My Personal War On Woke Now Includes My Sarcastic Profile On LinkedIn

I was very early to LinkedIn, as I was to blogging, Twitter, Facebook and others.

When I got fed up with them going woke or being so biased that I didn’t trust them, I de-platformed Twitter and Facebook.

Recently, LinkedIn stopped allowing revenue to anyone who is in their words a climate change denier. I worked in the Green and Sustainability Industry long enough to learn these things about climate and politics.

  1. At the top, it is about money and power, not saving the planet.
  2. The people that believe it treat it as their religion. The ones I’ve met are the real science deniers. This just confirmed it.
  3. You can’t change the weather, it comes in cycles.
  4. Bonus: They are hiding the past where the weather was the same as it is now. It’s a version of 1984 Newspeak.
  5. Double Bonus: It is based on predictions that never come true, they just predict another one.
  6. Triple Bonus: when they debunk the current cause of global warming, they change it as they do the name (note I used the first name of this nonsense).
  7. Quadruple Bonus: Carbon Dioxide is plant food. It’s why they plant trees for an offset.
  8. Quintuple Bonus: Almost everyone likes warmer weather and farmers grow more.
  9. Not a Bonus: As with LinkedIn, when they don’t agree or lose the argument, they try to shut down the discussion and facts. I expect to lose readers at this point and doubt they’ll read any further, missing the point of the post.
  10. Also not a Bonus: It is an excuse for everything from racism to global cooling.

“If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way.” – Bertrand Russell

As soon as there is a problem, they change their tune and are now burning coal in China and Europe.

So, when I heard that LinkedIn banished one side of the conversation on anything, I changed my profile to poke fun at them. Here are some of the changes.

My education is now Faber -Knowledge is Good. I put my fraternity as Delta Tau Chi. If you don’t get this reference, you missed one of the all time funniest movies. It was also a stab at my real college that went woke. I won’t even mention them here because I banished them too.

I changed my current Job to writing a sarcastic blog and not finishing several books. This is actually true. I was in their Associates Program which is for freelancers, but I’m blowing them off now.

The rest of my work life is true for now, but I don’t give enough of a tinkers damn to take LinkedIn serious now, so I’m having fun where I can.

I now want to freelance on the boil of wokeness that is on the ass of regular people by elites.

I decided I didn’t care that much about them to take them seriously. Besides, I retired because I hate the corporate nonsense. See here, here and here for the above stated wankers.

You got the bonus plan:

12 other woke companies to avoid

How Meetings Are a Waste Of Time and How To Avoid or Get Out of Them

facepalm  I read a WSJ article on ineffective meetings.  It is about the manifesto to end boring meetings.

This brought back thousands of hours of meetings I wished I could have back or would certainly decline to attend had I realized what I know now.  Most of this post is tongue in cheek unlike the WSJ, but I’ll bet everyone wishes they weren’t in so many meetings.

First, let me start out with some quotes I found from The Quote Garden, starting with the one that reminded me most of the meetings I’ve attended:

A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.  ~Barnett Cocks, attributed

worfgif

A committee is a group that keeps minutes and loses hours.  ~Milton Berle

To kill time, a committee meeting is the perfect weapon.  ~Author Unknown

If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be “meetings.”  ~Dave Barry, “Things That It Took Me 50 Years to Learn”

Our age will be known as the age of committees.  ~Ernest Benn

If Columbus had an advisory committee he would probably still be at the dock.  ~Arthur Goldberg

A committee is an animal with four back legs.  ~John le Carré, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

It is impossible to imagine the universe run by a wise, just and omnipotent God, but it is quite easy to imagine it run by a board of gods.  ~H.L. Mencken

A “Normal” person is the sort of person that might be designed by a committee.  You know, “Each person puts in a pretty color and it comes out gray.”  ~Alan Sherman

A committee is a thing which takes a week to do what one good man can do in an hour.  ~Elbert Hubbard

A camel looks like a horse that was planned by a committee.  ~Author Unknown

A committee is a group of the unwilling chosen form the unfit, to do the unnecessary.  ~Author Unknown

If you live in a country run by committee, be on the committee.  ~Author Unknown

Could Hamlet have been written by a committee, or the Mona Lisa painted by a club?… Creative ideas do not spring from groups.  They spring from individuals.  The divine spark leaps from the finger of God to the finger of Adam.  ~Alfred Whitney Griswold

We always carry out by committee anything in which any one of us alone would be too reasonable to persist.  ~Frank Moore Colby

I don’t believe a committee can write a book.  It can, oh, govern a country, perhaps, but I don’t believe it can write a book.  ~Arnold Toynbee

There is no monument dedicated to the memory of a committee.  ~Lester J. Pourciau

Any committee that is the slightest use is composed of people who are too busy to want to sit on it for a second longer than they have to.  ~Katharine Whitehorn

Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything.  ~John Kenneth Galbraith

People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.  ~Thomas Sowell

AND OF COURSE, THERE IS BRADLEY’S BROMIDE: “If computers get too powerful, we can organize them into a committee — that will do them in.”

I WORKED FOR “THE” MEETING COMPANY
I worked a large part of my career either for or with IBM, which many have joked that it stands for I’ve Been in a Meeting. I could have been years more productive and retired earlier if it hadn’t been for all of the meetings I’ve spent time in.  Projects would have been completed weeks in advance were it not for meetings.

Usually, the meetings were a way to get other people to do your work for you, or to assign work to others they wouldn’t do or volunteer for were it not for the fact that they were at a meeting.  The only time this didn’t work was when I actually needed to get a speaker for a press briefing for an interview with Time Magazine when print media was important.  His manager, John Callies then VP of Netfinity or X series at IBM(x86 servers), wouldn’t let the speaker leave the staff meeting stating, “it’s only your job” as the reason.  See how manage executive ego’s for more on this. I’d have never imagined having to cancel an interview with what was then an important publication due to an executives’ ego. I’ve seen bad manager moves in my time, but this was top 10 worst of the worst for me.  He still ranks as the number one suit I’ve ever worked with.  The below meme was how it felt to be in a meeting with him.

Execs have also had meetings in places that they wanted to visit (click on the link to see who it is), and most people knew that.  That was a waste of travel time and money for a wasted meeting. There were other reasons they had meetings, but read the quotes at the beginning to find out why said were held.

Avoid training meetings, unless it was a way to be busy during a meeting you want to avoid.  This is especially true of diversity training.  It is a waste of time (same exact meeting every time every year for the required legal reason) but is more important than almost any other meeting, so it serves 2 purposes.  No one will go against diversity training for fear of being politically or legally incorrect.  It does allow you to miss another meeting and no one pays attention anyway.  It’s an opportunity to get work done while the training is going on in the background.  Your attendance is recorded so you are twice as effective as you complete your work, earn your mark for training and ignore the same speech you went through last year all at the same time.

MEETING RULES TO SURVIVE

The best way to deal with a meeting is to avoid it.  If you can already have a meeting at a time that the scheduler proposes it or be busy and/or somehow away or out of the office.  Teleconferencing kills that strategery  unless you can be found traveling, but sometimes it’s unavoidable (see how to get out of a meeting below if you have to go).  The people calling the meeting are really only people who want the meeting anyway.

For things to do to avoid meetings or how to goof around during a meeting, go to the link How to goof around at work.

HERE IS MY RULE WHEN TO DECIDE TO ATTEND IF I HAD A CHOICE: if there were more than 4 people, don’t go.  Nothing will get done other than resulting in another meeting to have to attend.  This is especially true if there are more than 1 executives, as each brings a team of competing players who guarantee the death of productivity.

The WSJ agrees with me, but goes on to say that if it has 17 people, there is no chance anything will get accomplished.
Don’t speak at a meeting if possible. It usually wastes time and extends the meeting length.  There are only a couple of people who really have something to contribute, the rest want to hear themselves talk, show off their PowerPoint skills to bore you, or think they are more important if they speak.  These show offs can be  insufferable, but they offer time to check your email at best while pretending to listen.

This is in the department of redundancy department, but it is so important to note is to be careful when attending because the meeting leader’s purpose is to assign their work to others or get people to do work they wouldn’t do because they can’t decline in public (this is a corporate tradition).  This further kills your ability to be productive at your real job.  There are some who want to look important by accepting work magnanimously to show off, thinking they were climbing the ladder.  Gladly accept their offer as most people have 10 hours of work for an 8 hour day anyway. Only accept it if it produces revenue or if you are the only one qualified to do it, but generally don’t, especially if you perceive it as a make work project.

Especially avoid planning meetings.  A meeting to plan another meeting is one to be skipped unless you are the project manager and called the meeting, then you have to do it.  Avoid these at all costs.  Once nobody shows up, the meeting gets cancelled for email updates, which is a far better use of your time.  As my grandfather said, they are as common as pig tracks and as useless as teats on a boar hog.

Avoid staff meetings.  These are like planning meetings, but they occur regularly and when you miss one, nobody really cares (especially if there are more than 4 people). Only attend them occasionally as you work with these people everyday anyway, it’s not like you don’t know what is going on.  Email your boss on a regular basis with your activity and you can plan something more productive during that time.

HOW TO GET OUT OF A MEETING

The tongue in cheek part really goes here.  I’ll bet there are folks out there far more creative about this than me.

My favorite methods are to have a customer who needs you.  They are your business and that overrides almost everything.  Even your boss can’t deny this.

Pre-plan an emergency.  I occasionally had another employee phone or knock on the door to call me out (email or text isn’t as good as that is not public enough) to get you out of a meeting.  The trick is to never return. You’ll get the notes anyway, I promise. Since I worked with the press and analysts, I sometimes had a co-worker say that a reporter needed me right now.  They were my customer and no one could say no.  Many times there was no real emergency even if the press did call, it was the best and most efficient use of my time to leave the meeting so as to be actually working instead of being at a meeting.  I usually dealt with the press immediately unless I had to do some digging to get back to them.

Attend meetings by phone if possible.  You can always put the phone on mute and get your real work done, or surf the web or watch TV, which is usually just as productive.  It’s easier to go to the bathroom, which brings me to…

Go to the bathroom.  Offer to get a water to others when you go, then take as much time reading the sports page in the stall as you can.  You are just as productive as listening to someone prattle on about their project.

Send your meeting information in by proxy.  See above where someone is willing to talk.  Give them your results or input so you don’t have to be there.

 THE KIND OF MEETING TO HAVE

I realize that some meetings are necessary, so I understand that it’s the only way to get some things done.  For the other majority of the time, see above.

The best meeting is a hall meeting.  You run into the person you need help from and in 5 minutes, you’ve explained your need, what they can do and your time frame for doing it.  Problem solved.

I also recommend having meetings with introverts and/or men.  They don’t like to talk much (most of them) and want to get it over as quickly as you do.  Attire requirements are less of a priority as is small talk.

Here is the net net, don’t go to a meeting if you don’t have to, get out early if at all possible and above all, don’t speak unless you have no option.  Consider it a victory if you don’t attend, or a minor victory if you have to attend but don’t come out with anyone else’s work. You are a complete failure if you open your mouth and double your workload on something that is not tangential to your job or career.  Enjoy your job more by having the time to actually be productive.

Doing a Joint Announcement With The Competition, How to Cooperate

Recently, I’ve done joint announcements with Oracle, SAP, HP, Tibco, Software AG and HP. As you can imagine, I’ve had varying relationships with each and I’m happy to report that the state of the A/R industry is good and that we can work together.

When I was in PR, here is the link to the cat fight supreme with territorialism and turf wars. Most of the announcements I did with these companies when in Analyst Relations didn’t have that element. For the most part, the announcements were about standards, not products. So that went a long way towards working together. Still, if you include IBM, the companies I’ve named here aren’t known for being best buddies.

As an aside, I can say that the executives (who can be the source of most problems) all worked towards the cause of the best briefing possible.  They were helpful in this instance.  Many times, they are the fly in the ointment.

Some things are given, like in a certain area (we just did SOA) the analysts know the exec’s by company and the exec’s know each other so I’m happy to report they acted like grown ups.

TURF WARS

With the typical name calling (from the CEO’s) and because of the belief in your own products, the first issue to overcome is that the announcement is usually about a jointly created product or standard, not us vs. them.  That rule has to be set down first and if you don’t overcome that, you have no chance at building trust, the basis for working together.

DIVIDE THE DUTIES

One company can’t dominate the duties or it is not a joint announcement.   This also forces the companies to work together to approve what the others have created as their part of the announcement.   There are analyst lists, invitations, charts, follow-up issues and any number of duties that need to be attended to and dived up.  Once that is done, you must rely on each other and the level of trust inherently rises.

THE ANNOUNCEMENT

It’s important that the analyst see this as equal among the companies.  One company presenting more than another is a dead give away.  You can’t help Q and A as the analysts will direct the question directly to a company.

LESSONS LEARNED

You either put your differences aside and work together, or you’ll never get anything done.  It’s tough to do when your day job is to hammer the company that you are working with other than on the joint effort.  These are the days of co-opetition though.  You learn to get along or you’ll never make it to announcement day.

After Being Dissapointed by Lenovo One To Many Times, What PC Did I Buy Instead?

I’ve had PC’s since before the IBM PC in 1981.  I’ve built hundreds of computers over different phases of the PC life cycle (for myself, others and at computer stores I worked at for years).  I’ve personally owned many ThinkPads since they were introduced…likely between 40-50 including my multiple work PC’s. The same is true with Microsoft. I’ve worked with DOS and Windows, Windows for Workgroups, (built and wired my first network in 1994), NT, 95, 2000, XP and you name it.  I first put up webpages since 1993 and every version of DOS or Windows made starting with 1.0 for both.   I’ve finally had it with the declination of the quality, service, especially customer service and workmanship of IBM/Lenovo and Microsoft products.

I began to desire a different machine when the smartest guys at IBM (IBM Fellow’s) and the smartest (and of course some of my favorite) IT analysts starting using Mac’s.  It told me times were a changin’.

WHEN THEY WERE GOOD

It used to be that when you went to a frequent flyer lounge at an airport, it would be a ThinkPad convention because they were so tough, now everyone is switching to an iPad which I now also love and  have.

Further, when I retired, I bought what I thought would be the ThinkPad which would last me for at least 5 years (pictured below).  It was the worst PC experience to date, see the beginning below.

In reverse order, after 1.5 years, one of the USB ports failed, the screen is falling apart (for the second time…the first in only months), the battery died in the first 6 months (they fixed that under warranty after 1 month of calls and forcing a manager intervention because customer service blamed me) other hardware and software problems which eventually got fixed over hours of calls (the final fix was always simple and could have been easily accomplished from the start).

I called the Lenovo help desk and not only did they refuse to fix most of my problems (all within the warranty period), but they were with the exception of one person, unhelpful to me and not proficient in English 95+% of the time (some were rude, but tech support is a thankless job).  Note: I like the people from other countries and think that they are hard working so I have no problems with the people, rather the policies they are forced to adhere to put them into positions they shouldn’t be forced into.  I’m clearly calling out the company, not the people here. It’s just in this case we couldn’t understand each other and they mostly were not trained or who couldn’t fix problems and just couldn’t help fix issues Lenovo created.

Here’s what my screen looks like now with use that is less than normal due to my retirement status:

pc pic

SHIPPING DISASTER

This was compounded by the fact that they originally shipped me a computer which was in for repair as I found it had someone else’s  password on it.  Tech support recognized the serial number as someone else’s machine and I had to ship back a PC so that they could ship me what I ordered which  was supposed to be new.  They at first required me to pay for the return shipping for the machine which they wrongly shipped me in the first place.  It took them 5 weeks to get me this wrong machine once I ordered it in the first place, so needless to say, this added to a dissatisfied experience.  Let me summarize it: The 1st machine I received was in for repair which they shipped to me as my new machine.  They finally agreed to pay for the shipping back to them after weeks, but I was in dis-belief by now as I had to get upper management approval 3 levels above my call to tech support to get shipping approved and the machine I ordered sent to me.  This was a 6 week timeframe that I put up with to get a ThinkPad that looks like the one above.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE COMPANY PURCHASED FROM IBM?

So, what happened when Lenovo bought the PC Division from IBM?  Quality and customer service have apparently suffered, at least for me.   It is fair to note that Lenovo is the PC leader even though PC’s are a dying breed and are now a commodity item, but that the lead is mostly due to HP executive incompetence and Dell lack of innovation.

WORKING FOR IBM PC DIVISION, MORE THINKPAD BACKGROUND AND EXPERIENCE THAN MOST HAVE

I worked with ThinkPads at companies before IBM.  I then did communications for the IBM-PC (PSG) division back in the early 2000’s.  IBM-PCs were a rock solid product that introduced many technologies from the floppy disk, HDD on PC’s, open system motherboard, the start of an incredibly successful industry, creation of millions of jobs, Bluetooth and WiFi to the industry.  It was well accepted by industry leaders as the standard to compare against and I was proud of representing the machines.  By then, we had slipped to about 4th place, but IBM had other priorities by then.  Analysts always recognized that the IBM ThinkPad was the industry leader, albeit most of the time the expensive option.  I never had a problem educating them that it was the industry leader to be compared against.  I also learned from IDC, Gartner, Forrester and others that Dell and HP were sub-standard compared to the ThinkPad.

THE IBM TO LENOVO EMPLOYEE TRANSITION

The co-workers who went to Lenovo were mixed.  The developers were good, with the chief designer being one of if not the best, but he obviously had nothing to do with my 410S.  The Press communications team however was a joke.   Much of the management that I had worked with were handcuffed by the new ownership.   However, with the non-inventor taking over control, changes in leadership including many Dell executives,  it has appeared to make it less than the leader of rugged laptops, a position it once enjoyed.

MY LATEST PURCHASE

Since my ThinkPad failed and the screen basically fell off (I am retired and don’t travel anymore so it didn’t have the wear and tear to justify its condition), the keyboard keeps sticking, ports not working and the other problems I’ve described have forced me to buy a new PC.

Side note: I worked with Microsoft since 1981 in one form or another, as a partner, but mostly as a competitor as Microsoft was very belligerent and went out of their way to be anti-IBM  (see my joint announcement wrap up).  I’ve worked with their products since DOS 1.0 which I still have installed on an original PC at home.  They loved Lenovo when the purchase was made and the difference was an overnight sea change in their attitude of helpfulness and pricing.

So the combination of Lenovo’s product being poor, their customer service being unhelpful led me to buying a MacBook Pro (but I got much more computing power and a brand new experience in helpfulness).

But, both Lenovo and Microsoft lost me as a customer and I can’t be alone.

Here is my new computer, a 13 inch Macbook Pro:

macbook pro

It sync’s with my phone and iPad seamlessly.  I don’t have weekly Microsoft security updates or blue screen of death experiences.  It is powerful, I can read Windows files and have converted them, multimedia is a snap, graphics are beautiful and most of all it works without gyrations to make drivers, port configurations and software incompatibilities work.  I have never before been an Apple fan except when I ran an advertising department for a few years and understood artists needs for them.

When managing a store at a computer chain, my store was recognized as the retailer that lead the nation in Apple sales so I do have experience with them.  My store also was a leading promoter of the first Macintosh during the famous 1984 ad time.  In other words, I know them well, but I’ve used Wintel computers most if not all of my life until now.

Further, I called their tech support and went to an Apple store and guess what, they were friendly and helpful, and it just works.  I paid less for the software than the PC version (I just built a multimedia PC for my TV viewing so I am fully aware of company configured, or self built PC’s vs. Mac machines hardware and software.

THE TREND OF PC’S

Mobile devices are killing standard laptops at a rate far faster than laptops replacing desktops, but there is still a need for machines that do more than a tablet until they increase in input efficiency, storage capacity and business application conversion (there are tons of legacy apps still out there as the average person still interacts with COBOL 13 times a day).  This hasn’t caused me any issues with my new laptop though, it just works.

The company that is easy to work with, keeps up with the trends and produces quality equipment will be the one who has market leadership.  I have voted with my money.

RIM – RIP

Update: Morgan Stanley on 6/25/12 confirms my premise that RIM is Essentially Broken: 

Update: Yahoo shuns Blackberry from Fun Smartphones for all employees:

8
inShare

In a bold move reportedly instigated by new CEO Marissa Mayer, aging web giant Yahoo plans to outfit every one of its US employees with a new iOS, Android, or Windows Phone 8 device. According to an internal memo published by Business Insider on Saturday, the company is offering workers a choice between Apple’s iPhone 5, the Samsung Galaxy S III, the HTC One X, the HTC Evo 4G LTE, and Nokia’s Lumia 920, with all bills taken care of. Yahoo is also discontinuing IT support for BlackBerry devices, seeking to move away from RIM’s enterprise-focused platform.

“We believe the only way RIM remains a viable entity is at a fraction of its current size, a transformation that erases much of its earnings power,” the analysts wrote. “The next 9 months likely see rapidly deteriorating fundamentals on the one hand offset by stories of potential strategic options on the other.”

Indeed, there was more unconfirmed deal speculation just this weekend, as The Sunday Times reported the BlackBerry maker was considering selling its handset-making unit or a stake in the company.

What I don’t get is why the Government just made it the standard handset.  Are they that out of touch?

Update: RIM at a new low, sort of proving the following is on track. Executives are now bailing. 

Now they are laying off people.  I’ll be quoting them along with Palm, OS/2, Token Ring and other technologies that used to be.

Original story starts here.

Rarely do I write about the technology that I replaced because I’m usually so excited about the replacement.  In this case I’ll make an exception.  I already wrote about my new phone, but as much as I wanted the new phone, getting rid of my blackberry was more important.  Rob Enderle reminded me of this in his tech trends blog.

At a Lotusphere show not too long ago, we did an announcement with RIM and Notes (it was an announcement of a product we were going to release at a later date).  Not only was I underwhelmed by the product, the hardware and software technology from RIM was as cool as mud huts compared to new construction.  On top of this, when I offered to help the RIM executives for gratis on very obvious marketing oversights, they had an attitude that belied the fact that they already had iPhone daggers fatally in their hearts and didn’t even know it. It now looks like it’s going to cost them their jobs.   I was treated as if I was dust (I’m being nice to them) by their executives.  Notes was almost impossible to use on a blackberry at first.  It was a D- at best.

Update: Now I know he should have listened to me instead of being so arrogant.  I could have helped them….and I’m not trying to be conceited, but I knew what was going on much more than the leader of RIM.

I knew then that not only was RIM in trouble as a company, I disliked the blackberry as a piece of technology almost more than any I’ve had in 30 years (I’ve had more than most in the last 30 years).  I saw the crackberry addiction it caused in some folks which I didn’t like.  I also saw that if you had a blackberry (before iPhone days), you just signed up for a 24/7 availability.

The first one I got for free, and promptly got rid of in a month as it was more trouble than it was worth.  The last one I’ll ever have is because my then company had me get one when I wanted a real phone/data device instead.

My problem is solved.  Too bad about RIM…their once leadership position is now only a memory with recent market share decline.

It looks like I’m not the only one who believes they are in trouble.  Their Board is not helping out either.

Sales figures show the same decline.  It was not even nice knowing you.

So throw the Blackberry on the technology rubbish pile along with the Palm, OS/2, Token Ring, Newton and a host of others.  There, now they are on the way to being a good product back when Britney Spears was hot.

#ARchat, A New Paradigm for Analysts and Analyst Relations Professionals

There has been a new collaboration between both Analysts and Analyst Relations Professionals emerging on Twitter called #ARchat.  For the record, it occurs every Monday from1-2 ET. Here is a description for A/R professionals.

DESCRIPTION

ARchat is a weekly themed conversation on Twitter for business professionals that deal with Industry Analysts and Influencers. This includes Analyst Relations (AR), Public Relations (PR), Investor Relations (IR) and Marketing professionals (especially since many in small firms function as all of the above), not to mention Industry Analysts (IA) themselves. Our focus involves both best practices and pressing issues or trends. All tweets are tagged with #archat which makes following the discussion very easy with applications like TweetDeck, TweetChat, TweetGrid or Twitter Search.

I recall the days when even speaking with a person from a competitor would be grounds for dismissal (OK, I did start working when we were still building fires in caves) and now we are collaborating on best practices.  This doesn’t take the place of services like SageCircle (although they participate), rather it is the natural progression of social media in the Analyst Relations practice.  I give kudos to Fred McClimans (Twitter handle @fredmcclimans) and Stephen Loudermilk (Twitter handle @loudyoutloud).

We’ve discussed issues such as the proper social media tools and other best practices.

What is interesting to me is the back channel conversations I have with the other participants during the conversation about what is going on.  It makes the whole experience much richer.  While there is serious discussion of what is best for our practice, there is jocularity about certain analyst’s proclivities (tweotches) or habits like Ray Wang (@rwang0) staying up all day and night.

I invite all the analysts and A/R professionals to participate, learn and contribute to this discussion.

See you there, Aloha.

Doing a Joint Announcement With Your Competitors

Recently, I’ve done joint announcements with Oracle, SAP, HP, Tibco, Software AG and HP. As you can imagine, I’ve had varying relationships with each and I’m happy to report that the state of the A/R industry is good and that we can work together.

When I was in PR, it was cat fight supreme with territorial ism and turf wars. Most of the announcements I did with these companies when in Analyst Relations didn’t have that element. For the most part, the announcements were about standards, not products. So that went a long way towards working together. Still, if you include IBM, the companies I’ve named here aren’t known for being best buddies.

As and aside, I can say that the executives (who can be the source of most problems) all worked towards the cause of the best briefing possible.

Some things are given, like in a certain area (we just did SOA) the analysts know the exec’s by company and the exec’s know each other so I’m happy to report they acted like grown ups.

TURF WARS

With the typical name calling (from the CEO’s)and because of t the belief in your own products, the first issue to overcome is that the announcement is usually about a jointly create product or standard, not us vs. them.  That rule has to be set down first and if you don’t overcome that, you have no chance at building trust, the basis for working together.

DIVIDE THE DUTIES

One company can’t dominate the duties or or it is not a joint announcement.   This also forces the companies to work together to approve what the others have created as their part of the announcement.   There are analyst lists, invitations, charts, follow up issues and any number of duties that need to be attended to and dived up.  Once that is done, you must rely on each other and the level of trust inherently rises.

THE ANNOUNCEMENT

It’s important that the analyst see this as equal amongst the companies.  One company presenting more than another is a dead give away.  You can’t help Q and A as the analysts will direct the question directly to a company.

LESSONS LEARNED

You either put your differences aside and work together, or you’ll never get anything done.  It’s tough to do when your day job is to hammer the company that you are working with other than on the announcement.  These are the days of co-opetition though.  You learn to get along or you’ll never make it to announcement day.

Is Excel the Bane of Our Existance?

Dilbert.com

Microsoft office is mine.

Before I get to Excel, let me say how much of a time waster PowerPoint is. The executives I work with obsess over the charts ad nauseum only to have the analysts tear them apart. Some of our execs can only think in .ppt which in itself is a disease.

Now to excel.

It has many flaws, especially in very complicated or linked spreadsheets. Unfortunately, many company’s run their business off of it and I wonder how many have made fatal mistakes?

Gartner of all companies sums it up:

Excel hell is not an evil Microsoft plot, or some sort of madness that descends upon otherwise sane managers and knowledge workers when they open the PC.  It is the fault of enterprise software failing to provide an alternative.

Most of the users who use your software for a significant part of their day do so because they have to if they want to get paid: accounts payable experts, call centre agents, payroll administrators and returns clerks, for instance. They can’t get up in the morning and say, “Today, I’ll use Lawson or Oracle, because I didn’t really like the feel of the SAP application I used to process those invoices yesterday.”  Admin users are in an arranged marriage. On some rare occasions, love blossoms, especially in the payroll department. Most of the time though, they seethe with quiet loathing.

Most employees in an organization are voluntary users for the vast majority of processes. They don’t have to log onto the employee skills dashboard every week to check if their team is on track for their development goals. If once a year they log on to the HR application, complete the appraisals as fast as they can, and get out of there, they will. Many top sales people spend as little time as they possibility can in CRM systems. Many poor salespeople spend considerable time logged onto CRM applications.

Now you can draw up long valid lists of reasons why enterprise applications are better for business processes than Excel (an ideal use for Excel). You can deliver fire and brimstone warnings about the damnation that is Excel hell (use Facebook to attract others to your cause).

Gary Barnett of Bathwick makes an even stronger case

Excel-madness

We’ve all seen this – that faintly crazed look in a colleague’s eyes when they’re challenged on a point of data – You can see that they just want to shout “The number is 54.56% because the @$%$ spreadsheet says so!”. Who the hell are you to challenge the contents of cell 4987MP, What sort of messed up anarchist would challenge 4987MP?

If you look closer – into that person’s eyes – you will see their hidden desire to stab you in yours with their biro.

Question this number at your perilQuestion this number at your peril

And let’s face it – who the hell are you to challenge  this – Did you spend 110 hours over the last 7 days rushing to produce this analysis for the meeting? Did you grapple with the two dozen spreadsheets that have been linked and interlinked in order to get to this number?

This number is the truth, because the spreadsheet (which as the dweebs amongst you will have noted is OpenOffice Calc) says it is.

As John Mihalec tweeted to me in response to my tweet about writing this blog:

@thinkovation Because 2 + 2 is so obviously 4 that it lulls us into complacency re whether either 2 is even 2 at all.

Many key decisions (many of which have a profound effect on our lives) are made on the basis of data that is simply garbage

Computer Science 101 taught us “Garbage in, Garbage out” – and we’ve been collecting, polishing and re-packaging garbage ever since. But this stuff is different – Our retirement funds, savings, economic stability, even our understanding of climate change all depend on knowing the right things.

The financial crisis was caused by many many things – and I’m not discounting either “greed” or “stupidity” as major causal factors – but the absolutely tippy-top of the list cause of the crisis was the failure of pretty much everyone (except Warren Buffet and a small number of others) to appreciate the level of risk that was associated with all of the various financial instruments that were flying about.

The reason for that failure to understand the true level of risk lies in the way in which both the instruments themselves, and the tools people used to assess their risk, wrapped and wrapped the risk under layers and layers of complexity – It was a giant game of pass the parcel – with the outer wrappings  so numerous and shiny and neat,that the smell from the final parcel of dog do0-do0 was completely overlooked.

If you allow something to become en-mired in many layers of obfuscation, you have to accept that the “system” you create is going to become increasingly chaotic. If you can’t track the journey taken by a simple number through the myriad sections, tabs and linked files – You have to be prepared to factor in “chaos”.

The image below is hypothetical – but it’s not an exaggeration – there really are figures sloshing around that are derived from inter-linked hierarchies of spreadsheets that are a lot more complex than this one.

A simplified map of the spreadsheets involved in an analysisA simplified map of the spreadsheets involved in an analysis

Take this image as an example. Item A is the output spreadsheet – which combines the results from B, C and D – which each in turn depend on one or more “child” spreadsheets. Here are some boring questions one might ask –

  • How long ago was the data in J refreshed?
  • Has anyone audited the assumptions made in H?
  • Is there anyone in the organisation who could explain to an Actuary how come the number is 54.56%?

If you can’t provide sensible answers to these questions – then, it’s time to take your life in your hands and tell your excel-crazed, sleep deprived colleague that they may as well have arrived at that number using a lab-rat and a roulette wheel.

Incidentally – someone has trained rats to trade, and reckons his rodents can do at least as well as the majority of the top fund managers – check it out here

To sum it up, they are good tools for simple applications, but they have done more to ruin productivity and correctness than most other softwared.

Disclaimer: I hate powerpoint presentations more than a root canal.  It is time for a new paradigm of software that works better and stinks less.

Managing Executive Ego’s; The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

I’ve worked at 8 different IT companies in my career and have seen many people in management roles. I’ll draw upon my career and the colorful stories for this discussion.

Managing Executives is a very sensitive issue.  This process is critical to the relationship and results with the press and Analysts.  Much of the time this is unseen externally, but the machinations exist under the covers for us to get to the discussion in an orderly manner.

Executives have many demands on their time and are pounded or pulled at from every angle, but they make the big bucks so butch up.  They might have come from a great meeting or one that they got machined gunned to death right before the analyst briefing.  Different people handle stress in different ways.

A common thread I’ve noticed is how much ego they bring, and how much control they have over it. Either way, the executive is the messenger and the content owner in the eyes of the audience.  It is our job to make sure they are best prepared, deal with the issues, understand the big picture and be as professional as possible to achieve results.  In some ways, we have to pull the strings and push the buttons behind the curtain to make successful analyst engagements happen.

As with the movie, I’ll take it in order.

THE GOOD

There are some executives that intrinsically get that analysts are deep thinkers, they have influence over customers, press and our reputation.  The media are rarely deep thinkers, but need to be managed and have influence, albeit less and less.

The really, really good ones know that the analyst can provide great input into the strategy and can point out any holes or landmines in our strategy.

The really, really, really good ones (Buell Duncan) understand that it is about creating a relationship and that no matter how much influence they have at IBM, they can put that aside and get the message out and deliver value to an analyst discussion.

One key is they can manage their ego’s and those of the analyst (not the point of this post, but it is related throughout).  The executive I’ve linked above always comes off as you’re smarter than I am, although it’s rarely true.  He also accepts that criticism is part of the deal and doesn’t take it personally.  I’m not sure if it was his basic nature or that he came from sales (I attribute a big piece to the fact that he’s from the south and is more polite than most) but no matter what the case, his briefings always were a home run.

These executives are of course the best to deal with.  Some have higher maintenance levels than others, but when you know your big gun is going to deliver, you want to make sure his gun is as loaded as possible with bullets.

There are always disagreements over issues, but when an executive can put their ego aside and listen to input, everyone wins.  These people are very perspicacious.

boss or leader

THE BAD

Everyone has a bad day.  That can precipitate a less than optimal discourse.  I’ve worked with some who just weren’t as good as others at dealing with media and analysts, although practice usually improved things.  Some executives just shouldn’t be doing briefings as it isn’t their strength.

As described in the GOOD section, I’ve seen good executives come off distracted as they just got chewed out, or a multi-million dollar contract is about to be lost….it happens.

Some need more coaching and preparation than others, that’s our responsibility in communications.  I’ll discuss this in the Executive Preparation post, yet to come.

There are some that are not cut out for analysts briefings.  They should not be put in this situation.  There is always someone else on the team who is the one really best suited for dealing with the  analysts.  They may not be as good with a P&L, but they get the strategy and the relationship issues.  I use them as much as possible as it produces results on both the analyst and the company side.

Some just don’t get give and take.  I don’t put them in the ugly as they just won’t budge on the fact that their solution is what it’s going to be, but many times they can be right. It is better for the company for them to make the tough choices and stick with our side of the argument.  It rarely makes for a successful analyst engagement, but I defer when history shows that they didn’t take the analyst advice and the company or division benefits.  Again, this a time where a lieutenant is best for dealing with the analysts.

I’ll bring up human nature here as I’ve been in a situation where an executive who is generally great at working with analysts has a beef with a person for some reason.  In one case, both the analyst and the executive described the other person in to me terms of a deification orifice.   Sometimes you just have to separate people and agree to disagree.  This situation is a challenge in communications.

Some of the bad are nitpickers.  The get caught up in details that are not relevant to the big picture.   They are a distraction and a lieutenant is again best.

Another category that could be BAD or could be UGLY are the quick triggers.  They fire off a response without considering the consequences.  The reason I put it into BAD instead of UGLY is you never know how it’s going to turn out.  It usually depends on the audiences’ response.  Either way it is high maintenance.  The quick witted exec’s can play this one well though, I’ll give them that.

I had to work with one entrepreneur who thought he knew more than anyone.  He managed to pick a fight over a lie that he was making a product (disk drive) that he bought from Control Data.  The reporters and analysts knew it and the company credibility was shot.  I had to tell one reporter not to equate me with him as I was not going to lie for him.

The last of the bad is the death by PowerPoint crowd.  They drone on and on and on and on without letting the analyst get a word in (when don’t analysts like to offer an opinion?) and everyone dreads these meetings.  Their objective is to get through the slide deck come hell or high water.

These executives are hard to work with, but sometimes you have to do it and get through it.

THE UGLY

These are the worst experiences of anyone’s communications career.  They also regularly put the company behind the curve with the relationship with the analyst.  I have only experienced this a couple of times, but they are burned into my memory as times I don’t want to relive.  Fortunately, I don’t work for or with any of these people anymore.

It almost every instance, it  is fueled by the over estimation by the executives of the importance of themselves.  These people also come in various flavors.head_up_ass

The Ugly Flavors

The Suits – These are people who have made it through the system via the Peter Principle. They pontificate, but aren’t well respected by anyone on either side and as with everyone in this category, are difficult to work with.  They are found out quickly by the analyst and it hurts the cause to come to the table with them.  Once, he called his assistant before a Forrester briefing to see if he could change his flight out so he could be home early and asked me to cut the analyst meeting short.  This was less than professional and was very hard to explain to the analysts why he obviously was blowing them off.

Another Suit (A former head of NetFinity and IGF named Callies) incident came up when I had landed one of the highest level press interviews of my career.  It was major media headline quality “Article of the Year” that anyone with half a brain would throw their best people and research at.  I had to pull the speaker (his lieutenant) from the Suit’s “staff” meeting.  The lieutenant was the best speaker I may have worked with and the Suit was one of the worst.  Said Suit wouldn’t let the speaker go to the briefing threatening him with “it’s only your job if you leave”, or I’m more important than anyone else.  As it usually happens with these types, I had to work around him to get the job done and got our name up in lights despite his efforts to torpedo any progress.

A different flavor suit flavor is described by Lou Gerstner in his book “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?”  He describes an executive who wrote memo’s on how to deal with him including what type of gum to have and how to set the clocks (pg. 32).   These are unusually high maintenance people who want celebrity treatment.  There is a good song about this syndrome, watch the video here. Adios reality.

The Terrorists

These people give me nightmares.  Almost everyone has worked with or heard about these tyrants.  Nothing you can do is right, nothing is good enough and the analyst is wrong because they are right.  This is different than the BAD  situation from above.  The BAD executive there is making a tough choice not to go with the analyst view, but it is well informed choice.  The terrorist doesn’t really care about outcomes or just doesn’t know, rather it’s about what they want and their career, power and usually their insecurity.  Every company has one and the main IBM terrorist (who is known as much by one name, Sandy) has many dead bodies behind her quest to climb the ladder.  She made it up the chain and managed via the Dark Side as a corporate climber who both played favorites and pitted employees against each other.  We in communications had a support group for those who survived a term working for her and kept their job.  Once, I even wrote a press release for one of her female employees  just so she wouldn’t get fired, even though it never went out.  She personally set back diversity according to the women who worked for her.  I’ve rarely seen less respect for an executive.  When she got promoted, her employees were high fiving in the hallway that she was leaving.

No matter what the SJW’s try to redefine diversity rules to, the smart companies promote the best performers.

Sandy used to bring us through about 50 revisions of Powerpoint charts.  Most if not all changes were bad, but were done precisely as she had demanded.  We were later castigated with “why did you do this, I didn’t ask for it?”   She didn’t command much respect with the Press and Analysts who saw through this level (lack) of competency.  It was embarrassing to be in a press conference with her.  Although being a promoter of WITI,  she internally hurt the path for many women, and certainly made many question affirmative action and diversity policies at IBM.

Having to sweat through every meeting prior to and with an analyst is counter productive and has never lead to the results that could be achieved.

I’ve noticed that the terrorist is found out by press or analysts by many means.  Sometimes it is inconsistency in charts, sometimes it is through unusual calls and/or requests by A/R, many times it is through colleagues and sometimes it is through working with them enough times that your .

I’ve had one other terrorist who is now the VP of External Relations.  I called him to warn him of a problem that a reporter alerted me to.  It is expected that you let the person in charge of an area know if there is an issue so that they can deal with it as it is their turf.  I was being the good employee (in my first 4 months) so I left a voicemail explaining the situation and doing the hand off so that I wasn’t infringing on another person’s PR territory.

I got a call back from this type A New Yorker (a former Ed Koch employee) who lambasted me for my efforts.  Apparently, he was insecure as he kept reminding me that he was the boss and I was a nobody.  Let me point out that this was not a morale booster for a new hire who was trying to do a good job and be a team player.  Such is the life of working with terrorist Communications leaders.  I found out later that he regularly abused most people who worked there.  He deducted IQ points from those in the South which is another form of anti-diversity and discrimination.  Most just refused to help him or stayed away so as not to have to deal with the chewing out.  I’ve personally witnessed them confessing that they didn’t want to help him because of his temper.  What a shame.

Terrorist’s can come with unrealistic expectations.  I to this day am not sure how to handle them.  In both cases, I chose to move on and out as quickly as I could.

SUMMARY

To be effective with press and analysts, you must be able to manage the executives.  Executives come with many styles.  It is imperative that you learn the style and manage it for effectiveness.

Since people are different, one must adapt to each person.   Just hope you get the good, deal with the bad and escape the ugly.  As for the terrorist, I advise grabbing a parachute and jumping.  The plane is usually going to crash anyways.

Here is a quote that sums it up terrorists for me: “They are simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up.” – Paul Keating

Update: SageCircle links here with a good post on improving executives.

For you Clint fans and movie buffs, here is the song and movie opening video.

Analyst Predictions for 2010. Everyone is Going Out On Basically The Same Limb

I’ve been keeping track of the analyst predictions waiting for enough time for them to post a listing of them.  I think that since it is the last day of 2010, and that there is a sufficient amount of them out there, it is time  to list them. Analysts are the prognosticators of the IT Industry and they should be right, but then meteorologists tell us about the weather, and they are great if they are only 50% right.  In reality, they can’t tell us what next week will really be and yet we are basing many decision on what 20 years from now will be.  I’m trusting that IT analysts are more accountable and have more tangible facts less subject to acts of God than the weather.

In reality, Carter Lusher and SageCircle is where you should go to get your A/R best practice as to what to do with these predictions, but I have to make some calls of my own.  Here is what I’m going to use the predictions for in addition to Carters recommendations:

  1. Use it as the basis for discussion with the analyst showing that I have been reading and following them.
  2. Using them as analysts to select for briefings and consults based on their area’s of concentration
  3. Good natured ribbing if they really blow it at the end of the year. (note: not necessarily an A/R best practice here)
  4. Use it as part of my A/R plans to present to the executives I support.

So here is my listing.  I’ll note that they are in no particular order as I’m getting them from my feed reader as they come  up.  I like and work with almost everyone on this list, so I am not going to show favorites in a listing order, it will be entirely random.  You will note a trend very quickly as to where most of them are going for the year.  See if you can pick it out.

Analyst Predictions for 2010

IIAR video of Gideon Gartner on the state of the IT Analyst Industry.  (Note that this is not a part of the trend, just that it came up first).

IDC Webcast by Frank Gens, Robert Mahowald and Henry Morris. It has a link to the video which is worth watching, but the theme begins here with the discussion of the Cloud.  I’m glad they consider the Hybrid model.

Laurie McCabe of Hurwitz Associates and her 2010 Top 10 SMB Technology Market Predictions. At least she waits until number 7 to get to Cloud, thanks Laurie.

Bruce Tempkin of Forrester discusses Gen Y.  While not really a 2010 prediction, there is no denying the fact that the attitude, social media ability of Gen Y’rs and their length of patience is a big HR issue we all face.  They will help define the workforce make up as boomers exit.

James Governor of Redmonk leads the list with 20 predictions.  Note the continuation of the trend as James has Cloud at numbers 1 and 12.  I admire him for also considering the hybrid model as the cloud is not one size fits all.  As I work with James quite a bit, I’m surprised to see Google and Green further down the list than I expected.

Carter Lusher reprimands the A/R Community to pay attention to Social Media or suffer the consequences.

Amy Wohl and you guessed it, 2010 Predictions on SaaS and the Cloud. Note the build up in the trend.  I still swear to random selection, but Cloud is getting a lot of attention.

Judith Hurwitz titles her predictions as: Predictions for 2010: Clouds, mergers, Social Network and Analytics.  I’ll give her credit for the Social Networks as I delve there in my predictions also.

Claire Schooley again talks about Gen Y.  While not an official 2010 prediction, there is no avoiding that we’ll  have to address the issues of this culture in the  workplace.

Rob Enderle in 2008 on 2009 highlighting Security. I’m including this as Security becomes an issue with the uptick in terrorist activity, both online and direct attack like flight 253.

Jonny Bentwood also covers this topic in his yearly round up. He actually gets to it first and we cross over quite a few, but I’m not going to use everything in his list so that you have a reason to to there and check out additional predictions I’m not covering.

Lee Odden’s 12 Digital Marketing Predictions. There is a lot of good Social Media info here to look at.

Rob Enderle checks in again with one of my beliefs, that the Private Cloud will Win over the Public Cloud Model. Anybody picking up the Cloud trend in predictions yet?

John Levitt from AnalystXpress on the Top 10 Wireless predictions for 2010. Of course Cloud makes number 3.

Chris Collins of Yankee Group posts a Webinar on 2010 predictions.  Cloud Computing is a tag needless to say.

David M Smith of Gartner discusses the Psychology of Predictions, a different way of looking at it starting with caring about being right.

Ray Wang and Jeremiah Owyang discuss what’s coming to 2010 in a video with Robert Scoble.

UPDATE: Laura Cecere and Alan Johnson Of AMR have come to the table with another set of predictions.  You need to be an AMR client for this one.  Here is a link to their press release.

2010 Client Virtualization by Benjamin Gray

So between my list and Jonny’s list, you have most of the predictions for 2010.  Will the analysts be as good or better than the weathermen?  Only the Shadow knows.

My Turn at Making Predictions

Since I’m listing others predictions, it’s only fair that I put out my own.  Disclaimer: I’m not an analyst, so I don’t feel any need to get to 10.

1. The Cloud is important, although I think the hybrid and private models are more important than the all everything public model

2. Twitter will continue to erode the number and quality of good bloggers.

3. We need to find a new Twitter as the current model has now been compromised in security, and there are just too many people on.  We need another back channel to connect with our real business contacts.  Plus, I’m an early adopter, so let’s find that new best method.

4. All predictions go out the window if there is another Terrorist attack.  The top prediction will be Security.

5. Success in the economy will be defined as less of a loss than we expected.

6. Who you hire from Boomers to Gen Y matters to your ability to connect to the tech crowd when considering hiring practices.

Final note.  At some point this year, I’m moving Delusions to a new host.  Mine is bad so obviously I’m publshing on a back up blog.  Stay tuned for that .

The Back Channel, My Most Important A/R Tool

Getting to the person you want to meet with or communicate with when you want to is vital.

Relationships ultimately are very important, but I find that an A/R best practice is knowing the Back Channel.

My First Back Channel

I’m skipping the phone in this discussion.  Most people screen calls.

Backing up a few years when I was in PR, I remember when public email first started.  We were using MCI Mail on DOS and  300 baud modems back in the mid 80’s to reach influential people in the industry like John Dvorak, Paul Sommerson, Bill Machrone and others.  I think there were about 10 of us using it.  I was beating the big PR agencies and they couldn’t figure out why, as I was working for a small company that shouldn’t have had the presence we had.  We were the inside club.

Email then of course became mainstream so we lost that advantage.

The Next Tool –  IM

It’s hard to believe that as much as we use instant messaging now,  that at the beginning of the technology not many were using it and again it was the way to reach those who were using it.  At this point, Email immunity was beginning to take hold and if you weren’t important, you fell quickly out of the realm of first responders.  I read a tweet from an analyst recently who noted his inbox was so far gone that he was about to delete everything and just start over.

IM also fell to everyone abusing it and we moved on.

Twitter:

Skip forward a few years and you have  Twitter.  This worked until the recent explosion of everyone being on the platform and it again became commonplace.  It still is somewhat effective if you are high on the other parties list.

The Point of this Post:

I was meeting with an very influential analyst a few nights ago and to be honest, I’m not that high on his list.  I decided to ask him, what is his back channel when I really need to reach him.   The condition was that I wouldn’t abuse it so that when I really was using it, I had something of value to speak about.   He was up front and gave me a personal address that he said he will look at.  Bingo.

It occurred to me that this is the best practice.  First, be high on the relationship, you will get through that way.  Next, find out how the analyst wants to be communicated with as a preference and DON”T abuse it.

When you use that method, you get to them and they answer.  Sure they will answer you anyway out of courtesy, but at some point, you have an I need it now, or you are on the road and don’t have your usual access.  In a way, it’s part of managing the relationship properly anyway.

End of the year, or really a new Beginning

We just completed the SWG analyst event. We took the position that this wasn’t a closing of the 2005 year, rather an opportunity to open up new possibilities for next year. This will come with BIG changes in the analyst group.

It is clear that SOA and Software as a Service are big issues for us in addition to the Open Standards road we travel on at IBM. I live in partner land, but I’m going to team with WebSphere a lot to begin the new year for messaging SOA to partners and why it matters.

Other opportunities are opening up to ISV and Developer Relations that only two years ago we struggled to get any visibility on. That is a pleasant turn of events.

On the developer side, all the acronyms will play, but AJAX seems to be wanting to nose ahead right now…don’t worry LAMP’rs, PHP’rs…lots of love left in the division still for you also.

The big personnel move was the retirement of Dave Liddell, whom I’ve had the pleasure of learning from for the last 5 years. Dave understood how to deal with the executives and the analysts from a big picture, without getting caught up in the weeds. He showed me lots of ways to deal with issues that I’m grateful for.

New at the helm will be Sarita Torres. This is my second go around with Sarita, as we worked together in the PC Group. She built a first class program for a division that was getting hammered by everyone, competitors and press alike. In the end, we had one of the best analyst programs in the PC industry and learned a lot of lessons. It is true that you have to try harder being number two….only we were really about number four back then. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to working together again.

So instead of coming out of our biggest event with a year completed, we have tons to do, more for me than any other meeting. I can’t wait.

Getting Your Executives to Cut Down their Presentations

The first thing I read today was by Carter Lusher on this subject.  He calls it getting them to Change their presentations.

As always it is a good read and of importance to Analyst Relations.  After talking about this subject to analysts before, during and after presentations and conferences, I’ve developed my personal pet peeve list.

His example was an executive using a sales presentation for a deck which happens about 387 out of 365 days a year.

With that lead in, here is the list of issues I’ve thought about having done or been a part of close to 1000 analyst presentation decks (likely over that number).

1. Carter is right, don’t bring your sales presentation to the table, instant credibility loss.

2. If you can’t get your message delivered in 15 charts or less, you likely have clarification issues.

3. Analysts (most people) look at the number of charts and immediately judge what point they are going to listen to before they check email.

4. Send it in advance and ask what is clear and what is important to them to get to the point.  If you have to get through a couple of set up charts fine, but say that in advance.

5. No chart is golden, (many) could (should) be sacrificed.

6. Discussion about strategy and technology is a much better use of time than chart after chart preaching.

7. Don’t take offense in chartsmanship, most people aren’t that good at it.

8. If the analyst wants to go off the charts, be willing to go as long as you stay on topic.

9. Use A/R to speak to the analyst before the briefing/discussion/meeting/conference to see what is the analyst goal and actually make charts to answer the issues, not pound your chest on what your end of year rating is based on.

10. Accept criticism where appropriate, the analyst is right.

11. Never fail to have a chart to say, what do you think or are we on topic, message, right course or other to let the analyst offere advice or opinion.

12. Consider using web conferencing if your audience is over 10 people.

13. Personal opinion here – I hate powerpoint, it’s been used as a crutch for too long and we were able to get our job done well prior to it’s invention.  Please someone invent the next tool.

14. A presentation deck has a life.  Don’t recycle charts too long.  I’ve seen analyst eyes glaze over with “I’ve seen this before blaring in neon” on their face.

15. Be aware of your audience.  We at IBM run more conferences than months in the year by at least double.  I’ve seen the same charts at multiple conferences where I knew their were the same analysts (this is a similar comment to 14).

16. Leave time for questions at the end.  Don’t look at the time and gauge the number of charts you can cram into it.

17. Give the analyst a copy if you haven’t sent it to them upfront.  Sometimes there are circumstances that prevent one from sending early (the executive didn’t finish until 5 minutes before the presentation, been there and done that double digits).

18. If there are multiple executives presenting, have them compare notes prior to the briefing so they don’t conflict or aren’t redundant.

This is a time I’d almost rather be an Analyst

Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoy my career in analyst relations, it’s just that the uncertainty of the times makes for endless opportunities to prognosticate.

Economic Downturn Cycles

This is the low hanging fruit.  Depending on the product set a company has or where it is on the technology lifecyle chart, it could be doomed, about to bust, ok for now, suffer in the second wave of non-buying or could surf into the annals of profitability.

Companies are clamping down on expenses buying and new technology investment.  The easist things to cut go first like travel.  So count the travel companies as first victims, except that they rely on technology so the companies they buy from get a deduction or a delayed deduction in the upcoming buying cycles.  I wouldn’t doom them as we are going to travel, but suffer would be appropriate.

Older technologies fall in two categories.  A lot of financial institutions have tons of legacy infrastructure that has to be maintained.  There is a trade off in the cost to maintain vs. the savings gained by using newer technology.  This is an easy decision on the lower security issues, but where privacy and security reign, don’t count on rip and replace.  The other category is replace any easy system that saves money or has broken, cut out the rest.

My datacenter experience has been that no matter what you are promised, the cost recovery is rarely there for the first years of a new technology implementation.  There is too much training, running dual systems for integrity, and of course the unknown.

The second slowdown wave is where contracts need to be renewed or lack of spending holds off sales.  These companies could be parts suppliers or those who have customers who aren’t buying.  That will be tough to tell as the first wave of immediate non buying will blend into this wave.  Earnings statements should give us an indication of this wave.

Finally, there are companies who have technology that makes sense (SaaS could be an example) where they will be in the right place at the right time and iff (iff is if and only if for you JCL and OCL types) you can show value, save money or help a company make money.  Everyone is watching their tails and hedging their bets so this is the sweet spot.

I thought of one last class, those companies who can manage to hang on long enough for the economy to turn around, but how many IBM’s, Microsoft’s, Google and Apples are there?  This is a good question for Yahoo to answer.

Analyst or Meteorologist

Everyone cracks the joke that being a Weathernan person is a great job as you can be paid even if you are wrong half the time (jokes here range from William Ayers to global warming).

This is where a good analyst earns their mettle.  How to forecast what is reality for which industry.  Eventually, except for examples like unstopping drains, there is IT involved so it gets back to our industry.

Predicting is next to impossible, advising and reporting are key elements of the analyst value to us right now.

WHY

There is a bigger chance to be wrong then right here, so why would I like to be an analyst on this one?  The challenge of finding out the answer is intruiging.  It is the thrill of the hunt, not the kill.   The endless amount of machinations of companies succeeding, treading water or drowning will happen at a rapid rate.

We’ll get to see who and what groups are what they say they are, the pundits.  No pressure right?

Talking to the Analysts vs. The Press

As I’ve noted before, I’ve worked almost all sides of this.  I’ve been in PR, in AR, I’ve been the content expert/spokesperson, the quiet informer (somehow deep throat just seems wrong) and I’ve been the writer.

This week, I’ve been at a customer conference where we have analysts giving supporting presentations on SaaS and the Cloud.  Most are the typical IT analysts, but there is one from a consulting group (nameless except that Lou Gerstner worked for them before IBM).

I had private conversations with the analysts at the event and we couldn’t wait to talk about what we are doing in 2009 and how everything from the credit crunch to IBM relationships are affecting what and how we are doing.

THE PRESS

Conversely, there were press at the same event only one day (they didn’t really care about the event, just the story) and we had to sequester them for interviews and likely spent more time trying not to say something wrong or reveal more than what our goals were.  In truth, the conversations we had with the analysts would have been above the technical level of most reporters, but that is why we tell the analysts.  They help explain it to the reporters.

What a difference.

So knowing your constituency really matters.  I’ve heard horror stories about when things got printed in the press that shouldn’t have been written.  I almost got into that doghouse once, saved only by the fact that the actual mistake was committed by an incompetent PR manager who works at the company we sold the PC division to.

WHY I LIKE ANALYSTS MORE

It’s because of the depth and transparency of the conversation.  Sure we get called to the floor more and are told far more often that we are wrong, off base, off message, off color, but when we go public, our messages rarely fail to improve.

The depth and breadth of the conversation goes from technology to economics to social implications.  All of this is very enjoyable and intellectually stimulating.

Blogging and Analyst – SageCircle

I haven’t blogged much lately, because everything that I want to say, Carter has covered, or has said better than me.

He points out the obvious errors of my ways though with these facts.

Question:     I would read vendor AR blogs if they had relevant, useful, timely information (pick one)

  • 20% – Yes, regularly
  • 31% – Yes, occasionally
  • 26% – Yes, episodically related to major news or announcement coverage
  • 5% – No, because I do not read blogs
  • 8% – No, because I do not have time
  • 9% – No, because most vendor blogs are a waste of time
  • 1% – Undecided

I’ve been reluctant to blog on category 3 as I don’t want to be the site for here’s the latest IBM announcement, you can go to IBM.com to see that.

The key is relatively useful and timely.  The jury is out as to whether I’ve been useful, but timely is a very fine line for me.  Here’s why:

Timely for me is way before the news, that’s when I want to get to the analysts.  It shows the trust and the very personal relationship we have to hash out our future prodcts, pricing and plans.  That is diametrically opposed to how to blog, being transparent about what you are doing.

So what’s a mother to do?  I have found that I’ve been able to reach analysts via the blog, twitter, social media back channel for speaking to them.  Heck, I’ve had analysts say to me that they didn’t want to wind up in my blog for me trashing their competition for timeliness.  So it’s how you use it that counts. I’m use social media as an analyst relations tool and find it an advantage over my competition who don’t use it or use it out of etiquette.

I can’t argue the points above though.  Carter as usual is right on.  But then I break all the rules of good blogging anyway like staying on subject and consistency, so there you go.

IBM SaaS Partner/Customer Event

IBM has not tackled SaaS the traditional way (CRM/ERP…BPO), nor has it (yet) offered a PaaS solution.  Instead, we’ve enabled partners onto our platform, rolled out an appliance called the Blue Business Platform, offered some SaaS solutionsin the non traditional (CRM/ERP) space from some of our aquisitions like Sametime Unyte. Further, we have hosted virtually every SaaS vendor or application through our Services group….yes, even the market leaders we all know by name.

While I’ve personally been on over 100 analyst briefings for our SaaS offerings, it’s time to get to the customers and partners.  We will be holding a SaaS event named Accelerating Business Value on October 15/16 in NY.  Our story has been good and virtually every analyst we’ve spoken to has raved about our pricing structure, but now it’s put up or shut up in front of the buying audience.

Here is the tagline for the event:


Accelerating Business Value. Oct 15-16, 2008

Leverage Emerging Delivery Models to Accelerate Business Value – Bringing Line of Business Executives and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) Together.

The schedule is as follows:On Day One, “ISV Day” – Software vendors will

  • Hear about IBM’s strategy for Blue Business Platform (BBP) and how they can engage as an IBM business partner
  • Ascertain best practices from analysts and successful SaaS ISVs. Learn how to leverage IBM’s SaaS Partner program
  • Discover how to grow their SaaS business by adding Business Intelligence and Collaborative capabilities
  • Network with IBM executives and other IBM business partners

On Day Two, “Customer Day” – Line of business executives and IT decision makers will

  • Learn how alternative IT delivery models can radically simplify the deployment of IT solutions
  • Gain insights from CIOs, analysts and IBM partners who have already successfully integrated these new delivery models
  • See demonstrations of relevant Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions from IBM SaaS partners
  • Network with peer executives and subject matter experts

It’s very interesting when you put yourself out there to be judged.  It was easy with the analysts as our story has been solid.  But this is going to be like asking the best looking girl out for a first date.  We’re putting our offering out there and inviting the top customers and partners to dance.

SWG Analyst meetings 1:1’s

Since I’m in ISV and Developer Relations, I attended the Ecosystem Breakout hosted by Buell Duncan and Kristof Kloeckner.  When I think back on all the execs I’ve supported, Buell has to be one of the best.  He understands the value of analysts, how to speak with them and not at them and he knows his area WELL.

Having the Head of Strategy supporting the story by explaining how and why the ecosystem is important to IBM is just frosting on the cake.

Needless to say, it went well and the partner message that we work with them instead of competing with them continues to resonate.

SWG Analyst event underway

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I’m sure you’ll hear about what the analyst’s say about our meeting, but the prep was a job in itself. Here’s a shot of the prep meeting where Catherine Manley and Sarita Torres laid out the meeting for everyone. I ran this meeting 2 years ago, and it’s a job by itself let alone your regular job in analyst relations.

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Rod Smith and Gary Barnett taped a video podcast for Web 2.0 to be published in a series that Amy Loomis is putting together…more on that later.

All this and we haven’t even started the main event.

Analyst meeting Pre-Day one

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After months of preparation, we’re ready for the big event.  Here are the ladies getting everything ready for the IBM and the analyst teams.   Kudos go to Monica Wells Grace and Tom Morrissey who stayed up until 3 am getting the schedules ready, and to the entire resource team without whom the event wouldn’t run.

Today begins the “big show” with all the IBM SWG GM’s who will cover their area’s and Steve Mills who is the host of the event.

I wish everyone good luck and Godspeed John Glenn.

Beautiful Bikini’s at the beach

Once again, I’m satirically inspired. This post is brought to you by a walk on a beautiful beach in Florida, in a winter coat. These guys were the only other beach walkers besides us. We were hoping for a Jimmy Buffet oriented post like “The weather is here, I wish you were Beautiful“…but alas, not this year as the weather didn’t cooperate.

We’ll make up for it with a huge family gathering and shrimp boil today to catch up on everything, which is always a pleasure as was Thanksgiving with my Mom yesterday.

And next week I’ll be in the other summer wonderland of Stamford Connecticut for the SWG analyst briefing we’ve put so much blood, sweat and tears into. At least it’s hunting and striper season when I get home.

IBM Software Group Surpasses Oracle in SW sales to become Number 2

Usually, I wouldn’t view being in second place as something to brag about, but let me develop the thought.

The first point to this is that IBM is not a Software Company.  Although we have a good Software business, we are about solving customer problems with a myriad of solutions.  Unfortunately, upwards of 80% is legacy solutions that only works on an IBM mainframe.  That is the big lie not told.  I’m not looking to debate semantics here, we are a technology company, leader in Innovation,  IT player, call it what you want here.  I will say that customers have driven our business since Watson built it.

Next point, there was a long time that IBM was the largest SW company, but that was when we had proprietary solutions such as SNA and based a lot of revenue on maintenance.  What is interesting here is that the current leader is following the same path towards license based, proprietary offering.  I’ve been on record that Microsoft is going down a similar path as IBM in earlier years and the market/customers will ultimately rule or change the rules (name your open std or platform here).  They will then have to re-invent themselves as IBM has done a number of times.  Further, Software as a Service and the related SOA capability will likely take us away from the packaged application tradition….speculation here on my part.

Nuther point, acquisitions are in vogue, and Oracle bought their way to their postion.  IBM has made numerous acquisitions also, but they were based on a different model.  I don’t want to debate this issue in this blog, but going back to a Lou Gerstner quote, “you make acquisitions to position yourself for the next wave of growth and to protect yourself from economic fluctuations”.  That is a lot of what is behind the IBM strategy (my opinion only here) vs. what seems to be happening at Oracle who are buying marketshare (again, my opinion only).  Many of their acquisitions are neither technically nor customer related to their core business.  I realize you could argue this from a grand vision, but that is for greater minds or richer lawyers to do (or analysts).

So being number 2 isn’t really that bad.  In fact, when you are dealing in the multi-billions, and when software is only a piece of your overall business (IBM has services, hardware and financing for those that didn’t notice), it’s a pretty good number.  Given my statements on Microsoft’s issues, either IBM or Oracle (or SAP or some other) may be number one in the future.  I wonder if you added up all the open everything out there if that was really #1?

More on the Meet the Experts analyst relations tactics

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I received a comment from ARonaut (see below) regarding whether our new tactic of putting analysts with our partners without us being in the room to monitor what was said. Since not everyone read comments on blogs, I decided to blog it instead.

Here is a list of comments from both the partners and analysts:

“excellent opportunity to speak with analysts” & “best part was partner one on ones”

“was excellent on all counts, I like the transparency – Very important!”

“this was probably one of the most high value initiatives of our IBM relationship so far”

“more time in each session”

“great one on one format; good opportunity for candid conversations”

I knew going in that there would be sticky subjects, which there were as there always is with analysts… like how big IBM is and how easy/hard it is to work with us on some things, what is the best model for SaaS, and others. That just made it real for everyone. We wouldn’t have been sincere if everyone was a shill for us and there weren’t any warts. So it worked because we talked real life experiences.

So net-net, it is a good model and we will use it again as it’s a forum for the open exchange of ideas and issues.

Different Analsyt Relations Tactics – what can go right and wrong

I’m live blogging from an analyst event in Waltham which includes partners. We are using a different tactic which allows the analysts to have 1:1’s with the partners behind closed doors, without us being there. Our premise is, that if our programs are good enough, we should be able to leave them alone and the programs and partners will stand up for what they are. This is working.

What is not working is 2 hours before the end of the day before the event (yesterday) 2 analysts couldn’t make it for real reasons, a funeral and some legal issues that needed addressing. This left moi holding the bag trying to scramble. As luck would have it, we were able to ask some local analysts to fill in at the last minute (thanks Anne Thomas Manes) and it went off without a hitch.

I’ve never had this happen before. Sure one here or there can’t make it or just doesn’t show, but you usually know well in advance. Since we solved it, I’ll point to my manager who not only helped out (thanks Amy Loomis) and my co-worker Amanda Kingsbury. Amy told me anyone can do good when things are going good. It’s how you perform when the chips are down that makes you worth your salt.

More Social Computing Education and Analyst Relations

In an effort to keep our A/R team in Software Group as up to date as possible, we did another education call, this time on podcasting. We were joined by Steve O’Grady and Cote of Redmonk who presented on the subject, and members of our own communications team who do some excellent podcasts.
Besides having the education, we’re moving on to how we can use this in the A/R discipline. Among the usages are announcements, standards discussions and other related events where it can be either educational or directional. It becomes a piece of the informational package around a technology, standards or announcement info that can be downloaded.

We currently have a series that covers some analysts that we’ve done podcasts with on our Analyst Inputs and Outtakes, and hopefully, the creative minds in our a/r group will come up with more creative ways to use this and the other components of Social Computing. So far we’re blogging, podcasting, have a wiki and are part of the greater IBM social networking programs.

What I've learned about Analyst Relations, or Some Guidelines to do the Job Correctly

I’ve been going about my business of analyst relations for a while now, but a recent event told me all vendors are not the same when it comes to this job.

We are in the middle of a Partner Survey with one of the big 3 right now, and we were sent a questionnaire to fill out. We dutifully filled it out, having taken up the better part of a week and a half of 4 persons time to do so. We answered in as complete detail as was asked and it came to 20 pages. We then had a 2 hour briefing to go over our program with the lead analyst. We figured that our questionnaire was self explanatory and decided to concentrate on the highlights of our program via a presentation, and to counter what we felt the competition would ding us on.

My first question was how would this analyst be able to read 14 twenty page questionnaire’s from the vendors. Reality set in for me as the analyst stated that we were the only company to fill it out, with possibly one other company that might. He explained that most answered the questions on the call. This to me was underperforming on the job. You have the opportunity to do what we did in highlighting your good points, and still have the answers to the program written out.  Were I the analyst, I would have docked points just for style right there.

Maybe it’s naive of me to think this, but aren’t you supposed to do not only what is expected, but to try to give above and beyond? on your yearly rating report?

So here is what I’ve learned.

Not all AR programs are dedicated to Analyst Relations. Many companies have a communications person to do multiple disciplines. This to me is acceptable in a small company, but many of those other major vendors are multi billion dollar firms. You should have a dedicated a/r team if you are serious about analyst relations. I’ve worked in PR. It’s a balls to the wall stressed out job that leaves little time for other matters, especially at deadline time.

We have to go out of our way to answer what the analyst needs. When they ask us for information, we are obligated to get it for them, in a complete manner unless it violates corporate guidelines. We should be up front about that too if it is the reason for not answering. If they take the time to develop a questionnaire, or ask us questions, we need to find the answers or the right executive to answer the question.

We have to understand what the analyst wants and try to think outside the box to get that done, try to provide what they are looking for and make it easy for them to understand. You get a free pass for not knowing everything when you first take a job, but pretty quickly you had better understand what the area you are responsible for is and does. The analyst may not understand exactly how your group works, so you have to either find a way (or a person) to explain it, or figure out what they are looking for and find a way to get it.

Get the right executive who can answer the question. Don’t waste anybody’s time by just putting someone on the phone. Get the most qualified person to answer the question. Unless the analyst demands to speak to certain person, it’s not his/her responsibility to know your org chart.

Other rants about performing.

If you’re in an MQ, Wave or some other form of “bake off” comparison, figure out what your group does better and highlight it. Conversely, figure out what the competition does better and be ready to counter it.

Go a little further than the other guy. This goes with figuring out what the analyst is looking for. Present it in a factual way that shows your best side. Don’t just do what you are asked and think you are done. Anyone can do the minimum.

Skip the fluff. Analysts are smart people and know their subject, for sure a whole lot smarter than most AR people, and better than a lot of executives. They’ll see right through this one and yes, you are wasting there time. Save the marketing pitch for others.

So I’m calling out our profession (I’m tempted to say this loosely after what I heard this week) to do a better job. Just doing your job isn’t enough.

From technical to physical

hangman.jpg

Most of analyst relations for me right now is centered around Software as a Service and events, outside of the day to day partnering issues. We’re already planning the SWG A/R meeting, there is a Meet the Experts Partner/Executive day in Waltham, Ma., the SMB analyst event and any number of “mini” events including podcasts with analysts. Oh yeah, there is an annual report by one of the larger firms that will rate us against the other partnering programs, nothing to sneeze at there.

This weekend however, I’ll delve back into the world of martial arts as I test for my black belt in Jujitsu. While the translation is “gentle art/practice”, in reality it is anything but for me. I’ll throw someone or be thrown over a hundred times, test in wrist locks, arm bar’s, chokes, hold downs and escapes for hours. Needless to say, it will take my mind off of work.So assuming I survive, I’ll be back to my desk jockey position on Monday, albeit a bit worse for wear, but having accomplished a goal I set years back.

Here’s the definition:

jujitsu

Martial art that employs holds, throws, and paralyzing blows to subdue or disable an opponent. It evolved among the samurai warrior class in Japan from about the 17th century. A ruthless form of fighting, its techniques included the use of hard or tough parts of the body (e.g., knuckles, fists, elbows, and knees) against an enemy’s vulnerable points. Jujitsu declined in the mid-19th century, but many of its concepts and methods were incorporated into judo, karate, and aikido.

Happenings for August 22

This is National Truckers Week. It’s not a job I could do, but they move the products across the country that is the hearblood of our economy. Thank a trucker if you bought something at the store. If you want to see an artist at work, watch one back his/her rig into a tight space.

Today is the day the 12th Imam is supposed to show, ergo the predictions of end of times and nuclear war are out there.I’ll be testing for my black belt in JuJitsu this weekend.

I’m trying to schedule a podcasting education session with the SWG A/R team for next month. Go to Analyst Inputs and Outtakes for our series and let me know if you are an analyst that wants to participate.

Dave Liddell Bloggerview – The History and Inside of IBM SWG Analyst Relations

I’ve known this one was coming for a while and I didn’t really know how to properly state the opening, there was too much to say.

Dave started Analyst Relations in Software Group, then honed it to one if not the best group there is. I haven’t done a bloggerview about someone I’ve worked for so this is a first also.

I’ll say that I learned more about how to deal with situations, executives and yes…analysts by taking hard situations to Dave and getting help solving the problems. Dave gave me a great opportunity to come to Software Group from the old PC division to enjoy some of the best years of my working career.

Dave discusses some of that and much more below. Here is an insight to the Analyst Relations discipline and a history lesson of IBM SWG that you couldn’t get anywhere else. Enjoy.

The SWG AR group was at the height of its performance when Dave retired.  It was never better either before or after his departure. We executed well and our performance stood on its own. We didn’t have to create and dress up reports to try to make them prettier than the other groups as it wasn’t his style (he knew what was meaningful to the execs who already had enough reports on their business to read).  It was no-nonsense action oriented process that got results and generated loyalty.  I was never more proud of the analyst group than when he ran things.  There were never fire drills even when there was intense pressure from Mills or Gerstner/Palmisano and he was always under control and unflappable like no other leader.  While others deflected the pressure to the rest of the group, Dave acted coolly and handled both the executives and the emergencies appropriately.  Mike Bizovi has come the closest to Dave with respect to handling pressure while keeping his cool, and he seems destined to be the next leader of the IBM AR group.

One thing we chose to leave out when this was originally written was that it was our goal and intention to influence analysts, and we were able to do so without them knowing it.  We actively tried and were able to change opinions and reports by our actions and Dave knew how to get that done.  This was our intent going into meetings regardless of whether it was the CEO of Gartner, Forrester, IDC or from a lower tier analyst who had only one executive which supported him and was background noise.

Dave made sure all of our interactions were professional and regardless of whether we cared or not, we treated them with respect.  Overall, our group collectively knew who was influential and we made sure those analysts issues were attended to.

What was your career history with IBM. You didn’t just work for 38 years in Analyst Relations?
I have been extremely fortunate to have had five different careers at IBM – manufacturing, sales, product marketing, solution marketing and analyst relations.

Manufacturing began in Rochester, MN where also worked in tool design and product test before becoming a self-taught programmer, designing and coding (Fortran and Assembler) an online report generator that on one of the very first time-sharing systems using video displays. The only problem: I simply HATED engineering.

In Chicago I was a client rep for Motorola, and sales manager for the Chicago-based steel companies.

My timing to join the division staff in San Jose for IBM storage systems couldn’t have been worse — just at the time IBM collapsed in that market. I moved east to White Plains to lead US storage marketing just as IBM regained storage leadership.

As part of the original core team under Mark Morin (who retired the same day I did) we created in less than five years an industry-leading “start up” with over 1,000 employees, IBM Image Systems. When the market for image document systems eventually cooled (there are thousands of ImagePlusR still installed), Steve Mills had just been named general manager of Software Solutions Division and asked if I could start an AR team for him. The rest, for the next 13 years, is history.

Talk briefly about your decision to retire. I always wanted to go out on top, but Michael Jordan couldn’t let go on the other hand. To me, it was the perfect way to do it?
Flattery will get you anywhere. Seriously, I spent a lot of time worrying that the world-class AR team built in IBM software would not remain a leader, frankly because of me. Hubris is a tough enemy. It’s one that thrives on a history of prior success.

But my decision to retire really had to do with me. My wife had retired 6 years earlier. I looked at the life she was leading and said to myself, “Self, that looks pretty good. How about we go get some of that for us?” Seriously, it was time and I was fortunate to be able to do so.

You retired from IBM in March, what have you been doing since then?
Ironically, I’ve been doing AR. A couple of clients have asked that I help them with various aspects of their programs. That said, I’m not interested in taking on operational responsibility. That’s why I retired. But I also don’t want anyone to think that I’m hanging out a shingle to compete with KCG, Forrester or Lighthouse. They are much more into AR operations, training, evaluation and surveys than I intend to be. If I had to classify my niche, it’s giving advice to senior executives on how AR teams can best deliver the value those executives want from them.

But it would be misleading to say that it’s been all work. There’s also been a lot of travel. That got easier when the kids were grown, but it’s a lot easier now without a 9 to 5 job. A week here, mid-week there, both in Europe and the US. Like all of us, sometimes that’s pure “get away”, but often it’s with my Blackberry.

Now that you’ve had time to think about it, what are your thoughts about analyst relations at IBM?
It was a terrific opportunity to build a function and a team. We started at zero, or as the analysts at now-defunct Meta Group said when asked, less than zero, closer to minus infinity as it were. The IBM software executive team gave AR an extraordinary level of support – people, money, and most importantly, their time. I’d like to think that over the course of those 13 years that the executive support was not blind, that they had plenty of opportunity to inspect whether the AR team had consistently demonstrated good stewardship of the resources entrusted to it and delivered value for the investment.

I also think IBM software AR has provided a valuable work environment for many people – both those who came and stayed as well as those who joined the team for a while and moved on. Everyone had opportunities to learn. For sure, whatever it is that the AR team became, it was the contributions of those many people who made it so.

Can you share some thoughts on the history of IBM analyst relations and how it has progressed? What was the hand of Dave Liddell on the direction over the years?
The start-up days were tough, not just for AR but for what was to become IBM Software Group two years later. There were no good models for AR, so we had to invent one built on basics: earn the trust of both analysts and executives; be fact-based in a world of hype; and be relentless in everything we did.

Perhaps, especially in the beginning when almost all relationships between analysts and IT suppliers were adversarial, that struck me as nonsense, if not irresponsible for both parties. In the end, we both existed because the customers wanted us to do so. No matter what traffic in money and knowledge passed between us, it was dwarfed by what customers – our mutual customers – expected of us.

Analysts needed product and technology skills that came to suppliers as a matter of course and suppliers needed the perspective that analysts generated also as a matter of course. None of that is to suggest that there aren’t opposing interests between suppliers and analysts, but those opposing interests are only an element of a very complex set of relationships.

What did we learn from our experiences?
This may be putting it too boldly, but we learned that it is possible to influence thinking. It’s a lot of hard work, often over months if not years. It is done with facts in an environment of candid communication and trust. A funny thing happened along the way. The more the IBM team became successful at influencing opinions, the more the team learned to learn from those same analysts. That’s the thing about the influence of facts, trust and communications on relationships. They are bi-directional.

Other than the obvious of contract negotiation and other administrivia, what did (do) you see your relationship with the analysts and the analyst firms?
The facts say my role directly with analysts and analyst firms was rather minor compared to what the AR team did. My job was more about creating the environment in which AR could work, and do so productively. That said, in hindsight I’d say my most typical personal role was to be a bridge (either way) when there was a misunderstanding between the software team and an analyst or firm. Relationship management, even in strong relationships, takes lots of work by everyone involved. Maybe it’s fair to say I also did a lot of prodding.

An analyst once said to me that the key to his success was immersion in the flow of information. Everything that is going on in a segment leads to better understanding of some other part of the segment. In that sense, with the large number of markets IBM software participates in, the very large community of analysts following IBM software and the thousands upon thousands of engagements created an environment in which I too was in a huge information flow. Simply said, I could act as a bridge (over troubled waters? between analysts and IBM because of that perspective.

What are you doing now? Could you give information about your company?
I’ve wondered for a long time what it would be like to say “this is MY company”. It feels pretty good.
Silvermine Brook LLC (silvermine@att.net, 203-966-4433) is now in its second quarter of operation — lawyers, accountants, tax codes, annual meetings, quarterly reports, the whole 9 yards. It’s not that I haven’t dealt with all of that over the years, I have, but I’d expect that anyone who owns a company appreciates that there is just a different feeling when all of that is very personally about “your” money. Anyway, it’s a kick, it’s different, and there are no pretensions that this is anything but a way keep a hand in the game. Well, maybe there is one more thing. Now that I’m at home much more it gives me something to work at, along the lines of that sage marital advice “For better or for worse, but not for lunch”.

Catch all question. What did I miss that you want to say?
The decision to retire was not one made quickly, but it was one I discussed with the executive team for nearly five years. Part of it was me making up my mind about what I wanted next, but a good part was to ensure there was a team and a management system that could run IBM software AR better than I ever did. I left with the full confidence that the best years for the AR team were yet to come.

IBM is winning a lot of technology comparisons lately

I just read today in the Austin American Statesman that IBM has the fastest 3 computers in the world, and 243 of the top 500 fastest. Also stated was that we can do more when we need to.
I also read that Rational Application Developer tool set has achieved top rankings for the second year in a row, according to a market research study as reported by eWeek.

Further, IBM’s partnering programs were rated number one by IDC .

I sense a trend here, it looks like our technology and our programs are working well. I know that it has been IBM’s mantra to serve the customer, and much of that is relationship as well as good technology. I think we’re on the right track.

Analyst Relations, it's not always a flat world, there are bumps in the road

With all respect to Thomas Friedman and his book, there are conditions that affect our ability to do our job sometimes. Technology has flattened things up to the point of social constraints.
For example, when we are trying to get a number of pre-briefs completed prior to an announcement, time has affected us. Mostly they are when we try coordinating a world wide event. We’ve dealt with the time zone issues via email and are able to live with a half day delay of communicating with the other side of the world, as long as it is straightforward. Every time you go back and forth there is the half day delay, but this is manageable. We even have a short window when we either get up early or stay late on both ends.

Now, it’s summer in Europe, and that means that many are taking advantage of the short periods of good weather (depending on how far north you live), so we come to a period where there are lengthy vacations. This changes the flatness of the availability. I’m not knocking vacation as the argument can be made that the quality of life is more important that 17 hour workdays. Half my family live in Europe and they think we Americans work far too much.

Nevertheless, it means there are certain geographies that can’t be addressed with the immediacy that the product owner desires.

A tangential issue of flatness occurs when we make a complicated announcement (I’m speaking for large companies and large analyst groups here) that can cross several ownership area’s on both sides. Analysts for the most part are very perceptive and ask deep and probing questions that affect other areas of our company, so we must bring in those respective areas….Again, geographical or political boundaries come into play. Then getting a hold of traveling execs or IBMers (I’ve Been in a Meeting) becomes an issue.
Conversely, we might be making a complex announcement that for large firms with specific areas, the analysts may not have expertise (or must also respect other analyst specialties or areas of coverage) outside of their focus. Small analyst groups can either be specific enough to a subject that the other information does not affect them, or are generalist enough (mostly they are educated enough and know more than us about a lot of our stuff) that this does not come into play. But put together a large company and a large analyst firm and you get complexity over a simple task.

Other speed bumps occur when an analyst (or the company person) shifts jobs or places. Then we have to try to hunt down the person(s) to solve the questions in hand.
Am I complaining? No way, that keeps us in a job to try and figure it out. But it just goes to show how technology can be overcome by social and people issues.

RSDC, Analyst Comments

I asked a number of analysts for their comments on the show. Some graciously provided their thoughts, others declined due to their firms comment (approval) policies. I always find them insightful and in the case of Carey Schwaber, very witty. for those who weren’t at the show, the Rational uniform was a blue polo shirt.

Here you go in no order other than how they sat in my email.
Steve O’Grady – Redmonk
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of RSDC to me has been the focus on
ISVs; Rational has traditionally been supporters of both the Java
and .NET ecosystems, and the emphasis now appears to be growing the
overall ISV network aggressively. What would be interesting would be a
Rational that more aggressively embrace dynamic languages; that would be
an opportunity to grow a volume base of developers, and the ISVs would
likely follow.

Melinda Ballou – IDC
“The concept of open commercialization — applying community development
and some of the other benefits of open source to the evolution of
commercial products — is intriguing and engaging on many levels. How open
can a commercial vendor be about its bugs, its testing issues, its
performance? Yet focused community attention could be a potent force for
change and product evolution, as well as enabling closer attunement with
end-user direction. Given Eclipse’s past history in this context, we look
forward to seeing appropriate evolution of these same concepts in a new
context, and to seeing how far and how fully IBM Rational is able to apply
this radical concept to its commercial product line.”

Carey Schwaber – Forrester
This year IBM had an impressive amount of new functionality to release. The 7.0 version of Team Unifying Platform is a big step forward. And better yet, it’s also an indication of a really exciting product direction for IBM.

Also, I’d really appreciate it if IBM Rational employees would ALWAYS wear light blue polos. I can just imagine: You’re waiting for a latte at Starbucks and you think of a question about ClearQuest. What do you do? Ask the guy in the light blue polo waiting next to you.

Mike G.

Ask Carey Schwaber, she’ll know what to say.

RSDC, analyst technical review

We took the analysts on the showcase floor to have them review the product offerings from both the Rational and developerWorks Brands.  Hats off to Diane Flis’ team of Monica Grace, Teressa Jimenez and Karen Moore who were there and pulled off another analyst event at RSDC.

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Bola Rotibi, Ian Wesley and Clive Longbottom.  Not featured for Ian’s sake, David Beckham.  Your mutual agent ok’d the publishing rights for the photo.

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Showcase floor busy with activity.

Blogger Meetup at RSDC

Well, after all the anticipation, we finally had it last night at RSDC. Thanks go out to Steve O’Grady for giving us advice on this and for showing me the best comment related to the meetup which came from an unnamed IBMer who said he would go anywhere there were free drinks.

It was a success and step forward for IBM in progressiveness. As we’ve found with our partner programs, there’s nothing like face to face discussions, no matter how much you’re web enabled or connected through a myriad of devices.

My only regret was that Grady Booch who had agreed to be the host couldn’t make it. Please send him your best wishes. I’ll speak to his absentia presence at the meeting later this week.
Here are some photo’s from the meetup.

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Steve O’Grady, Diane Flis, Rawn Shah

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Rawn Shan, Steve O’Grady, Ian Wesley

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Teressa Jimenez, Murry Cantor
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Greg Hamilton, Colleen Inches

My real first day at RSDC

Today was the opening day at RSDC. If you go to the show blog page, you’ll be able to listen to podcasts of the keynote and of executives at the show. Quite a nice touch.

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Above is the workroom for press and analysts.

We had 14 analysts and about 17 press attend for a total of 125 1:1 briefings with the executives of both Rational and developerWorks. Conversations were all over the board, so I encourage you to listen to the podcasts. Here were the analysts who are in attendance:

ZapThink Jason Bloomberg
Forrester Mike Gilpin
Forrester Carey Schwaber
Gartner Jim Duggan
Quocirca Clive Longbottom
Gartner Matt Light
IDC Melinda Ballou
Ovum Ian Wesley
Ovum Bola Rotibi
Redmonk Stephen O’Grady
EZInsight Liz Barnett
IDC Steven Hendick
CPDA Vasco Drescun
Burton Group Chris Howard

The evening provided a dinner at Shula’s restaurant for the analysts and the Execs. The press had their own get together to do the necessary shmoozing.

Tomorrow is another day of the same. Keynote, Press Conference, 1:1’s and Blogger meetup. A few links to it now besides mine come from Buell Duncan and Steve O’Grady.

What it took to get to RSDC

The actual planning for the event started at the end of last year’s RSDC, getting a location, estimating the crowd, logistical things on getting a show site and such.

The Audience
For us in the communications world, we started in earnest around the PartnerWorld timeframe. There are many audiences at a customer event like this and many constituencies that intermingle. You’ll read from the other blogs about their lives and experiences at RSDC. Mine is working with the Analyst and Press, and the corresponding IBM AR and PR teams.

We first picked out the target list of analysts and press that follow Software Group, Rational or developerWorks. Then we went through the invitation process to get them there, knowing that there were a specified number of slots (other parameters defined this, but that is minutia not worth delving into). From there it was a match game on both sides. There was an interesting dynamic to this year’s planning as the SOA analyst event was at the end of last week, causing some decision making on the part of the analysts who follow both and the resources on our side knowing we had to staff and support both. SOA is an important initiative for us so careful planning to give it it’s due was appropriate.

The Scheduling
Once we had the audience, we had to do the scheduling of matching analyst (and press) interests and the right executives. There are times that execs are double and triple booked and it’s a logistical exercise that maybe the Pentagon could lend assistance to. The reality is that the actual scheduling goes on until the last 1:1 is held. Everyone is switching times and availability due to everything from an interesting briefing or customer they want to see to changing flight schedules. One has to be flexible to work out everything on the side of the Analyst/Press and the IBMers they are to meet with.

The Show Blog
Ever since developerWorks was the first external blog site, we’ve tried to push the envelope. Last year we held the first IBM coordinated show blog at an event and this year we are doing the same. We have both internal and external bloggers keeping you updated on their perspective of the event. We wanted to host the first meetup, but Lotus already did that….guess it pays to have your event first. I’m glad we as a company are having many factions working to keep current (or catch up) with the blogosphere. Nevertheless, we are having a meetup as I’ve gone on about ad nauseam on Tuesday night at the Dolphin bar from 6-8.

We had meetings for months getting the right people to blog and get them ready to do so. Some were already bloggers, some had to be registered to developerWorks and some, like mine are just links. We asked analysts to be a part of it and some did (thank you) and many declined for various reasons.

You’ll also be able to listen to podcasts of executives at the show. Here is the list:

Danny Sabbah, General Manager, Rational Software
Lee Nackman, Vice President, Product Development and Customer Support, Rational Software
Walker Royce, Vice President, IBM Software Services, Rational Software
Buell Duncan, General Manager, ISV and Developer Relations, IBM Software
Murray Cantor, Distinguished Engineer, Rational Software
Martin Nally, Chief Technology Officer, Rational Software
So you’ll get the range from newbies to veterans on this show blog. Pick your poison.

The Final Prep
Today is registration and final detail day. We’ll all get together this afternoon to go over last minute changes and who is covering what. Hopefully everyone will make it into town without flight delay and our planning will be complete. Then it’s blocking and tackling time. The most important capability in pulling these off is the ability to handle the proverbial monkey wrench. Someone can’t come, or is coming in a day late, or gets sick or whatever. The ability to deal with these issues and keep your cool is a valuable skill. Panic never helps.

So I look forward to seeing both my teammates for the first time in person regarding RSDC and the analysts I haven’t seen in a while, or in some cases since last year. Then it’s off to the races…

IBM Executives – Who are we? Rod Smith VP of Emerging Technology, SWG.

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Today, I’m once again very privileged to speak to another of the leading technologist’s at IBM. As with all these bloggerviews, I try to look at the person and their background rather than just a bits and bytes conversation. I trust you’ll find Rod to be as interesting and enjoyable to read about as I did speaking with him. I always look forward to these discussions with the deep thinkers of IBM, and it continues to give me confidence that we have some of the best and brightest working for our future.

What is your job title (and what does that really mean as far as your job,)?
VP, Emerging Technologies-Software Group – What I was put in place for 10 years ago at IBM was to scope out emerging internet technologies that could have impact with our customers through their adoption, say 18/24 months out initially. One very important factor here is developing proof of concepts with customers to iterate and validate the business value. The other important part of my role is how do we then help the product team embrace these areas and continue maturing these technologies to be successful with the customers.

A good example of this is AJAX. Our customers have been asking us for a richer internet experience that would help drive more business, not flashy marketing ads as some folks first think. They appear to want something that is open, broadly supported by many companies in our industry, based on open standards or de facto standards – thru the browser, be it FireFox or IE or Safari for example. We have collaborating recently with other vendors on how we could achieve these goals. In fact, this week we met with over 30 vendors in Open Ajax summit. We worked on things like how we can create a place that customers could choose our products and feel safe doing so.

How do you describe what you do to your family and those who don’t work in our industry?
Most of the time i say I’m a Software Engineer – although I wish I had real time to code. It’s a Midwestern or blue collar upbringing I guess; We generally understate our jobs.
I try and keep it simple.

I do tell them that I work on technologies which they might be using on their desktop in a few years. Sometimes I can point to some that they are using today.

Can you tell us some work experience that you want to tell, how did you get to where you are today?

In college, I majored in Economics and then backed into computers & software. I was doing some econometric/demographic modeling and thought that software was more interesting. I hung out with a crowd that was always on the bleeding edge of technology, For example, they were doing ASCII based animation on vector Tektronix terminals – processing ASCII strings is very CPU intensive and very hard to do. If five folks were driving these terminals simultaneously, we could bring a DEC system to it’s knees. Lots of fun!

So in this crowd, learning new programming languages & then showing off what you could do – was huge fun. Back then, you showed your stripes by how many you could program in – which probably early on established my interest in diverse, new technologies. Then when I joined IBM it was right when the PC was introduced in the marketplace – and as you can imagine lots of new software possibilities.

Here’s an small fact, I’m a big Apple fan. I still have a 128k MAC and a LISA that IBM that we convinced IBM to buy – at $10 grand no less.

So what does learning the Mac or Lisa have to do with my IBM career? It taught me to continually get out of my comfort zone keep learning things that might not appear to have direct, immediate career value. This eventually it turned out to be a big asset – both in terms of technologies and what worked or didn’t in the marketplace. That is what helped me think about technology differently – keep them in context to marketplace adoption. Additionally, as you can imagine (an IBMer at a Mac developer conference for example) I made many external connections. Some of those folks now are VPs or CTOs who I can call on for their advice, opinions and many times industry collaborations.

For what it’s worth, I’m still use an Apple today. Probably one of the few that carries it openly in Armonk.

What are your hobbies or fun stuff you want to discuss?
1. I’m a avid music fan. I wish I could say that I’m a decent musician, I used to play guitar many years ago but work & life got in the way. So I’ve begun relearning guitar playing and I really enjoy it. When i don’t travel, I practice a lot because I find that music is inspiring. I’m teaching myself jazz and blues and enjoy it immensely.

I listen to a podcast – The Roadhouse, the finest blues you’ve never heard – very good material.

2. I’m a digital photographer. When I went to the Galapagos Islands, I became a big Photoshop fan, Now I’m also a wannabee graphics artist – you just get hooked doing all those cool Photoshop tricks. That is one reason why my presentations are so visual – hopefully they’re informative – but I do it because I really hate to bore folks, which is easy to do if you’re not thinking in terms of what your audience finds interesting. I know I wouldn’t want to be bored so i want to try & keep audience engaged.

What are the biggest challenges at IBM?
That is a tough question. One answer I’d give is getting technology adopted in our products. Our teams have hard, measured and valued requirements from our customers. I often challenge our team to work with customers early on to demonstrate our value of a technology, then build relationships with product champions, if you will, that can help understand & implement the customer needs.I don’t like to promote technology for technology’s sake. I want to do it in the context of it’s potential business value. This is where my discussions with analysts and reporters come into play to understand if it has or will have business or customer value.

Then, if we are right – then we rely on some luck and what we call demand pull – our product teams read the publications or analyst reports and then come to me and to talk about the opportunity.

Bottom line, if have decent enough insights into how technology will grow in adoption, but failed to get it into products, it doesn’t help IBM. Our loss.

Let me say that our products teams do listen, that is what differentiates us from competitors. They are excellent on execution.

Describe your relationship with analysts, how do they help you?

It’s easy as a technologist to drink your own kool-aid. When I talk to analysts about emerging technology, I want to hear their unencumbered thoughts back to me which are objective. I want to know, am I off or am I close?

I know that Analysts hear from customers. There can be communication gaps between what think customer want and what customers are really saying. Analyst’s help me articulate & clarify the customer & business value. I also find they help me with clear messages to customers. They are good report card on whether I’m on the right track or not.

I value analysts thoughts & opinions a lot. I listen and if i don’t understand something they’ve said, I stop and dig in to internalize their value before I move on with either the messaging or the product.. Web services is an example – they helped in validating this technology direction that’s now blossomed into SOA. I remember doing a keynote interview with Daryl Plummer in 2001 on web services – a spur of the moment decision in front of 1200 folks – most of who had very little idea why they should interested! Daryl and I did an hour regarding the value towards lowering integration costs and new business opportunities; it was the first big talk on subject – before any of the technical conference picked it up. We got tremendous feedback from the audience.

Since analysts read this, what would you like to say to them about what you are doing right now?
Web 2.0 technology is starting to generate interest from customers – Ajax, Atom, Microformats, tagging and REST. Analyst see broader value of Web 2.0 and how enterprises are going to be writing applications in the future.

What is the next big announcement or product you are working on that you can talk about?
For mashups – we are working on mashup makers, we hope. We are using wiki technology to show how Mashup Maker can be used right to a browsers to assemble information. This is an area which is starting to evolve from infancy and we are going to continue exploring. Here’s an example of results from using this technology.

Weather Movie
Hardware, My Projects Movie

What are you looking forward to in the upcoming years, either product wise or how you will work differently?
I’m excited about Skype & Gizmo especially around their toolkits. We need richer way of communicating, Audio and video conferencing still ties our hand behind our back. We need a richer environment where I can stay home and can have such a richer experience to work with people. It could save hours or days and improve my productivity to stay home instead of being on an airplane and then I could have the same impact.

Off to RSDC

I’ll be offline until this weekend as I’m leaving for RSDC.

I’ll get to see my Mom for the first time since my Dad’s funeral, so we will get to catch up on things.

Speaking of catching, I’ll do that tomorrow, see the previous blog.

Then it’s RSDC and blogging time. Besides the usual array of activities that include keynotes, analyst briefings, blogging and other show staples, we’ll have the meetup and a lot of material to cover.

So good luck to the SOA meeting today and tomorrow in NYC. Lots of things happening at IBM right now.

Blogger Meetup Correction

I had lamented that IBM was late to the party for meetups, but bragged that we were having a meetup at RSDC on Tuesday June 6th from 6-8 at the bar by the escalator at the Dolphin Hotel.

Well, the egg is on my face as blogger compatriot, Ed Brill let me know they’d already done it at Lotusphere. Way to go guys, you flew the flag for us.
So the good news is that IBM is not as behind as I described, and we’re still having ours hosted by Danny Sabbah, with the first round of drinks on IBM. I hope to see you there as there will be plenty to discuss from the first two days of the show and our blogging escapades.

And Steve O’grady, I hope to have fishing pictures by then as I’m going out on Friday to chase Redfish in Titusville with one of my best friends over the years.  Here’s what we’re after.
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IBM Bloggers, Who are we – Grady Booch

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As always, I really like doing these bloggerviews, this one especially. A lot of it is because I get to talk to some of the smartest people at IBM and in this case, the industry. For as much as he’s done, Grady has the right to enjoy celebrity status being an IBM fellow and a leader in the IT world, yet he is very down to earth and we had a very enjoyable conversation. I know you’ll enjoy reading this as much as I did learning from him.

A bit of history, when we first thought of the concept of the developerWorks Blog, the discussion came up that we needed blogger of rock star status to gain notoriety. The first name that came up was Grady. I knew when I started my blog, that this was one of the discussions I wanted to have, now you can too.
Note: Grady is hosting a blogger meetup at the Rational Users Conference June 6th from 6-8 pm, see you there.

Were you a rebel as a kid?
In a different way. I built my first computer from scratch when I was 12. I had borrowed a book called Computer Design, and used it as a manual to create my first computer. I saved my allowance to buy discrete transistors and so I built from scratch. My parents didn’t really know how to deal with me. In addition to the computers, I built my own laser and I was into model rockets. You could say I was a classical geek. In fact, I was a geek before it was cool to be a geek.

I built my computer because I really wanted to program. The computer did four function math and had 256 bits of memory. I thought it would be cool to program so before high school I wanted a job in computers and I went knocking on doors of all the local computer companies, to no avail. I then went to the local IBM sales office and a sales guy sat with me at a lunch table and gave me a book on Fortran. He probably thought that I would go away after reading it, but a week later, I came back with some programs I’d written and I asked for computer time. He got time for me on weekends on an IBM 1130 used by the Amarillo Public Utilities. My first program was a simulation of particles colliding at subatomic speed and a calculation of the release of energy. I still have the original deck of cards. Perhaps the one event that started me on computers was an article in Life magazine about a robot named Shaky built by Marvin Minsky. A few years ago, I approached the trustees at the Computer History Museum in California, urging them to also become a museum of software. While I was getting a tour of the emerging facility, John Toole told me to turn around too look at the original Shakey, sitting in a display behind me. That was so cool and it gave me a pleasant sense of closure.

One thing that my friends and their children are surprised at is these days that I always knew that I wanted to be a computer scientist.

How did your military career help you with what you do now?
So I was self taught until I went to the Air Force Academy. I had many scholarship offers including West Point, but chose USAFA because they had an incredible computer science program. Also, I knew that when I graduated, I would be involved with some amazing technology in the real world from which I could learn. Some of the things I did in my first assignment was to help build systems in support of missile programs such as the Minuteman, Titan and Shuttle. One of the last things I did was work on a range safety system for both the West and East coast military ranges. Through this work, in my early 20’s, I learned what it means to build complex systems. We had hundred’s of thousands of lines of code, running on distributed computers, and so the issues of scale and complexity hit me early.

I’m proud to report that in 1979 I had my first email address on the Arpanet..

Around that time, I was also doing some Ada work and got involved as an instructor at USAFA. I was asked by Larry Druffle who was involved with the Ada Joint Program Office and later went on to found the Software Engineering Institute to consider how one would apply modern software techniques to Ada. It at through this work that I coined the phrase object oriented design.

It has been a long journey for me with in complex software, far before it was an issue in industry.

You say on your blog that you like to read. What interests you in your book selection?

My book listings on my site are mostly professional books. I have a spreadsheet includes all the books and journals I read there. Frankly, one of the reasons I built my current home is that wife and I ran out of space for our over 8,000 books.

I enjoy writers who are good story tellers like Michael Chabon and Terry Pratchet. Right now I’m reading Wuthering Heights, and I just finished reading a book on the history of Islam and another on prayer. I’m attracted to authors who have a command of the language, such as Umberto Eco, and I try to learn from them. As a result, I think I’m a curious combination of a geek albeit an articulate one.

I read more nonfiction than fiction. I like history, especially covering medieval and renaissance periods. In fact I play the Celtic harp.

Why did you become a blogger and How did/does that affect your job?
I started blogging before IBM asked me to. It happened in conjunction with the handbook on software architecture I decided to write. Being involve as a software architect in a multitude of systems in various industries across the world, I wanted to fill a serious gap in the body of knowledge of software engineering, by codifying the architectural patterns that are used in the world. I realized it then that it would be a journey instead of a discrete issue, so thus the blog as a forum for discussion during that journey.

So I began the blog but I couldn’t find any software out there that did what I wanted, so I wrote my own blogging software so I could work on the Handbook anywhere in world. I added an RSS feed to push XML to the IBM developerWorks site, so now it posts to both that site and mine..

What blogs do you read?
This will certainly reflect my political views, but I read crooksandliars.com. Slashdot is also a must have. My Handbook site lists the many that I read from time to time.

Do you like Sci-Fi, for example are you a trekkie?
Yes actually, in my office every copy of Star Trek, the Next Generation, episode so you could say I’m a trekker.

What are your favorite video games?
This is interesting as I just came back from a gamer convention. I just finished Halo 2, and am currently stuck inside the gates of hell in Quake 3. All things being equal, though, I’d rather read a good book.

Speaking of the game community, I’m attracted to it because this is an industry that’s really discovering the problems of building complex software.

Your job Title is IBM Fellow, but what does that mean to the man on the street

It means two things. My role as a Fellow is to invent the future and to destroy bureaucracy, I’m a designated free radical for IBM, and it’s my job to disturb the norm, to think outside of the box, to make people uncomfortable with the status quo, plus have I have a license to do so. It is to IBM’s organizational credit that it recognizes it needs such people.

If you weren’t an IBM fellow, what other job would you be doing, or what company would you be working for?
Now there is an interesting question. I’d probably be an poor itinerate musician or a priest. Baring those more radical career choices, I’d otherwise still be in the software world, doing the same things as I am doing now. My professional passion is how to improve and reduce the distance between vision and execution in delivering complex software-intensive systems.

What are you working on now?
I work on many things, some I can talk about, most I can’t. The Handbook is an important project for me, I spend a lot of time with customers, I help to manage Rational’s relationship with IBM research, and that involves me in efforts about radical simplification and what to do when Moore’s law dies.

What do you talk to Sam Palmisano about?

I don’t talk to Sam that much – he runs the business and I’m essentially a geek – but I do work with Nick Donofrio who works directly for Sam, We talk about various customer engagements, improving industry/academic relationships, and various issues of technical strategy.

What is your vision of the future, next year, 5 years 20 years?

Software has been, and will be always be fundamentally hard, In the future, we’ll be facing yet greater complexity . Open source, the commodization of operating systems and middleware, disposable software (that which is created by non developers), the presence of pervasive devices are elements of this growing complexity. Furthermore, the world is flat. No political or geographical boundaries limit creativity and complexity in software-intensive systems, and thus it’s also increasingly a problem of collaboration.

How long do you see yourself doing what you do now?

Until my heart stops beating.

What is your relationship with analysts? What would you say to them?

I have an A/R handler, I go where they tell me to go, What i talk about though is where I spend my time, namely worrying about the future, the primary horizon being 3-5 years out, with consideration of the forces that are morphing us.hat we need to get us there.

If you could write your legacy, what would it be?
There is a question I’ve never been asked before. How about “he’s not dead yet.”

Seriously through, I hope people will have viewed me as kind and gentle man who lived fully.

Everything else is just details.

What’s on your iPod?
Surprisingly, I don’t have and iPod, but I do have 9 Macs along with a Google Mini and two terabytes of storage, on which I’ve ripped all my music. I’m currently listening to Adiemus, , Dead Can Dance, Tori Amos, Loreena McKinnett, and Twila Paris.

What is the final frontier for users?
It’s curious what we do as software developers: at its best, be build things that are invisible. If we do it right, our work evaporates into the background and remains unnoticed, yet still providing socially and individually useful functionality.

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.

Blogging at IBM may help overcome the search for the needle in a haystack, or help to turn the aircraft carrier

It becomes clearer to me when I speak with analysts that IBM is a different company to work with. We’re some 300,000 + employees in over 160 countries and finding your way around IBM is difficult. Ok, I didn’t climb out on any limb here. If you look at revenues or patents, you quickly find IBM is also the largest IT company in terms of products and services.

So we have to find ways for people to try to negotiate inside of IBM. Heck, sometimes it’s hard for IBMers to do this, although we have some pretty terrific social networking products internally that we are trying to push out externally.

I often hear, “why don’t you just do this or that and it will fix your x problem”. That statement doesn’t take into consideration the breadth and depth of such a big company. If you consider a small company, compare it to a rowboat. One paddle forward to starboard and one backwards to port and you’ve made a 180 degree turn.

Not so with IBM, we’re an aircraft carrier. To launch planes, you turn it into the wind. An aircraft carrier is 30 stories high and has over 5000 people, a floating city. It doesn’t turn on a dime, but when it does, it has more firepower that some small countries.

Such is life at IBM. so we’re not as nimble as rowboat, but we bring some firepower.  Unfortunately, we are often dinged for this inflexibility that handcuffs our communications.  It is led by a paranoid team of New Yorker’s, who don’t understand social media and it’s power.  The are stuck in a print minded world at the time of this post and lead a life that is sheltered from any reality other than serving the masters in Armonk.  This is part of the short sightedness that causes IBM to move so slowly.

Now to my point. How the heck do you find the right person in a 300,000 person organization. A complex question with equally complex answers. I don’t have the magic bullet, but I am going to say that blogging will help.

Soon, we’ll have a launch page that takes you to the community that you are looking for. On developerWorks, there are zones for each of our software brands, there is a mainframe blog, Healthcare blog , open source, lots of communities.

Once you find the right person, or advocate you can be very effective. We have lots of programs for this, but even then it can be a formidable task.

So Admiral of the bridge, turn the Nimitz into the wind and launch the planes, let the blogging begin to help find out more about IBM and the person you need to find.

Life at IBM analyst relations, Kicking off another year

After making it through the start of the year, Lotusphere is under our belt, kickoff meetings mostly done, PartnerWorld planning in full gear, it’s time to get the nose back to the grindstone.

This means that one has to search out all of the analyst report opportunities for the year (done), identify the Brand/Group/Beat/whatever you’re a part of strategy and get going on it. This means SOA, SaaS and AJAX partnering issues for me, but everyone has their own issues. So we’re about to kick off the travel schedule of talking about our strategy (ok, we really started at the big A/R meeting in December) but you have to repeat any advertisement 3 times for it to have full effect.

If you were a single product company, that would be an easy issue, take Intel based servers, or a database product…..it would be cut and dried. Not at the Big Blue. We cross territories that range from hardware to software to services to research to this, that and the other. So the trick is finding the opportunities and building virtual teams. Oh yeah, there is the analyst side too when coverage area’s or industry trends change and you have to relearn their lineup.

Doing this properly requires talent at identifying opportunities, experience in working with others on similar things, a lot of elbow grease and a little luck sometimes. If you pull it off, you get to show IBM in it’s best light. We do a lot of things well for customers, remember they vote with their money….financials are out for the year…anyone can see who has been getting the votes and who is losing votes.

Not doing this properly is a missed analyst opportunity. I hate losing as much as anything so we’re trying always to get this right. It involves talking to the analysts (sometimes they’ll help by saying all of the angles of the focus of their study), asking a lot of questions and good organization.

IBM analyst relations is in as good of shape right now for this as I’ve seen. So maybe my vision isn’t 20/20 anymore, but I can tell when things are working and when their not. We’ve done some behavioral things correctly with the analyst groups and with the analyst teams to be able to perform well for the company. Kudos to the execs that have done this.

What I need most is space to work without IBM Corporate Communications getting in the way as they try to treat a/r like p/r.  At least for now, they don’t have a clue what we do, so it’s easier to get a good job done than the crap they have to put up with on the PR side.

So onward to the projects, MQ’s, Waves, white papers, studies, focus groups, meetings, briefings, all the things we should be doing to properly tell the story that should be told. Remember the fable about the 5 blind men describing an elephant????? Well, we continue to open our eyes in analyst relations, and if you believe our past CEO’s and their successor’s, Elephants can dance.

IBM Analyst Relations, Who are we? – Tom Morrissey

JFK once stated, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”. Today’s Bloggerview is with my teammate, Tom Morrissey. We work together on the cross brand initiatives, but have successfully solved analyst issues in Software Group for years.

As you read through this, you see that he has been and is willing to go above and beyond the call of duty both for analysts, our team and personally. Tom as you’ll read helped at ground zero after 9/11. There are some guys you want in your foxhole, I’d always want Tom in mine, for analyst relations or any other engagement… friend or foe.

What is your job title (and what does that really mean as far as your job)?
I’m an Analyst Relations professional in IBM’s Software Group, focused mainly on IBM solutions for the SMB market. What this really means is that I have an opportunity to work “cross-IBM” to brief and consult with Analyst Firms on IBM’s portfolio of Express offerings for our Business Partners serving mid-market customers. I get to work with good, talented people on both ends of the conversation…

Some work experience that you want to tell?
I’m a dot-com ‘boomerang’ IBM employee. I started with IBM in 1984 as a Large Systems Engineer on a team supporting a large insurance company. After different positions in Marketing and Product Management (I was Brand Manager for the under-appreciated IBM AntiVirus product), I left IBM in 1999 to join MAPICS and then a dot-com company. The dot-com experience was interesting. I was the Director of Marketing for a Job Board site for IT professionals.

I think I was the company’s eighth hire at the time so it was quite a contrast from my IBM days and even those at MAPICS. I learned a lot about Database Marketing, Cable TV advertising (we did two commercials and even contemplated a Super Bowl ad), and working for a CEO megalomaniac. True story: During one of the several occasions where the CEO was chewing me out for not being able to close business development deals with major partners, he angrily told me that he bet he could “pick up the phone right now and get a deal” and if he did he wanted me to “kiss his foot”. After coldly telling him that I hoped his statement was just a figure of speech, he backed off saying “you look like you want to kill me…”

In 2001, I returned to IBM (don’t ever burn your bridges) and, as you can imagine, I have been happy to be back. While I enjoyed my other experiences, I found that I took some things for granted at IBM which don’t necessarily always exists elsewhere. Like IBM’s culture of mutual respect and customer service. One of the reasons I had trouble “getting deals” when I was at the dot-com company is that the CEO wanted ‘win-lose’ deals. The notions of trusted relationships and true partnerships were alien to him.

How do you describe what you do to those not in our profession?
Analyst Relations is a Communications position so a lot of my day is on the phone with analysts to brief them on IBM announcements and strategies. Or I’m on the phone with other IBMers in various staff or project meetings.

What are good things about your job?
Being in IBM Software Group, I love being in the forefront of the changes currently occurring in the IT marketplace. Linux, Open Source, Software as a Service, SOA. And after spending so much time with analysts on the phone, its always enjoyable to talk to them face to face at conferences.

What are things you would change?
For all the “communicating”, I think there are still knowledge and relationship gaps between IBM and analysts. I think blogs are useful to bridge some of these gaps. I would like to find ways to increase the dialog and rapport that occurs at conference events and increase the opportunities for meaningful discussion.

Name a funny analyst story.
About a year ago, IBM AR had a conference call with an Analyst Firm to hear how IBM could get more involved in the blogging community. I had just started to read some blogs but did not fully understand tags. During the Q&A, I asked, “Could you tell me what delicious tags are?”
I give great credit to the analyst who managed to stifle his chuckle at my naivete…

Describe an analyst win situation for you.
As readers of this blog know, IBM has a very successful Business Partner program who we partner with to provide industry/customer solutions to the marketplace. Yet, with recent industry acquisitions and consolidation, some firms have questioned the viability of IBM’s partner-led application strategy. After several briefings with a leading firm/critic on this topic, it was a very satisfying last year to see IBM presented at a major firm conference as the “hidden” fourth player in the market on par with the other 3 major application vendors.

Describe an analyst disaster for you. (no names)
Prefer not to! It’s a new year afterall…

What would you like the analyst’s to do differently, suggestions of what would help both sides maybe.
I think every firm should publish/update their research agenda. More transparency of the agenda would make it easier to coordinate our briefings/consults with them at the right time. I think Forrester’s move to publish their research agenda on their web site should be a standard practice for all firms.

Can you talk about your military service, why you did it, what you did?
I enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in 1986 when I was 26 years old, college educated, and working at IBM. Notice I said enlisted. This meant that despite my age and education, I went to Parris Island for boot camp with 75 (about 48 graduated) other ‘pukes’ in my platoon as a Private.

I was older than most of my Drill Instructors who, for their part, were impressed (meaning I got to do more push-ups) that someone like me enlisted. But I wanted to know what the experience was like and how I would do. It was a personal test kind of thing for me. Of course, my parents and some of my friends thought I was crazy and, in fact, I was talked out of joining twice before I finally made the commitment. It took a while but I finally realized that I would regret NOT doing it more than I would doing it. That perspective was a decision-making breakthrough for me in dealing with unknown situations.

I’m often asked about boot camp and how difficult the Marine Corps training is. For me, it wasn’t really as physically difficult as I expected although I did train hard before going to Parris Island. However, it was much more mentally stressful than I expected. Having someone shout at you constantly day after day, week after week…the never-ever-satisfied demands of the Drill Instructors who constantly belittled your efforts…your total lack of control of your situation….Very difficult to take. Interestingly, the seventeen and eighteen year old’s didn’t seem to mind it – they were more challenged by the physical training, not the mental training (too young to know better, I told them – lol). But the mental stress part was indeed part of the training method and I can tell you that the ‘tear-down, build-up’ method is definitely effective in creating a highly motivated unit from heretofore dozens of diverse individuals.

Following boot camp , I became a Radio Operator which is essentially a grunt with extra radio gear to carry. By the time my 6 year reserve contract finished, I was a Sergeant and our unit had returned from 4 months active duty training in the Mojave Desert during Desert Storm in 1991. Our unit was supposed to part of the replacements troops following the Ground War but ultimately most Reserve Units were deactivated before reservists could attain Veteran status and the benefits that come with it. Needless to say, The first Gulf war was a much different situation than the troops are in today.

Are you really a Fireman currently also?
Yes, I’m a volunteer Firefighter in my hometown. My family teases me that I just like being in uniform. Actually, I like physical challenges and helping people. Five months after I joined the department in 1991, we were called to help the Rescue Effort at Ground Zero (many people forget that the fires burned underground for months). Most of the time, though, the alarm calls that I answer at night and on weekends are false alarms- fortunately- and I’m just a little more bleary eyed for the effort in the morning. And it’s always amusing when the false alarm is at a friends house who just burned their Thanksgiving turkey.

But the training is strenuous. To be a trained firefighter, you need to complete an 80 hour course with simulated and live fire training exercises. The turnout gear is heavy and hot even before going into a fire. When you’re inside a burning room with an air-tank, you can barely see or hear anything because of the noise and inherent confusion at each scene. Like my reserve experience with the military, my volunteer firefighter experience has taught me great respect for the Professional Firefighter. As a Volunteer Company, we train once a month and respond to calls when we can. Professional/Career Firefighters usually respond to several calls everyday – and at every hour of the day.

Who's #1 in Analyst Relations? In Asia Pacific, it's IBM

Hat’s off to the Asia Pacific IBM analyst relations team headed by Junaidah Dahlan and Karen Davis. I work with them frequently on global and regional announcements, cross IBM events and team issues. This is a well deserved reward for a job well done

In a report byIntelligen/Lighthouse , the IBM A/R team proved to be the leader.

Here are some of the analyst comments:

Analyst Comments from the report:

“With dedicated local and regional AR resources (as well as some worldwide resources who interact with Asia/Pacific analysts) and focus on multiple market segments, IBM was praised by some analysts for its professional and proactive approach to analyst relations, and was generally regarded as understanding the role and importance of industry analysts. ”

“I find the people that they use to fulfill my enquiries are very easy to work with, maybe they’re more seasoned, less sales-oriented, have a more mature approach, less blinkered.” Principal analyst

“I deal with them less this year than last year, but they are still there reaching out to say “what can I do to help your research?”” Research director

“IBM is probably the best. Consistency in terms of staff, the structure’s well-defined, clear lines of contact, sophisticated understanding of my needs.” Research vice president

“IBM. They take you seriously right from the start. They don’t feel they have to get a list of the customers you’re working with before they give you information. They’re much more aware of the analyst’s role. They don’t overload you, most of the time. I can get on the phone and they will find the right person for me to speak to – it may take some time, but they will do it. They’re very good at honing in on what you need, what’s useful.” Principal analyst

“They have an analyst relations website so I can log in and self-service. Some product groups are better than others at keeping up the relationship.” Research director, Malaysia

“IBM is professional. They have AR people under the communications department, several AR people. I can get business and product information from these people, so I think they have good internal communications. I get an instant response to my request for a meeting with their product managers.” Principal analyst, China.

Bloggerview with Doug Heintzman – SWG Strategist: Analysts – It’s a Partnership of Discovery

I really like to have discussions with insightful people. I thought this was going to be mostly on all things Open (there is a good deal of that, don’t worry), but I came away thinking here’s a guy that really knows where he’s going and what he’s doing. I found his answers to my questions fascinating and I hope that you do also.

Doug delves into the beginnings of IBM’s Software Group, strategy issues, pattern recognition to solve problems, the future, the most important skill at IBM and IT analysts.

What is your job title (and what does that really mean as far as your job)?
Director, Software Group technical strategy,

I wear a number of hats. I sit in the headquarters of Software Strategy Group and we worry about big picture issues. We plug holes and identify issues that span all the brands in Software. We worry about things like emerging technology and globalization as well as marketplace landscaped issues. We worry about the Venture Capitol efforts, Strategic Alliances, and things like Open Source.

I have a number of operational responsibilities including running the Open Source Steering Committee for SWG. We process and approve Open Source use, distribution, donations of code or programs, and ensure that proper legal and business reviews are done. We also deal with compliance to mandates about strategic platform support. common criteria certification, and accessibility legislation issues. These mandates are put in place to insure that the IBM platform of middleware products are as collectively valuable as possible. All of the pieces of the software portfolio need to be coordinated for proper delivery. All components need to be there making a cohesive platform and we help coordinate that. I’m also the sponsorship executive for the International Collegiate Programming Championship. That’s a lot of fun.

There are always interesting issues to be considered, questions to be asked and answered, and cracks that need to be filled. We do this also.

Besides the operational side of my team’s responsibilities, we have the bigger strategy side. At any given time, we are working on many strategy projects. We look at the Open Source world and viable business models. We are working hard on the Open Document Format (ODF) strategy for IBM. We provide some support for our field and government relations teams. We are exploring issues like the convergence of VOIP and data network and the kinds of next generation mixed modal applications that become possible, real-time systems, and community effort around building Enterprise Service Buses. In other words, we oversee a lot of activities and projects.

I have a team of bright creative people and we build virtual teams bringing together some of the best minds from across the company including those from research for pattern recognition to solve problems.

When I speak at high school career days, I obviously get the question “what is a strategist” To answer this I show the kids a series of charts of various different technology trend lines over time such as memory density and price, storage density and price, networking speeds and broadband penetration etc… and then I ask them, If you knew all this what would you invent?” The answer turns out to be an I-Pod. A strategist looks at patterns and how they collide to create new opportunities to innovate and invent. We help identify these trends and make recommendations about what IBM should do to capitalize on them.

We also do a lot of ad-hoc consulting for various projects across IBM. We are on numerous advisory boards on a variety of subjects.

How did you get to where you are.. Do you have some work experiences that you would like to relate?
I took a non traditional route.

I started working for IBM right out of college in 1989. I did my under graduate work in Politics and Economics, then did my graduate work in International Economic and Social Administration at the University of Grenoble in France. I’m a second generation IBMer, an IBM brat so to speak. My dad was the CAD/CAM guru for Canada. After graduation, I was looking around trying to figure out what I wanted to do and my dad suggested that I interview with IBM, so I went through the interview process, and at my final interview with the Montreal Branch manager I asked him “why would you hire someone like me?”

The answer is one that I still remember quite clearly and that I relate to new employee classes and to high school students at career days. It went sort of like this: “The stuff we do here you can’t learn in school, the stuff we are going to be doing in 6 months….. – we haven’t invented yet. I’m going to send you to school for 8 months to learn what it takes to succeed in this business. You will never stop learning. You will read 100’s of pages of journals every week and will attend many courses every year, The people I hire have demonstrated a passion for learning. That is the most important skill you can have at IBM”

I’ve been fortunate to have many different career experiences at IBM. This is certainly one of the great things about working for a company with the size and breadth of IBM.

The first thing I did was being a CAD/CAM specialist, sort of following my Dad’s footsteps. Soon after, four of us from across IBM Canada were recruited to become the first sales people for a fledgling software business… what would become the Software Group. That grew into Operating Systems, LAN, and a number of other things. From there, I went to Ottawa as a Sales Specialist.

Fate then stepped in when, as a result of my frustration on hearing all my customers relate how they had been to Redmond to hear the Microsoft story, I wrote a 2 page business case arguing that we should build a capability to explain the big software story and the value of all our middleware products as a platform. At the time you had to go to a lot of different places to here about a lot of different parts of IBM Software. I argued in my paper that we should develop a customer program that became known as “Software in Action”. It was also more frequently referred to as the Ron (Sebastian) and Doug show. Mike Rhodin (now Lotus GM) happened to be at a briefing center when we were doing this, saw us, and subsequently asked us to do it worldwide. After this, I went to pervasive computing and ran standards for 2 years and became chairman of the SyncML initiative (a standards organization for data synchronization), Then I managed strategy for pervasive computing. Then I moved to the SW strategy group to work with government and open standards, and was subsequently promoted to my current position.

What is unusual is that after 17 years, this is the first job I’ve ever inherited from someone else. All of the others were invented, In fact they were all newly created jobs. But it all ties back to the lecture on learning at my IBM interview.

What I love about working at IBM is the rate of innovation and change. We are always doing new and interesting things. We went from tabulating to the 360, from mainframes to services. We are always reinventing and making the transition leap to the next generation of technology, always adapting to new market dynamics and changing customer requirements.

It’s interesting, when I speak to new employee classes, to explain to them that everything I’ve done has been somewhat accidental instead of having a planned career. It is difficult to chart a career progression in a company like IBM because the landscape and technology is so dynamic.

One new employee in one of these sessions said to me “I think I understand what you are trying to tell us….There will always be new opportunities to do new and interesting things… always be prepared to take advantage of a new opportunity when one presents itself. There are always new ways to do something and be prepared to embrace them.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Any hobbies or fun stuff you want to discuss?
I don’t have as much time as I would like. My passion is my children and they are my joy. I love coming home and finding out what they did during the day and reading to them. I’m also an avid skier and I play guitar. I love to canoe and camp. In fact my summer job before IBM was as a canoe guide.

How do you describe what you do to your family and those who don’t work in our industry?
The simple answer is that we try to figure out what the world is going to look like in 5-7 years and try to make recommendations on what to do about it. Part of the art, the challenge of this, is that world is a long way away from where we are todays. Articulating some wonderful vision about what the world might look like to a general manager who is worrying about this quarter’s earnings is tough. You have to bridge today and tomorrow and lay out the steps to get there, a pragmatic approach with intermediate steps. You need to tell the story of the journey.

What are good things about your job?
I have the privilege of working with extraordinarily bright people. They are fun to be around and I have a great opportunity to learn something new every day. I get to work on the leading edge, It’s creative and imaginative. We try to turn research into something real and relevant.

What are things you would change?
I need more in-box discipline. My scope is so large, I speak a lot and am away a lot of the time, so I need to do better at this. I’m convinced there is an important business opportunity in helping people (like me) to manage the volume and complexity of information they are exposed to.  I also thought an Inconvenient Truth was true, later to find out it was political propaganda.

What are the biggest challenges at IBM?
The traditional business challenge of “how do you grow?” Where do we go from here? How to continue doing what you do well while trying to be well positioned for emerging opportunities? Part of it is cultural and creative, Part of it is agility. We have an advantage because of our strengths and insights : our intellectual property, our smart people, our global presence All of these are better than anyone in the world. Figuring out how to grow, how to leverage our strengths has always been an issue. Transition has been a big strength of IBM. The current Open issues (like ODF and Linux) are ushering in another transition period. We have to avoid the “Innovators dilemma”. We have been successful in transitioning across various disruptions in our long and storied history. I think we are very well positioned moving forward.

Have you considered being a blogger?
I may get to it, but time is an issue. It’s a matter of discipline. I talk to bloggers all the time. I think I would enjoy it very much. It’s a fascinating phenomenon. The challenge is much of what I’m doing are not things that are ready to be blogged during the thought process, as we may not be ready to share them yet.

Since analysts read this, what would you like to say to them about Strategy and IBM?
Frankly, I view the relationship with analysts as a partnership. My job is to get as many data points as possible and to synthesize them. The analyst community has deep insight that is a significant contributor to what I do. We’ve been doing a lot of deep thinking as well which I’ve been told by many analysts has relevance to their thinking. I consider my interactions with analysts as a dialogue. I enjoy the analyst community tremendously. They provoke my thinking and serve as a sounding board for our ideas, It’s a partnership of discovery.

What are you looking forward to in the upcoming years, either product or how you will work differently?
I’m excited about the people aspect of business productivity. We’ll continue to focus on integration and optimize IT, We will deliver on the potential of SOA, and componantization, but I personally believe the next big piece of productivity comes from the people side of the equation.

My laptop, and my head for that matter, have information that would help others do their jobs. If they could use what I have, it would save them time. We haven’t come anywhere near realizing the potential of focusing the expertise of our people in solving customers’ business problems. My out of control in-box dilemma, for example, is indicative of this potential for productivity improvement. We need to work better, work smarter and expand the productivity potential. We need to focus on optimizing human creativity and potential on solving problems.

We need to bring software tools to the market that provide better visibility into business performance, facilitate better decision making through highly parallel analysis of the efficiency of different scenario’s and focuses the expertise and creativity of knowledge workers. If we could gather and have access to all of the information and research on the many distributed computers and in the heads of many individuals in or organizations, find a way to get it, organize it, make sense of it and make it available to the right people in the right context, we could save months of discovery and development time.

Another area I’m very excited about is the profound impact deep computing will have on our society. We are deploying deep computing capability that is allowing us to model human protein folding. It’s like the introduction of computer modeling in the automotive industry. Through that process, we shortened the product development cycle from 9 years to 9 months. The potential for innovation in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and medicine is tremendous.

The other phenomenon that I find extraordinarily fascinating, and very fundamental, is the trend towards openness and community based development. We are in the midst of a process of rebalancing the role that intellectual property protection plays in our society and at the same time the internet has provided us with this extraordinarily efficient and cost effective means to collaborate. As a result I think that the rate and pace of innovation will continue to increase. It is a very exciting time to be in the information technology industry.

Unfortunately, Doug then told the world that he thought that the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” is the most important movie ever made.  I watched an entire audience lose respect for him at that point.  It prompted me to write this post.

A Crappie day after a Crappy week

This Fish is a Crappie

I could have done with out the events of this week, so I took some time to recouperate. That was why I didn’t post the last couple of days….

First things first. I got to hear about a report where our programs finished a gnats toenail behind another Software company (rhymes with Lycrosoft) and I got to spend the better part of 3 days figuring out why we didn’t know it was happening. As it turns out, the analyst group “forgot” to notify us, but admitted they should have, of the 2 analyst relations reps that covered this report, one retired and the other moved out of a/r 6 months ago, so guess who got left holding the “garbage” bag……moi.

So I needed something to take my mind off of one of the worst weeks I’ve had in a while by doing two of the things I like, Fishing and Martial Arts. Friday went to Judo class and threw some people around (O Goshi, Uki Goshi, Hane Goshi, Harai Goshi and Ju No Kata) and got thrown some also. I felt a little better.

Today I went to the I went to the Raleigh Bass and Saltwater Fishing Expo . This next sentence is for Nancy and Steve. I went shopping and it was at a fishing show.

Anyway, I got a new Crappie pole that I can’t wait to try out as they’ll be biting soon.

Next week will be better, it could only go one way after last week…I hope. Anyway, I’ll have a great interview with Doug Heintzman who will expound on Research, ODF, Software Group and some other really interesting things….don’t miss it.

Harriet Pearson – Head of Privacy and Blogging at IBM, today's Blog Interview

Today is a very special interview for me. Harriet heads up two critical areas for IBM, and it goes without saying that both are important and sensitive. These issues must be handled accurately and with dexterity. Harriet excels at her job, and you’ll read that she is very qualified to do so.

As with each of these blog-erview’s, it’s a peek into who they are and what they do. Harriet spared some time to speak to me for this and I found her both interesting and enjoyable to speak to. I’m most grateful that she granted me this gift.

As I’ve said before, I’m a blogger, not a journalist. Harriet did a Podcast with Scott Berinato that you’ll also find interesting.

What is your job title (and what does that really mean as far as your job)?
I’m IBM’s Chief Privacy Officer and VP of Corporate Affairs. Being CPO means I’m responsible for what IBM does with data about clients, employees and other people. With the amount of data we are responsible for managing globally, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we are committed to leadership in this space. I’m responsible for our having the right privacy policies and processes to advance that leadership. I also work on IBM’s efforts to help society meet the challenge of preserving privacy in the face of incredible advances in how information can be managed for value and insight. We have a conviction that technology and solutions can do a lot to protect privacy, to enable the balance of privacy expectations and the sharing of data.

I also coordinate the efforts of a team of executives who lead IBM’s engagement in important social and policy initiatives, such as intellectual property, open standards, health care and workforce issues.

Some prior work experience that you can tell?
I have checkered past (just kidding)! What I mean is that I’ve been lucky to be exposed to a lot of different disciplines and fields, which is, as the world gets more complex, a good thing. I majored in engineering and worked first with Shell Oil, drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico. Wore a hard hat and coverall, complete with the Shell logo (still have the outfit in case any needs a Halloween costume). I then went to law school and followed my passion for energy and environment issues to a law firm in Washington.

But I never really LOVED my jobs until August of ’93 when I joined IBM, in the Government Programs group. I got to represent IBM on a range of public policy issues, some that drew on my previous background, and lots that didn’t–like energy efficiency, healthcare, labor and retirement policy. I first started working on privacy issues in 1997, as part of that group.

Lou Gerstner appointed me Chief Privacy Officer in late 2000, and I kept that responsibility while I did a fantastic two-year rotation in Human Resources in corporate and in IBM’s Systems business. I loved learning about the business from a different perspective,

After that, I went back to working on policy issues, now as corporate affairs VP.

Any hobbies or fun stuff you want to discuss?
Sure. My main focus outside of work is my family–I have 2 kids and a husband who’s the home parent. And, of course, Jack our Schnoodle (cross of poodle and schnauzer–the ultimate in hypoallergenic dogs…in case any of your readers have allergies). My daughter and I sing in a 90-woman chorus that sings four part a Capella harmony, barbershop style. We’re available for singing valentine and birthdays. Want to hire me? 😉 (again, just kidding!). But check them out:Potomac Harmony Chorus

How do you describe what you do to your family and those who don’t work in our industry?
IBM is a global company that helps businesses and other institutions to innovate, and my job is to work across our company on projects that drive innovation on societal and policy issues that matter in this day and age….issues such as healthcare, privacy, security and the emergence of new ways to communicate such as blogging. These are interesting and exciting issues that need leadership and I’m fortunate to be part of the team of folks that work on them.

Recently IBM made an announcement about genetics, can you comment about that?

Yes, Steve Lohr of the New York Times wrote an article about it. I particularly love a piece in CSOonline.

There were factors that led us to adopt a policy on genetic information. We looked at what’s happening at the leading edges of health care industry..what’s known as information-based or personalized medicine. Genetics are being used to figure out who is predisposed to a disease or who is less susceptible. People are concerned that information might become available and used to harm them, e.g. deny health insurance. In our effort to improve quality of healthcare for our own employees, we realized people were afraid of the information being shared, perhaps they might lose health insurance, or not be eligible for insurance if applying for a new job.

So, we changed our global employment policies, saying that we were not going to use genetic information that employees might share with us, to make employment decisions, e.g. health insurance coverage decisions. IBM’s proud of our history of being ahead of the curve on equality and non-discrimination issues. This issue is another one where we are ahead of others in committing not to discriminate against someone based on something that, after all, can’t be changed and is very personal: one’s genetic makeup. In the US alone, we provide access to health insurance for over 500,000 employees, dependents and retirees, so our policy change was noticed and, I might add, welcomed by a lot of folks. (Wash Post editorial). I’m very proud of that.

What are good things about your job?
I work on some of the most interesting and important issues of our day, and work with incredibly smart and committed people in business, government, non-profits and within IBM.

What are things you would change?
In high school, take up a foreign language like Mandarin. Travel more in Asia.

How did you become one of the lead executives for blogging at IBM?
Before it was organized, a group of dedicated bloggers came up with some guidelines on their own (working on a wiki!) so as to not to run afoul of IBM policies. Through networking, they got connected to a few of us in corporate headquarters. I worked with a team of experts from HR and Legal to “polish up” our bloggers’ guidelines and build support for them around the company. Truthfully, it wasn’t hard to do at all, since our bloggers had done most of the work themselves….we just coordinated the effort to release guidelines and provide more tools and enablement to our growing community of IBM bloggers. Last I checked, we have over 16,800 registered on our internal blog central site, and lots of them are blogging externally. As a privacy expert, and ex-HR executive, I am fascinated by the potential for blogging and related phenomena for individuals, media, society and of course business–potential that’s both positive and, at times, uh, challenging. Good cocktail conversation, for sure.

What is your vision on the future of privacy?
It’s inevitable that our expectations of privacy–and how we achieve them–will change over time…they always have, if you think about it, stretching back to the origins of human society. I think that the next decade will be hugely important to develop the right set of public policies and private sector privacy and security practices, especially as we become increasingly networked as individuals (think blogs, blackberries, sensor-enabled credit cards) and as enterprises. It’s inevitable that we’ll become more comfortable sharing information–just look at what teens are willing to write on their blogs! But at the same time, people will demand accountability and transparency–WHO has data about them, WHAT are they doing with it, and HOW can we make sure I don’t get harmed?

2005, another one bites the dust

Here I sit at 7:15 on New Years Eve, blogging about the year. I’m not much of a partier, and this is the night the amateurs try to keep up with the professionals on the drinking circuit, then drive, so I’m going to stay alive another night, God willing.

So 2005 is over. As it is with most periods of time, we accomplished moving the ball forward rather than backwards. Professionally, we had one of the best years as a team (IBM SWG A/R) and made progress. IBM moved forward in a number of directions. We’ll mourn the loss of Dave Liddell as our leader, but celebrate the ascension of Sarita Torres as the new boss.

Since I’m blogging, we made huge steps in this area (yes, I’ll give you we started later than we should so we had more to make up). We now have good bloggers, we’re releasing blog tools and we are going forward, not backwards.

Personally, I started Delusions of Adequacy in mid-year and have shared any number of IBM’rs with you and made blogger acquaintances/links/professional relationships both in and out of the company.

I was promoted to 2nd degree Black Belt in 2005, so I’m gaining traction personally. Working out, I lifted 3,977,911 pounds as calculated by the Fitlinxx machines I work out on, and burned 300,708 calories while doing so. I worked out roughly two thirds of the days this year, so I’m more fit than this time last year, and better able to defend myself.

I’m not going to get into New Year’s resolutions here, partly because this is about 2005, partly because very few people keep them, and partly because I haven’t thought about it yet.

I’m hoping for consistency, the ability to fight the good fight at home, at work and for God. I am now raising my second teenager, and the experience I learned from raising the first looks like it will be mostly useless. About the only thing I can re-use is that teenagers can make some of the dumbest mistakes while trying to learn lifes ropes, and we as parents just hope for survival sometimes…both ours and theirs. Happy New Year.

The New Analyst Relations Lineup/Scorecard

Get out your scorecards, we’re making some changes in the lineup here at SWG A/R.

Who’s on first?

Sarita Torres replaces Dave Liddell as the Director of SWG A/R, new manager.
Glenn Hintze replaces Nancy Riley at AIM, batting first
Mike Bizovi replaces Sarita at IM, batting second
Amy Loomis replaces Mike Bizovi in Cross Brand, batting third
Diane Flis replaces Amy Loomis in Rational, batting cleanup
Don Neely replaces Diane Flis in Lotus, batting fifth
Patty Rowell gets promoted to Manager of Tivoli, batting sixth.

Nancy Riley got traded to another team, Manager of SWG aquisitions.

So, this is the perfect time to call your new brand manager and congratulate them on their new assignment, and offer help to them to get their job done.

Like I said in my first ever email closing, change is the only thing that stays the same.

The News, Have it your way

I read the other day from Steve O’Grady , why he stopped watching the news. It’s been bouncing around in my head for a couple of days and the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.

We want the information/news/updates/whatever the way we want it, not the way the current regime of news/papers/print magazines decide for us what they want to interpret as news. I’m pretty sure this has always been the case, but we as information consumers haven’t had the opportunity to customize it until recently (a matter of years for some, more recently for others).

I commented on his blog about how right he was, and that I already had stopped watching it also (but you got me Steve, I didn’t even realize this). I always have a better understanding of the issues before it hits the traditional news. I find the subject that interests me, then I can go to sources, blogs or the web that may have been at the place of the event, and almost always there is someone who understands the issue better than a newscaster. It occurs to me that the whoever the media source is, they are really a journalist, not a field or subject matter expert. The blogosphere has now become the more informed reporter.

When the sources for news was limited, these generalist journalists were the only choice. As with any job, there is always a range of talent and quality. But as any economist will tell you, a monopoly causes quality to go down and price to go up. The news has been monopolistic with respect to news feeds, and media conglomerates. Go to any channel and you get virtually the same story, the one that was in the morning newspaper a lot of the time.

Which brings me to how I want to get the news. If you’ve read any of my blogs, you know I love IBM Research. If you ever get the chance, talk to research or read about them. They are not just blue suits, rather some unbelievable minds. Back in 1999, I saw a demo of a flexible newspaper that was really a screen that you customized your own news. When we showed it off, it wowed everyone as the technology was cool, but it opened up freedom of content.

All you need is a news bot to get your sources and it downloaded and formatted. Now that sounds a whole like feed aggregators (google, bloglines, other). It likely won’t come to fruition in that format, but the concept is coming true.

So it’s getting to the time that we can select what we want and get it. This is bad and good for the traditional news. As anyone with a search engine can find, circulation numbers are down for the traditional news, most cable news (ok, one exception was up) and print news.

Why is it good? Back to the economists. Capitalism invites competition, the result of which is lower prices and better quality. So they will either have to improve, or go the way of the horse and buggy (Steve’s example again here). Otherwise, we get what we want because we have choices.

And like Steve, I chose getting the real story from my research, not the negative or slanted (both directions) that someone thinks I should get. Either way, I’m going to get a better product, at a cheaper price.

Update: Here’s a story from Tekrati that shows a trend towards consumer preference. We may win after all.

And another showing lower prices…

First Day of the Analyst Meeting

Today was interesting. There was a fire drill that broke up the main tent, talk about not getting off to a stellar start.  It was good since the main speaker had 136 slides and the collective groan from the audience that an IBM executive could be that clueless was deafening.  Anybody that did return was just being polite. Everyone had checked out mentally.

I of course was in the overflow room so I wasn’t forced to sit through anything I didn’t want to hear, which is most of what the executives have to say.  How the analysts don’t bust us for pontificating is beyond me.  I think Steve Mills is great.  It was his team of idiots that gave him that many slides.  The GM’s that work for him are a bunch of blowhards that have ego’s we can hardly fit in a room together.  The best part is when Mills treats them like dirt which is appropriate given that’s how they treat everyone else.  How they got there has got to be because they have pictures of somebody or they just outlasted everyone else.  It isn’t because of their talent or leadership.

The exception is Buell Duncan who as always did a good job presenting, and it was a lively discussion with the analysts. All except one got the concept and saw we were heading in the right direction. I think he just wanted to hear himself talk.  Since James is from Redmonk, I gave him a pass as you can’t fix stupid and no one paid attention to him anyway.

One on Ones turned out to be very interesting. I always enjoy the depth of the conversations and how much can get done when you sit down and hash out a problem when you are sincerely trying to create a solution.

For the second year in a row, I got to eat dinner with Laurie M. and again it was a very enjoyable evening. We solved all of the meeting problems of how to make it more lively and interesting for the analysts. Ultimately, Zurich would be a better place than anywhere in Connecticut, and we should give away an i-Pod.

In the dinner line, I asked Rod Smith to be a blog interview, he wants to talk about Ajax and some upcoming things in that area. Talk about getting lucky. Look for that interview soon.

Tomorrow should be even better. We’ll be more relaxed and into the flow. I can’t wait for the open Q and A with all the GM’s on stage and any topic is fair game.  Plus, Mills abuses his GM’s the way they should be treated.  It is a treat for everyone.

IBM Bloggers, Who are we? – Bob Sutor


I am most privileged to be able to offer this blog interview of Bob Sutor. Bob was one of the first links I had when I set up my first RSS feed, still a neophyte to the blogosphere. He has graciously agreed to my interview series for which I am most grateful.

This is a very interesting read, with subjects ranging from guitar’s to calculus and polynomials. If you think that PhD’s aren’t witty, read the story about his son at the Gartner conference. Being a Trekkie, I’d like to teleport also.

I asked some questions with analyst’s and open standards in mind, and you will find the answers most revealing.

What is your job title (and what does that really mean as far as your job,)?
I’m the IBM VP for Standards and Open Source. Basically, this allows me to stick my nose into anything we’re doing on those topics. I work with my team to make sure that we have consistent management of these activities across all the business units in the company. I work closely with our intellectual property folks to ensure we are striking the right a balance between “open” and more traditional ways of doing things. Then I like to tell people about all this.

Some work experience that you want to tell?
I started work for IBM in 1982 when I was between my two stints in grad school. I spent 15 years in IBM Research working on “symbolic mathematical computation” (instead of thinking of a spreadsheet and what it does, think of a system that allows you to manipulate things like polynomials and matrices and do fancy calculus computations). My main job before working for IBM was a paper route. I was very involved in IBM’s early work on web servcies, particularly the standards bits and how we worked with other companies. Although I consider myself a technologist at heart, I spent almost two years as Director of Marketing for WebSphere.

Any hobbies or fun stuff you want to discuss?
After a 34 year hiatus, I started trying again to learn how to play the guitar last December. Progress is slow, but satisfying. I’m using it as an excuse to learn about music as well. I was always told that people who were good at mathematics were also good at music, but felt it didn’t apply to me. It still might not, but at least the evidence will be empirical rather than anecdotal. I do wish I had started a lot earlier.

How do you describe what you do in your work to your family and those who don’t work in our industry?
Last April I was on an Open Source panel at the Gartner conference in LA and I brought my (then) 7 year old son. He learned a fair bit about the ideas behind it but he really has no sense of, say, what enterprise software is. (He loves Firefox, by the way.) For people outside my immediate family, I tell them I help do things that make computer systems made by different people work together. By the way, the Gartner folks were really great to my son and gave him a badge with his name on it and the word “Companion” where the company name usually goes. He told me that when he grows up he is going to start a company called Companion so he can get into future conferences for free.

What are good things about your job?
I love the broad range of things I get to look at on an everyday basis. I also like working on things like the initiative we announced in October around use of our patents for healthcare and education standards. That is, when we get to do things that might change the direction of the industry, it’s really exciting.

What are things you would change?
Shorter, more efficient conference calls would be a good start. I like travelling and talking to customers, people in industry and government, but I wish that the actual travel time getting there and back wasn’t so consuming and tiring. I think often of Star Trek-like teleportation and wish we could have that today.

What are the biggest challenges at IBM?
Because of our size, there are so many things we do do and could possibly do. There is simply not enough time to do it all. Prioritization is therefore really important. I really value people who are good at that as well as being very efficient communicators. In the area in which I work, the world can change radically every six months. I also value people who accept if not thrive on that.

How did you get started as a blogger?
IBM developerWorks asked me to start a blog in August, 2004, when I was working in the WebSphere area on web services and SOA. I had written byliners for trades like CNet for a few years, so it was actually liberating to be able to say things on a more regular basis in more or fewer than 800 words. I also have a personal blog which is being sadly neglected, but I have big plans for it if I ever get some more free time.

How has that changed your job?
I’ve done probably 75% fewer press interviews but I get my views out more precisely and frequently. In addition to saying whatever I want to say to people outside IBM, I can also talk in a public way to people inside IBM via the blog. It gives me a chance to explain nuances of things to whomever might be interested. When I do meet new people in the industry or members of the media, I’ve often told that they’ve read my blog. That allows us to immediately jump in and discuss things at a deeper level without a lot of background explanation.

Since analysts read this, what would you like to say to them about Standards?
People need much more guidance on what the word “open” means. I think analysts need to start quantifying how open the various standards efforts are in areas like development, maintenance, accession, implementation, and ability to sub-or superset. That is, we need “openness report cards.” Not everyone will be on the honor role, but companies and governments are looking for this information today. As various people have said in business, it’s hard to change things if you can’t measure them.

What are you looking forward to in the upcoming years, either product or how you will work differently?
I’m looking for standards and open source to give me and other people a lot more options in how we get our work done.

Any thing else I missed you want to say?
I think it is really wonderful how something like the OASIS OpenDocument Format is breathing life into the office suite category of software. Standards and open source software themselves do not have to be immediately innovative in order to drive some really innovative and stimulating things downstream. In both of these areas, you must think of the work you do as being an investment in the future. If you take intelligent risks, you can reap big rewards. If you risk nothing or hang on to the status quo too long, others will move past you.

IBM and Social Networking (IWB and blogging event)

This week, IBM held a Social Networking event hosted by Irving Wladawsky-Berger for the press. Some local analyst’s attended.

On the panel was:

Irving Wladawsky-Berger
IBM VP of IBM Technical Strategy and Innovation

Irene Greif
IBM Fellow and head of the Collaborative User Experience Research Lab

Mike Rhodin
IBM Software Group, Lotus
General Manager of Workplace, Portal and Collaboration Software

Bill Ives
Author, Business Blogs: A Practical Guide

Stephen Sparkes
Managing Director, Investment Banking Division, Morgan Stanley

David Weinberger
Author, The Clue Train Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual

Here is the advertisement before the event:
According to Wikipedia, social networks play a “critical role in determining the way problems are solved, organizations are run, and the degree to which individuals succeed in achieving their goals.” IBM believes that this model, which has been so successful in the consumer and open source communities with things like Friendster, MySpace, Craigslist, blogs, wikis and other social networking tools and phenomena, can be tapped to drive productivity, collaboration and business insight for the corporate world.

We won’t focus on whether or not CEOs should blog or what is the right and wrong way for business people to engage with bloggers — instead we invite you to hear and discuss the business opportunities we see for our clients.

We will provide a peek at technologies from inside IBM’s Research labs that demonstrate how these social networks can transform how companies work, and perhaps more importantly how they can drive new kinds of collaborative innovation in business. And we’ll explain how IBM plans to help companies deal with these phenomena: from analytics for searching and mining blogs and what to do with that information to make business decisions, to how these social networks can help transform cultures and change the way we work and collaborate.

Here are some blog comments with the analyst questions with the panel’s answers.

Mike Gotta

David Weinberger

Press coverage:
NEWS STORIES

IBM Says That Companies Need to Mine Blogs, Wikis for Vital Business Data
SearchDomino.com

IBM Software Tracks Blogs, Web Content
E-Content Magazine

IBM launches blog content monitoring software
Newswatch, India

IBM Software Tracks Blogs, Web Content to Capture Buzz, Spot Trends Around
Linux Electrons

Blog-Spotting With IBM
InternetNews.com

IBM Discovers What Willis Is Talking About
WebProNews

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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 here it is. STEVE, WE GOT YOUR HOTEL AND CONFIRMATION. PLEASE CHECK THE NOTE I SENT FOR THE DETAILS

So blog before email? a new paradigm?

Today's SWG A/R blogging Inquiry


I work with some of the best analyst relations folks you could want to work with. We constantly strive for better methods/tactics and ways to improve how we do our jobs.

Today, we had an inquiry with RedMonk on writing blogs. All in all, it went well. I received several instant messages during and after the call about how informative this was.

The call of course was led by Steve O’Grady and James Governer. Each offered insight into how and why we could/should do this, and tips on how to be a better blogger. Not that I want to give our competition an advantage over us, but these guys know what they are talking about. Just google “do blogs work” and see who’s on top.

Personally, I liked the part when Steve mentioned fishing when discussing personal things about yourself and how to build relationships between analysts and a/r representatives. Of course, it’s one of my favorite topics and I knew he referred to some of our conversations (see my 14 spot redfish above).

I still find the most compelling reason to do this was a statement that was made regarding how the next job interview would go when the interviewer asks, “Where is the link to your blog”. That is a jaw dropper if you don’t have one.

So back to my teammates. I wonder if the law of averages or a bell curve applies here. Some will, some won’t, some will do it right away, others will get around to it? I don’t know. These ladies and gentlemen are very tenacious and adapt to new tools to get their job done, so I wonder who’s going to blog. I hear banter from the team about what good writers some are and that they would be good at this. My guess is that is true and I’m sure they would be interesting.

As for me, like a lot of things I do, repetition overcomes a lack of talent.

I know we strive to be leaders, so I challenge you guys to get out there and blog.