Among other things, I manage the relationship between IBM Rational and IBM Research, which means that I engage with Rational's strategy team and project managers to identify the wicked problems that we'd like to have Research pursue for us and then work with the Resarch teams to bring that work to fruition. The time horizon of the projects we've funded ranges anywhere from the present (meaning that we'll bring this work to product immediately) to one to three years out.
I've often called Research our secret weapon because it gives us an opportunity to spend energy on some big plays as well as some really knotty problems, in a setting that allows innovation to flourish but that is yet still connected to reality. I just completed a couple of days of meetings at Resarch to plan our agenda for 2005, and I've come back quite energized. Since I know that there are some Rogues from Redmond who read this blog (Hi Steve! Hi Wojtek!) I won't go into extreme details here, but suffice it to say that there are still a lot of hard problems to solve in the area improving the developer experience. One important theme that came out of our discussions was the importance of and the opportunity for seamless and deep semantic connectivity among all the artifacts of the development process; another critical theme addressed tooling for legacy systems, tooling that would help conducting architectural digs and recomponentizing such systems for delivery as services.