Aren’t Communities Great – again

I stole this title from Steve O’Grady at Tecosystems , partially because I’m in it, but also because it helped me find some lost co-workers.

In an earlier life, I was the Director of Marketing for a Disk Drive supplier that integrated storage and backup products into IBM PC’s and compatibles. I’d lost touch with almost everyone I’d worked with until this weekend when the head of R&D found me on Steve’s blog. Little did he know when he was writing about Danish translation that it was a tech meet up.

So I found out about some folks I used to work with, one of which is now a VP at Fujitsu. Email me Joel if you get this.

Updated meeting bingo words

I guess it originally was called BS bingo. Some of the oldies were end to end, best of breed, bottom line…you remember the game.

I’ve been in over 100 meetings and presentations by us and to us and I’ve got a new list. Feel free to comment with popular words that I may have missed.

Integration
Enable
Leverage
Optimize
Execute
Service Levels
Lifecycle
Infrastructure
Capacity
Workload
Deployment
Feedback
Collaborative
Legacy
Validate
Governance
Best Practice
Interactive
Roadmap
Component
Encapsulation
Throughput
Instantiate

And for the center box, the star is any acronym, SOA, XML, WSDL SOAP, SODA, SOBA, AJAX, PHP, LAMP….any will do.

What happened to my handwriting? I can't wait for Star Trek/Jetsons to get here

I took notes by hand at yesterday’s SOA event in Richmond. When I came back, I paid some bills by check. After I checked both, it occurred to me that I might be a Doctor with the state of my handwriting skills.

What happened? Well, it never was that great. I always admired the handwriting by the girls that was neat and always the same throughout their papers (and the same as all the other girls, unexplainable to me). I on the otherhand scratched out my papers, but as I’ve said before, most of what I do proficiently is by repetition rather than talent. My wife will take exception to my remote control skills which came to me naturally.

The reality of it is that I’m getting older, but I’m also typing most things. I take notes typing, IM, blog, shop, pay bills, balance my checkbook….all by computer. So discounting the age thing, I’m not getting as much practice as I used to and it shows..This is where I’m going to place the blame.

Which brings me to the second point of the title, I can’t wait for voice technology to be able to talk my input. Those that know me know I’m not a gabber, but when I say something, I usually mean to say it and I have a point most of the time (my son disagrees, but he’s a teenager so that explains a lot). I’d like to have the option to speak my input and have it come out correctly. I’m not going to digress to current voice capabilities, I know it will get to where it needs to be.

So back to the age thing. My hands aren’t getting any younger either, talking my input will save some wear and tear unless they invent an arthritis drug before I die.

I want to be able to speak to the computer like Mr. Spock or George Jetson to have it do my work. Computer, analyze the data samples from Rigel 4 and compare it to our dilithium crystals…..

For now, I hope that the credit card company can read my check.

Live long and prosper.

SOA for me, I'm off to Richmond

I’ll be in Richmond VA. the next two days at an SOA customer event sponsored by WebSphere. It’s the second time in a month I’ve done this, so I’m wondering if there is a trend I should be noticing?

Anyway, I’m helping out a hurricane victim colleague in analyst relations (sorry about that Sara) who was going to be the AR lead there.

Ironically, she lives about a mile from where I moved away from when I left Florida.

So Steve, if you’re reading this, no blogging interview with Willy….but he’s out of the country anyway.

SMB’rs, I won’t be on your call either. I’m a WebSphere pinch hitter. Hope I hold my own at the plate.

Fork in the Road for partners? Yes for some, Crocodile for others.

Oracle has bought Siebel, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and will likely buy others. Microsoft has bought Great Plains and Navision, today they announced a business intelligence solution going up against Cognos. All but Great Plains were staunch IBM partners. SAP has Netweaver applications. For the major middleware companies mentioned in the same sentence with IBM, those are facts.

The easy bandwagon is to jump out there and say everyone should buy a company and get into the application marketplace. Just ask the press.

Here is the speculation section. What will the outcome be with the applications marketplace? All the above mentioned major players have applications in the common business arena. IBM on the other hand is going to this market with partner applications as the solution. These are two pretty diverse paths when considering the partner aspect of channel conflict. Thus, the fork in the road

I am a staunch believer in capitalism, that it promotes competition forcing better solutions and lower prices, usually resulting in an overall better customer solution. How will this concept be applied to the aforementioned channel conflict and fork in the road?

The answer is that history will tell the ultimate story, but as with all things, it will not be a zero sum game for any of the companies mentioned. Partners will be motivated by who helps them the most. Sort of the capitalism statement. It will likely parody the political situation. The staunch believers (or those too far financially invested in a solution) will likely stay there. Those deciding on a solution, or moving to open source or have ODF issues or those pissed off at channel conflict or competition from their existing middleware supplier are at the fork. So the fight is not for the right or left, but for the middle….those at the fork.

Yogi Berra said, “When you get to a fork in the road, take it”

IBM is making a stand on supporting the partners and going to market with them as the application solution. There are co-marketing programs and 30,000 IBM sales reps helping them make sales.

Microsoft, Oracle and SAP have said where they are going to compete with partners, and hope they can drag enough other business along that are willing to go in their middleware space. Some partners will go that way, hoping that they don’t or won’t have to compete.

As a famous president once said: “To sit back hoping that someday, some way, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the crocodile, hoping he will eat you last – but eat you he will.” Ronald Reagan.

IBM Research Resources through alphaWorks

Research topics

alphaWorks is known for launching emerging technologies. With the research topics, we are offering a collection of resources – technology downloads, demos, articles, and resources – to help build awareness and understanding about an emerging topic.

It’s one of the few places in IBM you would actually want to go and yet might find something useful and interesting.

Research Resources

Don’t miss the opportunity to peek into the window of research through alphaWorks.

More on Maturing Workforce, % of the population over 60

If you haven’t noticed, IBM is speaking to the issue of the maturing workforce. I received these country statistics and found them quite interesting. There will be much more on this thread, but it gives a quick look at who is where in the age issue.

Census Research – Percent of Total Population 60+
All data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau

United States
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 1980: approx. 16.07%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2000: approx. 16.27%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2005: approx. 16.81%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2010: approx. 18.41%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2025: approx. 24.21%

Canada
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 1991: approx. 15.65%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2000: approx. 16.70%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2005: approx. 17.86%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2010: approx. 20.00%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2025: approx. 27.75%

United Kingdom
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 1991: approx. 20.92%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2000: approx. 20.42%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2005: approx. 20.91%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2010: approx. 22.54%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2025: approx. 27.39%

Italy
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 1992: approx. 21.42%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2000: approx. 23.89%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2005: approx. 24.88%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2010: approx. 26.58%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2025: approx. 32.54%

Germany
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 1991: approx. 20.40%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2000: approx. 23.27%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2005: approx. 24.91%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2010: approx. 25.88%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2025: approx. 32.90%

France
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 1990: approx. 19.14%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2000: approx. 20.53%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2005: approx. 20.84%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2010: approx. 23.00%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2025: approx. 28.49%

Spain
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 1991: approx. 19.36%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2000: approx. 21.75%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2005: approx. 22.68%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2010: approx. 23.94%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2025: approx. 30.08%

China
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 1990: approx. 8.45%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2000: approx. 10.12%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2005: approx. 10.90%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2010: approx. 12.38%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2025: approx. 19.94%

Korea (south)
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 1990: approx. 7.65%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2000: approx. 10.88%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2005: approx. 12.73%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2010: approx. 14.87%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2025: approx. 26.13%

Japan
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 1990: approx. 17.40%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2000: approx. 23.14%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2005: approx. 26.12%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2010: approx. 29.74%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2025: approx. 34.24%

Australia
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 1990: approx. 15.55%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2000: approx. 16.47%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2005: approx. 17.53%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2010: approx. 19.56%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2025: approx. 25.62%

Thailand
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 1980: approx. 7.33%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2000: approx. 9.88%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2005: approx. 11.26%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2010: approx. 12.92%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2025: approx. 20.77%

Brazil
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 1980: approx. 5.4%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2000: approx. 7.8%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2005: approx. 8.82%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2010: approx. 10.11%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2025: approx. 16.13%

Mexico
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 1980: approx. 5.46%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2000: approx. 7.29%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2005: approx. 8.19%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2010: approx. 9.47%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2025: approx. 14.11%

Argentina
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 1980: approx. 11.90%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2000: approx. 13.89%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2005: approx. 14.32%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2010: approx. 15.09%
Percent of population aged 60 and above in 2025: approx. 18.33%

Ode to Executive Assistants

When dealing with analysts to set up meetings, there is time negotiations on both sides. This is not unlike most meetings, except that most of our executives are in demand by everyone. Their calendars are full all 26 hours per day

For example, IBM has offices in somewhere in the neighborhood of 160 countries. Our executives have visited all 300+ of them this year. With respect to that count, I’ve observed that there are 3 kinds of people, those that are good at math and those that aren’t.

So, I’m sending out a global thanks to the assistants who help make the briefings happen. They move meetings around, schedule call’s despite the time zone, country or predicament. Without them, we couldn’t get these exec’s to speak to the analysts or press.  They know that the execs are just props that do what their handlers tell them to do.  Without the assistants and the massive teams that IBM seems to surround an executive with, it’s a wonder that the exec can make it to the bathroom.  Sometimes it’s a wonder that the doors to IBM open given the leadership team.

Despite the pressure that comes with dealing with managing the life of the execs, the ones that I currently deal with are the antithesis of the pointy haired boss’s secretary in dilbert.

If you ever get the chance to say thanks when they call in, please do. Their life is a multitasking wonderland and they likely moved something to help us talk. My 2 cents for the day.

I’m back from vacation


Back, means sifting throught tons of email, mail, vmail, unread blogs and getting life back to normal…nothing new there.

I said I was going fishing with my sister who hadn’t been for over 30 years. Since she gave me her permission, I’m posting a picture of her redfish that she landed. It was a good fight and I was glad to spend time with her and my son.

No one at IBM got the Mensa question as I predicted.  They weren’t even close.  It could also be that they just don’t have a clue about the meaning of life in general which is likely if you’ve ever been to a meeting there…..especially with the executives.  That just deducts IQ points.

gone fishin – final parting shots

I’m leaving to go on vacation for a week. If you know me, even in the least, you know I’ll work fishing into it. This time I’m taking my sister who hasn’t fished in 30 years or so.

I’ve asked some folks to be ready with interviews when I get back so I’ll have some content.

So my parting shot is not just fishing pictures(pun intended), it’s my favorite Mensa question. Take a guess at it in the comments below, I’ll identify the winner when I get back.

Question: What is the meaning of Life. Give three examples.

No one at IBM will get this, there aren’t any that qualify for Mensa outside of me anyway.

alphaWorks, the window to IBM Research

There have been many announcements on the maturing workforce issues lately. I’ll spare you the gory details, but these guys have a lot of skills and knowledge that is both going away and needs to be transferred.

They are also getting older. I’ve noticed a few aches and pains I didn’t use to have, but nothing like those with accessibility issues, who are both young and old.

Saying something and doing something about it are two different things. The coolest place in IBM is the research labs. They don’t lead the world year after year in patents for nothing, they make great products there.

Yesterday, three alphaWorks technologies were announced to help those with accessibility issues. The headpointer, keyboard optimizer and mouse smoother.

Head Pointer

Accessibility

Keyboard Optimizer

Mouse Smoothing

Let me make the connection for you between alphaWorks and IBM Research. alphaWorks is the Software window to the research labs.

The Head-Tracking Pointer provides an inexpensive and easily-used mouse replacement for those unable to use traditional pointing devices. Using only software and any Web-cam, this application allows users to point and click with character-level accuracy by simply aiming their face.

Now stuff like this is cool, reminds me of the heads up display on fighter jets, or interpreting thoughts in the Clint Eastwood movie FireFox.

The Former Head of IBM analyst relations, who are we? – John Mihalec

I’m proud to start out the week with an interview that I’ve anxiously anticipated for a while. John Mihalec is the head of IBM analyst relations, no small task. I learned some very interesting things about John that I never knew, and I hope his work background will be as interesting for you as it was for me. Especially the political stories.

I have great respect for those who have served our country. This interview includes stories about analyst relations being analogous to the court room, poking fun at me for flattering the boss and comparing major political operatives to influential IBM executives. Enjoy the read as much as I did.

What is your job title (and what does that really mean as far as your job)?
VP, Analyst Relations. It means that if any IT analyst anywhere in the world criticizes IBM in any way, by spoken or printed word, I have a problem. Since analysts make a living by (among other things) assessing vendors, and since IBM is the biggest, most comprehensive and complicated vendor, most days I have a lot of problems. But it also means that most days I have immediate, tangible, urgent opportunities to make a difference for IBM. And that’s fun.

Some work experience that you want to tell?
Well, I started out in politics, driving the campaign bus for Lowell Weicker’s first (and only) race for the House of Representatives in during my summer vacation in 1968. After graduation, I worked for Weicker on Capitol Hill for a year. After being drafted into the Army and Vietnam, I worked for him again on the Senate side while he was on the Watergate Committee. It was during this period that I also briefly had a second job as a ghostwriter for a retired FBI official named Mark Felt, who was then still telling everyone (including me) that he was most assuredly not Deep Throat. In 1976, with Weicker coasting to re-election, I left to join the White House speech writing team for President Ford. We gained 30 points in the polls in two months, but ended up losing to Jimmy Carter by a single point. After that, I worked as a speech writer for Illinois Governor Jim Thompson. Then I got tired of needing a new job every 18 months and joined IBM. Getting married also may have had something to do with it.

How do you explain what you do to non-IBM’rs, family or those that don’t work with you.?
It’s not easy given that most people don’t know who the IT analysts are, or what they do. Often I start out by asking, have you ever heard of a company called Gartner Group, or Forrester, or IDC? A few people have, and that makes it easier. I’m going to my 40th high school reunion this weekend, so that will be an interesting test of my ability to articulate it succinctly. Ironically, the reunion is being held less than a mile from Gartner’s headquarters, but I doubt that will increase the level of awareness about IT analysts among my classmates. We’ll see. Anyway, with family and friends I generally tell them that in the computer business there are all these research firms who write about the industry and provide advice to customers about what to buy, at the same time they also provide advice to the computer vendors about how to sell. (Listeners often see that as having, shall we say, inherent ethical challenges. But I assure them those challenges are completely manageable.) And then I say that it’s our job in Analyst Relations to make sure these research firms understand IBM’s products and strategies, and become convinced that IBM is doing the right things for customers. It’s also our job to listen to what the analysts are saying about us, and to make sure IBM harnesses the wisdom in those assessments.

What are good things about your job?
It gives you a lot of opportunity to be creative. Sometimes I tell people it’s like being an attorney in a courtroom with no judge and no rules of evidence, but just a jury….a professional jury that has heard case after case, and they’ve heard it ALL. And it’s our job to bring before that jury whatever facts or logic we can muster to make the case. Because IBM’s success in the marketplace depends on it. When you think about it that way, it’s a lot more exciting and challenging than most other jobs. Just don’t expect a TV show about analyst relations to replace Law & Order.

What are things you would change?
Honestly? I’d give me the same responsibilities, but more power and money to do the job. Most of our AR resources are dependent on unit budgets, and corporate spending targets. If it were only my call, there are people I’d move from here to there (probably China, India and Japan), and units that would spend more or spend less on Analyst Relations than they do. Generally, I see a dollar spent on AR as being more effective in driving business results for IBM than dollars spend in some other areas, such as mass media advertising. But IBM is a matrix, and I have to work within that matrix politically. No surprise there.

You manage one of the most (if not the most) effective analyst groups in the industry. Can you talk about why that is and how it came about (without giving away secrets)?
No flattering the boss, okay? If IBM has an effective AR program, it’s because: 1) a quarter century ago a guy named Sam Albert recognized that we needed to engage analysts as part of our selling process, and 2) certain senior executives (e.g. Steve Mills and others) were hip early on to the impact that analysts were having and the importance of managing our relationship with them in a dedicated, formal way, and investing sufficient resources to do that properly. I’m just the guy who’s been brought in to drive the truck over the last few years.

You deal with some of the most powerful executives in the industry. How has that changed the way you work?

Well, I worked with some fairly influential people in Washington before IBM. One time, during the Watergate hearings, Sen. Howard Baker leaned over and asked me if I had any questions for the witness. But I was just sitting in for Weicker at the last minute, had no idea who the witness even was, and declined. Wish I had a photo of that now, though. Compared to politicians, information technology executives are generally less egotistical and easier to serve and support. But they are also less used to being knocked around than politicians are. That makes some industry executives wary about going toe-to-toe with analysts. So the key variable in AR for our executives is not how they deal with us, their staff, but whether they are “fully there” when they engage the analysts. They should engage the analysts with respect on a level playing field, because there is gain to be had in both directions. Vendors executives can learn a lot , from analysts at the same time they seek to influence their views and sell “their story.” So it’s worth doing, and doing well, despite that fact that analyst criticisms are never easy to hear. The best IBM executives at all levels instinctively work to cultivate relationships with this key influencer community.

What do you think your legacy will be given all that has been accomplished at IBM Analyst Relations?
I expect the next person in this job will do it better than I have, and I will be disappointed and amazed if that doesn’t happen. This a march, and we learn something new every day.
What is your vision of the future for Analyst Relations.

What is your vision of the future for Analyst Relations.
My vision is that we will help IT analysts to increasingly focus on business issues (not just technology), that we will improve IBM’s ability to leverage their output to drive business results, especially in emerging markets, and that we become change agents and allies with them on societal and governmental issues where we have a common view, on behalf of the industry we both serve. And get home by 6 o’clock.