in a CNET story that there is going to be a "large-scale shift in technology influence toward consumers and away from central corporate IT departments."
Get your consumer Internet jiggy on, "central corporate IT." This could be a wild and fun ride!
Gartner director of global research Peter Sondergaard said that "there is a shift in technology ownership" and that IT had better get prepared to handle this new onslaught of what he called "digital natives."
Speaking for all the other digital natives out there, let's rejoice in a collective virtual hallelujah and sing a William Gibson/Bruce Sterling/Nicholas Negroponte-ish version of "Kum-Bay-Ah."
Tell you what, I'll go and collect some firewood, you go and gather some leaves, and then we'll all get ready to build a big fire and send out these Gartner smoke signals to all the other "central corporate IT" folks who didn't make it down to Orlando so we can try and get the message out.
Then again, I guess we could just build a wiki?
Follow the rest of the week's native action on the official Gartner Symposium blog.
Here's a meme that seems to be consistently constant (and redundant!) of late: Adaptation to change is a necessary and critical component to survival.
In business. In life. In love. In baseball (Hey, I may live in Texas, but I'm extremely saddened by the Yankees lost to the Tigers in the AL playoffs this weekend...As for football, I'm not even gonna go there re: the Eagles and the Cowboys, except to say a sportsman-like congratulations to the city formerly known as the home of T.O.)
But mostly, change is a constant in business. And business seems to be where the adaptation to change -- or lack thereof -- seems to have some of the most significant impact.
What started this resurgent epiphany? C'mon, Clayton Christensen's "The Innovator's Dilemma" is the textbook textbook on the need to create self-imposed business disruption. But one need only read the headlines on any given day to see what havoc the lack of an effective strategy to address that disruption head on (applied directly to the forehead) can foment.
This article from the Sacramento Bee (registration required) provides a good case in point. In it, the Bee explains that Tower Records was, at its inception, an innovator when it opened its first retail store in 1960 in Sacramento, before spreading and expanding around the globe during the ensuing decades.
Until that time, music had been "consigned to the nether reaches of department stores." Putting records in their own store was a novel idea, and soon Tower records became a great place to hang out as well as buy music (I used to frequent the Tower Records on Lower Broadway while attending NYU in the mid-80s).
But despite jumping on the Internet bandwagon in 1995, Tower was no match for the scale, distribution, reach, and efficiencies of the Amazons and Wal-Marts of the world. Its rapid retail expansion could not compete with mass volume discounts and the Internet's long tail inventory, which offered a gazillion more choices than a physical retail store ever could.
After a solid run at the top of the retail music distribution charts, Tower just couldn't get any more airplay and was forced to file for bankruptcy late this past summer.
In other words, in the 1940s, specialty retail was the new new thing.
In the early 21st Century, it encountered significant competition from new players and new strategies, and required significant adaptation to keep the hits a comin'.
Getting Your Company Ready for its Encore
If you're interested in seeing how your organization rates on key elements of innovation, take our innovation assessment (registration required). This tool is based on insights from our Global CEO Study and will compare your responses to those of the 750 CEO Study participants.
If you'd like to learn more about how IBM is helping shopkeepers keep their stores out of retailing history's remainder bin, check out this podcast featuring executives from Woolworth's UK and JC Penney as well as NBC's "the SuperMarket Guru," Phil Lempert.
Holy creepin' Web 2.0 jeepers, Botman! Check out the TechRepublic
site's facelift, complete with tagging capabilities (including tag-driven vertical search!), community-driven editorial rankings, increased personalization and networking capabilities, and other various and sundry changes.
If you're an IT professional and you've used the TechRepublic site in the past but haven't visited in many moons, the new version is definitely worth a second look. It's got the kinds of capabilities I've suggested more of our own IBM Web site needs much more of (nod nod, wink wink, knowhutimean), and it makes the site much more user-friendly, especially for the folksonomically-inclined who need to quickly find the content they're looking for. It also gives vendors more of a voice in the site, which I think entirely appropriate.
I did a quick-and-dirty search for "IBM" on the TechRepublic site search engine and sorted by date, and found a whole bunch of timely links to articles, forum entries, etc.. Useful stuff, and I expect it will get even better as TechRepublic's visitors start tagging more and more of the content.
Meanwhile, is it just me, or has the rest of the entire blogosphere already posted and commented on Google's expected acquisition of YouTube (a deal is expected to be announced after the bell closes or later tonight, according to numerous bloggers...way too numerous to mention here).
Might the "boob tube" soon be replaced by the "GoogTube?!!"
What about all those alleged YouTube copyright-infringing videos? Will the GoogTubers have to first sweep up the supposed copyright-infringing content before they can sweep the sweeps?
Stay tuned![Read More]
Jumpin' Jack Ajax!....err, I mean Jumpin' Jack Flash!
A post yesterday on Richard McManus' "Read/WriteWeb" blog tells us about a survey conducted of 5,000 Web developers recently by Ektron and Sitepoint.
Entitled "The State of Web Development 2006/2007," the 25-page preview provided some insight into what Web technologies developers and organizations are using now, and plan to use on into next year.
Most interesting was how quickly AJAX has gained traction among Web developers. This time last year, we'd hardly even heard about AJAX, and yet some 30% of developers have indicated they're already using it in their efforts. That's a mere 9 percentage points (39%) behind Flash, which has obviously been around much, much longer.
When asked to identify what technologies they were planning to use in future Web projects (over the next 12 months), the number for AJAX rose to 45%, while the intent to use Flash dropped to 27%!
Content syndication (RSS) came in around 36%, although I would agree with McManus that that number is surprisingly low considering the state of RSS development opportunities. I would imagine Microsoft Vista's embedding of RSS into the OS will help drive RSS adoption forward...(that is, assuming you buy a legal licensed copy of Vista...if not, you may find your Web access being limited to an hour at a time, or find that you can't open documents from your desktop. Read more about Vista's new anti-piracy measures here. Arrrggh, Matey!)...but clearly plenty of room to grow here.
The most exciting findings addressed "the next big thing" on the Web, which include things like "real-time visual 3D view and navigation of a site." Our customers wrestle with navigation roadblocks every day of the week, telling us in survey after survey they can't find what they're looking for on our Web site. (Considering we have a few million pages on our site, that's not altogether surprising.) Anything we can do to help you visualize and better navigate ours' -- and other enterprise Web sites -- will be a big step forward.
Part and parcel of providing for more effective visualization, however, is more "responsible use of technologies and semantics." That is to say, how are you classifying things on your site -- or, as the case may be with more folksonomic approaches, how are you allowing yourconstituents to classify things -- so that they can find their way to them in a manner most meaningful and useful to them. I think we're going to need to hire more information and library scientists, ethnographers and anthropologists before we make too much more progress in this area.
Finally, the "paradigm shift" thought of you not having to search the Web for information, but instead defining what you want and having the Web collect it for you (much like you have your Dominos pizza delivered to your customized specification). I've been preaching this one inside IBM for some time now, but I'm not sure we'll see the sea change until we have the tools that make it easier for people to "subscribe" and filter their information.
Hey, for years you got your newspaper delivered, right? Why in the Web should you have to go out and hunt for your online news every day???
It's no secret that IBM has invested significant resources across the company to help our customers start their transition to a service-oriented architecture. We continue our SOA focus with a series of events and Webcasts, including next Monday's live Webcast
(Oct 9th, 11 AM EST), "SOA Demystified: Turn Your SOA Projects Into Lasting Business Success With Higher-Value Services," featuring the general manager of our WebSphere group, Robert LeBlanc, along with Judith Hurwitz of the Hurwitz Group.
This Webcast will highlight several organizations that have delivered real business results with SOA and lived to tell about it. It will focus on key concepts such as "business process management" -- which isn't nearly as boring as it sounds -- and demonstrate how IBM SOA solutions can help you better leverage your existing IT assets and integrate them with both new and existing services (NOTE: If you can't attend in realtime, we have established a Webcast time-warp continuum that will provide for "on demand" viewing after the fact. Just be sure to fasten your time-warp continuum seat belt, as said Webcast replays can get rather bumpy).
The best part about showing up for the Webcast (other than all the wonderful information that will convince you to jump aboard the SOA ship): You'll get a chance to win a free copy of "SOA For Dummies," which, if you win, you can proudly display on the bookcase behind your office desk to show all your business associates how "up-to-the-minute" IT you are.
Meanwhile, check out our SOA Video on YouTube. Lonelygirl15 it ain't, but hey, it's an IBM video on YouTube, how cool is that!?
If you're chompin' at the bit to get started learning more about SOA and cannot wait until next Monday -- and believe me, I really do understand such anxieties -- go download this document articulating how 5 SOA projects paid for themselves in 6 months.
Meanwhile, keep your eyes peeled here to keep track of all things IBM SOA.[Read More]
If you didn't like the movie, perhaps you'll like the programming contest.
The shocker: Popular online movie rental service, NetFlix, has announced a competition to award $1 million to the first person who can improve the accuracy of its movie recommendations based on personal preferences.
According to a story in The New York Times, to win the prize a contestant will have to devise a system that is more accurate than the company's current recommendations system by at least 10 percent.
I myself am not a programmer, nor do I play one in the movies or on television. However, there are plenty of programmers who have surfed through our alphaWorks Web site over the last decade.
I was a wee, green (err..blue) lad in the pastoral scene that constitutes Somers, New York, when IBM Internet guru John Patrick and his band of merry Web denizens struck out 10 years ago to build a Web-based test-bed for early-stage Internet and other software technologies. The rest, as they say, is h1st0ry (if I knew how to spell history in actual binary, I would...but this is as close as I'm gonna get).
You can learn more about alphaworks 10th anniversary here, but let me just congratulate the entire team and tell them to keep up the great work. If you'd have told me you'd still be here 10 years later back in 1996, I don't know I would have believed you.
If you'd have told me I would still be here, I would have broken down and cried (okay, maybe not cried, but I certainly would have bought beau-coup shares of stock from Yahoo, eBay, and other fledgling dot com startups who survived and thrived in their transition into the 21st Century.)
Of course, good things do sometimes come to those who wait. Just last week, after much blood, sweat, and tears (and interviews with numerous customers), we've launched our new Executive Interactive Channel (hereafter known as the "EIC"...hey, it wouldn't be an IBM site if we didn't come up with a good acronym for it.)
The EIC is intended to help senior business leaders think about new ways of understanding their most pressing business issues, while arming them to anticipate and address changing conditions and opportunities in the world.
While that doesn't mean we're going to be holding any seances to try and predict the future (although I will bring the candles if you'll bring the crystal ball), what it does mean is that a lot of great content from a lot of smart people here at IBM are going to help us collectively better understand the implications of changing business conditions on the intelligent use of information technology.
Don't take my word for it. Go here and check it out for yourself. I've already spent some time exploring the site, and found the information very useful (this in spite of the also very clever Flash navigation.) It's got everything from podcasts about our master inventors to video blogs from our chief privacy officer.
Now, I've got to get back to learning how to program so I can try and win that million bucks.
Lenovo and IBM are recalling more than half a million notebook computer batteries made by our friends at Sony Corporation. You can learn more about the recall here.
To net it out, IBM and Lenovo have announced this recall in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and other regulatory agencies. The recall impacts lithium-ion batteries manufacturing by Sony, and Lenovo will be offering free-of-charge replacement batteries for all recalled batteries.
Model lines affected include the ThinkPad R, T, and X series (Check here for specific model numbers).
If you find that your battery was recalled, in order to safely continue using your ThinkPad, first turn off the system, remove the battery, then power the system back up using only the AC adapter.
To make it easier to identify whether or not your ThinkPad was affected, you can also use this automated solution.
I ran a Technorati query (Technorati is a blog search engine, if you're not familiar with it) a few minutes ago against the query term: "ThinkPad battery recall." You can read more about what folks in the blogosphere are saying about the situation there.
Meanwhile, it goes without saying, but will be repeated here, that both IBM and Lenovo apologize in advance for any inconvenience caused by this recall.[Read More]
Let the coding begin!
IBM and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) have announced the start of the regional competitions that will lead to the finals of the 31st International Collegiate Programming Contest.
From now through December of this year, teams consisting of three students around the globe will participate in the regional heats, attempting to solve real-world programming problems under a five-hour deadline. We expect more than 6,000 teams from 84 countries will participate, with 85 teams advancing to the World Finals next March.
That's a whole lotta programming going on! Click here to see the schedule of regional contests, and may the biggest brains win!
And speaking of big brains, IBM announced yesterday that it would start publishing patent filings on the Web for public review. The New York Times wrote a story on this bold new open source-like direction in intellectual property and patent filings.
This outcome was greatly influenced by a two months-long intellectual exchange, with 50 experts from a variety of fields (including law, economics, government, technology, and others) participating via a wiki.
This allowed the experts to debate some of the most significant challenges we face in intellectual property and patent protection, resulting in a manifesto that reflected the spirit of collaboration by working together via the Internet, as well as establishing a foundation for a functioning marketplace for the creation, ownership, licensing and equitable exchange of intellectual property here at the dawn of the 21st century.
You can learn more about this effort in the final report.
Yesterday, the Pew Internet and American Life Project -- a research institution whose work that many of us who follow the evolution and usage of the Internet closely monitor -- yesterday released a new report entitled "The Future of the Internet II."
Though it will take me some time to get through the report in full detail, the executive summary highlighted several key themes and emergent problems, some more intuitive than others.
As an example, the report found that while a majority of respondents agreed that the scenario of a "global, low-cost network will be thriving in 2020 and will be available to most people around the world at low cost," with many benefitting, there are those who maintain the "flattening" of the world will come at a price.
Specifically, they observed that many existing businesses are going to be anxious to preserve their current advantages "where control over information and communication is a central value."
Has Anybody Seen HAL?
Also, while most respondents believe the Internet borgs won't be taking over anytime between now and 2020 and that we humans will be largely in control, there are concerns about leaders who exercise control of technology could wield it inappropriately.
On a topic near and dear to my heart as a Web marketing and communications professional, there's also a clear split between those who believe that the benefits of digital technology will outweigh the privacy risks (this on the same day that several of the AOL users whose private information was inadvertently revealed in AOL's posting of aggregated search data have filed a class action lawsuit). 46% agreed that the "benefits of greater transparency of organizations and individuals would outweigh the privacy costs" while 49% disagreed.
I Think, Therefore I Am (an Avatar)
The most interesting finding to me, however, was that while there's a general view that virtual worlds (Think Second Life) will become more sophisticated and compelling, and could lead to greater productivity and connectedness (and therefore provide some competitive advantage to those who embrace such worlds). Others believe that it could lead to "addiction problems." As in, playing-multiplayer-online-video-games-for-24 hours-at-a-stretch-not-going-to-the-bathroom-or-eating-your-dinner-or-calling-your-wife addictive.
So what do you think? Are we destined for history's great virtual scrapheap or is our digital future so bright we gotta wear 3D avatar shades?
You can read the full Pew Internet report here.
Me, I'm off to my Intertubes Anonymous meeting.