The Wooden Bowl

My Father passed away today and I won’t be posting for a while. I’ll leave you with this story.

The Wooden Bowl
A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year-old grandson. The old man’s hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered.
The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.
The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. “We must do something about Grandfather,” said the son. I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.
So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl.
When the family glanced in Grandfather’s direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.
The four-year-old watched it all in silence. One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, “What are you making?” Just as sweetly, the boy responded, “Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up.” The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.
The words so struck the parents that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.
That evening, the husband took Grandfather’s hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.
On a positive note, I’ve learned that, no matter what happens or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.
I’ve learned that, regardless of your relationship with your parents; you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.
I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.”
I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.
I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.
I’ve learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But, if you focus on your family, your friends, the needs of others, your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you.
I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.
I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.
I’ve learned that every day; you should reach out and touch someone.
People love that human touch – holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.
I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.

Making Microsoft Lemonade from lemons, or – maybe the cleverist Idea of the year

I hate it when I don’t think of things like this. James Governer on Vista

James Governer suggested to give a rebate with the purchase of an xbox. It may go down as the cleverist idea of the year. And to further support James’ idea, it has precidence with one of the top marketing rebounds ever.

When the original Star Wars came out in 1977, it was before action figures from movies was what it is today as an aftermarket sales vehicle. They not only underestimated the demand for this, they blew it for the Christmas Season. So they had the empty box campaign. You got the box and the figures would come later.

Microsoft pooped a big lemon yesterday, and here’s how to make lemonade out of it.

Do I think they will listen to him? When pigs fly out of my…… because of the reasons I spoke of yesterday, but is it an idea that should cause Microsoft to want to hire him like they did when they hired Borg analysts, I seriously hope not. May the force be with you James.

Back to the Future, Microsoft is IBM, circa 1980’s-early 1990’s

In 2012, my prediction has come true, although IBM is guilty of the same process of stacking reviews of people killing employee morale and innovation.

Original Article here:

History is reliving itself.

Take a dominant company with a large market share with essentially a proprietary product and have it grow to a large enough size based on a subscription or renewal/upgrade model, and you have either pre-Gerstner IBM or Microsoft today.

Peter Drucker has made very relevant descriptions of how companies reach plateaus and either change, tread water or decline. I’m not an analyst, but I can’t help notice that Microsoft is following a similar path that IBM lead in the late 80’s/early 90’s .

I have questions after hearing Vista is delayed, like how long can you miss your product introductions and keep credibility happy customers before they search for options (Linux, Workplace, name your new desktop platform here)? Um Bill, when Lou Gerstner took the reigns, people who missed deadlines had a career decision made for them as opposed to the pre-Lou years when things just went as they went. Look where that got us.

How long before external issues begat internal strife? Mini-Microsoft describes some management issues here calling for the leadership to be fired now.

How long before it affects your other products like Office? (StarOffice, OpenOffice anyone?)

Peter would be rolling in his grave right now to see this happening all over again. IBM went through this and almost didn’t survive. I’m not predicting a company death here, but if something doesn’t change, the market will change it for them as we vote with our dollars. Doesn’t anyone learn from history?

There are too many competitors out there today Microsoft, I know Steve Ballmer is firing shots across the bow at IBM, but I think that Oracle, Apple, Google and a host of others have more marketshare in mind than gathering crumbs under the Microsoft Thanksgiving table. Next time you shoot at IBM, you should look in the mirror and think if the following words mean anything to you? They do to the customers, the industry and history…..

Proprietary, Monopolistic, Bureaucratic, Schizophrenic about the competition.

Competition is good. It promotes Innovation and lower prices, oh yeah, it delivers your products on time or you get a career decision made for you.

32 Gigabyte Flash disk

Why I care about This is because I spent a good part of my career in the storage industry.

When I first started at a small disk distributor, Core International, we sold IBM-AT replacement 40 MB drives for $2595.00. It had an average seek time of 26 milliseconds and fancy technology like a voice coil actuator, dedicated servo technology and auto park and lock. They were 5.25″ high and weighed a few pounds

Now you get 32 GB of instant data access for between $750 and $1000, talk about progress! And since it’s flash, it’s not subject to the failures of electrical and mechanical moving parts like a drive is….and who hasn’t had a drive crash on them.

I wonder if that is going to add clutter and more busy-ness to my day (Why I’m busy).

What I really want is my system to boot as soon as I hit the power button. We haven’t gotten any better at that, DOS booted faster than what I have now.

IBM buys Language Analysis Systems

IBM buys lots of companies to add and fill out our middleware platforms. Today we announced the purchase of LAS or Language Analysis Systems. Here’s a quote from the announcement

Language Analysis Systems of Herndon sells software the government uses to check names in foreign languages against U.S. terror and other watch lists. The company released software last year that cleans up potential misspellings in databases, and shows the likelihood that a name is a match with a file on record.

The new software is designed for use in marketing, database management and compliance with financial regulations.

Language Analysis Systems grew revenue from $2.1 million in 2003 to $3.9 million in 2004, an 86 percent increase. The company generated $6 million in revenue with 20 employees in 2005, according to the Small Business Administration.

As readers may know, I’m not the reporter on IBM announcements, I see things from my own point of view, here’s a link to the story from TechWeb if you want to read the press version.

I liked cops and robbers as a kid and I like it when the good guys get the bad guys, like my current favorite – Jack Bauer of 24. I also am geeky and like technology so I like this one.

Check names and get terrorists from watch lists, I like the way that sounds. Maybe we would have found Mohammed Atta that way, maybe not.

Maybe Chloe can use it to find the bad guys this season, that would be cool.

SaaS, the Partner work begins

It’s after PartnerWorld and the SOA partner train has left the station. So the next project is Software as a Service – as it relates to our Partnering efforts.

Rather than trying to describe the entire program in one blog, analogous to eating the entire elephant in one sitting, I’m going to work on it as it progresses. We’ve made the press announcement, now the real work begins.

Here’s how we’re going to do it. We’re “test marketing” our presentation to a number of constituancies to distill it properly. Then we’re going to roll it out as a total plan to the entire analyst and partner community. After that we’ll provide updates on how we are doing. So while the plan is baked, it’s how you lay it out to tell the long term story properly, because we’ll be held to it to see if we stacked up or not.

The key to working successfully within IBM is your ability to form matrix teams and get along with other groups, so the other group here is IGS/BCS. Briefings may be IDR or IGS or both together depending on what and when we are talking. Stay tuned.

PartnerWorld – Day 3, Leaving Las Vegas

Got up at 4 to get to the airport for an early flight. My favorite thing about Las Vegas is leaving. I’ve been coming here since the early 80’s for computer shows and the thrill is gone. To give you a perspective on how long I’ve been coming, my first recollection is the Comdex where the hot product was a Visicalc replacement named Lotus 1-2-3, then not an IBM SWG middleware division.

I passed the barely awake Barb Darrow of CRN checking out. I also passed a couple of blond beauties who were coming in as I was going out. I wondered if it was the walk of shame as they were carrying their shoes. Other than that, it was just me and the cleaning crew.

I type this from the BK lounge as that’s all that is open at 5:30 am. Since I didn’t smoke, drink or gamble once again, the worst thing I did was eat a grease bomb for breakfast, the first time in years for me.

The people watching is interesting. It’s easy to spot the travel regulars, early hours don’t faze them, they know the routine. It’s easy to tell who is still hung over as they can’t eat. There’s a guy behind me that “only” lost $1000 or so. I think I have better ways to spend that kind of money. The teenager in front of me continues to pick her thong out of uh, the place that it gets stuck, always a pleasant sight.

I don’t get why people bring their kids to Vegas, a theme park is a lot more healthy for their upbringing than the things that go on in this place. I had two professional ladies in my elevator this trip, kids don’t need to be exposed to this.

Back to PartnerWorld, most of the press and analysts are gone, so it’s just the partners that are left. Overall, it was SOA and SVI (channels) with the new PWIN program opening up Research to the partners making most of the news. Overall it was successful, although we should find a way to treat the analysts different from the press. It takes more time as the issues are just deeper and take more than 30 minutes to cover. Alas, it’s the press/analyst center, so like I told my colleagues, if you need more than 30 minutes, do your work prior to the show or go to dinner.

Finally, I always thank God that Las Vegas is in Nevada, a country’s travel away from me in North Carolina.  This way, the scum of the earth that comes to this dump stays away from where I live.

PartnerWorld – Day 2

We’re in the routine of Keynote, press conference, breakouts and 1:1’s. You’ll read about the news in CRN, VarBusiness, eWeek and the likes. I’d have never made it as a reporter.

Since we are a small staff, I get to cover other groups and their executives. I spent the day with Sandy Carter for SOA. Let me start out by saying that she’s a serious trooper. She broke her ankle in 5 places, 4 screws and a sprained knee ligament in her other leg, and didn’t miss a beat. She couldn’t even get up without help but never complained. I introduced myself to the analysts as Glenn Hintze (A/R manager for AIM). Sandy commented that somehow Glenn (me) had gotten much more handsome. Eat your heart out Glenn.

I thought that I was in a partner briefing as the SOA conversation was all about enabling partners, PWIN, and Sales Connections, all stuff we’d say in ISV/Developer Relations. It was clear that the partner story is permeating across the company. The most interesting question I got asked the whole day is what is Buell working on. Answer? Selling the partner programs inside of IBM and getting to the regional level by country around the world, and he’s getting it done.

PartnerWorld has changed alot for me since the old days. It used to be only strategic alliances, but now it’s partners all across spectrum around the globe. May not sound like much to you, but that is a mutli-billion dollar statement and the difference between 100 partners and 6000.

PartnerWorld – Day 1

Today started with the keynote, if you don’t count the gym. I’ll skip the IBM stuff because it was good, but it’ll be widely written about by better writers than I.

Except for the new IBM product called the mobility connection. I’ve always felt the that the ultimate data entry device was voice. They showed getting email on an earpiece, with it sorting out the urgent and being able to answer. Voicing RSS feeds for MP3 devices, all the things you do on a keyboard, now by voice with it actually recognizing you. I’m ready for this, I was never much of a thumb typer. This was absolutely the coolest thing I’d seen. I’ve been an advocate of voice for data entry and manipulation for a long time. Now that the social stigma of looking like you are talking to no one while you’re carrying on a public conversation in an earpiece is gone, this is relevant.

What was way out good was Burt Rutan of Scaled composites and Spaceship 1. Since the theme is Innovation, he was perfect as a speaker. He described how all the major innovators in aviation were kids during the invention of the airplane, that there were no restrictions such as we have today, we are so afraid we might put a foot wrong that no real progress is made. We haven’t been to the moon in since the 79’s and when we go back, it’ll be with similar technology, not to innovate (remember velcro and tang?). In the early years of aviation, many new ideas tried and in 4 years the basic airplane was invented.

His words were Inspire to Dream, let kids invent. You have to have confidence in nonsense because people will say your ideas are nonsensical. Innovators can’t be dismayed by naysayers, which there will always be plenty of. If half of people say it’s impossible, it’s research, if not – it’s only development. and can you take the risk. What’s ironic is I heard the same words from a VP of research at IBM in a 1:1 later in the day. IBM separates Research from Development.

Where I agreed with him was that the most innovative plane ever invented was the SR-71 Blackbird, but that was in 1959, so he defended his innovation statement adroitly.

Humor came in when he said NASA screwed up mars exploration by landing lunar rover in dessert instead of downtown mars. If we’d seen the martians, we’d have been more likely to want to go there and would have done it..

Today’s innovators like Richard Branson, Paul Allen, Jeff Bezos were inspired by Apollo as children, back to his aeronautical references.

His most breakthrough aircraft and innovation was the spaceship 1, that when it re-enters the atmosphere it folds and rights itself making it safer than the Space Shuttle.

Relating to our industry, his first computer was an Apple II that he played games on. The reason computer got better was for fun, that it made us ripe for invention. He cracked a joke that thanks to Al Gore who invented the internet, that’s what spawned the capability to communicate and we had internet commerce.

He pointed out that we need competition. The original space race occurred because we were scared when the Soviets beat the Americans into space. Even now, the only place to buy a ticket to space is from Russia.

Burt predicted safe efficient high volume space flight, in next 15 years, at a value 5 times more valuable than the government NASA program. I agree with this that private enterprise provides the proper environment for competition creating a better product at a lower price.

His prediction – we’ll be able to buy a ticket and fly higher and faster than fastest military fighter today. That will inspire the military to improve and keep up (sub orbital capability). This will make space travel safer as it did for commercial air transportation where the risk is 1 in 4 million that you’ll have an accident. Right now it’s 1 in 62 for space flight. Space flight will be a growth industry. We’ll have a resort hotel in space, competition will drive it and we’ll see a resort trip around the moom and it will happen in his lifetime. Some won’t go back, people will go to colonize and take risk in hostile environment….something we’ve done throughout humanity.

Next there was the analyst conference with Donn Atkins.

Then the Press Conference,

Then 1:1’s which are always interesting, this is where the tough questions come.

That’s day one. Can’t wait for day 2, cause it’s the last one for me.

PartnerWorld, the day before

So here I sit in the Philadelphia Airport waiting for my connection to PartnerWorld in Vegas. Since I have time to reminisce about it, my thought go back to the ’90’s when it was known as BPEC, Business Partner Executive Conference. It was as big then as PW is now, but it seemed more enterprise focused then with respect to the customer. I think we had more channel conflict back then as we were selling applications until 99.

I also recall that each group had it’s own partnering program which caused them to align with either a division or a product, or two, or three. It was difficult as there might have been multiple programs with multiple sign on’s, but it was still good to go to market with IBM as we had a large salesforce to help.

We started to consolidate the partner programs in ’99 when we exited the business applications business and started Software Development Marketing, the precursor to what is now IDR. This finally happened in 2004 where there now is one program for all of IBM.

Through all of this partner history, we’ve had PartnerWorld. It has evolved as the Partner programs have evolved. One thing I’ve noticed is the groundswell of support and activity for and with the partners. I use the term groundswell as it is a surfing term. You paddle like crazy to keep up with the wave until the swell gathers you up to the wave. Once you catch it you either ride just ahead of the break and feed off the momentum of the wave, or get swallowed up, affectionately know as going over the falls.

The amount of activity and RESULTS has been very impressive. I fully expect this PartnerWorld to be just a move forward on the wave, and not over the falls.

I made it to Vegas only 12 hours after I started. Later in the evening, I went to a partner dinner and got to see many folks I work with, but due to different locations, I don’t get to see them much. Here’s some shots at the party.

Tomorrow is the Keynote and the beginning of the real show. Burt Rutan who built the first plane to fly around the world and the first private space travel ship is the guest speaker, can’t wait.

RIP Edgar Stiles

If IBM had as much IT power as the computers at CTU on 24 , and the expertise to use them, we’d be back in court for the monopoly trial.

I was sorry to see Edgar exit the show as I’m a huge 24 fan (starting to approach my trekkie tendencies). I can’t count the times he’s saved Jack by uploading satellite images of where the bad guys are or decoded something.

Now if tech support at most companies had Edgar qualities, a lot of things would have been solved a lot easier and faster.

What I’m going to miss the most though is I always held out for a Chloe/Edgar hookup….

Welcome back all my friends to the show that never ends. We're so glad you could attend come inside, come inside…

IBM’s yearly get together with partners, this year in Las Vegas. Sure it happens next week, but the show began last year with planning and organizing. It’s a miracle that these things happen, we must pull off over a million action items to make four days work for the analysts, press, execs and most of all the Partners.

I already spoke of this event as planning a UN cruise for the Presidents of every country ….and that’s just the IBM’rs. We have 7000+ partners attending (ok, it’s a guess) who are there because they do business with IBM and…..EACH OTHER.

Yes, this isn’t the traditional meetup, but it is an opportunity for programs like Sales connections to proliferate (hint, this link is the key). This is where partners can take advantage of IBM and our programs to work with each other, or to buy advertising and promotion at up to 90% discount. But most of all, to work with the 40,000 IBM sales staff around the world to close business. After all, isn’t that why we are in business?

I’ve seen the partnering programs grow at IBM, and the momentum has taken an upturn. There is activity and programs for almost every place a partner could be from industry specific, from smb to enterprise….smb and IBM, we’ve come a long way to say that.

What it offers most is the hardest thing to do at IBM, find the needle in the haystack or the person that helps you get things done at IBM. Yes, once you accomplish that, having an advocate, you can really take advantage of what we have to offer, which is a lot. When you have this, it won’t guarantee success, but you stack the odds in your favor to go to market with the force that is IBM. No shill job here, there are too many partners figuring this out.

So yes, some will come and lose money, maybe drink too much and other vices offered there, but the savvy will see this for what it is, the opportunity to connect with IBM…come and see the show.

PartnerWorld, the ship is leaving the dock

It seems like I’m obsessed with comparing IBM to ships, but it was only coincidental in analogies, but it may be truer than I thought.

Organizing the PartnerWorld event is like taking a cruise. You have to make your plans, reservations, decide which 30 of 5000 things you can do and work with a gigantic company to schedule it all. We’re far enough along with the planning (which started last year) that they are loosening the mooring ropes to set sail. Oh yeah, and it’s in Vegas, a minor distraction.

Internally at IBM, it is a coordination effort that makes the trip to the moon look like a trip to the store. It’s hard enough to do an event within your own brand, but cross many brands, include a bunch of high powered execs and it’s more like scheduling a trip for the UN, everyone is the president of their country.

We have to somehow mash schedules for the same executives for Press, Analysts and oh yeah, Partners….this is PartnerWorld. It is a logistics nightmare with most being real team players, but some are not. The prep meetings number in the hundreds with various players with topics ranging from booth duty to 1:1’s to chart prep, signage, getting hand held devices.

So in the end, we have to make it look seamless to the participant that they come in, pick up their schedule and somehow the meeting with an IBM’r comes off as if it were nothing, and all the while we are scheduling over ten thousand meetings with people from different countries, different agendas, different companies, somewhere near a thousand meeting rooms and it is a coordination masterpiece. We figure out what’s more important, SaaS, SOA, AJAX, LAMP, ISV….wait I almost have a Meeting Bingo

It’s a wonder how this ever gets done, but in the end the partners meet up and get ahead by working with us. We really have some great programs and getting people to understand and use them is a real asset to the partners. We’ve reviewed our progress with any number of analysts and we have in place what will help partners and make us a better company to work with. I’ll list them on another blog….someday.

Also, if you’re an analyst, you’ll get there, your meetings will be set and you won’t know the hell we went through negotiating the time with each other to make it happen. Everyone wants to talk to the same folks, that we make it happen is in insurance terms, is an act of God.