IBM Bloggers, who are we? – Ed Brill

I’m especially excited today, as this interview with Ed Brill is the first (in what I hope is a series) about IBM bloggers. Ed was nice enough to help point out that my RSS feeds got messed up when I switched templates. He performed this act of kindness when he didn’t know me from the next guy at the airport, which as you’ll read is where he’s been quite a bit lately. In another act of kindness, he stayed up late from who knows where to complete this interview.

When I first got on to blogging, Ed was one of the first guys at IBM I read. I encourage all of you to add him to your feeds.. He can also be found at developerWorks. So without further adieu…..Ed Brill.

What is your job title (and what does that really mean as far as your job)?

Business Unit Executive, Worldwide Lotus Notes/Domino Sales. I’m responsible for the success of these products in-market worldwide. That means I work outward — with IBMers, partners, customers to provide the right solution with Notes/Domino, and inward with product management, marketing, development and support to make sure we are building a successful product.

Some work experience that you want to tell?

I’ve been at Lotus for a little more than 11 years. I’ve had a variety of roles: pre-sales engineer, Notes product manager, Domino product marketing, Notes/Domino offerings manager (what most companies call a “brand manager”), Lotus competitive strategy leader. Before IBM/Lotus I was in IT at US Robotics, FTD, and Indiana University Computing Services. I’ve been “online” since 1988.

Any hobbies or fun stuff you want to discuss?

I really enjoy travel and photography. I’m fortunate that my job takes me to all corners of the planet, and I’ve visited 45 countries so far (30+ for business). I rollerblade when I can. I work out of a home office in my hometown, which is a really interesting thing when you consider the global nature of our company and specifically my role.

How do you describe what you do to your family and those who don’t work in our industry?

Heh — I tell them that I’m responsible for selling Lotus Notes. We have good brand recognition so a lot of people know the product even if they don’t use it. My mom used Notes at her last job before she retired. If they don’t know Lotus Notes, I just tell them I work in computer software or “internet stuff”.

What are good things about your job?

My job is an MBA-by-fire — I get involved in all aspects of running a market-leading, mainstream product for IBM. I get to talk to customers every single day. I work from home, and love the flexibility that offers. I work with a product that gets press and analysts talking, that draws customers to conferences, and that continues to confound and irritate my competitors. Most of all, I have met and continue to meet some really amazing people.

What are things you would change?

I’d like to be able to get more mindshare for my product within IBM. I’d like to be able to react to market conditions more quickly than sometimes is possible.

What are the biggest challenges at IBM?

IBMers have hundreds of solutions we can talk about with customers — hardware, software, services, business consulting, training, even financing. Our competitors like Microsoft and Oracle get to have laser-sharp focus when they talk to CIOs and CEOs. It would be great if I could have every IBMer talking to every customer about Lotus Notes. I’m sure every product leader at IBM would say the same thing 🙂

How did you get started as a blogger?

My friend Volker Weber encouraged me to try it out, not necessarily with a goal in mind but because I’ve always enjoyed writing publicly. Over time, it evolved into a way to continue the one-to-one interaction I’ve had with customers in our online product forums over the years, with more focus.

How has that changed your job?

I consider my blog to be a critical part of how I can be successful in my job. I get a sense as to what is going on in the market, and my customers know that they have a source for up-to-the-minute, unfiltered information. I’ve been able to win in the market, and especially been able to defend against competitors who are more liberal with their use of fear/uncertainty/doubt in the market, all through the voice of the blog and the blog-o-sphere.

Since analysts read this, what would you like to say to them about Lotus?

The analysts are mostly saying encouraging and positive things about Lotus these days. I’ve been pleased that they mostly recognize that Lotus has successfully passed through a technology transition period, and that the Lotus business is presently successful and growing. I think what I’d like analysts to consider is more around applying a critical eye to some of the messages coming from my competitors, either about their actual vs. perceived success or the robustness of their solutions.

What are you looking forward to in the upcoming years, either products or how you will work differently?

I’m really looking forward to the evolution into a full contextual collaboration era, with some of the tools IBM Research has been building for the last few years coming into actual shipping products. Specifically, I’m really interested in convergence of mobile/pervasive devices, instant messaging and VoIP, and other tools that will really be intelligent about message delivery and filtering.

Any thing else I missed you want to say?

I think the market will notice soon that there has been a huge increase in the number of IBM bloggers in the last few months. We have some strong and important voices, and my IBMer blogroll grows by the day. We might not have been the first company to embrace blogging, but it’s becoming increasingly important in how we embrace the IBM values around customer success and personal responsibility. I’m not afraid to tackle the tough questions customers are asking, and I think more and more we will see supply chain and vendor transparency like that in-market.

When you’re hot, you’re hot

What’s the saying, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen? We’ll not us.

Right now, some of the hottest industry issues are falling into our lap. In no order, SOA has a lot going on, Maturing workforce issues and the ISV ecosystem heat up the fire. I know Lotus 7.0 is out there, but I’m hoping an upcoming interview with Ed Brill is going to cover that. Tivoli is active too, so I was harassing the a/r manager to be an interview so he can tell you what’s up. Don?

The SOA crowd has been full steam ahead lately (wish it was still talk like a pirate day , could use some lingo here). Nancy Riley’s team has been pumping out the work like banshee’s. This subject if executed properly by the industry can have a life of its own, and it’s only the tip of the iceberg. I know this as I discovered in tangential conversations with analysts, I’ve heard that many things can be a service like compliance and CRM, and that wrapping services around packaged applications is an issue.

Next is the Maturing Workforce dilemma. If you recall, the last presidential campaign told us that a lot of boomers are coming up on retirement. These are the guys and gals that brought us through the age of hardware/software/bandwidth/innovation/devices and you name it we can’t do without today. That’s a lot of skills and experience which are maturing. IBM has its’ act together and has a plan. All you have to do is read about this and you’ll see that issues dealing with transition to accessibility are covered. I’ve heard from no less than Amy Wohl that we have a story here.

Ah, and my burner, the ISV ecosystem. For some reason, recent acquisitions seem to have skewed the thought that if you don’t buy an applications company, you can’t play in the game. Guess what, the numbers aren’t supporting that story. I’ll let the statisticians tell you how much share CRM and ERP have in the application ecosystem, but for sake of this argument, I’m going with 15-20%. That leaves 80% or more to the rest of the applications out there.

So instead of buying a company just to keep up with the jones’, we’re sticking with our partners instead of competing with them. When it comes time to show up at the customer, we’re not going to be bringing our own application, we’re bringing the ISV Partner. We’re giving them programs and advertising buckaroos to help them.

Oh, and did I mention that we have the IBM sales force helping ISV’s?

So things are hot, and we’re in the middle of it, right where we should be.

A Long Day, and my Exhaust

Actually, it’s been 2 long days. I’m on a task that’s critical to our partner program and strategy. Why we’re doing what we’re doing and not out buying companies is making more sense to me every time we speak to analysts. Look for more on this topic in a couple of days. I’m hoping the analysts out blog me on this.

Between that and trying to fix the template on my blog site, it’s been a long couple of days. Although I didn’t realize it, my blogs are longer than I imagined, so I picked a different template that will allow for more text to be read on one screen. While doing this, i messed up all my RSS feeds and links and it took a day to fix. The good news is Ed Brill found it for me and I fixed it. The real good news is that he agreed to an interview, so I can’t wait to get that out as it seems the interviews are well received.

Now for the lighter side. My wife borrowed my truck to help a friend move. I recently had to replace the exhaust and being the Redneck that I am, I bought the loudest one I could find. The mechanic told me, “you won’t be sneaking up on anyone now”. Anyway, my wife’s friend completes the story and makes my day when my wife started up the truck to leave. Her friend says, you’re exhaust is really loud, maybe it’s broken. Life was good at that moment for me.

I know the New Yorkers deduct IQ points from southerners for stuff like this, but this goes back to an earlier post on why it’s good to be a guy. We get to play with toys all our life.

IBM analyst relations, who are we? Jeff Jones

The interview today is going to be with Jeff Jones, from the Information Management or Data brand. Analyst relations has a wide range of skill and abilities, Jeff is on the expert side of subject content. Enjoy the read.

What is your job title (and what does that really mean as far as your job)?

My official title is Senior Program Manager, and I work in the Information Management part of IBM Software Group in Analyst Relations.. I haven’t been able to figure out what exactly this title has to do with my job, but that seems to be the norm in IBM.

Some work experience that you want to tell?

My background has involved a variety of software assignments. I started as an application developer in Purchasing Logistics for the division of IBM that built disk storage systems. SAP ERP software has replaced the software we built back then. A brief stint in IBM Research working on mechanical engineering graphics applications taught me about applications outside the norm of commercial business applications. Another brief stint in a corporate software strategy group taught me about the value of standards and the power of software integration. A long series of assignments in our database software group developed in me a huge appreciation for the genius in our software development laboratories and for the need to translate what happens in the labs for those on the outside that are perhaps not quite as completely immersed in it day to day. My current assignment allows me the privilege of communicating the latest and greatest to many constituents outside IBM: analysts, consultants, press, partners and customers.

How do you describe what you do?

In the whirling vortex of activity around Information Management, I work with IT analysts and consultants in two ways. First, I work to deliver our news and to educate this community about our Information Management software with a focus on database engines (Cloudscape/Derby, DB2, IMS, Informix, U2). Second, I work on behalf of our organization to seek guidance, criticism (always constructive) and comment from the analyst community to help us plan our future. Also, from time to time, I’m called upon to serve as a spokesperson to IT reporters and as a connector of reporters with analysts. Finally, I serve on the editorial advisory board of DB2 Magazine as a behind-the-scenes editor of this quarterly publication.

What are good things about your job?

What I enjoy most about my hybrid job is the constant and unblinking reality check it provides. No blinders are allowed; hyperbole is forbidden; acronyms are seldom tolerated. no one is allowed to drink the “koolaid”. Personalities and relationships have special value in this job. Clarity and brevity are the most precious attributes of every conversation. The team with which I work is a wonderful.collection of devoted professionals that make it a joy to open the in-basket, web browser and message window in the morning. A creative sense of humor is shared by all, and invoked often.

What are things you would change?

I would rewrite PowerPoint to allow no more than 10 charts in any presentation. I would rewrite Notes’ calendar feature to disallow the creation of meeting invitations that lack at least five sentences of explanation as to the purpose of the meeting. I would also remove the recurring meetings feature of Notes’ calendar.

Name a funny analyst story.

I know a couple of funny analysts, but they won’t let me tell their stories here. I’ve also noted that a significant number of analysts with whom I’ve worked share a love for music. This is comforting. One is a scuba diving instructor. Analysts are people too.

Describe an analyst win situation for you.

All analyst “win situations” seem to stem from periods where communication lines are open and used frequently, interesting IBM news is emerging, and customers are backing us up. It’s hard to lose in these situations.

Describe an analyst disaster for you. (no names)

Analyst disasters always seem to involve confusion and the poor handling of the aftermath and sometimes the “beforemath”.

What would you like the analyst’s to do differently, suggestions of what would help both sides maybe.

I’m not sure I’m in a position to tell analysts what to do., differently or otherwise. I’m happy to have them suggest to me what to do. So both sides of your question are covered.

Any thing else I missed you want to say?

Customers seem to be the key to success with our analyst community. Revenue is good; testimonials are good too. I know this isn’t rocket science. I would ask for continuing patience while we work on convincing more of our devoted customer base to share their devotion with the analyst community. Again, it’s all about communication pipelines kept open and relationships kept strong.

RTP, Celebrating the 40th Anniversery

Today, I attended the 40th anniversary of RTP at the IBM site. There was a band playing music from the 60’s (On the Boardwalk, Sugar Sugar, My Cherie Amour) and food at 60’s prices. Here’s the advertisement for it:

On Thursday, September 22, IBM in the Triangle Area will observe the 40th Anniversary of its groundbreaking for the IBM RTP site. To celebrate this anniversary, we have an exciting event planned for all IBM employees in the building 002 courtyard from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Come enjoy a special, “1960’s prices,” luncheon menu, free IBM birthday cake, the finals of our IBM karaoke contest, a classic car show, skits and much, much more.

One of my favorite parts was the Gilligan’s Island event. 3 people were in rafts and the crowd got to shoot water balloons from bungee cords at least 50 yards away. I think one balloon made into a raft. One balloon went off target into the hot dog line. I would have shot them at the biggest crowd I could have found to watch them scatter like roaches in the morning when the lights turn on.

40 years is a long time. I read today that Tech companies rated RTP as the best place to have a company. I think it was woods or pasture 41 years ago. Now it has more Ph.D’s then almost anywhere else given the proximaty to Duke, UNC Chapel Hill, NC State and Wake Forest. Here’s the link to the story.

So where did I fit in? I was in the car show. When I was 7, my dad bought this car.

(Photo by Dave Brainard)

It was his pride and joy. He willed it to me once he no longer could drive. I have kept it up in his memory and have entered it into car shows with good results. I’ve blogged about my Dad already and his WWII contributions:

There were other cars at the event.

Chris Bannister – 1967 Chevrolet Camaro
David Bannister – 1967 Chevrolet Camaro
David Brower – 1958 BMW Isetta 300 Deluxe
George Kavelak – 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle Super Sport
Clifford Meyers – 1966 VW Beetle
Mike Petersen – 1966 Dodge Coronet 500

The Coronet and the Chevelle SS had 427 and 426 cc engines (that’s 7 whopping liters), real get up and go. Good ole American grunt.

If you read the internet jokes that get passed around, one of them is why it’s great to be a guy. On this list is….you get to play with toys all your life. Today is a prime example, and yes is it great.

I’ll leave you with the text on the sign that I had made, which I use when showing the car.

(Photo by Dave Brainard)

1964 PORSCHE 356C

This car is kept in Historical condition. It was delivered in 1964 to its owner, my father who drove it for 38 years. The one and only mechanic to service this car until 2002 was originally employed by the Porsche factory until his relocation to Florida. This same mechanic also helped the factory racing team at the 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring in the preparation of legendary racers such as the Carrera 6, 910, 907, and 908.

It was given to me in 2002 and is kept in it’s original condition to honor the people who built this car, the mechanic that kept it in proper condition and my father.

IBM analyst relations, who are we? – Nancy Riley

I’d like to point out that Jacqueline Bisset got this picture of Nancy before plastic surgery as the model for the doctor to work towards.

I’ve worked with Nancy longer than all but two other people at IBM. Our paths crossed in PR and AR, Networking and Software. We have a good working relationship that is based on the trust that when either one of us is on the job, we have confidence that it will get done right, without much intervention.

As with the other interviews, I don’t edit the answers so you hear it from the person as is.

What is your job title (and what does that really mean as far as your job)?
Manager, WebSphere Analyst Relations — I manage a team of seven analyst relations professionals who interface with analysts who cover the application integration middleware space. Our product areas include SOA, ESB, web services, application server, integration, business process management, mobile middleware, and industry solutions based on middleware.

Some work experience that you want to tell?
My background is in communications and I’ve held lots of different comms roles in IBM, including marketing comms, field/internal comms, event planning, public relations and analyst relations. My previous job was as a PR manager, representing networking, security and e-commerce software products. My first job at IBM — and probably my most fun job ever — was developing marketing programs to sell computers to college students. We went to Daytona Beach for spring break and tossed IBM-logoed frisbees on the beach. Talk about job satisfaction!

How do you describe what you do?
We’re responsible for maintaining and promoting positive interactions with analysts and often that means putting them in touch with subject matter experts or supplying product information. We help the IBM teams distill their information and package it in ways that make it easy for analysts to digest, so that they in turn can advise their clients about our products. We hire analysts to help us refine our product and marketing strategies to make them understandable to all different sorts of customers.

When I tell my relatives what I do, I just say I work really long hours but I get to go to conferences at nice hotels and leave it at that.

What are good things about your job?
I work with a great team. I love the interaction with analysts — we learn a lot from them and it truly helps shape our product and marketing strategies. I get to be in meetings with a lot of really smart people. I like being able to influence the thinking of an analyst who maybe doesn’t think our products are as great as we think they are. Did I mention that I work with a great team? : )

What are things you would change?
As with any large company, sometimes we get bogged down in the internal bureaucracy and politics. Metrics reporting kills me. The number of internal meetings I have to attend kills me. We are often the first out the door with new announcements because we have to brief analysts well in advance of the official announcement, and it’s always a lot of last-minute thrashing. I would make it illegal to create a Powerpoint presentation that’s more than 20 pages and/or greater than 5 MB. (I can dream, right?) I would also have more in-person interaction, both with analysts and IBMers; we spend WAY too much time on conference calls.

Name a funny analyst story.
I’ve been around a long time, so permit me two funny stories.
(1) I was project managing an analyst briefing hosted by the IBM chairman. The meeting was being held at the very lovely Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto. After an exhausting day, I collapsed into bed around midnight. At 2 am, the fire alarm went off. I jolted out of bed, threw on some clothes and shoes, and headed down 30 flights of stairs. About half-way down, I realized I had two different shoes on and hoped I wouldn’t see anyone I knew when I got to the lobby. When I got to the lobby, I found I was WAY overdressed because most everyone else — including MANY of the analysts attending our meeting — were there in their plush Four Seasons bathrobes. It was so hard to maintain a professional demeanor when what I really wanted to do was crack up at seeing all those analysts in their bathrobes! Wish I’d had a camera — would be great blackmail…

(2) I was hosting two analysts at a strategy planning meeting at an IBM site. Since we were all staying at the same hotel, I drove them to and from the meeting. On the way back to the hotel after the meeting, not only did I get lost, I got a speeding ticket (but come on, I was doing like 46 in a 35 mph zone). I tried to explain to the officer that I was lost, didn’t know the speed limit, etc, all to no avail. To their credit, the analysts were very sympathetic (and said I should submit the ticket on my expense account).

Describe an analyst win situation for you.
It’s always a great feeling to see an analyst quoted in the Wall Street Journal (ok, CNET is cool, too) with a really pithy and positive quote about our products. That’s something I can show my mom to prove to her what a great job I’m doing.

Describe an analyst disaster for you. (no names)
I’ve given out wrong telecon numbers more times than I care to remember. I’ve scheduled back to back calls with the same number and passcode so that caller #2 arrives on the line before we’re finished with caller #1. I’ve sent the wrong presentation. I’ve introduced people by the wrong name. They’re all just minor disasters though, right?

What would you like the analysts to do differently, suggestions of what would help both sides maybe.
I’d really love for them to schedule a conference in Maui. Aside from that, I’d like more turnaround time on the reports they send us for fact-checking. I’d like “group rates” from the larger firms when we’re engaging multiple analysts for consulting. I’d like easier rules for quoting analyst content in presentations and collateral. I’d like all of them to be as cool as James (let’s see if he reads this).

Any thing else I missed you want to say?
Considering that there are less than 200 people in our company of 300,000+ who do what we do, we should all feel very privileged to do this job! I know that’s hard to remember sometimes, but we are on the cutting edge of what’s going on with IBM Software and that alone can be a very cool thing!

Hey Microsoft, it's IBM deja vu… all over again

I’ve been watching this phenomenon happen now for a few years. In fact, because I think that James Governer is a better writer than me (ok, it’s not even close), I suggested for him to get rich writing this book….James, there’s still time.

Microsoft is facing what the old IBM faced in enough ways that it’s now not a conincidence. Since my due dilligence on this hasn’t been approved by anyone, I’ll just mention a few public similarities.

Back in the pre-PC mainframe heyday, IBM had what some would call proprietary architecture. The industry then revolted with of all things DOS/Windows, ethernet, distributed computing, etc. Now the roles have reversed and Windows is proprietary and IBM is pushing Open Standards. I guess it’s human nature to want to have control and to not want to be controlled.

IBM was the big bad corporation, Microsoft was the upstart that freed everyone from the data center. Now Microsofts server product is called Data Center.

IBM had some legal troubles with monopolistic behavior, I think Microsoft has it’s hands full with this distraction right now. I won’t go into distraction too much. I’ll leave it with if you take your eye off the ball, you can’t hit it.

These are merely symptoms of the condition though, here’s another. Yesterday, there was and organizational change in Redmond, Microsoft Management Undergoes Major Overhaul . I’ve been through 100’s of these changes in my career. Some really shook up a group and things took off (very few times did this happen), some were monumental failures (more often than not) and some were treading water (some things changed, but the results were about the same). One fact that is not lost on me is that when you’re killing the competition, or when things are working well, few teams will change their line up.

Re-inventing yourself is how a company can survive key times in their existance. Re-shuffling is not the same thing. IBM has had faced this a number of times (remember typewriters, 360, Akers to Gerstner, commitment to open), and now Microsoft may face an IBM sized challenge.

I spent a good part of the day with an analyst yesterday and we had this conversation (I’ll keep him anonymous for now). He rightly points out that one company doesn’t have to take away a big portion of the desktop OS market, but many companies can take a small piece causing the same erosion effect. Heck, even a shift in technology to something like a handheld device with lots of bandwidth can cause the OS to be irrelevant.

Other companies haven’t managed as well, remember DEC?

Microsoft has $50 billion cash sitting around, so they are not in financial trouble, so they could tread water for a long time. Managing shifts in technology is an issue, dealing with people and their loyalties (internal and external) is a bigger challenge. This is a fast and ever changing industry. It’s tough to keep up. My analyst pal and I also talked about the defining changes in history like from horse and buggy to trains, to cars, to planes.

The first closing I ever put on my email was this, change is the only thing that stays the same. Others point this out, it’s tough to get to number one, it’s tougher to stay there.

Everyone shoots at number one.

Will history repeat itself? Not exactly, but there are only a few big corporations and their problems, while not exact are similar.

I’d like to get in my DeLorean with a flux-capacitor and go back to the future to see what happens and how this works out. Maybe James will be rich enough to invite me to his new place in the Mediterranean that he can buy from book royalties?

IBM analyst relations, who are we? – Cameron O'Connor

One of the threads I’m going to follow from time to time will be interviews of some of the analyst relations team. My goal is for analysts to get to know us better and to hear our side of the job, first person. I play requests, so if there is an a/r rep you want to hear from, let me know. Also suggest questions that I’ll include.

Today’s guest is Cameron O’Connor of the Rational A/R team.

What is your job title (and what does that really mean as far as your job).

Analyst Relations Program Manager is the actual title, and I think it reflects accurately what I do every day. Let me break this into two parts. 1) Analyst Relations: No matter how negative current feelings are towards a particular analyst it really is our job to maintain that relationship. Just because we don’t agree with or don’t like a particular analyst’s opinion, it should never mean we stop talking. Maintaining that open line of communication is probably the single most important thing I do for IBM. 2) Program Manager: although a lot of the time it feels like I am herding cats, I really am responsible to bringing to market a particular program, a particular set of deliverables. I need to manage my internal constituents as much as my external ones

How do you describe what you do?

You know when you are sitting around the table at Thanksgiving and you get asked, “So what is it exactly you do?” I have come to the realization that it is pretty hard to describe what I do without getting a blank “deer in the headlights” type of stare. I usually boil it down to this, “I work for IBM Software Group in their communications department. I do something similar to PR, but I work primarily with Industry Analysts. You know, Forrester, Gartner, IDC… I try to make sure they understand our offerings so as to positively influence their research. If they don’t agree with our viewpoint, then I try to uncover why. If it is a matter of them not knowing about or understanding the functionality of a particular offering (which is usually the case), I educate them.” After explaining this to a friend of mine who teaches at a private school in Rhode Island, his response was, “so it sounds like you are kind of like Tony Soprano but for software” I guess he is kind of right, just without Pauley Walnuts to back me up.

What are good things about your job?

The single best thing about my job is having the chance to work with some of the smartest people in the world. Just last month I had a briefing with and analyst firm on Embedded Systems Development and had D.E. Murray Cantor as my IBM’s spokesperson. He was discussing some of the work we did on missile guidance systems for Raytheon and some of the projects we are working on with BMW. It was absolutely amazing. Everyone in the room was captivated for 2 ½ hours straight. It made me feel very proud to work for IBM and to have the opportunity to interact with these types of folks. It’s what gets me up in the morning.

What are things you would change?

The internal bureaucracy and politicking wears you down a bit. But what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger or something like that.

Name a funny analyst story.

There are no funny analyst stories 😉

Describe an analyst win situation for you.

There are very few instances when I can walk away from a single situation and say, “that was a huge win.” It is really an iterative process. Small steps forward sprinkled with a few back eventually get you where you need to be. I think the easiest most recognizable “analyst wins” happen without direct communication with the analysts. When a report or reference is used by our sales team to help close a deal – that is when I feel I have a big win. That doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of time and effort to chip away at that boulder.

Describe an analyst disaster for you.

I worked for Forrester Research for 4 years before coming to IBM. While I was there I was working with IBM to set up an analyst consult for a very senior software executive and some of our software analysts. The AR manager and I were in communication daily before-hand and had a few prep calls to nail down the agenda. When we finally got everyone in the same room, it quickly became evident that things were not going as we had expected. We had not set the same expectations with the exec or with the analysts. One side was looking for a strategy discussion while the other was knee deep in features and functionality. It taught me a very valuable lesson: communicate early and often DIRECTLY with ALL parties involved. It sounds simple, but with travel schedules and booked calendars getting two parties on the same playing field is an easy thing to mess up. Communicate, communicate and over communicate.

What would you like the analyst’s to do differently, suggestions of what would help both sides maybe?

One firm is very good at publishing its list of research that they are working on 12 months out which is hugely helpful in planning, determining roles, and carving out responsibilities. It is really a shame that more firms don’t do this.

Arrrr, Avast me Hearties, it be talk like a Pirate Day

Ahoy Maties, September 19 be talk like a pirate day. Be ye arrr, a liver lillied land lubber, or the scurvy of the sea, today’s yer day.

Arrr, as another pirate, named after ye ole food line, Jimmy Buffet lamented, me occupational hazard is me occupation’s just not around. Arrr, it be 200 years since pirates sailed the seven seas.

So, be off to yer office with ya then. Grab a yard arm and beat yer obnoxious cellmate in the next cubicle. Revolt and keel haul the scum that be tormenting the office.

Shiver me timbers, it be yo ho ho and a bottle of rum, 15 men on a dead man’s chest. Find yer buried treasure in ye old pile of paperwork.

If any of these mild pirate duties be too much for yer yellow belly, or ya thinks ya might be fired fer carrying on in the office, at least ya can talk like a pirate…


What I was going to blog about today, only to get messed up

I had planned on blogging today about the IBM/RedHat Emerging Markets announcement today Businessweek , but that’s gonna get covered in the press. Move on from that one.

As I was reading the news, I saw this comment, Oracle “continues to fail, will continue to fail, and we’re going to help them in every way we can,” Bill McDermott, chief executive of SAP’s North American unit. I was thinking, here’s a potential rant. How the heck does he know whether it will fail or not? Is he a blowhard? Is he a good soapboxer? Is he looking for some spotlight? Actually, it reminds me a lot of political speech where you can call your opponent a collie molester and then he/she has to defend that they don’t molest collies while digging a huge hole.

So now I’m up to two subjects and I’m debating two blogs or a catch all for news today. Or I could just link to them via

Here’s where my day went bad. My pal Jblog , writes today about how google blog search is and that he found his own blog.

Ok, I’m hooked, I googled my own blog and found four other blogs with the same name as mine. I’ll save myself the trouble of linking to them, you can play with Google Blog Search.

I thought I had sort of a creative name, only to find out that I’m late to the party once again, without a gift. Some of the other delusions were pretty good reads. I’ve got work to do.

So I rumble a few subjects through my mind to post about during the day to try and be witty, or humorous, or perhaps insightful (don’t worry, one day I will be) and right before I blog, any thoughts of having a original or imaginative name are shot down like I had the Red Baron on my tail.

Well, at least I got some new baits from Manns Bait Company which they’ve asked me to test this weekend. Think I’ll go fishing and stop crying about my blog. By next post, I’ll have decided on a single subject that readers can go away from with a modicum of content.

Dell Hell – the power of blogging

This is not news to real bloggers, but it struck me a couple of ways what it’s like out there.

First, it’s tough to be #1. Dell has been number one for a while in the PC space. It’s tough to get to be #1 at anything, then it’s tough to stay there. Everyone shoots at #1, from football to business to retail. Those shots come in the form of paradigm shifts to sniping. Worst of all, it can come from within….What’s the saying? A house divided against itself can’t stand? Think it goes something like that.

Here’s a paradigm shift. Blogging. Jeff Jarvis BuzzMachine talked about his tech support nightmare with Dell. It then goes all over the blogosphere and Dell has a customer support perception problem. As we know, perception is reality in a lot of cases, so they have support and perception problems to deal with.

To properly navigate the stream of the business world while pleasing your customers is very tricky. Not that customer support took down every company, but I’ll be everyone knows a company they don’t buy from anymore ’cause they made you mad. Customers vote with their money.

Do I think this will take Dell down from their top position? No way. Not on this by itself, but big companies (and number 1’s) have to fight a lot of battles to stay on top, internal and external…real and perceived.

Steve, we've got your Hotel room confirmed, or now I know blogging is fully mainstream

We’re holding a blogging roundtable in NYC with some analysts, interesting IBM’ers and academia. I have the analyst portion. These events are in the realm of cool when you hear what’s being said and people that will be there.

Normally in the course of communications, we confirm with email, voicemail or conversations. This is not possible for one of the analysts who is on the road right now. I’ve left every way I know as to how to reach him, but travel prohibits contact right now.

So I call his colleague (James) in hopes of him contacting Steve first. Then the revelation hits home when James tells me, just put it on your blog, he might read that first.


So blog before email? a new paradigm?

More on Spam

Due to the wonderful invention of automated spam, I’ve set my comment policy to word verification. You get to type in a word that appears, then comments are free as usual. I battled back and forth as to whether this was within blog protocol, and finally decided to give it an experimental try.  It has allowed me to filter out idiots like Catherine Helzerman who weirded out at while working at IBM and finally left. Word has it that she pets cats now after her team called her a traitor.

So once more, an experience in blogging for me. A lot of bloggers have already fought this battle, perhaps you could give me your suggestions as to how you managed this.

iPod phone, part the way there

So Apple has introduced the iPod phone. Well, that’s part of what I want. There’s likely a lot of sales there if u look at what’s attached to the ears of the teens/20’s/30’s crowd, but we need more and I don’t think I’m alone.

Here’s my list. I want a device that’s a phone, a camera, wireless+bluetooth, iPod, email, im, handles video podcasts, voice input cause i hate watching drivers thumbtype while driving, oh btw – I want thumb typing too, push to talk capability, minimum of 100 gb of storage, has a docking port of some kind to be able to use a monitor/keyboard/mouse….and I want it in the size of a phone.

I know it exists in the research labs of some phone or computer company somewhere, but this is the I want it now times, so why not now? Using step technology to get one (usually minor) upgrade is not that useful.

Did I miss any capabilities that makes this worthwhile?

The Maturing of the Partner Program

Back in 1999 when IBM decided to take on the partner programs, it primarily focused on our Strategic Alliances, the big companies. This was a good move as it got the program off the ground and generated revenue. Most Strategic Alliances have a services practice around them. Many times, IBM has a bigger service practice than the company that is our partner.

Nowhere in that paragraph was anything but Enterprise scale companies for the most part. Yes, there are many companies that have SMB applications, but by in large, it was Enterprise focused. From nowhere to a very successful partner program in a very short time.

At the same time, the developer program started, but it quietly perked along as most of the press in this area came from Redmond.

A shift in strategy started driving this down to smaller companies and at least into the M of SMB to start. developerWorks expanded into the universities and leveraged IBM research through alphaWorks. Again, very quietly.  Part of moving quietly is to not let IBM headquarters know what you are doing or nothing will ever get done.  We’re successful and building a good program.  The best way to get results at IBM is to not let them know what you are doing until afterwards, then share the results and the glory.

The big shift in strategy came with the PartnerWorld for Industry Networks a couple of years ago. Prior to this, we were sailing along with generally accepted partnering practices, both internal and external. The purchase of Price Waterhouse Coopers consulting practice made this all possible now (BCS). With this, IBM realized that customers buying habits are industry focused and there are a lot of ISV’s that have a specialty, just waiting for an industry program to come along.

Not that our partner programs weren’t a leader, it was everyone playing by the same rules. It was like Captain Kirk who changed the rules in the Kobayashi Maru to win or later to cheat death, IBM now went to market with partners in a significantly different way than the competition.

If being copied is the sincerest form of flattery, we’re being flattered. I’ve noticed many of our competitors partner programs now have an industry flavor, albeit window(s) dressing in some cases.

Back to SMB, the M and the S are now in play for us. No one is going to claim that we dominate the S space, but we’re there and growing.

Our developer program is now kicking into high gear. The key is skills and skills development. We are cultivating the open standards/systems skill sets in the colleges and universities around the world. Companies are implementing LAMP standard applications/software and need folks that can make it happen. We’re helping to cultivate this. developerWorks now cross-pollinates with the Rational tools for developers, another arrow in the quiver. Count Glucode as another arrow.

Some say that a change in big companies is like turning an aircraft carrier, a big process. But after the turn, your face into the wind and ready to launch your aircraft for attack or defense.

Live long and prosper.

Hurricane preparation List

Everyone is pointing the finger at everyone else about cleaning up the mess from Katrina. Who’s helping who and whom, who is not helping. I don’t think that’s accomplishing much when there are folks hurting.

I was in deep thought yesterday while mowing the lawn and the whole issue of depending on the government to fix this rolled around in my head. Take your own side to that story from here, my main thought was what did people do before FEMA? We sure as heck had hurricanes, and we seemed to survive and recover back then…

Well, I never finished that thought as it was interrupted by this list on Hurricane preparation list I knew I had saved. I decided that being prepared was a good start. It’s a good list of things to have ready. Hope it helps someone someday.

Credit to Marshall Loeb for this:

Preparing a home-evacuation checklist
By Marshall Loeb, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Let’s hope you never have to flee your home, as thousands along the Gulf Coast were forced to do in order to escape the recent devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

But whether you are vulnerable to hurricane, wildfire, flood, earthquake or some other catastrophe, you should prepare a home-evacuation plan in case of natural disaster.
The American Red Cross recommends that evacuees bring the following items:
Prescription medications
Bottled water
Basic medical supplies or a first aid kit
A change of clothes
Bedding, including sleeping bags and pillows
Nonperishable food and a hand-operated can opener
Battery-operated radio and extra batteries
Car keys and maps

Prepare a file or box of important personal and financial information to take with you. Gather copies of:
Social Security cards
Copies of your identification cards such driver’s license, green card or passport
Birth certificates
Bank-account records
Marriage certificates and divorce decrees
Titles, deeds or registrations for property and vehicles
Mortgage and other loan information
Insurance policies
Investment records
Credit-card statements
Income-tax information (copies of past returns, proof of estimated tax payments)

Get a list of phone numbers, mail and e-mail addresses for important contacts, including:
Banks and other financial institutions
Insurance agents
Power, light, gas and other utility companies
Relatives, close friends and other emergency contacts

Also include instructions on how to turn off your home’s utilities. Doing so before you evacuate can help prevent further damage to your home.

How long does a blog take to get around?

Well, it looks like from 1 to 22 days according to responses I have.

Yesterday, I was paid the (maybe not so) ultimate expression of existence, I’m now being spammed.

On the first day, the guy I named my blog after, Joe Trippi commented on my blog. That seemed a whole lot more genuine.

I took a calculated risk by being the first IBM blogger, but it affords me the luxury of doing what I want since no one else here has a clue, especially corporate communications who thinks the world revolves around major media and not much else matters.  They lose their mind when the ever declining NY Times so much as picks their nose.  This works for me as I don’t have to deal with those losers (both parties above) and get to do work that they don’t realize is going on as they don’t have a clue what a blog is (unless they ask me).

What I know and they don’t is that social media is the way influential people want to communicate.  They are inundated by emails, telephone calls and the corporate flacks like the above mentioned.

I guess I’m now in the beginning of being in the masses of the blogosphere. Maybe I give myself too much credit, accept my apologies if that is the case.

In my title, I said I’d talk about my escapades of being a blogger, there you have it, a new target for spam.

An American in Paris?

Not really Paris, but Magny-Cours and a lot of other places Formula 1 visits.

For the first time since 1983, an American, Scott Speed is in what some call the most prestigious series in racing. I’m a huge F1 fan for any number of reasons. First of all, I love auto racing. Combine that with my love of technology and you see how Formula 1 fits in. These cars are the most sophisticated machinery you can drive. A lot of technology that is on our cars comes from the cutting edge development you find in F1. They’re more like computers on wheels. To give an example, the average car rev’s at around 3000-6000 RPM. F1 cars race at 19.000 RPM, staggering.

What else I like is that it’s international. I love America as much as (and much more than) a lot of folks and am proud to say so. But I’ve traveled and know that the world has a lot to offer, and I appreciate and enjoy most other countries. Formula 1 is on most continents from Asia to Europe to the America’s. There are fans rabid for their drivers, cars and sponsors from each country.

So it’s great to have an American complete the international equation, a home team for me. The closest I’ve had until now is Juan Pablo Montoya from Columbia who lives in the states. I’ll still pull for Juan Pablo also.

Speed (what a great name for a driver) will race for Red Bull , formerly the Jaguar F1 Team.

There have been 2 American F1 champions, Phil Hill in 1961 for Ferrari and Mario Andretti in 1978 for Lotus. Hey, there were no Americans winning the Tour de France either until Greg Lemond. Then it inspired some guy from Texas to lead 5 Americans in the top 17 in this year’s TDF while he was capturing his 7th straight tour.

Could it be the same in F1?

Boxer Rebellion

No, its not what you think.

I work at home, and I have a dog. She’s pretty much a lump most of the day, except of course when an analyst calls, at which point phantom bad guys appear outside of the door. This happens like clockwork destroying any sense of professionalism I try to have when speaking on the phone. She then loses her mind and barks like someone is trying to steal our house.

Top of the list in terms of barking veracity are the Fed-Ex/UPS delivery guys. She can hear these trucks leaving the loading dock 100 miles away, and knows when they are going to drive on our street. Next are sirens, which is funny as she stands on her hind legs and howls like a wolf, I still chuckle. Then there are the “garbage stealers” who come once a week and take our valuable discards along with the neighbor’s trash. Finally, the kids come home from school happy as clams about mid afternoon and yell and scream. This is good for a maintenance bark or two, nothing like UPS.

How do animals have this kind of timing? I dunno, it’s like kids who can embarrass you at the most inappropriate times with the things the can say.

I’ve had pets all my life….dogs, cats, fish, frogs and some other gross/slimey creatures I found on the way home from school. I love my dog, even if she doesn’t have the best sense of timing. I have an aquarium full of fish, they don’t make as much noise when I get phone calls, but then they don’t love me back or lick my face as much as my dog.

Blogging at IBM, a snowball rolling down hill

This time last year, we put up the developerWorks blog as the first external IBM blog site. It was a small snowball barely dropped from the top of Mount IBM.  It turns out be an end around being able to blog at IBM who now want to establish a company wide policy that will smother and restrict effective blogging communications.  Fortunately, IBM Corporate Comm’s is clueless and so behind the times and we were able to put this site up under their noses without much effort.  Since we did it without asking, it now can’t be taken down as too many people look to this site for blogs.  Many people are trying to get on to it so for now, we control the outbound blog content unlike comm’s department in Armonk which moves at the speed of smell.

Armonk communications is a bubble that can’t see past New York, led by a hot head who ran Ed Koch’s liberal political campaign.  Their lack of vision is the bane of much of the sterile communications that you read about when IBM is discussed.  While they see it as a well oiled machine, the rest of the comm’s team who actually does all the work, know that they are a ball and chain that has to be worked around to get anything done.  The developerWorks blog site is a prime example of how to work around people such as those in Armonk.

It’s funny, almost like the tail wagging the dog, as we are doing what we want, whenever we want, while the rest of every word written from IBM goes under the microscope at the home office, effectively removing any creativity or actual information that might be helpful.  If you don’t believe it, read a press release.  It is quite enjoyable to usurp the Stalin like control that they try to impose on everyone else, and act like a regular company who understands how to deal with the media.

I decided to list my blog there as I was the first official blogger for IBM analyst relations and have set many of the policies up until now, including starting and running blogging for IBM A/R.  When the corporate communications machine finds a way to destroy the effectiveness through obsessive guidelines overseen by people who have never written or likely read a blog, any control I currently have will diminish.  They are so paranoid from the monopoly trial that they manage to put effective PR into the stone ages. Fortunately, they are so obsessed with the media right now, the most effective communications program is on the analyst side as they don’t understand what it is.  Anytime they try to interfere, they treat A/R like pr and look silly.

At that point, my blog may or may not be on the corporate site depending on the rules and guidelines. Since I don’t care what they say (and best of all am not in NY, which the powers that be can’t see beyond) and have learned to be more creative about communicating through social media than they have, I’ll make that decision as needed on my terms.  I’ll likely then be on new social media platforms that are industry wide so it won’t be tough to stay ahead of them while keeping current with the rest of the world.  Since they move so slowly for fear of actually stepping out into the real world, I won’t have to worry about it for a while.

With prodding from the outside (thanks to the analyst community) and many unconnected but interesting bloggers, we got the fever. Now there is the internal blog with thousands of bloggers going at it (another IBM communication killer since the audience is IBM’ers), a mainframe blog, gamers and worst of all attention on this from the top.

What I see is momentum for blogging that started as grass-roots inertia (bottom up, not the usual top down) which I believe is best (ask RIM or Palm). Sure, we were a bit later than some companies, but it won’t be that long for us to catch up. Fortunately, I started my blog and put up the developerWorks site like we did and that is how it will be done.  All we need is a few rock stars to start writing.

Now the blog plan is prominent in the outreach plans for new products and announcements.  Normal companies do this and since I came from the outside where I honed my skills staying ahead of companies like IBM, it is important to connect on terms with the audience that are mutually agreeable and most effective.  I knew that I’d already won and would get the message of the company I represented if there were IBM communicaitons people in the room.  Sure, they were the 800 lb. gorrilla in the room, but as soon as I got time with the media or analysts, they were far more likely to work with me as A) I wasnt’ trying to write their story and B) I actually was working in the 20th or 21st century.  I’ll bet those same comm’s folks were hell with tabulation machines and IBM 360’s.

So it’s more like cells dividing, people from all over the world in IBM are jumping on this as they should. Many of the execs who are the busiest people in the world are blogging Buell Duncan and IWB.

I’ve watched trends for a while at IBM, lots of hype at first, then some catch on or fizzle out, but this one has legs…the snowball is now big, and for now the only blog site at IBM until the wonks in IBM corporate communications figure out how to sterilize this also.  The fact that I can write this clearly shows that they have no clue about social media at this point, nor do they move faster than cold honey.

If you’re reading this, you likely had something to do with IBM blogging brought to you by developerWorks. Thanks.  We offer more information on a timely basis that is more meaningful than you’d ever find from the wonks in Armonk.