IOD '09

David Laverty on helping businesses optimize


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developerWorks: Scott Laningham at Information On Demand Global Conference 2009 in Las Vegas. I'm here with Dave Laverty, vice president, Worldwide Information Management Marketing, IBM. Welcome, Dave.

Laverty: Thank you.

developerWorks: Thanks for making time for this.

Laverty: It's great.

developerWorks: You know, we're hearing a lot of talk here at the conference about business analytics and process optimization. And now there's a new business unit with that title. What does that all mean?

Laverty: The key thing in terms of forming this new business unit is really to think, you know, from a customer perspective back in. It's thinking about:

  • How our customers are trying to find new ways to optimize their business.
  • To think about ways to drive greater strategic advantage in their business.
  • Ways to take out cost in their businesses.
  • Ways to think about what they need to do to focus on the growth drivers within their business.

So what we're trying to do is take this from both a technology perspective to understand what we can do in terms of what our Information On Demand platform can deliver and at the same time, think about this in the context of an industry framework to think about how we can put this into industry terms, functional terms, so that line of business executives can think about ways of using information more strategically to optimize their business.

So that's really the nature and the goal of what this new business unit is all about: To think about the line of business executive, line of business users, line of business managers, and what are the things they need to optimize their decision making and to think about how they can perform better at every level throughout an organization where decisions need to be made.

developerWorks: I get the sense from the comments I've been hearing that it's coming at a real evolutionary stage for businesses with this combination of the need to simplify and find greater efficiency in IT and also the need to make better strategic use of all this data that they're collecting that's piling up so they can make better decisions. So it's a kind of a unique time where all these things are happening when the technology is there to enable it.

Laverty: Well, it is. And the real goal here is, how do you deliver that information at the right time and in the right format and make it trusted — trusted information — at that point of impact so that you can really optimize that business process, wherever it may be, at whatever level in an organization, and where it might be interacting with an organization's customers in terms of really just optimizing every opportunity you can to improve the bottom line.

developerWorks: So the real-time part of it is critical as opposed to, you know, we spoke with Andy Warzecha earlier who works with you and he was saying, as opposed to just spreadsheets, right, and e-mail which so many companies can still be stick there.

Laverty: Exactly. It really is. And when we think about our most recent acquisition with SPSS, adding predictive analytics to this mix now, it really gets people to start thinking about how they need to envision the forward-looking views of their business and anticipating what's around the next curve before they arrive so that they can really understand how they should make adjustments in their business to optimize and the next opportunity or, you know, the next wave of potentially what could be coming. Whether it good to take advantage of or bad in terms of how they're going to need to react and anticipate that before it happens.

So and think about that cascading itself down through every level of the organization and that's really how you start to improve efficiency and optimize performance.

developerWorks: Now, I had this question about the most pressing concerns or concern of your customers. But I mean, it sounds like you're getting into describing that already with explaining this.

Laverty: It really is because it's if you think about the economic times we're in today and what we've gone through over the past year, year-and-a-half; you know, we've kind of gone from the phase of where people are looking to figure out how to optimize their businesses but maybe before that, it was about, gee, how do I kind of hunker down and reduce costs and take out cost within my business? And that was the first element.

Well, I think people are sort of coming out of that now, organizations are coming out of that phase and now they're saying, "OK -- how can I focus on the growth drivers? And that's where I really need to think about how to use information more strategically within an organization, to really think about, how do I optimize and take advantage of what's to come."

developerWorks: Now, in thinking about the entire information management picture and the challenges that customers are facing and the things they're trying to solve, can you talk a little bit about your team and your specific part of that larger picture ...

Laverty: Sure ...

developerWorks: ... what you guys are focused on?

Laverty: ... sure. Well, I head up information management marketing and our whole role really is to take the value that we see in terms of the combination of all of these wonderful products and bring that together in a very pointed value proposition and make that comprehensible so that people could see it and understand it and understand the value.

And a big challenge for us right now is to think about how that plays from both an IT perspective, as well as from a line of business or business perspective and think about, how do we tell that story to be meaningful from both angles.

So from an IT perspective, we think about our information management portfolio or what we refer to as our Information On Demand portfolio and how it's the most complete, the most robust platform.

How that plays to IT, in many ways, what they're trying to say, is how do I reduce the cost of managing that data or that information over its lifetime? How do I make it more pervasive and deliver it out to as many users and decision-makers as I can in the most efficient way and to make it digestible. And we have the ability to do that. So that's the IT side of the conversation.

On the business side of the conversation, it's really thinking about a specific initiative that may exist within an organization. So our approach around that is to tell that story from thinking about the key initiatives within a function, within an industry, and we put it in that industry context so that it really has business value and has impact immediately when that message sort of hits the market.

developerWorks: This has been a developerWorks podcast from the Information On Demand Global Conference 2009. We've been talking with David Laverty, IBM Vice President, Worldwide Marketing Information Management. Check out more developerWorks podcasts at

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ArticleTitle=IOD '09: David Laverty on helping businesses optimize