USA To Be The Last Country In The West To Require A Jab For Entry, Unless You Enter Illegally

Travelers flying into the United States will still need proof of Covid vaccination in 2023 — making the US the only country in the West to stick by the failing policy.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has extended the rule, which only applies to non-US citizens, until at least January 8 next year to ‘limit the risk of Covid-19, including variants of the virus’.

But there has been a growing acceptance among experts that Covid vaccines – while highly effective at preventing severe illness – do not stop infections very well.

Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), admitted earlier this year that shots ‘can’t prevent transmission anymore’.

Yet since November 2021, non-US citizens entering America have had to provide proof of Covid vaccination.

The CDC defines fully vaccinated as having had an accepted single-dose vaccine, or both doses of an accepted two-dose series, at least two weeks ago. A booster dose is not needed. 

Most major Western nations such as the UK, France and Germany, have already dropped these types of recommendations.

Source

I tried to explain legal vs illegal immigration to a colleague, Mauricio G at work. He mistook the law and it’s consequences. I knew the history of the country and the basis for it’s existence and laws, and it is playing out like I tried to explain. I chose not to engage this one due to not wanting a fight against immaturity. It was too bad as I tried to help him. Eventually I got back stabbed.

It turns out that Legal Aliens are more patriotic, my point to Mauricio. I was only for upholding the law and it turns out I was right.

Mark Twain

“Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

― Mark Twain

When you are not from here, you don’t learn why the history is so important. It’s also why the laws mean something.

I get that one part of the Left wants the replacement theory (get rid of white people who love the country because they will never vote for elitists and socialists like we currently have). That is not what made it the greatest country in achievement and benevolence to others. They just promise money and people vote for then, falling for it every election

Why are they forcing law abiding citizens to get poisoned, and those with diseases get to run anywhere they want once they cross.

They are about to use polio vaccine in NY for the first time in over 40 years. Who brought that in?

Fentanyl? It comes from China through the Mexican border.

So get your poisoned clot shot if you want to come in. Many are doing that now. I’d never get poisoned to go anywhere. I can see it on TV.

A Sad Day In The Blogging World

Denny Wilson, aka Grouchy old Cripple passed away.

We worked together at IBM and crossed paths in the Blogoshpere.

Behind the scenes, we shared war stories about the assholes that ruined IBM as well as different assholes who are ruining America.

Publicly, he wrote very funny stuff and was right on about it.

He’ll be missed.

Saturdays were my favorite with him. His last Asshole of the week was President *.

John von Neumann, Nearly every computer built to this day, from mainframe to smartphone, is based on von Neumann’s design

More than anyone else, John von Neumann created the future. He was an unparalleled genius, one  of the greatest mathematicians of the twentieth century, and he helped invent the world as we now know it. He came up with a blueprint of the modern computer and sparked the beginnings of artificial intelligence. He worked on the atom bomb and led the team that produced the first computerized weather forecast. In the mid-1950s, he proposed the idea that the Earth was warming as a consequence of humans burning coal and oil, and warned that “extensive human intervention” could wreak havoc with the world’s climate. Colleagues who knew both von Neumann and his colleague Albert Einstein said that von Neumann had by far the sharper mind, and yet it’s astonishing, and sad, how few people have heard of him.

Just like Einstein, von Neumann was a child prodigy. Einstein taught himself algebra at twelve, but when he was just six von Neumann could multiply two eight-digit numbers in his head and converse in Ancient Greek. He devoured a forty-five-volume history of the world and was able to recite whole chapters verbatim decades later. “What are you calculating?” he once asked his mother when he noticed her staring blankly into space. By eight he was familiar with calculus, and his oldest friend, Eugene Wigner, recalls the eleven-year-old Johnny tutoring him on the finer points of set theory during Sunday walks. Wigner, who later won a share of the Nobel prize in physics, maintained that von Neumann taught him more about math than anyone else.

Johnny’s plans (and by extension, the modern world) were nearly derailed by his father, Max, a doctor of law turned investment banker. “Mathematics,” he maintained, “does not make money.” The chemical industry was in its heyday so a compromise was reached that would mark the beginning of von Neumann’s peripatetic lifestyle: the boy would bone up on chemistry at the University of Berlin and meanwhile would also pursue a doctorate in mathematics at the University of Budapest.

In the event, mathematics did make von Neumann money. Quite a lot of it. At the height of his powers in the early 1950s, when his opinions were being sought by practically everyone, he was earning an annual salary of $10,000 (close to $200,000 today) from the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the same again from IBM, and he was also consulting for the US Army, Navy and Air Force.

Von Neumann was irresistibly drawn to applying his mathematical genius to more practical domains. After wrapping up his doctoral degree, von Neumann moved to Göttingen, then a mathematical Mecca. There was also another boy wonder, Werner Heisenberg, who was busily laying the groundwork of a bewildering new science of the atom called “quantum mechanics.” Von Neumann soon got involved, and even today, some of the arguments over the limits and possibilities of quantum theory are rooted in his clear-eyed analysis.

Sensing early that another world war was coming, von Neumann threw himself into military research in America. His speciality was the sophisticated mathematics of maximizing the destructive power of bombs — literally how to get the biggest bang for the army’s buck. Sent on a secret mission to England in 1943 to help the Royal Navy work out German mine-laying patterns in the Atlantic, he returned to the US when the physicist Robert Oppenheimer begged him to join America’s atom-bomb project. “We are,” he wrote, “in what can only be described as a desperate need of your help.”

Terrified by the prospect of another world war, this time with Stalin’s Soviet Union, von Neumann would help deliver America’s hydrogen bomb and smooth the path to the intercontinental ballistic missile.

As he scoured the US for computational resources to simulate bombs, he came across the ENIAC, a room-filling machine at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania that would soon become the world’s first fully electronic digital computer. The ENIAC’s sole purpose was to calculate trajectories for artillery. Von Neumann, who understood the true potential of computers as early as anyone, wanted to build a more flexible machine, and described one in 1945’s First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC. Nearly every computer built to this day, from mainframe to smartphone, is based on his design. When IBM unveiled their first commercial computer, the 701, eight years later, it was a carbon copy of the one built earlier by von Neumann’s team at the IAS.

While von Neumann was criss-crossing the States for the government and military, he was also working on a 1,200-page tract on the mathematics of conflict, deception and compromise with the German economist Oskar Morgenstern. What was a hobby for von Neumann was for Morgenstern a “period of the most intensive work I’ve ever known.” Theory of Games and Economic Behavior appeared in 1944, and it soon found favor at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, where defense analysts charged with “thinking about the unthinkable” would help shape American nuclear policy during the Cold War. They persuaded von Neumann to join RAND as a consultant, and their new computer was named the Johnniac in his honor.

Since then, game theory has transformed vast tracts of economics, the wider social sciences and even biology, where it has been applied to understanding everything from predator-prey relationships to the evolution of altruistic behavior. Today, game theory crops up in every corner of internet commerce — but most particularly in online advertising, where ad auctions designed by game theorists net the likes of Google and Amazon billions of dollars every year.

More at this link

IBM Selling Watson, See My 2012 Prediction

IBM announced that it sold Watson, the Jeopardy winning computer spend-a-thon marketing ploy that was at best a failure in AI.

I wrote in 2012 that it was an advertising gimmick, and that it wouldn’t succeed.

I was in a meeting with Sam Palmisano (then chairman), who said that it wasn’t that big of a deal. It could have been, but wasn’t.

I worked with the people in IBM Research and they are some of the most creative and intelligent people on the planet. Some are so far out there that we couldn’t let them talk to reporters as they’d tell the world the keys to the castle. There has been stuff that never made it out the door, which would have started billion dollar businesses. TPTB at IBM couldn’t recognize this, or it wasn’t strategic (read make money on mainframes). They dropped the ball again on this one.

It is the marketing pukes that grab onto something at IBM and try to ride it for publicity and sales. I saw through it then and it is coming to fruition. That’s why I wrote what I did in 2012. Gini Rometty failed on this one. Sam handed her a golden goose and it got fiddle farted away in the AI world.

Here is an excerpt from the WSJ (you may need a subscription, but look at the last line about it not being a success).

International Business Machines Corp. IBM -1.12% agreed to sell the data and analytics assets from its Watson Health business to investment firm Francisco Partners, the companies said Friday.

The deal is the latest step by IBM to refocus its core business around the cloud. The Wall Street Journal reported last year that IBM was exploring a sale of its healthcare-analytics business as a way to streamline the computing giant’s operations and sharpen its focus on computing services provided via the internet. The Watson Health business uses artificial intelligence to analyze diagnostic tests and other health data and to manage care.

IBM had big aspirations for its Watson artificial intelligence to help in medical research and improve patient outcomes, but the technology’s impact has fallen short of early hopes. Partners and clients have moved away from projects that were built around Watson technology in recent years, although IBM had spent billions of dollars making acquisitions to bolster the business.

“IBM took a risk of becoming a disrupter in the complex health care industry but was only able to garner limited success,” UBS analyst David Vogt said in a note Friday. He added that the Francisco transaction probably wouldn’t have a big financial impact for IBM because of the unit’s limited success.

The big IBM secret is that it is a mainframe company still. It’s software sales are all big iron related. It’s re-focused cloud strategy runs on, you guessed it, a mainframe. They have jettisoned divisions that weren’t money makers and Watson had outlived it’s marketing hype and didn’t cure cancer.

IBM is admitting AI failure by calling it the sale of a non-strategic asset. This message of course like most of the stuff coming out of IBM is bullshit.

At the end of the day, it won Jeopardy. Deep Blue won chess. IBM sells mainframes.

The New Meta Is The Same Old Face(fake)Book

Recently, fascist book announced that they were copying Google (Alphabet) by rebranding to Meta.

I was taken aback as meta means death in Hebrew and I’m pretty sure Zuckerberg is Jewish. His actions and those at Facebook don’t indicate that he believes in God though, quite the opposite. It is appropriate as it’s death to your mental health to be on one of their platforms.

Censorship

There are many examples of fake book taking down posts that didn’t fit the narrative, especially during the election. Zuckerbucks donated about $400 million to swing the election the way it went. Who says you can’t buy an election? Joseph Kennedy did it in 1960 so this is nothing new.

They admit that their censorship is just someone’s opinion anyway.

The Metaverse

I’ve been around long enough to remember the farce that was Second Life. It’s where you played a sort of real life video game in a virtual world. The head of quantum computing at IBM had his department go to virtual meetings for about 2 months in that space. It was such a pain in the ass that the world gave up on it.

To me, it was like Leisure Suit Larry and the Land of the Lounge Lizards, if you are old enough to remember that funny game.

Leisure Suit Larry In The Land Of The Lounge Lizards PC ...

So now, they want us to believe that we’ll wear an Oculus headset and pretend we are in the Matrix. That trope has a long way to go before it really catches on.

What I Think

There is a growing trend in the Comics to head to the Metaverse. The next Dr. Strange will go there. Avengers Endgame showed how you can do it through the Quantum Realm.

That’s not what it really is though. Something is up with Facebook that needs a re-direct. That is what you do in the PR World when things aren’t going your way and you don’t want to address the issue on the table. You go ahead and change the subject and talk about something else. The MSM and politicians do it daily.

The WSJ had a series on the issues at Facebook and they are in some turmoil that caused this change. They are selling it as a new platform, but I smell a rat.

Facebook Inc. knows, in acute detail, that its platforms are riddled with flaws that cause harm, often in ways only the company fully understands. That is the central finding of a Wall Street Journal series, based on a review of internal Facebook documents, including research reports, online employee discussions and drafts of presentations to senior management.

It usually has something to do with money, so ad revenue must have been an investor issue, or the fact that Instagram was causing depression in teenage girls because of their self-image being destroyed by others.

It also could be that there are 2 groups of fake book users. The elite users who can break all the rules, and the rest of the rubes that don’t include celebtards, politicians or their favored group.

_01 Facebook Says Its Rules Apply to All. Company Documents Reveal a Secret Elite That’s Exempt

Mark Zuckerberg has said Facebook allows its users to speak on equal footing with the elites of politics, culture and journalism, and that its standards apply to everyone. In private, the company has built a system that has exempted high-profile users from some or all of its rules. The program, known as “cross check” or “XCheck,” was intended as a quality-control measure for high-profile accounts. Today, it shields millions of VIPs from the company’s normal enforcement, the documents show. Many abuse the privilege, posting material including harassment and incitement to violence that would typically lead to sanctions.

Facebook Company has failed in its apparent attempt to disappear into the witness protection program for creepy technology by re-branding as “Meta”. Along with this new facelift for the holding company of Facebook and all of the corporation’s other tech holdings — notably WhatsApp, Instagram, and Oculus VR — founder Mark Zuckerberg has announced that the company has plans for creating a whole “Metaverse,” a virtual alternative reality.

Banning people from the platform for not conforming to their standards. Like a lot of things, that will come back to bite you. Look who he banned and who is building an alternate social media platform now.

AR vs VR

I think there is something to be said for an Augmented Reality world first. That is helpful. I don’t think that a virtual reality world is what anything other than gamers are going to do for now.

If I see someone walking around with an Oculus headset on, I’m going to slap them an then point to someone else when they take it off just to mess with them.

This is something that is way down the road and as soon as the real AR is available, won’t be as attractive. If you want to live in a play world, you can do it via video games right now.

As usual, I distrust Facebook and their motives as should you. I dumped them as a platform. I had to go there a couple of weeks ago to find a workout schedule at my gym that wasn’t anywhere else. I saw the usual tripe there and was almost physically ill for a day. I promptly deleted the account so I wouldn’t have to see it anymore.

Blogs I Follow – Grouchy Old Cripple

It’s tough to stick your neck out in today’s cancel culture. It’s why I read who I read.

Denny, the author at GOC does just this. He isn’t afraid to call out the truth and say what is going on the way it should be said. If you are offended easily, don’t go there (actually please do for my entertainment). If you are PC or a SJW, you will be offended. You probably deserve it.

He is a clever writer (something I admire) and has a way with words. He breaks from stoic grammar with words that don’t exist like yannow (hope I spelled it right).

I started following him when he was pointed out by a lot of other blogs I read. I thought the name of his blog was funny as hell and so was his banter.

One of my favorites is AOTW (asshole of the week). I don’t think I’ve ever disagreed with him.

I discovered that he also suffered through working at IBM. He routinely roasts them with the truth about diversity, wokeness and other crap that is ruining a once great place. Since we worked about the same time there, albeit in different divisions, I can relate to what he says.

We texted through comments this week and he hammered them appropriately. I felt a kindred spirit. I was glad to find out I wasn’t alone and that I am glad I left when I did.

I wish him well and look forward to every next post, especially AOTW.

My Take On The Jeopardy Guest Hosts And The Replacements

It is probably the greatest game show created. It’s intellectually challenging. The others are generally tripe that targets those needing mindless entertainment or try to rip off Jeopardy.

I’ve realized that Alex Trebek was one of the best ever at this type of job and was significantly a reason for it’s success.

I recall him not liking Ken Jennings in the first couple of weeks of the 74 game winning streak. They eventually formed a bond, which I first believed was due to the huge ratings increase, but later led to their synergy around making Jeopardy great.

I, like everyone else try to beat the contestants and regularly do, with the exception of Final Jeopardy. Rarely solving this question keeps me from applying as I am about 1 for 15 in getting it right. I regularly beat everyone I play against (except my son, a bastion of knowledge), but fail in pop categories and celebrities. Those are issues I know and care little about. The combination of words, anagrams and Roman numeral addition questions stump me. Ken, Brad and James dominate there.

James Holtzhauer gave us a new way of playing, especially in how to bet. To this day, I love those who bet big. It’s not their money anyway if they don’t stay. You have to play to win and betting low is counterintuitive to winning.

Since Trebek, they have had a string of guest hosts. Some were great because they get what is the formula for success is. Others were fame seekers that had power in the Celebtard world.

THE BEST

The permanent replacements, Mayim Bialik and Mike Richards stood out as the best. They deserve the job. They were smooth, invested in the success of the show and didn’t try to be the reason people watched.

Honorable mention goes to Ken Jennings. He won the GOAT tournament and is forever ensconced in the history of the show. I knew he wouldn’t get the job due to other commitments, but he would have been a good one.

THE SECOND TIER

Bill Whitaker and Sanjay Gupta. Again, they didn’t try to be anything other than the facilitator. They were less polished than the best, but no one believed they were anything but a guest host. They wouldn’t have been good replacements though.

THE MAN WHO WANTED IT MOST, BUT COULDN’T PULL IT OFF

Aaron Rodgers wanted to be the guest host and made it clear. He tried, but is a Hall of Fame quarterback and not a TV personality. He stumbled too much, like Jeff Gordan and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in NASCAR. They were great athletes, but not good commentators. The show would have suffered under him.

AND THE REST, LOSERS, POSERS, CELEBTARDS AND SO FORTH

Dr. Oz has been on TV, but tried to be smarter than the contestants. He was arrogant as usual and not polished, despite being in front of a camera frequently. He cut off contestants and was rude to those who answered incorrectly.

Levar Burton tried too hard. He put on his TV voice and his appearance came off as a job interview rather than a host replacement. He was better than the rest below, but his fake enthusiasm was tough to take at times. He had a woke following that tried to get him hired via social media. The show would have suffered under him because he was hard to listen to in a very short period of time.

Robin Roberts was the wokest. She blatantly played favorites with female and minority contestants. A good host (and person) treats everyone the same, regardless of how they were born like Alex did. There is no justification for bias against anyone so this was inexcusable. She got the gig due to her other TV shows where she can spout her views with impunity. It was hard to watch.

Katie Couric should have been good. She answered “you got it” to every correct answer. I counted over 25 times on one show alone. She was the perky interviewer who failed as a newscaster, but her TV ability should have shown through better than it did. The ratings were poor under her and she is unlikable a lot of the time.

The same can be said for Anderson Cooper, teleprompter reader who is tedious to listen to. His ratings as a newscaster (and guest host) explain why he was so bad. Social media pilloried him. He was boring at best and clearly doesn’t have the intelligence to be a host for show requiring a 3 digit IQ.

THE WORST

Savannah Guthrie at best went through the motions. It was as if she didn’t care. She was disingenuous and dismissive when speaking to the players. She also was a “you got it” over doer. I thought she should have been way better, but didn’t seem to try. I am not a watcher of her regular program, but she was bad at the Olympics also, so I guess she’s consistent. She was the one I almost caused me not to watch the show for a couple of weeks, like Katie.

No one will be the winner because Alex is too hard to follow. He made the show great. It’s like having a famous parent and the kids rarely equal the star.

It’s a great show and has been around because of that. In a way it’s like golf, you can never beat it because you can’t know everything. Just try to beat the people you watch with and the contestants.

On a side note, I worked at IBM when Watson played. I talked to Sam Palmisano, then chairman and he said it was a marketing gimmick. The players never had a chance as the amount of computing horsepower behind the scenes was programmed to win at a certain task. Humans still are better to watch. Watson turned out to be a bust anyway.

On This Day, 10 Years Ago…..A Momentous Occurrence Happened To Me…..

I retired and enjoyed the heck out of it. If you want to know what I did, go to about and about me.

I started planning for it when I was in my 30’s and knew it would be a long game to have enough. I listened to Larry Burkett of Crown Financial Services, a biblical based ministry that taught me to save and to live debt free. I posted about it a while back on how an average Joe can become a millionaire.

Was it hard?

You bet it was. There were a lot of sacrifices and a lot of learning about investing, managing money and faith in God. It turns out that we were blessed with an abundance of riches, only a small amount of which are financial.

We were alone.

Fortunately, my wife was on the same page. Heck, my Mom even taught me how to save as she lived through the depression. She could make anything last longer than possible. That woman sacrificed for us and I noticed. My siblings however never learned. Mom told me she taught each of us the same lessons, but said no one else listened to her.

I caught a lot of crap from my friends.

Working in the airline industry is very common for my family and friends. We have many pilots and flight attendants in that group.

Rick, with whom I went to school with since 7th grade, gave me a ton of grief when we were in our late 20’s. He was serving cokes for a living (stewardess) and wasted 15 years of his life doing it. He was broke when he quit.

I spoke to him one Saturday when I was at work. He told me that he only worked 2 weeks a month and was off to Hawaii for free, rubbing it in my face that I had to work. When I hung up, I knew right then that I was making a short term sacrifice for long term gain. I would be retiring early while being financially safe and knew I would have to work hard to accomplish it. I said to myself that I would make it my goal and I’d be playing golf while he was working. He still is working today, and when he got to the real world I’d had 16 years of experience. I had owned my own business shortly after that conversation. FWIW, I played golf this week and have enjoyed a long retirement while he was in tech support.

Did I get even with him?

I chose not to rub it in because the facts show our different outcomes. I’m glad I have mine. I knew I would be financially set and stuck with it in life. Every day is Saturday for me now and he is living off of Social Security.

Being an introvert, I don’t want to get into it anyway and he doesn’t want to talk much anymore. I don’t care what happens to others as I can’t control anything other than my destiny. I’m sorry he didn’t listen to me. He told me he resented that job for 13 of the 15 years he did it and hates his current job.

A theme and a pattern.

It wasn’t only my siblings and friends. When I sold my business and went to work for IBM, they were the same. When it came time for me to say goodbye, my house was paid off and we had saved. Almost no one could believe that I was pulling the plug that early. They thought it was some scandal that I had to quit and were very disappointed that the reason I retired was because I could. Most of them were keeping up with the Jones and didn’t save. I looked some of them up and they are still stuck working at the same job when I left.

At the end, IBM was a terrible place to work (see managing executive ego’s, the good, the bad and the ugly). I actually pulled the trigger a year early to get out of that hell hole. To a person, everyone said they wished that they could do what I did, get out. They were too far in debt to do so.

I turned down moving to New York to “climb the ladder” because living there sucks and I didn’t want to raise a family there. People told me when they moved to New York, they got to pay 30% more for everything, for less than I made. Again, I knew that I was making the right decision for my family not to go there to “get ahead” (behind would have been the actual case if I’d gone there).

My Father.

Dad worked until he was 70. Work defined his life. He was lost when he retired.

Working was only a means to an end for me. To be fair, I was fortunate enough to be highly successful and God decided that I should be compensated for it. That helped make it happen, but if you go back to my siblings, they earned more than me at times. They still work though as most of it was wasted on useless stuff.

Dad couldn’t understand my goals, but I had so much going on that work was interfering with my life, so I stopped. I never regretted it.

A lot of the IBM’rs died shortly after retiring because they had to work a long time. I saw that and knew I wanted to enjoy my life. Now, every day is Saturday for me.

I have enjoyed each day these last 10 years. Heck, I’m the president of the how to enjoy your retirement club. Never once did I think about going back because I didn’t have to.

If there is any lesson, it is in the post of how to become a millionaire.

Short term sacrifice for long term paradise.

Beware Of AI, The Robots Always Kill The Humans

2001: A Space Odyssey, Terminator, Aida of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the robots always want to take over in the end and kill the humans.

See below the meme on stupidity so I can get to the point.

Yes, this woman is an idiot. My robot vacuum is so stupid it doesn’t know where it’s going. I named it Jarvis after Ironman’s AI assistant (Paul Bettany). It is my dearest form of sarcasm. So the vacuum isn’t going to kill me, but that isn’t my point.

The AI in the wrong hands is dangerous though.

For example, what if an AI-bot creates vaccines for diseases by predicting what the next strain will be. What if the next strain is the one that causes humans to shut down all the robots. There you have the premise for how it goes with AI taking over. Kill the humans.

I could bore your with many other examples like using AI to enhance a soldiers armory. It would be controlling your actions, making you more invincible in war. If it sensed a danger that didn’t exist, it could fire up the code to kill everyone in the way and you have created a murderer out of an innocent man. Kill the humans.

Fortunately, I’ve been around AI development. That danger isn’t exactly around the corner yet.

I worked at IBM and knew that Watson was a gimmick. The Chairman told me it was. They are trying to sell it now because it’s usefulness in medicine paled in comparison to it winning Jeopardy. It was a lot of wasted money because they could to sum it up.

Some of the team have moved to Quantum Computing because Watson was a dud.

Microsoft, Google and Facebook are much different and apparently more evil. IBM is too bureaucratic to turn it into a killer robot. However, if you’ve read any of my social media rants, you know that I trust these three companies less than almost anything, except Congress and the media. I will say they are equally evil though. (Another shot for the censors to see if they are watching here). They are the ones that will kill the humans.

Now, imagine if it got into the wrong hands. What could some guys who want to either take over or blow up the world do with that kind of power? Those bastards are evil. At least the robots just went bad.

And there you have it. Like many things we can create, there is always someone hanging around to put it to bad use.

Great Sayings – Peter Drucker on Management

Peter Drucker – “So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work.”

 

I’ve posted on meetings being a waste of time  and management ego’s.  Great managers lead and let the employees work and succeed.  Mostly, the best managers help their employees grow and advance in their careers.  I know I’ve had both types.  When I was a manager, I did everything I could to those working for me the opportunity to show what they can do and help them when they fell down.

Unfortunately, most can’t seem to get out of their own way and realize that the best managers surround themselves with a good team and give them the power to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

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.

Vocabulary Tricks Dumb People Use to Sound Smart – Also A Good Meeting Bingo List When You Are Bored

I have heard most of these 89 sophisticated clichés that typically form the trick vocabulary of such people, almost always by management, whom I’ve indicated:

Note: these are also meeting (BS) bingo words when you are bored. Please let me know if anyone is ever in a meeting that can cross off all of these words.

One of my favorite sayings is: A meeting is a cul-de-sac where ideas are strangled and usually eliminated.

1. It’s a paradigm shift = I don’t know what’s going on in our business. But we’re not making as much money as we used to.

2. We’re data-driven = We try not to make decisions by the seat of our pants. When possible, we try to base them in facts -SC.

3. We need to wrap our heads around this = Gosh, I never thought of that. We need to discuss that….SC

4. It’s a win-win = Hey, we both get something out of this (even though I’m really trying to get the best from you)

5. ROI [used in any sentence] = Look at me, I’m very financially minded, even if I never took any finance classes in school

6. Let’s blue sky this/let’s ballpark this = Let’s shoot around a bunch of ideas since we have no clue what to do

7. I’m a bit of a visionary = I’m a bit of an egomaniac and narcissist EB

8. I’m a team player/we only hire team players = I hope everyone on the team thinks this is a meritocracy, even though I’m the dictator in charge EB

9. Let’s circle back to that/Let’s put that in the parking lot/let’s touch base on that later/let’s take this off-line = Shut up and let’s go back to what I was talking about

10. We think outside the box here/color outside the lines = We wouldn’t know about how to do something innovative if it came up to us and bit us in the behind

11. I/we/you don’t have the bandwidth = Since we cut 60% of our headcount, we’re all doing the job of 3 people, so we’re all burned out

12. This is where the rubber meets the road = Don’t screw up

13. Net net/the net of it is/when you net it out = I never studied finance or accounting but I sound like someone who  can make money if I keep talking about another word for profit

14. We’ll go back and sharpen our pencils = We’ll go back and offer you the same for 20% less in hopes you’ll buy it before the end of the quarter – RA

15.  It’s like the book “Crossing the Chasm”/”Blue Ocean”/”Good To Great” / “Tipping Point” / “Outliers” = I’ve never read any of these books but I sound literate if I quote  from them. And, besides, you cretins probably never read them either to  call me out on it

16. Let’s right-size it = Let’s whack/fire a bunch of people – RA

17. It’s next-gen/turn-key/plug-and-play = I want it to sound so technical that you’ll just buy it without asking me any questions

18. We need to manage the optics of this = How can we lie about this in a way people will believe?

19. This is creative destruction = I’ve  never read Joseph Schumpeter but our core business is getting killed so  it’s your responsibility to come up with a new product the market will  buy

20. We don’t have enough boots on the ground = I don’t want to be fired for this disastrous product/country launch,  so I’m going to sound tough referring to the military and say I don’t  have enough resources

21. Deal with it = Tough cookies – SC

22. By way of housekeeping = This makes the boring stuff I’m about to say sound more official

23. That’s the $64,000 question [sometimes, due to inflation, people will denominate this cliché in millions or billions of dollars] = I don’t know either

24. Let’s square the circle = I’m someone who can unify two team members’ views and sound important

25. It’s our cash cow/protect/milk the cash cow = If that business goes south, we’re all out of a job

26. It’s about synergies/1 + 1 = 3 = I don’t get the math either, but it sounds like more and more is better, right?

27. Who’s going to step up to the plate? = One of you is going to do this and it’s not going to be me

28. We’re eating our own dog food = It sounds gross but we seem like honest folks if we do this.

29. We need to monetize/strategize/analyze/incentivize = When in doubt, stick “-ize” on the end of a word and say we’ve got to  do this and 9 out of 10 times, it will sound action-oriented.

30. We did a Five Forces/SWOT analysis/Value Chain analysis = We didn’t really do any of that, but none of you probably even remember Michael Porter, so what the heck

31. It was a perfect storm = We really screwed up but we’re going to blame a bunch of factors that are out of our hands (especially weather)

32. At the end of the day…. = OK, enough talking back and forth, we’re going to do what I want to do  – LS

33. Who’s got the ‘R’? [i.e., responsibility to do what we just spent 20 minutes talking about aimlessly] = If I ask the question, it won’t be assigned to me

34. Let’s put lipstick on this pig = plug your nose

35. I’m putting a stake in the ground here… = I’m a leader, simply because I’m using this cliché

36. We’re customer-focused/proactive/results-oriented = That can’t be bad, right?  This is motherhood and apple pie stuff

37. Our visibility into the quarter is a little fuzzy = Sales just fell off a cliff

38. That’s not our core competency/we’re sticking to our knitting = We’re just glad we’re making money in one business, because we’d have no clue how to get into any other business

39. Well, we’re facing some headwinds there = You put your finger on the area we’re panicking over

40. It’s a one-off = Do whatever they want to close the sale

41. Incent it = That’s not a verb but I just made it into one because I’m a man/woman of action

42. I’m an agent of change = This makes it sound like I know how to handle the chaos that our business is constantly going through

43. We’ve got to do a little more due diligence there = Don’t have a clue but does that legal term make me sound detail-oriented?

44. Don’t leave money on the table = Be as greedy with them as possible

45. We take a “ready, fire, aim” approach here = We totally operate on a seat-of-the-pants basis

46. Hope is not a strategy = I don’t have a strategy, but this makes it sound like I’m above people who also don’t have a strategy – BO

47. We have to tear down the silos internally = Our organizational structure is such a mess that I’m going to be under-mined by other departments at every turn

48. I don’t think it will move the needle = This won’t get my boss excited

49. Good to put a face to the name = I’d really rather talk to that person behind you

50. Let’s take the 30,000 foot view… = I like to think I see the big picture

51. It’s the old 80-20 rule = I really have no idea what the rule was, but I just want to focus on the things that will make us successful

52. We need to manage expectations = Get ready to start sucking up to people – AL

53. It’s not actionable enough/what’s the deliverable? = You guys do the work on refining the idea. I’m too tired.

54. My 2 cents is… = This opinion is worth a heck of a lot more than 2 cents

55. I’m going to sound like a broken record here… = I want to clearly point out to you idiots that I’ve made this point several times before

56. We’ve got too many chiefs and not enough Indians = I want to be the Chief

57. Going forward = Don’t screw up like this again – AL

58. My people know I’ve got an open door policy = I’ve told my direct reports to come to me if they have a problem, so  why should I feel bad if they complain I’m too busy to talk to them?

59. It’s gone viral = Someone sent a tweet about this

60. I know you’ve been burning the candle on both ends = Get ready to do some more

61. It’s scalable = We can sell a lot of it in theory

62. It’s best-of-breed = We hired a market research firm to say that – too many – SC

63. We’re all about value-add = Unlike our competitors who seek to add no value

64. What’s our go-to-market? = Has anyone planned this out, because I’ve been too busy? SC

65. I’m drinking from a fire hose right now = I want a little sympathy over here, because I’m tired of carrying this company on my back

66. We’re getting some push back = They’re not buying it JB

67. We need to do a level-set = I’ve never been inside a Home Depot, but this phrase makes me sound handy

68. It’s basic blocking and tackling = How could you screw this up? I also played high school football and those were the best days of my life.

69. Let’s put our game faces on = Get serious, guys

70. We’ve got it covered from soup to nuts = I have no idea what that means, but don’t you dare question my prep work on it

71. We don’t want to get thrown under the bus = So let’s throw someone else first – RGorman

72. But to close the loop on this… = Always the more theoretical Business Development/Strategy guys who say this, so they can sound thorough

73. What are “next steps”? = Did anyone take notes during the last 90 minutes of this meeting?

74. This is low-hanging fruit = Get this done quickly

75. We need a few quick wins = We’ve got to trick people into thinking we know what we’re doing by some successes we can point to and claim as ours DHP

76. It’s a [Insert Company Name] killer = Did I get your attention yet with the Freddy Kreuger imagery associated with the company who’s currently eating our lunch? SC

77. I want to address the elephant in the room = I know you think I’m trying to cover up/gloss over something, so I might as well talk about it

78. This is the next big thing/new thing = Some of our 20-somethings have told me this is really cool

79. This time it’s different because… = Don’t wait for the explanation… simply run for the hills.

80. What are the best practices on this? = How can I cover my behind that we’re just doing stuff the way other good people have supposedly done this?

81. This is our deliverable = I know this sounds like something that comes in a body bag, but it makes our PowerPoint sound tougher than it actually is

82. We’ll loop you in when we need to = You’re not that important to know about all the details on this

83. We want this to move up and to the right = I failed high school algebra but someone said this means we’ll be making a lot of money if this happens

84. We’re going through a re-org = No one knows what the heck is going on at the moment, we’re going to lay off a bunch of people.

85. We’ve got to increase our mind-share with the customer = I think I would have been happier as a doctor doing lobotomies than in marketing as a career path

86. I don’t think you’re comparing apples to apples = Let me tell you how you should really think about this issue = DHP

87. Let’s peel back the onion on this = I want to sound thorough so this is a better way of telling you that than simply clearing my throat

88. You phoned it in = I was too busy checking my email during your presentation that I didn’t listen _ JC

89. I want you to run with this = I just threw you into the deep end of the pool and you’re on your own to figure it out -JC

MY FAVORITE PR STUNT OF ALL TIME – THE WORLD’S FIRST LOW TECHNOLOGY ARTIFICIAL REEF

HOW IT STARTED

This story actually began with the unplanned running aground of the Mercedes I in Palm Beach.  It desecrated the private holy grounds of the hoity toity for over a hundred days in late 1984.   They eventually towed it away and made an artificial reef making almost everyone happy.

About the same time IBM introduced the PC-AT, billed as the most powerful personal computer ever built.  It had one problem though as internally sat a 20 MB disk drive made by CMI.  It was based on stepper motor technology and it both failed at alarming rates and was as slow as cold honey.  It was that flaw which helped give birth to the drive aftermarket in the PC industry and caused one of the biggest black eye’s to the PC’s reputation.

CORE INTERNATIONAL TO THE RESCUE

A small storage company in Boca Raton – the home of the IBM PC saw the obvious problem and created a marketing campaign which recalled the IBM drive.  It then sold you a 40 MB drive made by Control Data Corporation and rebadged as CORE product for $2,595, gave you a $1000 rebate and ran an ad claiming it was going to build an artificial reef out of the CMI drives (you can buy gigabytes now for less that $100).  CORE was making over 100% profit so the perception of value is greater than reality.  The users still paid one of the highest cost per byte of storage possible.

Here is  a portion of the ad which created a sensation in the print media, as both IBM and the PC had been infallible up to this point.

PC MAGAZINE CATCHES ON

At this point Paul Sommerson, Bill Machrone, Bill Howard and other writers contacted CORE and asked for pictures of the reef being built.  The company owner confided in me that he had a contract to send the drives back to CMI for a rebate  and to not lose too many, we staged the entire event.  We took his boat, the MEGABYTE out of Jupiter (not Boca) and made it look like we were really dumping the drives into the water.  I’m sure the Nanny state EPA would have been all over us had we really done it, but the rest of the story is that we only dumped the drives in the picture (note the false bottom).  We tried hard to drop a drive on a string while posing with the box in the picture, but that was produced were lame results.  I finally convinced him that we needed to actually throw some drives overboard and that one shot is now etched into PC history.  It was the last picture on the roll of film (if you remember film).  We tried fishing for sharks after the shoot to put a drive in one of their mouths for the table of contents.  We had one on, but it bit through the line and we ran out of time.

The film was immediately Fed-ex’d to NY as they were on deadline for what is known as the Fire Ax issue.  The title was “Is Your PC Safe”, but there was a fire ax coming down on a PC-AT and the picture was in both the table of contents and the article.

It should be noted that neither CORE nor PC Magazine was trying to attack IBM products.  The owner at CORE was excellent at marketing and had big balls to do this stunt.  It paid off handsomely both in dollars and visibility.  PC Magazine was at the height of their prowess as journalistic leader of the PC industry.  Kudos should be given to Bill Machrone for approving a story that would never have a chance at seeing the light of day in this day and age.  He was a visionary at the publication.  IBM did themselves in by releasing a defective product and not being nimble enough to deal with the issues.

Both parties were able to take advantage of the arrogance (some say ignorance) on IBM’s part for not ensuring quality control of their product and suppliers.  Further, the moribund IBM PR machine, having used their death grip to the throat of PC journalism to direct results they wanted (because they were the 800 lb. elephant in the room) didn’t know that the journalists were ripe for this.  They never saw this coming and were ill-equipped to deal with it.  The result was that both the reputation of the PC and IBM PR was tarnished.

It should be noted that the Wilmott’s were related to the Ziff’s, who owned PC Magazine.  It took me 30 years to make that connection,

THE AFTERMATH

As I mentioned earlier, the boom of peripherals was starting and this poured gasoline on that fire.  CMI went out of business after losing their contract with IBM and CORE shipped hundreds of drives while becoming famous.

I personally conducted many interviews discussing drive technology and the stunt (if I recall, the story became far better than the actual event) and the owner had to move his boat.  He had rented a slip from an IBM’er in Boca, but due to the kerfuffle he was asked to find another docking space.

IBM had a PR nightmare on its hands now.  I’m told that Lou Gerstner’s personal speech writer was called in to clean up the mess.  CORE (meaning me as I handled all of PR by this point) got years of mileage from this event.  I developed relationships with the leaders in PC journalism as they were happy to have a person to talk to rather than an army of IBM suits that outdid the White House press corps in obfuscation. We even took a drive to trade shows and put it into a fish tank with fish.  Everyone in the industry knew about it and we even had hats made up saying things like:

My drive won’t stay up, I built the PC that IBM didn’t, My Drive is bigger than your drive and others.

We gave away thousands.  In fact I think we invented the show hat give away in the mid 80’s (one time while leaving the show, we saw a drunk bum outside a convention center at with a CORE hat on).

The owner made show participants suffer through a sales pitch they didn’t care about, but the rest of us just gave them away.

EPITAPH

It is funny to me that I was hired by IBM to do PR for them 14 years later, and even did a stint in the PC division.  I wonder if they had known it was me that helped cause one of the great PR nightmares for them, would I have gotten the job?

IBM had dropped to 6th place in PC’s by then and the PC PR department was led by two nincompoops when I got there (Mike Corrado and Ray Gorman).  I always chuckled when the story came up at IBM and enjoyed the looks on their faces as they found out my part in this event.  I was never involved with anything this creative while doing PR at IBM (see the moribund part), although I used some tactics from this event to be successful, so long as I didn’t tell IBM communications “leaders” about it until after the fact.

Now, did anyone read to here and notice that for a while I misspelled artificial in the title? It was a PR project for you.

How To Look Busy At Work – Office Humor

Disclaimer: I think you should work hard and earn what you are paid.  Nevertheless, I like to see the levity in things.  I collected the lot of this on the internet.

George Costanza’s 10 Commandments For ‘Working Hard’

1 – Never walk without a document in your hands.
People with documents in their hands look like hardworking employees heading for important meetings. People with nothing in their hands look like they’re heading for the cafeteria. People with a newspaper in their hand look like they’re heading for the toilet. Above all, make sure you carry loads of stuff home with you at night, thus generating the false impression that you work longer hours than you do.

2 – Use computers to look busy.
Any time you use a computer, it looks like “work” to the casual observer. You can send and receive personal e-mail, chat, and generally have a blast without doing anything remotely related to work. These aren’t exactly the societal benefits that the proponents of the computer revolution would like to talk about but they’re not bad either. When you get caught by your boss — and you will get caught — your best defense is to claim you’re teaching yourself to use new software, thus saving valuable training dollars.

3 – Keep a messy desk.
Top management can get away with a clean desk. For the rest of us, it looks like we’re not working hard enough. Build huge piles of documents around your workspace. To the observer, last year’s work looks the same as today’s work; it’s volume that counts. Pile them high and wide. If you know somebody is coming to your cubicle, bury the document you’ll need halfway down in an existing stack and rummage for it when he/she arrives.

4 – Use voice mail.
Never answer your phone if you have voice mail. People don’t call you just because they want to give you something for nothing — they call because they want you to do work for them. That’s no way to live. Screen all your calls through voice mail. If somebody leaves a voice-mail message for you and it sounds like impending work, respond during lunch hour when you know they’re not there — it looks like you’re hardworking and conscientious even though you’re being a devious weasel.

5 – Look impatient & annoyed.
One should also always try to look impatient and annoyed to give your bosses the impression that you are always busy.

6 – Leave the office late.
Always leave the office late, especially when the boss is still around. You could read magazines and story books that you always wanted to read but have no time until late before leaving. Make sure you walk past the boss’ room on your way out. Send important e-mail at unearthly hours (e.g. 9:35 p.m., 7:05 a.m., etc.) and during public holidays.

7 – Use sighing for effect.
Sigh loudly when there are many people around, giving the impression that you are under extreme pressure.

8 – Opt for the stacking strategy.
It is not enough to pile lots of documents on the table. Put lots of books on the floor etc. (thick computer manuals are the best).

9 – Build your vocabulary.
Read up on some computer magazines and pick out all the jargon and new products. Use the phrases freely when in conversation with bosses. Remember; they don’t have to understand what you say, but you sure sound impressive.

10 – Don’t get caught.
MOST IMPORTANT: Don’t forward this page’s URL to your boss by mistake!

OTHER HELPFUL HINTS:

Never smile when I’m on phone talking with someone at work and it isn’t about business. If you smile, then people won’t think that it is work-related.

Hold a pen in your hand at all times in between keyboarding tasks… keep it in your hand even while on the phone… have your writing pad there as well and occasionally jot something down… you’ll look as if at all times contemplating something really intelligent and ready to write it down.

Keep a really complex spreadsheet or lengthy document file (or both) open on your desktop.

Use an extended monitor with your laptop.Run a regression suite or that long  build on your monitor and continue to do whatever you are doing on your laptop.

Keep your office communicator/jabber connected even when you are home.Gives a notion to your colleagues that you are really working Do it even the weekends.

Send one email a day to the team.if you don’t have anything just make up.

File bugs in your own name and keep solving them.

Go into a technical discussion and just listen even if you are not  remotely interested in it.

Keep your white board messed up. Change the text everyday.

Add your manager on Facebook and show no activity when you are working.
Updating any open ticket that is being monitored by a manager on an irregular but time bound basis. Ie they love updates so give them updates. The more the better.

Narrate facts at meetings that the manager can use with his own manager. Depending on the stupidity of your manager, you’ll have to coat these nuggets with  verbal accordance – ie., you’ll have to spell out exactly what you mean and then obtusely mention that your manager’s manager might find that interesting.

Sick days – well everyone knows that.

Really understanding how your boss thinks.
If you can really figure out how your boss thinks, you can focus on those activities except at deadline time. Even if you don’t hit the deadline your boss is usually confused enough between what he sees and your results to give you 1 more chance till the next review. so this method gives you 2 review cycles worth of time to phone it in.

Use the Outlook email scheduler to send out emails at 4 am. Note: for important emails only, don’t send out “FYI”-type emails about interesting work articles you’ve come across, no one believes you’re browsing Bloomberg for work at 4 am.

And the most popular time strangler, go to a meeting.  It’s a place where idea’s get stranded in a cul-de-sac.

UPDATE: Now there is an app for your computer from Corporate Avoidance to look busy!

I’ve just come upon some great sites that give unbelievable advice on how to maximize your appearance while minimizing your work.  The first is Mastering the art of looking busy;

Looking busy has a bad rap. Sometimes you have to look busy so you can actually work on the things that matter. Here’s how to trick others into believing you’ve got a full plate so you’ll get the breathing room to actually get things done.

The point of looking busy is to remind your boss and your coworker that your time is valuable, that there are only so many things you can work on at once, and to give you some breathing room so you can actually think. In short, looking busy reminds everyone that you are busy, and gives you some freedom at the same time. Whether you use that freedom for valuable brainstorming or wasting time on your favorite tech blog is a choice we leave to you.

In this post, we’ll walk through some way to make sure everyone you talk to—whether it’s your boss or a distracting coworker—knows that you’re busy without you beating them over the head with the fact. Some of this is just good sense when it comes to productivity, but a few of these tips may seem counterproductive, but stick with us, we’ll explain why it all works. Let’s get started….

And this gem: How to do as little work as possible without getting fired;

Look Busy Without Really Trying

Shaving five minutes from the start and end of your day can only do so much. If you really want to slack like a pro, you’re going to need to figure out how to appear occupied even if you’re not. First off, read this most illustrious guide from Lifehacker on how to look busy. It’s packed with helpful hints and tips on how to keep your boss satisfied with your workflow even when it’s more of a “work trickle”. That’s not to say you should be doing zero work—unless your endgame is unemployment—but this guide explains how to keep your boss from piling a bunch of busy work on your desk.

Once you’ve memorized the Lifehacker guide, you’re ready to take your slacking game to the next level. We’re not talking about standing around with a clipboard or staring intently at your computer screen whilst wearing headphones; those techniques are as played out as licking your palms to fake clammy hands and get out of school. No, what you need are a legion of unknowing allies, namely, your co-workers.

In short, be a Chatty Cathy. Roam the halls of your office building, stopping by any open door, break room, or cubicle stall to “synergize” and “collaborate” with any co-worker that is even halfway willing to listen. Be sure to ask about their kids, people love talking about their kids and will do so at length—allowing you to not only “build rapport” with your co-worker but also shave valuable hunks of time off your work day. Just keep them talking.

You can try a similar technique with your supervisor. At my old office, we’d routinely receive memos from management so laden with industry buzzwords and random acronyms that could only be deciphered with a Cracker Jack decoder ring. While some see this as just one more office-place hassle, you can easily spin it to your advantage. Take the memo to your supervisor and ask for a detailed explanation of what on earth it’s talking about. You’ll be shocked how often Hey, I don’t really understand how we’re supposed to collate the GRE reports with the ACTA file turns into a 30 minute discussion of proper sorting and stapling methodology.

The best part of this technique is that it doesn’t even need to be done face-to-face. With a little practice, you can turn any email chain into an eye-glazing morass of replies, corrections, and clarifications. Just be sure not to overdo it; you want to be just persistent enough to keep stringing people along, not so obtuse that they get fed up with your endless line of questioning.

And while we’re on the subject of emails, you should strive to craft the perfect email. Every. Single. Time. Don’t say in five words what can be said in five paragraphs. Don’t assume that your reader has a single clue about the topic at hand (even if they’re the ones that started the thread); explain every single detail in as much detail as possible. If it takes less than 45 minutes to craft a response to “where are you going for lunch today?” then you’re doing it wrong.

But sitting at your desk, staring at an email client can get lonely, so be sure to break up the monotony by taking as many meetings as possible. Even if you aren’t directly involved in the project, sit in on the meeting. Slink in just right and nobody will notice you’re there until the house lights come up. Just remember to have a feasible excuse for sitting in ready before-hand in case someone calls you on it.

It can be hard work not doing any, but with a little practice, you can get away with just about anything—or doing just about nothing—on any given weekday.

Disclaimer: I would like to say that I worked my hardest when left alone and be managed like an adult.  My last good boss, Mike Bizovi did just that, and our team responded by delivering staggering results and awards.  We were self motivated to work hard and the though of goofing off never entered my mind. The next boss was Amy Loomis, who quickly ruined both the morale of our team and lowered our results by meddling in our work by micro-managing the minutia to the point that we couldn’t be productive anymore.   Even LinkedIn talks about how this can demoralize you and your productivity.. All of us were more professional than she was, and we responded to being treated like children rather than adults as you would expect.  This post is a result of my thoughts about the dichotomy of the 2 managers and how the team reacted to their management styles.  We never thought about this while working for Mike.  You there have the example of a leader and a failure.

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.

The Escape Key and The Guy Who Invented Ctl-Alt-Del….and Why

I worked in the PC Group, wisely sold to Lenovo years ago.  On the 20th anniversary, they looked for interesting tidbits from those who invented the PC.

David Bradley worked down the hall from me.  He’s the guy who invented Ctl-Alt-Del.  I asked him why and he told me DOS 1.0 keep crashing, so he wrote a quick and dirty program to restart the computer quickly without having to turn it off.

Later, David was kind enough to give me a copy of his personal copy of DOS 1.0 and Visicalc, a program for which I was a giant at using.  I still have it in my original IBM-PC I picked up off the trash pile while working there.

His best line though was when they had a reunion of the PC development team and Dave said to a reporter in front of everyone that he wrote the program, but Bill Gates made it famous.

THE ESC KEY

Bob Bemer invented this key.  I never worked with Bob, but per the NY Post, it goes like this:

The key was born in 1960, when an I.B.M. programmer named Bob Bemer was trying to solve a Tower of Babel problem: computers from different manufacturers communicated in a variety of codes. Bemer invented the ESC key as way for programmers to switch from one kind of code to another. Later on, when computer codes were standardized (an effort in which Bemer played a leading role), ESC became a kind of “interrupt” button on the PC — a way to poke the computer and say, “Cut it out.”

Why “escape”? Bemer could have used another word — say, “interrupt” — but he opted for “ESC,” a tiny monument to his own angst. Bemer was a worrier. In the 1970s, he began warning about the Y2K bug, explaining to Richard Nixon’s advisers the computer disaster that could occur in the year 2000. Today, with our relatively stable computers, few of us need the panic button. But Bob Frankston, a pioneering programmer, says he still uses the ESC key. “There’s something nice about having a get-me-the-hell-out-of-here key.”

I, KEYBOARD

Joseph Kay is a senior scientist at Yahoo! Research.

Why do outmoded keys, like ESC, persist? Our devices have legacies built into them. For more than a hundred years, when you wanted to write something, you sat down in front of a typewriter. But computers look different now — they’re like smartphones. It will be interesting to see whether in 10 or 15 years the whole idea of a keyboard will seem strange. We might be saying, “Remember when we used to type things?”

How would we control computers in this future-without-typing? Think of the Wii and Kinect, or even specialized input devices for games like Guitar Hero or Dance Dance Revolution. All might be bellwethers for the rest of computing. We might see a rise in all sorts of input, like voice recognition and audio control — think about Siri.

The Best News For PowerPoint Users Since Its Creation

From this link, Jeff Bezos says it is the end of PowerPoint.

To be honest, I don’t really give a flying fig or a rats rump about either Bezos or his product, but PowerPoint has always been a crutch that rarely connects emotionally with the audience.  Of all the tools we’ve used, it must rank lowest on the rung of real importance when compared with the time wasted compared to other tools.

The author explains it:

In no way am I advocating that you ditch PowerPoint. I am recommending that you ditch PowerPoint as we know it—dull, wordy, and overloaded with bullet points. Image-rich presentations work effectively because pictures appeal to the right hemisphere of the brain—the emotional side. You can have great ideas backed up by data and logic, but if you don’t connect with people emotionally, it doesn’t matter.

START FROM THE BEGINNING

Back in the dark ages, companies used overhead projectors and presented “foils”.  This was the forerunner to PowerPoint only you had to manually change them.  Given the projector fails I’ve seen, it at least was more reliable, albeit archaic.

It was a hoot to watch people try to figure out how to configure a projector or a multi-media room to get their PC to connect.  Entire sessions have had to be conducted without PowerPoint due to operator or machine error.  For the most part, they were likely more productive meetings.

THE DEARTH OF OUR EXISTENCE BEGINS AND CREATES MANY JOBS

The jobs being created were PowerPoint slide creators.  A pretty easy job if you were ahead of the curve.  The only caveat was unrealistic executives who thought they were presenting to the UN. One VP of Social Business Evangelism at my last company used to put us through 20 changes minimum, often commenting that it was not what she wanted.  When asked what it was, the comment was usually, “I don’t know what I want, just go fix it and bring me back what I want”.  On a humorous note, one time we brought back version one as a ruse and she commented now that is what I really wanted to begin with, why didn’t you bring me this to start with?  Go figure.

THE HUMAN PROBLEM

A big problem with PowerPoint is that it rarely could tell the story on its own, and that it depends on the human presenting it.  My favorite observation during analyst briefings was the game that they played to try to get the executives off their slides and onto a tangent.  It was my job to get them to stay on topic, but for fun I let it stray…even nodding to the analyst to let them know I knew what the game was.

Also, everyone goes to the page count to see the torture they will be put through.  That in itself is an indicator of its usefulness.  At one meeting, there were 137 charts by the GM of our group.  There was a collective groan by all, and a cheer when it got interrupted by a fire drill.  Hardly anyone returned for the finish.

So basically as a tool it is deficient and a serious time suck.  It also is held up as the idol of meeting communications similar to how executives fret over a press release as if it was what anybody actually read or re-quoted.  I’ve got news for you guys, we could actually do without both.

A GENERATION OF SLACKERS

What also chaffed my behind was that those held up as PowerPoint experts created a job niche that in reality was a re-cycle exercise.  Once you knew the executive, you could re-use their charts with minor changes and act like it was some big production….then kick back and act like it was a Renoir.

IF YOU HADN’T NOTICED…..

I loathe PowerPoint.  I have been working with office suites since the introduction of Visicalc.  I’ve always been able to master them down to a coding level, but I rank PowerPoint at the bottom of my list of usefulness.  Worse than this were knock-offs like Symphony that even the company that created it wouldn’t use it except for the division responsible for it.

I’ve always been far more engaged by a speaker who could tell a story in words and be effective.  Ahead of that is a genuine discussion without the high school drama of charts. You always have to send documentation after a meeting anyway, so dispensing with this for an engagement tool always mirrored the way people have interacted over the years.  In reality, it wasn’t the next best thing.

The PC is Toast, Or Maybe Just a Toaster

Gone are the glory days when the PC would rule over the vaunted Mainframe, putting power at desks without the overbearing DP department overcharging and under delivering past the due date.

What has evolved though is a commodity product that is at best a commodity like a toaster.  You can buy one anywhere to toast your productivity suite, cloud connection or corporate image.  Further, the once dominant Wintel model is being out-cooled by Apple, and outdated by tablet computing.

First, I was mildly shocked when I learned that Lenovo had a policy where you get an allowance and use what you want to, regardless of who made it.  Next comes the inevitable…..

While this isn’t really new news, in fact it’s been a theme for a while now.  But it was confirmed by the lackluster performance of HP, Dell and other manufacturers.   Even IBM, the company that really put the PC in the office of businesses is famous for dumping the low margin business to Lenovo who lucked out in marketshare due to the HP and Dell screw-ups.  This will be short lived as soon as Apple finishes mopping up in China and the real Lenovo cash cow gets malnourished.

All Things Digital confirms the facts via DRAM supply:

As a signpost on the road to the so-called Post-PC Era we’ve been hearing about for so many years, this one is pretty hard to argue with: As of this year, personal computers no longer consume the majority of the world’s memory chip supply.

And while it may not come as a terrible surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention to personal technology trends during the last few years, there’s nothing like a cold, hard number to make the point crystal clear.

Word of this tipping point came quietly in the form of a press release from the market research firm IHS (the same group formerly known as iSuppli). The moment came during the second quarter of 2012. For the first time in a generation, according to the firm’s reckoning, PCs did not consume the the majority of commodity memory chips, also known as DRAM (pronounced “DEE-ram”).

During that period, PCs accounted for the consumption of 49 percent of DRAM produced around the world, down from 50.2 percent in the first quarter of the year. The share of these chips going into PCs — both desktop and notebooks — has been hovering at or near 55 percent since early 2008, IHS says.

As shifts in market share statistics go, it at first seems insignificant until you consider the wider sweep of memory chips in the history of the modern technology industry. PCs have consumed the majority of memory chips since sometime in the 1980s. IHS couldn’t say when exactly when the first personal computers started showing up in appreciable numbers in homes and businesses.

And where are all those memory chips going? Tablets and smartphones for starters. IHS says that phones consumed more than 13 percent percent of memory chips manufactured, and it expects that figure to grow to nearly 20 percent by the end of this year. Tablets — including the iPad — consumed only 2.7 percent of the world’s memory chip supply. The remaining 35 percent, which IHS classifies as “other,” includes servers, professional workstations, and presumably specialized applications like supercomputers and embedded systems.

And given their rates of growth, IHS expects phones and tablets combined to consume about 27 percent of the world’s memory by 2013, while by that time PCs will consume less than 43 percent, making the decline, in the firm’s estimation, irreversible.

Even the much hyped Windows 8 launch doesn’t really do much.  WRAL goes on to say:

Dell executives also indicated that the company is unlikely to get a sales lift from the Oct. 26 release of Microsoft Corp.’s much-anticipated makeover of its Windows operating system. That’s because Dell focuses on selling PCs to companies, which typically take a long time before they decide to switch from one version of Windows to the next generation.

HP’s screw up came when they tried to become an IBM clone.  Dell had their own set of issues as reported by the AP:

Coming off a five-year stretch of miscalculations, HP is in such desperate need of a reboot that many investors have written off its chances of a comeback.

Consider this: Since Apple Inc. shifted the direction of computing with the release of the iPhone in June 2007, HP’s market value has plunged by 60 percent to $35 billion. During that time, HP has spent more than $40 billion on dozens of acquisitions that have largely turned out to be duds so far.

“Just think of all the value that they have destroyed,” ISI analyst Brian Marshall said. “It has been a case of just horrible management.”

Marshall traces the bungling to the reign of Carly Fiorina, who pushed through an acquisition of Compaq Computer a decade ago despite staunch resistance from many shareholders, including the heirs of HP’s co-founders. After HP ousted Fiorina in 2005, other questionable deals and investments were made by two subsequent CEOS, Mark Hurd and Leo Apotheker.

HP hired Meg Whitman 11 months ago in the latest effort to salvage what remains of one of the most hallowed names in Silicon Valley 73 years after its start in a Palo Alto, Calif., garage.

The latest reminder of HP’s ineptitude came last week when the company reported an $8.9 billion quarterly loss, the largest in the company’s history. Most of the loss stemmed from an accounting charge taken to acknowledge that HP paid far too much when it bought technology consultant Electronic Data Systems for $13 billion in 2008.

HP might have been unchallenged for the ignominious title as technology’s most troubled company if not for one its biggest rivals, Dell Inc.

Like HP, Dell missed the trends that have turned selling PCs into one of technology’s least profitable and slowest growing niches. As a result, Dell’s market value has also plummeted by 60 percent, to about $20 billion, since the iPhone’s release.

That means the combined market value of HP and Dell — the two largest PC makers in the U.S. — is less than the $63 billion in revenue Apple got from iPhones and various accessories during just the past nine months.

So now you can go to a consumer electronics store or go online and pick up a PC, a video game and a toaster, all about the same difficulty of decision.  The model is dying and a new paradigm is taking place somewhere between mobile devices and tablets with a combination likely just around the corner, but your Thinkpad is a gravestone in the near future.
It is now reported that Mobiles are the devices most turned to for online activity, banking and other internet activity.

“Cell users now treat their gadget as a body appendage,” Lee Rainie, the Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, told Mashable. “There is striking growth in the number of people who are taking advantage of the growing number of functions that these phones can perform and there isn’t much evidence yet that the pace of change is slowing down.”

The study, released yesterday by Pew Internet concludes that cellphone usage is increasing in basically every department, especially online activities. One in two people now check their email on their phone, up from 19% in 2007 and the number of Americans surfing the web on-the-go has doubled too, going from 25% in 2008 to 56% today.

People are also starting to be less reluctant to use their phones for sensitive activities that were almost considered taboo in a recent past, like online banking. Almost one in three Americans (29%) now use their phones to check their bank account, a considerable increase from just one year ago, when only 19% did. And one in three people are using their mobile device to look for health information as well. Just two years ago that figure was as low as 17%.

Phones are also becoming a substitute for other traditional devices like photo and video cameras. 82% of people who responded to the survey use their phones to snap pictures and 44% use it to record videos

Does Telecommunting or Working At Home Hurt Your Career?

According to a new study by Professors, Kimberly Elsbach of the University of California, Davis, and Daniel Cable of London Business School, it does.

A new study suggests workers are judged harshly for not showing up at the office. Despite advances in teleworking, smartphones, and Skype, face time, it seems, really does matter.

Getty Images
Working from home might not work for you.

Professors, Kimberly Elsbach of the University of California, Davis, and Daniel Cable of London Business School, looked at perceptions of employees’ performance based on whether they were in the office or not. The research measured “passive face time,” which is simply time spent in the office, regardless of whether the staffer is working hard or not.

The results aren’t pretty for employees who would rather work remotely, according to an article Elsbach and Cable wrote in MIT Sloan Management Review.

Workers who are seen at their desks during regular work hours are considered “responsible” and “dependable,” they wrote: “Just being seen at work, without any information about what you’re actually doing, leads people to think more highly of you.”

Work longer hours — early, late, or on weekends — and “rather than just being considered dependable, you can get upgraded to ‘committed’ and ‘dedicated,’” according to the article, which referenced a paper Elsbach and Cable published in the academic journal Human Relations.

Bosses, and peers, often don’t realize they’re forming views of workers’ competence based on whether they’re at their desk, Cable said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

“Without us knowing it, we are creating these assumptions about people based on physical presence,” he said. This isn’t just a perception. Bosses’ vague feelings that a worker does a better job can be seen on employee evaluations, especially when they’re encouraged to make subjective calls in performance reviews.

That leads to pay, promotion, and career-trajectory decisions. Cable estimates that more than 60% of companies are still using “1950s-style” evaluations that prioritize such subjective write-ups over hard data on sales wins, customer satisfaction, or other measures of the employee’s business performance.

So what can employees do to counter this pigeonholing, especially those who want to work from home?

If working long hours from the office isn’t an option, employees might consider sending emails early in the morning or late at night, to prove they are on the job at all times. They might also try using their time in the office to build strong connections to co-workers and superiors, like going to lunch with people or organizing in-person meetings?

Meanwhile, managers should be aware that they may be discounting remote workers’ contributions, albeit subconsciously. (Or, they may be monitoring their home-based workers, as The Journal’s Sue Shellenbarger writes.)

“The bottom line is that employees should be wary of work arrangements that reduce their office face time, and supervisors should be wary of using trait-based performance measures, especially when evaluating remote workers,” the article said. “Finally, employees working remotely need to make sure they are evaluated on objective outputs. Barring that, you might consider sending an e-mail to your boss tonight . . . say, around midnight.”

YOU ARE LESS LIKELY TO BE PROMOTED ALSO

According to an MIT study by the Sloan Management Review, you are less likely to get ahead:

The millions of Americans who are skipping out on the daily commute may also be losing out on a promotion.

These so-called ‘telecommuters’ are less likely to receive positive performance reviews from superiors than their colleagues who show up in the office, a new study by MIT Sloan Management Review shows.

The report chalks up much of the discrepancy to managerial subjectivity. Managers are less likely to be comfortable with a worker they don’t actually see on a regular basis. In fact, they may become more irritated with someone who they perceive isn’t available at all times. Telecommuting employees are also less likely to reap the benefits of showing up early and leaving work late than their commuting coworkers.

Advances in Internet technology have allowed for telecommuting to become more widespread. About 20 percent of workers worldwide report that they telecommute, while 10 percent report that they work from home on a regular basis, according to a recent Ipsos/Reuters poll. That same poll found that 34 percent of workers, when asked, stated that they would telecommute on a regular basis if they could.

But according to some critics, telecommuting creates cause for concern. For instance, telecommuting could prevent workers from being able to fully understand what their managers ask of them, according to PCWorld. That’s because non-verbal facial expressions are an important component of the workplace that telecommuting, which often takes place over instant messaging or phone, doesn’t allow.

But this doesn’t excuse managers from giving otherwise stellar employees poor reviews just because they telecommute, Daniel Cable of London Business School and co-author of the MIT Sloan report told The Wall Street Journal. Approximately 60 percent of firms still use highly subjective employee review standards that prioritize manager write-ups over hard data, Cable told WSJ. This often results in managers promoting sub par employees over superior candidates that telecommute.

STACKED REVIEWS

Most corporations are using stacked reviews.  This obviously pits employees against each other rather than trying to beat the competition.  Stay at home employees are working at a disadvantage here as the in office workers can brown nose their way to places that home workers can’t.  Here’s how it works.

Eichenwald’s conversations reveal that a management system known as “stack ranking”—a program that forces every unit to declare a certain percentage of employees as top performers, good performers, average, and poor—effectively crippled Microsoft’s ability to innovate. “Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewed—every one—cited stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft, something that drove out untold numbers of employees,” Eichenwald writes. “If you were on a team of 10 people, you walked in the first day knowing that, no matter how good everyone was, 2 people were going to get a great review, 7 were going to get mediocre reviews, and 1 was going to get a terrible review,” says a former software developer. “It leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than competing with other companies.”

FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE, BAD OFFICE MEMO OF THE YEAR

At IBM, if you don’t go to New York, you don’t get ahead.  That is where the club is. The current Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications said that Raleigh was “Smallville with no chance of going anyone going anywhere if you stay here” at a town-hall meeting with all the communications folks in attendance.  Jaws were dropping all over the floor and it was the topic of conversation for days. This was after he gave a speech that was supposed to be about communications careers, but was just an obviously recycled presentation that had been given to a different audience about EPS.  Everyone saw through it and no one got why he came to un”motivate” the troops.  IBM’s current vice president of external relations publicly made fun of the south as if NY was the mecca of IQ on a global call of all Comms folks.  Everyone mentioned how short sighted this was and what a limited view of what different populations worldwide had to offer (there were multiple IM sessions going on around the world on this clear example of prejudice and ego centrism).  Despite their high salaries, we are the smart ones spending more time with our kids and paying over 30% less in cost of living.  Plus we don’t have to live in New York and work with them especially since this guy yells and cusses you out way more than HR should allow.

I personally turned down 2 offers to move to NY to get ahead.  I’d been there many times and knew the unofficial rules that you had to be there to get anywhere.  I didn’t want to raise my kids there and my family was more important to me  than a job.  Because of that, I was labeled someone who didn’t want to climb the ladder which was fine by me, so I worked in the pack and was passed over for promotions after that.  My family is much better off having grown up where we wanted to live and I don’t regret it a minute.  My kids are killing the NY public school kids at college.  Plus, I would never send them to a den of socialism like Columbia or any other schools up there.  I need them to get a real education.

But the fact remains, you run a severe risk of not getting ahead if you don’t show up at the office.  Many will be able come up with some successful work at home employee story, but only to a certain level…. then you have to be in their face at the office.  Either way, it is expected that you’ll check into work at all hours of the night and weekends anyway.

There was one manager in a group I worked for that sent out a “rules of the road” memo (bad office memo of the year) that said if you weren’t working in the office, you weren’t considered really working.  Talk about generating trust on your team! He was viewed by his peers as the worst manager of the entire group, I was just lucky to have had the experience of working with him.

OFFICE COOLER TALK

You do miss out on hall meetings that allow you to find out things home workers miss.  It allows you to get ahead of the telecommuters on the first news or get into the executives office at a moments notice.  That is a drawback, but not enough to call me in.  When they sold the building I was working in and asked who wanted to be a home worker, my hand was up faster than Arnold Horshack to get out of there.

The flip side is you have to hear all the office gossip which I was glad to miss.  It is too distracting and usually it is never good about anyone, only what they are doing wrong, who is sleeping with whom or what some are getting away with.

Some people need the social interaction and have to be in the office for people contact.  I’m perfectly happy to miss that as most of it is idle banter that takes away from productivity.  I also don’t miss the hour commute.

Overall, I wouldn’t trade the home office for a cubicle anywhere, anytime. Being at home has more perks.

WORKING WITH THE COMPETITION ON A JOINT ANNOUNCEMENT – What went on behind the scenes with Microsoft, IBM and Intel

I wrote a while back about doing a joint announcement with a competitor.  Communications wise, it was from the standpoint of Analyst Relations.  Since I also did Public Relations for many years, I had the opportunity to lead an announcement with Microsoft and Intel.

CODE NAME FIRESTORM

Recently I came across a press release that I had coordinated on behalf of the Netfinity Server (System X now, update: It has been sold to Lenovo) with Microsoft and Intel in the early 2000’s.  In reality, all the work was done between Waggener Edstrom for Microsoft and me for IBM.  All other parties weren’t interested enough to contribute as long as their name and content was in the release. It was done to best Oracle in the TPC-C benchmark category (there are multiple TPC benchmarks but this one worked for effect).  While the machines pale in comparison to recent server announcements, it was quite an achievement in 2001 terms.  The code name internally at IBM was Firestorm and had the high priority and secrecy of a CIA mission with me having to sign a non disclosure agreement that expired on announcement day just to know about it.

HOW IT WAS RUN

We had weekly internal meetings to cover the progress as what was at stake was having DB2 exceed Oracle in database transactions, basically one-upmanship in a bake-off.  I coordinated it for IBM even though there was a Software Division product at stake.  Since it was run on an IBM server, that established what the importance to the company was and to this day servers are still a critical product to the company (you can’t run software or have services without one).  I told the then PR manager for DB2 that I would run it for them as they didn’t have much involvement in the benchmark testing (their PR group didn’t even know about it during the testing) so it was cleaner this way.  She was bossy and turned out to be a back stabber so my instincts were right. It was already going to be hard enough to work with multiple companies which turned out to be true, so this kept the cooks out of the kitchen. Moving her out of the announcement was vital to being able to get anything done at IBM.

If you recall, there was bad blood between Microsoft and the IBM PC group since the beginning of the PC era (which Netfinity was a part of, until PC’s were sold to Lenovo).  It was apparent from the start to the end of this process.  I had to also keep the GM of Netfinity, John Callies out of the process as he was a useless suit whose ego commanded his actions which weren’t always good for the division.  The GM of the overall PC Group was also hopeless (see the letter below) so I ran the process and kept the ego maniac suit and the helpless suit from ruining things.  They were part of the old IBM who got their jobs through working the system rather than competence.  It is part of executive ego managing, a tool that everyone needs to know when dealing with executives.

The other PR teams jointly listed in the release didn’t have the spirit of the announcement as their focus, rather it felt like we were in the cold war.  This happened even though IBM did all the work (it was built and conducted by IBM technicians, then independently verified by the TPC committee) and handed to the other companies as a freebie.  Back then, Microsoft then had the clout of IBM PR during the System 360 and initial PC days when they were king of the hill and could (and did) throw their weight around.

THE PRESS RELEASE BATTLE

As I recall, there were over 30 revisions of the press release before we got to the final (below).  It seemed as though every word was contested.  This is how it went; I’d send a press release draft around which had the details giving all parties credit and explaining the products and process.   A few days later I’d get back a draft which talked about Microsoft with relatively little mention of the process or an understanding of why the benchmark mattered to database users.  It was a combination of elbowing IBM out-of-the-way to get headlines and a general lack of understanding of what we were announcing.  Intel went along with us as they were confident in our ability to make a successful announcement.

The negotiations went on for about 3-4 weeks prior to the announcement until 2 days before the big day.  We couldn’t agree to the verbiage and finally Wagg-Ed suggested that we just each write our own press release.  While I disagreed with this strategy, we actually agreed to it just to make the deadline and got it approved by the IBM executives. I didn’t want to do it as this inherently would present problems like why are there 2 separate releases if the companies are working together?  However, since I knew the reporters I knew I was going to tell them the background off the record.  I fully understood that a press release is merely a place holder and a conversation starter.  No self respecting reporter would use someone else’s words if they were worth their salt.  Only the companies really care what it says.

THE RESOLUTION

The announcement was to be made on a Monday which we could agree on for effect (good PR tactics in those days, especially with IBM/Microsoft/Intel vs. Oracle in the headlines).  Our final joint call occurred the Friday before the announcement and was attended by PR teams, spokesmen and company executives (note this was the first time I recall an actual Microsoft executive on these calls).  It was on this call that a Senior VP from Microsoft (who reported to Ballmer and Gates) stated through his heavy French accent that having two press releases was a stew-peed idea and which idiot suggested it (I agreed with him).   I pointed out that it was Microsoft’s idea which we accommodated.  I’ve rarely heard such a gasp of silence as all parties realized what was going on.  They quickly agreed to do a joint release and we cobbled together what to me was a very neutral (and useless) document.  I silently was grateful that he asked this question that I’d pondered the whole time I dealt with this crew.

I had known the whole time that this was a press release wording struggle and the real work was going to be done in the one on one’s with reporters after the press release hit the wires.  I also was informed that Microsoft was only going to speak with a couple of magazines they viewed as their buddies.   I agreed and kept quiet as I knew that this left the door open for us to lead the announcement.  One has to have one’s priorities in focus and getting proper coverage was mine.  I knew the reporters they wanted to talk to and they wrote my story and told me they didn’t like how pushy the W-E PR team was.  See the part about relationships.

It is important to note that a press release is merely a document to get an interview except when a wire service will run it early hours to beat a deadline.  It is the relationship that the PR person has with the reporters that is the key to getting results.  It didn’t hurt that so many big names were seemingly working together on this and that it had the element of controversy (IBM teams with Microsoft and Intel to beat Oracle) which is a headline grabber.  It was then that I knew that things would work out despite our differences.

For strategic purposes, I saved the IBM draft version of the release and used it for my press work as it described more accurately what we were doing, including a better presentation of how Microsoft and Intel contributed.  Since Microsoft was only interested in the press release and thought they would get minimal coverage, I didn’t bother telling them and they didn’t care past the document.

THE RESULTS

It turned out that the IBM team did the bulk of the publicity work (we had the most invested so no surprise).  There was only a few joint calls with Microsoft and Intel where the executives touted the significance of this benchmark and during which everyone worked together like professionals.

After hammering the phones and working with reporters for days, we received thousands of articles which was a shock to the other PR teams, especially Wag-Ed.  While they tried to claim coverage, it was heavily nuanced to the IBM side of the story as we did the actual work both in the test and in the PR effort so no one believed Microsoft’s Wagg-Ed team.

I worked with most of the reporters who covered it to give them the real story of the benchmark, and just left the press release controversy alone.  I even fed them the line that we “Blew the doors of the TPC benchmark” which got printed and made it to the halls of Armonk.

THE AFTERMATH

While I was glad it was over, I learned a great deal about working with others such as keeping the big picture in focus.  It was one of the years largest announcements for our group and garnered massive coverage.  I received my one and only personal email from Lou Gerstner praising the results.  He stated that he had no interest in bake-off’s, but that this one was significant given what we had accomplished.  This meant a lot as I thought Lou was one of the two best executives I had worked with at IBM, and I had a great deal of respect for his saving and running IBM as a company.

I also received a personal note from the head of our division.  The reality was that the IBM PC group had managed to fall to about sixth in the industry by then behind the likes of Dell, Compaq, HP, Acer and E-Machines, and this was one of the more competent things the group did while I was there.

EPILOGUE

If you go to the link at the top of the page, you find that the Analyst joint announcement I did with Oracle was a far better experience, go figure.  I received a personal note from the GM however.  Note that he got my name wrong which caused me to chuckle and save it for the memories.  Execs like Callies and Thomas cost IBM market share and progress.  It was surprising that the doors opened some days in the PC division with people like that running the place.  It is an indication of why they were 6th behind companies that didn’t exist only a couple of years later.  The division fell off the map at IBM and was sold to Lenovo who took it back to the top of the industry.

Overall, it was tenacity over talent, execution over ego but it is how the game is won.

 

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IBM, INTEL, MS CLAIM WORLD’S FASTEST SERVER CLUSTER

IBM, Intel and Microsoft announced the world’s fastest server cluster for commercial use, recording performance levels that triple the performance of Oracle running on a Sun Microsystems cluster, at one-third the price.

Using the performance measurement technique agreed to by all computer makers (TPC-C), this alliance of leaders in industry standard computing achieved record-breaking results in server and price performance.

“This benchmark constitutes a solution that will entirely bypass the normal glitches and costs of second implementations that accompany exponential transaction growth rates,” said Marshall Freiman, CTO, Web Emporium LLC, an IBM customer. “It also offers scalability for e-businesses affected heavily by the transaction spikes associated with the holiday seasons. This is the type of cooperation between industry leaders that we should expect. With IBM, Intel and Microsoft making a move like this, others are bound to follow.”

“Scalability concerns for e-businesses are a worry of the past,” said Perry Cain, vice president, Neoteric Solutions, also an IBM customer. “With this benchmark, we receive the cooperative efforts of IBM, Intel and Microsoft yielding a standardized and tested solution with double the transaction capabilities of anything else before. These technologies are no longer dreams of engineers.”

IBM, Intel and Microsoft joined forces on this groundbreaking effort to prove that a combination of Netfinity Servers with Pentium III Xeon processors running at 700 MHz (megahertz) with 2 MB (megabyte) L2 cache, IBM DB2 Universal Database and Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server operating system provides a highly scalable environment. This technology combination is ideally suited for data-intensive applications like business-to-business (B2B), e-commerce and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).

“With this record-breaking event, IBM has once again demonstrated the power of DB2, and has raised the bar for industry-standard servers with Netfinity,” said Ralph Martino, vice president, strategy and marketing, IBM Personal Systems Group. “IBM’s strong, productive relationship with Microsoft and Intel, and our collective ability to achieve extraordinary results as we did with this benchmark, is changing the way the world views industry-standard computing.”

“Achieving strong industry-standard benchmark results is one of the leading ways to show the industry and our customers that Windows 2000 is a highly scalable operating system for mission critical enterprise deployments,” said Jim Ewel, marketing vice president for IT infrastructure and hosting at Microsoft. “Beyond the numbers, this benchmark effort illustrates our commitment to working with IBM and Intel to deliver to customers the largest and most reliable enterprise-class solutions.”

“This breakthrough performance on Intel-based servers and achieved by IBM’s Netfinity 8500R server showcases the incredible scalability of our large cache Pentium III Xeon processors,” said Raghu Murthi, director of marketing for Intel’s Enterprise Platform Group. “Intel-based servers are designed for large enterprise class implementations and we worked closely with IBM and Microsoft to deliver outstanding performance and solutions tailored to meet the rapidly growing e-Business economy.”

Benchmark Configuration Details

The configuration included an unprecedented 116 terabytes of physical disk space configured for high availability using RAID 1 and RAID 5 arrays.

The Netfinity 8500R servers, containing Netfinity X-Architecture features adopted from IBM S/390 and RS/6000 servers, contributed to this benchmark’s success. Specific features that convinced the benchmark team the servers were up to the test include the 8500R’s expansive memory, the number of processors supported, the number of PCI slots available for add-on components and the amount of LAN I/O for the transfer of data in and out of the system. In addition, the setup utilizes Giganet cLAN interconnects for fast server-to-server communications.

Key components of the cluster included:

  • 32 IBM Netfinity 8500R servers running Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server and IBM DB2 Universal Database Enterprise-Extended Edition V7.1
  • Four 700MHz/2MB L2 cache Intel Pentium III Xeon processors per server
  • 4GB ECC SDRAM memory per server
  • Eight IBM Netfinity ServeRAID-3HB Ultra2 SCSI Adapters per server
  • 96 IBM Netfinity 5000 servers were used as TPC-C clients for the Webserving, Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server on each client.
  • Two 9.1 GB (gigabyte) 10K Ultra 160 SCSI drives and 218 18.2GB 10K Wide Ultra SCSI drives per server
  • One EtherJet 10/100 PCI Management Adapter per server
  • 2 Giganet cLAN 5300 switches

DB2 Universal Database

This announcement highlights IBM’s leadership in the database market. DB2 demonstrated record-breaking results in transactions and in the ability to manage the world’s largest database of more than 116 TB of online storage – this is equivalent to a stack of paper 3,480 miles high.

A proven foundation for B2B applications, DB2 Universal Database Version 7 integrates breakthrough technologies that enable customers to slash development in many cases nearly in half and perform high-speed text searches as much as ten times faster than traditional relational database search engines.

DB2’s ability to scale to 1000 nodes, using a single database spread across the cluster offered significant advantages in scaling and management over other data management solutions that follow a federated architecture (i.e., one database instance per machine, each requiring individual management.)

Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server

Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server was configured using a scale out approach to run on each member of the cluster of the Netfinity servers. Scale out architecture ensures that customers creating enterprise solutions will be able to achieve the highest possible levels of scalability and reliability with unmatched price and performance; this benchmark is further evidence of the performance, scalability and economic advantages of the results that can be achieved using Windows 2000 Advanced Server.

COM+ is a complete, mature set of component services for quickly building scalable, reliable applications that is delivered in the Windows 2000 Server family of operating systems. COM+, the most popular component model in the world, includes critical scalability and reliability features necessary for building large-scale applications by integrating the features of the Microsoft Transaction Service (MTS) deep into the COM component model. This integration makes it easier for developers to create and use scalable software components in any language, using any tool.

Windows 2000 Advanced Server is a solution that includes additional functionality to enhance the availability and scalability of e-commerce and line-of-business applications. The Windows 2000 operating system is the ideal platform for the next generation of business computing; helping organizations Internet-enable their businesses with a reliable, manageable infrastructure that is optimized for existing and emerging hardware.

Intel Pentium III Xeonprocessor at 700 MHz with 1MB/2MB of L2 Cache

The new large cache 700MHz version of the Pentium III Xeon processor has a record 140 million transistors. The processor is based on Intel’s advanced 0.18-micron process technology, and offers 1MB and 2MB of Advanced Transfer Cache memory with Advanced System Buffering, which boosts performance by placing a full-speed, level-two cache memory directly on the processor die and increasing the width of the data pathway to the processor.

The processor also offers a 100 MHz system bus and on-cartridge voltage management for increased system reliability. The new processors also are built on the same form factor, enabling server manufacturers to use them with existing server platform components, accelerating time to market.

For more information about: — IBM Netfinity servers and DB2 Universal Database, visit www.ibm.com — Intel, visit www.intel.com — Microsoft, visit www.microsoft.com.

The Transaction Processing Performance Council is a non-profit corporation founded to define transaction processing and database benchmarks and to disseminate objective, verifiable TPC performance data to the industry.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft is a worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

Sun’s Enterprise 6500 cluster achieved 135,461 transactions at a price performance of $97.10 tpmC. IBM, Intel, Microsoft cluster achieved an audited record attested to by TPC-C (Transaction Processing Performance Council, type C benchmark) of 440,879.95 transactions per minute at a price performance of $32.28 per tpmC.

Data is current as of July 3, 2000 and is subject to change without notice. For the latest benchmark information, visit www.tpc.org.

Solution specification, pricing and availability information is subject to change without notice.

Contact John Simonds, IBM, 919-254-9732, jsimonds@us.ibm.com or Deborah Young, Waggener Edstrom for Microsoft, 425-637-9097 deborahy@wagged.com.

Was IBM’s Watson a Breakthrough or Very Cheap and Creative Advertising?

Update 1/8/14: Only $15 Million in sales for over $5 billion invested so far as IBM struggles to turn Watson into a business

The worst news in the above link is that companies like Google can do the the same for far less and that Watson doesn’t even work with other IBM technology.

Update: Watson is in the next publicity stunt with Wall Street as sales seem to be lagging.

As we all know, Watson appeared and won on Jeopardy last year.  It was the culmination of years of work and manpower to build a machine that could react faster and be programmed to win a game show.  It was brilliant, but more for promotion than technology sales (as evidenced so far).  There is little doubt that the promotional value was priceless to the IT industry and an easy calculation by IBM to one up the competition.

The two humans were limited to their capacity, whereas Watson was a massive computer with incredible storage and processing capability.  It was programmed specifically for the game, so while not a slam dunk, inevitability wasn’t in much doubt.

I don’t know about you, but as I get older, I forget things and computers don’t.  You can add memory, processors and build it big enough to recall more than any amount of humans.  Jeopardy had two champions,  so it wasn’t really a fair fight.  You ultimately can overpower any certain situation with billions in technology (which is what it cost to win), but throw something like emotion or nuance into a situation and computers are lost.

It was the perfect set up.  Everyone loves to root for the underdog even though the humans really fit that role.  It was accomplished by putting the biggest two winners ever on Jeopardy up against poor Watson.  The truth was that it never was going to be close given the confines of the rules of the game.  In real life, with unforeseen issues, the humans would have a fair chance.  That was never the point of Watson though.

IBM got to promote a research facility, executives, technology and almost a free ticket for three days.  Jeopardy also was a winner with dominant ratings.

I don’t want to debate the possibilities of Watson’s future contribution to technology other than stating that it is another step (and possibly direction)  in data analytics, and it increases the perception of IBM’s lead in this area (thanks to a lot of M&A and some folks that worked without getting enough credit).  It hasn’t been the breakthrough that companies have jumped on like an iPhone, yet billions of dollars have been spent on the same hardware used to build Watson since Jeopardy for traditional IT.  Time will tell.

ADVERTISING

For now, the real victory was exposure.  How much would it cost to purchase 1.5 hours of prime time advertising for a 3 day period where you basically get to change the rules of advertising to where you don’t even have to pretend that an ad agency was involved (also saving millions).  Here is the breakdown of advertising to program, but in reality the big IBM Watson Avatar is a commercial by itself every time Alex said the word Watson.

From a Mad Men point of view (advertising show for those who don’t know) this was a stroke of creative genius that began with winning a chess match against Gary Kasparov, then moving to prime time TV when new exposure was needed.  I saw people glued to their seats and talking about it the next day at a conference.  Nevertheless, it still has all the appearances of a publicity stunt. Unfortunately, it saddled IBM with a 2015 earnings projection claim that Palmisano left Gini Rometty to figure out.  With this economy, it has Sham’s chance of beating Secretariat in the Belmont Stakes to make it.

There will be claims that further technology is Watson legacy and success, but it is not what was intended by the efforts which related to making sure it beat the humans on Jeopardy.  That is supposed to come later.

CURING THE COMMON COLD

It has been suggested that Watson technology is being used to cure cancer.  I like others wish for this as I lost my mother to that disease.  Along with AIDS and the common cold, I have my doubts that we’ll really see this in our lifetime.  By then, trillions will be spent.  Like Global Warming, we could do more by helping to feed the starving and providing help and aid to millions.  This is not what Watson is about though last spring, it was the advertising win of 2010.

So the jury is out on whether it will succeed in medical or some other breakthrough.  For now, it was the promotional prime time win last year.

Is the PC Dead Or Is It Marketing Hype and Spin?

Update: Apple is more nails in the PC coffin with the new announcement of Post PC devices.

  • 362 Apple stores
  • 315 million iOS devices sold through last year, including 62 million in the last quarter
  • 585,000 apps created
  • 25 billion app downloads
  • 1080p movies and TV shows for iCloud and the new Apple TV
  • 15.4 million iPads sold in the fourth quarter of 2011
  • 200,000+ iPad apps
  • 2048 by 1536 pixels displayed on the new iPad, with 264 pixels per inch
  • 44 percent greater color saturation than the old iPad
  • 5 megapixel sensor on the new iPad camera
  • A maximum of 73 mbps downlink with 4G LTE on new iPad
  • New iPad specs: 10 hours of battery life, nine hours with 4G; 9.4 millimeters thick, 1.4 pounds
  • Same pricing as last iPad: Wi-Fi models are $499 for 16 gigabytes, $599 for 32GB, $699 for 64GB; $629, $729 and $829, if you want 4G
  • Old iPad now starts at $399 and $529

The Real Meaning in Marketing Speak

In the mid 2000’s, Sam Palmisano of IBM declared the era of the PC is over.  This was somewhat of a marketing move since IBM had just sold the PC Division to Lenovo.  What he really meant was that IBM is getting out of consumer products.  IBM also sold other consumer divisions that were not the margin kings that Software and Services were.  Disclaimer, after working either for/with/against/partnering with IBM for 31 years, I can say that a lot of what they do is incredible spin on pretty good technology.  I had better knowledge of what was going on than what was told to the outside.

PC’s are Toasters Now

This is a bit of a history lesson.  There was a time that PC’s were special and had value.  They still can be found on almost every desk or backpack at an airport, but in reality they are now (and have been for a while) a consumer product.  There gets to a point in time in every product’s life cycle that economies of scale and parts availability drive this value (and therefore the price) down when you can’t differntiate.  It is compounded by newer technologies (tablet computers and mobile devices) to where you can get them at any consumer store that sells toasters, video games and TV’s.  Any improvement is just a little bit better (except Windows which usually is worse), not an era better which was the case when they were new.

PC’s have done this to themselves over the years.  Remember when all you could get was a bulky desktop?  Technology moved on to the luggable computer to the laptop. Now you can get a wafer thin Macbook Air (for a premium price), but the technology curve will drive cost down here when every manufacturer offers it.  Margins are razor thin and there is minimal hardware differentiation on the Wintel platform.

The Effect of iPad and Mobile Phones

Ultimately, the world is driving your communications and computing device to be in your hand.  The end game of input is not a keyboard, but voice.  This addresses the need for instantaneous that we have required as we’ve shifted from email to IM and texting, and from blogging to tweeting. I envision a vision screen that is projected by your small handheld that lets you see what a huge monitor is required for now in the near future.  For more on this, see Project Blade Runner as an example of what the future could look like.

PC’s are already under fire from Tablet computing and smartphones.  While at some point you still need a PC for complicated input/output such as the dreaded Powerpoint and the more mundane payroll/HR applications, they soon will be adapted to tablets as we easily morphed from immobile desktops to laptops.

Many analysts have shown that more phones and tablets are sold than PC’s.  More texts are sent than emails and we certainly have more tweets than blogs.

The Cloud

Powering a lot of this of course is the overhyped Cloud model.  While conceptually it has been around for a long time (we have called it client/server and other names), it is a software delivery model that will make the end device irrelevant.  Perhaps you could get your email on your toaster or refrigerator.  You could make phone calls by dialing in the air at some point.  The issue is that we are driving the connecting device smaller, cheaper and more powerful (and less relevant) so that we can get what we want, when we want it and wherever we want it.

Lenovo and HP

Companies are jumping out of this market as evidenced by IBM and HP willing to sell their PC businesses worth billions in revenue, mostly because of low single digit profit margin.  They realize that there isn’t much money to be made anymore, again putting them in the toaster category. Similar components by most, similar operating systems, market driving memory and storage costs and overhead to sell.  HP is now particularly vulnerable as companies negotiating long term contracts will throw HP out  as a viable vendor not knowing what their future will be either in terms of ownership or viability.  HP has completely lost their way starting with the purchase of Compaq years ago, then dumping their tablet, announcing the sale of their PC division and switching CEO’s like underwear.

The Apple Factor

Everyone eventually builds a better mousetrap.  The Mac has been around for a long time, but the entry way to the door to Apple changed with the iPad/iPhone.  A new processor, operating system visibility, technology paradigm, profit potential and the coolness factor make Apple a different model than the PC.  Prior to that, Mac’s were a niche player in the creative, advertising and education world.  This has changed partly because the OS is better, Windows is not a great platform and Mac’s are headed in the direction of iPads.

So Is the PC Dead?

Ultimately yes, but not this year or in the near future.  I’ve seen models of computers called bricks the size of your phone that you can drop in a kiosk and work anywhere.  You can even use them like an iPhone if needed, but until the voice input issue is resolved, keyboard input is an inhibitor.

No one thought we’d ever see the end of typewriters, faxing or even the 360, but technology advances at an increasing rate economically speaking.  What will be interesting is which social mores we’ll break like talking to ourselves (on a cellphone) in public (or worse in a bathroom or driving).

Is the iPad the next endgame?  Likely also not.  Companies are trying to out do themselves and we’ll wind up like the Jetson’s one day.

The Original Press Release for the IBM PC in 1981

At 4 pages (typed on a typewriter), here is the original Press Release for the IBM PC from 1981.  Judge for yourself the writing style.

At $4500, you could get a fully configured 64k PC with 2 360k floppy disk drives and a small dot matrix printer.  Such a deal.  I’m pretty sure that there are wristwatches with more computing power available now.

Working With the Legal Department

 

I just had to get a press release approved for PartnerWorld.  9 lawyers later, I got a version back that resembled what I submitted.

It was now devoid of content and any facts relating to any announcement, said or implied, pertaining to or related to any issue with or without any implications to the company or any of it’s divisions or partners both expressed or implied whether discussing any actual issue, but not limited to any actual information that might be relevant to those to whom the information might be directed to forth with.

I sent the reporters what I wanted to anyway and blew off the lawyers as usual.

Changing Jobs, My New Job, Resurrecting Old Talents

Today I start a new job.  I’ll be working in external communications for IBM Global Finance.

I’ve been a part of Software Group at IBM for about 10 years in a number of A/R capacities, it was a good run, but like all good things….it came to an end.

I’ll be handling not only Analyst Relations, but also stepping back into previous careers.

What few know is that I majored in Accounting and actually started my career as one, so I have a good understanding of finance/accounting (debit is on the left).  Combine that with my personal interest in economics, and you can see how the stars aligned for this.

Upon considering this job opportunity, the obvious occurred to me.  These are tough economic times, customers have IT needs, the banks are fully financed with TARP money yet are not extending credit….and IBM is a major financing organization and is helping customers and partners with financing.  Voila, it was a no-brainer.

So I embark on a new journey within IBM which is a good fit.

For all that I have worked with, I’ll probably still be working with you as IGF works with all IBM divisions to help them, so again, this to me is one of THE BEST STORIES NOT TOLD ENOUGH at IBM.

From our web page:

On a smarter planet, the opportunities that can emerge from intelligent and interconnected systems are unlimited. Unfortunately, your budget is not. The challenge for many organizations is how to invest in smarter systems when the majority of the budget is going towards maintaining current systems.

Building a robust and flexible IT infrastructure often involves systemic transformation that can happen all at once or in phases, and typically requires a new generation of hardware, software, and services. An equally robust financing and asset management strategy can provide you the opportunity to leverage new technologies, and turn your ambitious vision into a tangible solution.

IBM Global Financing can help credit qualified clients develop a comprehensive investment strategy, allowing them to seize new opportunities and accelerate transformation solutions with:

We provide flexible financing options and low rates that can:

  • Turn large upfront costs into affordable and predictable monthly payments
  • Customize payment plans that align costs to projected benefits
  • Accelerate solution implementation, and improve ROI and payback
  • Lower total cost of ownership
  • Preserve cash and credit lines for strategic business investments
  • Reduce or even eliminate the risk of project delays and technology obsolescence

Smart financial decisions, cost-effective results

From simple loans to custom leases, we can finance your total solution – including IBM and non-IBM hardware, software and services – under a single contract.

Learn the Key Elements for why IBM Global Financing is your smartest choice to fund critical IT investments and propel your business forward.

Microsoft Facing A Critical Time In Their Business Direction, (or I wouldn’t want to be in Microsoft Communicaitons right now)

There are times in any business that you need to re-invent yourself.  Even if you are selling nuts and bolts, a bigger fish like Lowes or Home Depot can wreck your sales and pricing.  Nothing changes faster these days than the IT industry.

Microsoft is facing the situation that IBM has faced at least 3 times now.  The last one was a do or die decision to not break up the company and I credit one Lou Gerstner for such a great move.  Nevertheless, he reformed and reshaped the company from a hardware (mainframe) company to more of a services and software organization. Microsoft unfortunately didn’t invent everything it sells and is faced with a fork in the road on success or pack mediocrity.  I for one would not want to have to face the upcoming issues as a communications professional that Microsoft will face.

ORIGINS OF THE CASH COW’S

Microsoft got it’s start by buying an operating system and taking the Software PC business away from IBM.  Next, they “stole” the Windows idea from Apple, here is a bit of history from MG Siegler….

For nearly 25 years now, the story has lingered that Microsoft stole the idea of Windows from Apple (AAPL) while working to develop software for the Lisa and Macintosh operating systems. The stories you hear generally seem to be a mixture of truth, urban legend, and fanboy fabrications at this point — but the fact is that Apple did sue Microsoft in 1988 for copyright infringement on the matter. After four years worth of arguments, Apple lost. They also lost the subsequent appeal (and they even tried to take it to the U.S. Supreme Court, but that was denied). But they didn’t lose because Windows wasn’t thought to be similar to Apple’s operating systems. They lost because the judge ruled that you couldn’t protect the concept of a graphical user interface or the desktop metaphor idea. And more specifically, Apple ran into problems because of a decision that then-CEO John Sculley made in 1985 to sign an agreement licensing certain parts of Apple’s GUI to Bill Gates for use in what would become Windows 1.0 (presumably without realizing exactly what he was doing).

Siegler proves my point of re-inventing themselves here:

But now that idea is waning. Or rather, everyone is starting to recognize that the idea will be waning in the years to come. Make no mistake, Microsoft still makes a lot of money from Windows — and I do mean a lot. But Windows is not the future. By that I mean that the desktop metaphor GUI is slowly but surely being replaced by a rise of mobile and touchable devices. In other words, Microsoft needs a new idea.

The problem is that Microsoft hasn’t proven themselves to be capable of coming up with or executing such an idea on their own. Dozens of failed projects ranging from the original tablet PCs to SPOT watches to the Kin have been left in their wake. The fact that tablet computers are now exploding in popularity thanks to Apple’s iPad suggests that Microsoft, for whatever reason, has a hard time launching new, successful ideas on their own. Windows Mobile is another example of this. They were there early, much earlier than their main rivals. And now they’re getting trounced.

Instead, it may be time to piggyback off an idea again. To create a new inception, as it were. Lure someone in, take their idea — and take it to the next level. Microsoft has nothing if not a huge amount of resources. If they pick the right idea to take, they can once again transform the world — but they need that right idea.

BALLMER IS NO GERSTNER

I’ll go on record to say that Ballmer is no Lou Gerstner.  A company needs a visionary like a Gerstner or maybe in this case, a Steve Jobs.  Sam Diaz speculates his demise and that he might not even make it to CES to make the keynote.

Here is Diaz’s Ballmer scorecard:

  • Mobile: Clearly, the KIN was a flop. And, isn’t it kind of funny that references to the mobile landscape are always centered around iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. When was the last time you heard someone get excited about the forthcoming arrival of Windows Phone 7 and talk about how it will rock the mobile landscape? OK, putting Microsoft shareholders and employees aside, when was the last time you heard anyone else talk highly of Windows Phone 7?
  • Tablet: Well, Ballmer killed the Courier. Or someone at Microsoft did – but surely not without Ballmer’s permission. OK, so they killed a tablet PC project. Big deal. Isn’t that better than launching a loser (like they did with KIN)? But it wasn’t so much that they killed it as much as it was the extra line in the company’s official statement that declared “no plans to build such a device right now.” It seems that tablets are all the buzz right now, sparked largely by Apple’s iPad. And Microsoft has no plans for one?
  • Software/OS: Regardless of what you think about Google, the cloud and even the Mac, you cannot ignore the fact that Geese that lay Golden Eggs at Microsoft – Windows OS and Office – are getting old. There’s fresh competition from all over – and this isn’t just the Mac vs. PC sort of competition. There’s excitement around the launch of tablets running Google’s Chrome or Android OS. Clearly, Apple is gaining some ground from its switch campaign. And companies are being given real options for productivity software from online providers.

The point of all of this is that Ballmer, as the CEO of Microsoft, seems to have spent quite a bit of time riding on the successful coat tails of Bill Gates – but really hasn’t done much to elevate the company further, XBox being the exception.

My .02, he needs to go and they need new leadership to fend off Google, Oracle, Amazon and most of all Apple.  He is not the savior and they need a Gerstner.

Rob Enderle, one of the analysts I used to work with when I covered Analyst Relations for ThinkPad adds this nugget of perception:

Perception works both inside and outside the company. Recall that in the Apple turnaround, Steve Jobs started out with a company in deep trouble with products he had publicly called crap.  He started changing the perceptions surrounding the company because he knew this would give him the time he needed to rebuild it. At IBM, Louis Gerstner changed out the entire marketing department as one of his first accomplishments. He knew that if he couldn’t deal with the perception that IBM was failing, that perception would drive an unavoidable result.  In  both cases, by aggressively dealing with perceptions of unavoidable failure, both internally and externally, they bought time they needed to get  the real work done.

MINI-MICROSOFT WEIGH’S IN

One of the blogs I follow is Mini Microsoft as do many.  He’s got the biggest set of attachments that I know to write things like this:

And now Kin is killed *after* it has shipped in June 2010. You can bet Andy was involved in the development of Kin, the partnership agreements with the OEM, Verizon and most importantly the “ship it” approvals all along the way. And Microsoft discovers its a bad idea after it blows up in the broad market. Absolutely no thanks to any pro-active decision making on Andy’s part.

Now there is spin that Andy killed kin to put all the wood behind Windows Phone 7. Er, the guy was in charge for two years of Kin development. He could have made this decision far earlier.

Similarly Windows Phone 7 has two years of development under his watch. Based on his past performance, 99% chance this is also going to be a total catastrophe. It further doesn’t help that much of the Windows Phone 7 leadership team was kicked out of Windows when they screwed up Vista.

And finally, one Danger-employee’s point of view of why they became demotivated:

To the person who talked about the unprofessional behavior of the Palo Alto Kin (former Danger team), I need to respond because I was one of them.

You are correct, the remaining Danger team was not professional nor did we show off the amazing stuff we had that made Danger such a great place. But the reason for that was our collective disbelief that we were working in such a screwed up place. Yes, we took long lunches and we sat in conference rooms and went on coffee breaks and the conversations always went something like this…”Can you believe that want us to do this?” Or “Did you hear that IM was cut, YouTube was cut? The App store was cut?” “Can you believe how mismanaged this place is?” “Why is this place to dysfunctional??”

Please understand that we went from being a high functioning, extremely passionate and driven organization to a dysfunctional organization where decisions were made by politics rather than logic.

Consider this, in less than 10 years with 1/10 of the budget Microsoft had for PMX, we created a fully multitasking operating system, a powerful service to support it, 12 different device models, and obsessed and supportive fans of our product. While I will grant that we did not shake up the entire wireless world (ala iPhone) we made a really good product and were rewarded by the incredible support of our userbase and our own feelings of accomplishment. If we had had more time and resources, we would of come out with newer versions, supporting touch screens and revamping our UI. But we ran out of time and were acquired and look at the results. A phone that was a complete and total failure. We all knew (Microsoft employees included) that is was a lackluster device, lacked the features the market wanted and was buggy with performance problems on top of it all.

When we were first acquired, we were not taking long lunches and coffee breaks. We were committed to help this Pink project out and show our stuff. But when our best ideas were knocked down over and over and it began to dawn on us that we were not going to have any real affect on the product, we gave up. We began counting down to the 2 year point so we could get our retention bonuses and get out.

I am sorry you had to witness that amazing group behave so poorly. Trust me, they were (and still are) the best group of people ever assembled to fight the cellular battle. But when the leaders are all incompetent, we just wanted out.

So it is even internal that they know they need a change…..BUT HOW

Most of their products that were successful were others, what they invented except the xbox were largely irrelevant or unsuccessful.  They should have been a dominant phone player and got owned by Apple and Android.

And their big solution is this right now –

Microsoft: ‘If we don’t cannibalize our existing business, others will’

That’s not what companies do to reinvent themselves.  Take Apple, or IBM…that is what Microsoft needs to do.

I’ll give them this, they have a lot of money in the bank, but they are not positioning themselves as a dominant player for the future.

COMMUNICATIONS

In talking to the analysts and even the press from time to time, arrogant seems to be a trend.  They need to be humble and explain the situation.  Most of all, they need a product and a strategy to deal with.  I don’t envy them.

So far, they have emulated IBM in a lot of ways.  Re-Inventing themselves would be a good start.

Fixing moral would be good too….I’ll end with what Rob Enderle says:

The best way the take on these problems is for the management team to engage with employees by both listening to them and providing insight into the company’s strategic plans. Candor is critical; the goal is to get people working as a team again.  Employee surveys are generally ineffective because they aren’t trusted and the results don’t create the needed dialog.

Update: Their tablet strategy is labeled misguided and confusing.  Who would have guessed that?

Let the communications team explain this.

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.

A CEO with a Second Life

When you think of corporate culture or corporations, it’s hard not to mention IBM in that sentence. One doesn’t think usually think of having a CEO of a multi-billion dollar company as a facebook/myspace junkie, which ours is not, but I’m very pleased to find him with his own Avatar and living in Second Life which is well publicized in Business Week.

There is a range of CEO types from Corporate stiff to major geek (name your startup here) and a million and one flavors in between. I’ve been on record saying how good a job I thought Lou Gerstner did (an 18 billion dollar turnaround is nothing to sneeze at) and Sam is doing an equally good (or better) job, albeit different given the hand he was dealt being different than Lou’s.

What’s great about this is that he can cross over boundaries to understand Second Life and actually be in a virtual world is unknown to CEO’s in his class. How great is that. I think of the virtual reality/video games lifestyle as a generationally younger (probably hipper than me) characteristic, yet the head of a 90 Billion dollar global enterprise can understand and participate. One man’s opinion here, but I always saw how much he interacts with our customers to understand and work with them, and this to me is further proof he’s not an ivory tower hermit like some CEO’s.

I’ll still bet my son can beat him in From Dirt to Daytona, or Star Wars, Empire at War, but Sam could understand and talk to him (as he does customers – the big key here) about it with the fluidity he can with Services or System Z….

Happy Birthday Eclipse

Pretty grown up for a 5 year old.  Here are some details that describe it’s status:

Lotus Sametime 7.5, WebSphere Portal 6.0, and the upcoming IBM Lotus Notes “Hannover” release are all based on the Eclipse open source framework, helping to nurture a rich ecosystem of partners around these offerings.

Just last week Lotus announced Expeditor, a development platform for creating Eclipse-based and Web 2.0 applications that enables enterprises to integrate existing and new applications and deliver a personalized user experience across a range of devices.

The Eclipse Process Framework (EPF) is a resource for guidance on software development stemming from IBM’s contribution of portions of the Rational Unified Process to the Eclipse Foundation.  It comes as no surprise that the EPF has emerged as a widely trusted source for developers worldwide, with thousands of downloads recorded since the first EPF assets became available in February 2006.

IBM this year contributed software to both Eclipse and Mozilla Corp. that allows developers to work with and debug Ajax applications.

Higgins, another new Eclipse project this year, is the code base upon which IBM, Novell and others will build commercial ID management software so that it can integrate and interoperate within organizations.

In May, the Eclipse Modeling Project was formed to focus on the evolution and promotion of model-based development. More recently, IBM partnered with Cisco, Intel and others to propose the COSMOS project, which aims to provide an extensible, standards-based platform upon which software developers can create specialized, differentiated and inter-operable offerings of tools for system management.

IBM, along with other storage industry players including Brocade, Cisco, CA, Emulex, Engenio, Fujitsu, McDATA, Network Appliance and Sun Microsystems, announced the Aperi Project in October 2005 to promote the simplified management of storage infrastructures through an open source community.  The mission of the Aperi project is to create a standards-based, open source storage management framework and to cultivate an open source community and ecosystem for complementary products, capabilities, and services around the framework.

Swamped by the Perfect Storm

Moving, on top of multiple analyst reports, on top of being on the planning team for the SWG analyst event, on top of hunting season starts Saturday, on top of my regular job…..has made me an inconsistent blogger, a blogging sin I know.

The good news is I’m finally coming up for air, and I can get back to life. Although moving in is a 6 month ordeal, most of the stuff is out of boxes (over 200) except of course the specific item I need at the moment which is either unpacked or put somewhere I don’t know and can’t find it.

The after summer onslaught of work was twice as much as last year. I ask others and it appears to be the same, there is more to do to just to hold your ground, then more on top to stay ahead.

The SWG analyst event is changing this year for us. More concentration on personal meetings and less main tent combined with more exposure to our offerings has landed me as the lead of the technology for the event. If you had one product, you’d have the demo, the messaging, the logistics, etc. But at IBM, we have one of everything, so keeping things straight tangles the mind by itself. Oh yeah, we have the SMB analyst event next week, so double your fun.
Throw in a couple of analyst reports that your group is microscoped on and I’ve got more on my plate than I have time for….enough kvetching for now.

On the good side, I’m taking my son on his first hunt this weekend, the opening day of deer season. We took the hunter safety class together and found that this group is one of the most ethical, safety and environmentally conscious oriented groups I’ve seen. All the actions are about preserving what we have and passing it on. What was very interesting was how they actually put it into action and not just talked about it. Keeping the herd and the landscape healthy was a major concern. If you don’t take care of the land, there is nothing in the future. Keeping the herd population managed makes for a healthier and stronger offspring. They even have a program to provide meat for the poor and the unsheltered.
Anyway, he’s amped about it as he’s already a good fisherman and he’s increasing his outdoor skills…

Next week is back to work and heads down to stay ahead, and better blogging.

Note: I had a great conversation with Ed Brill about using Notes as your blogging platform…type offline and replicate..I may go there

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?

developerWorks Podcasts, Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Rod Smith, Gina Poole

Podcast:  developerWorks interviews Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Rod Smith, Gina Poole

Three critical players in alphaWorks history reflect on IBM’s highly regarded early adopter program
Live landing page
Review URL:
Live mp3 link

Podcast: alphaWorks devotee segments with Bob Schloss, John Feller, Chieko Asakawa, Marshall Schor
Four interviews with software architects whose applications and teams have benefited through alphaWorks

Live landing page
Review URL

Gina Smith; Author of iWoz, TV celebrity, Radio Personality, CEO, Journalist but most of all Friend

 

Photo Of Gina

As with all my bloggerviews, I try to talk to interesting people. Up until now, they were from IBM, but I ventured outside for this one as it goes back to my roots. Although we grew up in towns not very far apart in Central Florida, Gina and I met at Core International in Boca Raton, which Gina describes below. We were both young and worked together with some other talented folks who have gone on to many tech companies.

She has gone on to a fantastic career at Ziff Davis, IDG, ABC, MSNBC, CNBC, SF Chronicle, and was the youngest Female CEO of a tech company. Just last week, she released iWoz, the story of Steve Wozniak, inventor of the Apple Computer which she discusses. In one week, it shot to number 20 on Amazon and is still climbing. I recommend that you buy a copy and enjoy both the story and her talent. For more information and updates, check out her blog at http://ginasmith.typepad.com.

Gina was gracious enough to grant this interview and while we covered the questions, we caught up on life since CORE, friends and family and life’s experiences. She has always been down to earth and I’m proud to call her a friend.

Describe your life travel from a hometown girl from Ormond Beach to be a famous Good Morning America (GMA) personality, CEO, and Author?
I grew up in Ormond Beach, FL. Not far from where you grew up in Winter Park, John! I used to sit on the beach as a kid and squint, pretending the hotels were high-rises and that the sand was snow. My dream was to grow up and live in work in a major city like New York, Boston or San Francisco. I wanted out and up. And I’ve been lucky enough to live in all of those places!

How did it happen? Long story, but here’s the gist. Remember how I was working with you at CORE International as a tech writer making 14K a year? Thanks a lot for that great salary. Anyway, one day I wrote a press release and the tech journal PC Week ran almost without a change. I wrote a letter to the editor (on peacock blue paper — I was 23!) and enclosed copies of my press release and the article, saying they should hire me if they wanted a journalist who understood technology. To my total surprise they did hire me about a year later, and I covered the Microsoft beat at PC Week in Boston from 8/8/88 to 1993. (author – here is the actual story from my clipbook)
ct40.jpg

After that, I just worked non-stop. I covered hardware for PC/Computing in San Francisco, started a magazine for IDG called E2 (which in turn started the tradeshow E3), did a radio show with Leo Laporte (On Computers), wrote a column called Inside Silicon Valley for the SF Chronicle for about a dozen years, a bunch of things. Constant working! Then, one day, a producer asked me to come on a show then called Macneil Lehrer to debate Steve Ballmer about Windows 95, which was about to come out. I argued that Microsoft was not pointing out to people that their 1 MB PCs were not going to be able to run it, that they would need new apps and so on. A talent scout at ABC in New York saw it, and I ended up on Good Morning America, World News Tonight with Peter Jennings and Nightline for the next five years.

When did you know you had a talent for being in the media?
When the talent scout called me! : ) But I’ve always been a ham. And after talking tech to live callers on the radio about technology for so many years, I felt very comfortable with the subject when people like Diane Sawyer and Peter Jennings were throwing me softballs.

What were some of your experiences on GMA?
In the green room, where the celebrities wait before going on, I met such an amazing variety of people. I was able to ask the OJ Simpson trial jurors what they were thinking when they acquitted him. I met Milton Berle and told him a joke he laughed at. (Two atoms are walking down the street. One says, uh, oh, I think I lost an electron. The other says, are you sure? The first, says, I’m positive!) I was privileged to meet Harry Belafonte, whom my mother followed around for a bit as kind of a groupie in the 50s. And he remembered her! I met Bill Clinton, who was so impressive, so articulate and so much imposing and better looking in person than he was on TV. For Nightline, I had the amazing experience of working with Ted Koppel and his incredible producers. What they were doing over there was true broadcasting art. The night that show went off the air, something in journalism died.

What technology stories did you break that you felt were important?
I broke the first story on Windows 3.0 at PC Week, and also the first story about PM Lite (Presentation Manager Lite), which IBM was secretly producing to compete with Windows after Microsoft switched horses on them and started developing its apps for Windows instead of OS/2. I broke the first story about Pixar for the Chronicle. At ABC, I broke the story about those kids who committed suicide in Southern California, thinking they were going to reunite on a spaceship. I was the first to find the website they left. I broke lots of stories. It kind of became my specialty, to get THE story first.

Talk about your time as the youngest female CEO in the Tech industry.
It was tough. I was 33. Larry Ellison, whom I’d interviewed a few times, called me out of the blue and asked me to meet. When I arrived, he offered me the job as co-founder, CEO and president of his second business to build network computers (NCs). I said, “Why me?” He said of all the coverage he’d read on his network computer idea, I was the only one who seemed to understand it. He was right about that – I thought thin clients were the future and I still believe that. Anyway, he gave me a fat check and I restarted the company and renamed it NIC (New Internet Computer Company). We sold lots of computers and broke even – we never lost money – but though the idea was prescient, we were way too early. Lots of fellow journalists took potshots at me – assuming I was either a bitch or involved with Larry – but that is how it goes with women in power, I think. My husband was really hurt about it, but whatever. I used to tell people: If I were involved with (the then richest) man in the world, why would I be putting in 16 hour days? Ha! But in the end, it was the experience of a lifetime. I learned Mandarin (well, business Mandarin), traveled extensively in Asia for contract negotiations, managed a team of 70 people. And these were the brightest and nicest people you’ll ever meet. The NIC team was like no other. But when NIC went down at the dot com crash, an era was over me. That’s when I had my baby – Eric is now 3 – and I started once again doing both what I used to do and what I think I was born to do…. Write.

I finished The Genomics Age – a book that explains DNA sciences in plain English for business people – before Eric was one. That was my fourth book. My fifth is out now! It is the co-written autobiography of Steve Wozniak, iWOZ. (WW Norton 2006)

Where do you get your ideas for books?
When I am interested in something and I go to a bookstore and there are few or no books on the subject, I pitch a book. That’s how The Genomics Age happened. It is selling all over the world now.

You just completed the book iWoz. Talk about that book and Woz himself?
Steve Wozniak is unquestionably among the greatest living inventors today. He invented the personal computer, which so few people know. He was the first to combine a keyboard and screen with a computer – that’s the modern paradigm. To write the book, I met with him 54 times and interviewed him. Then, I took printed transcripts and used his words – he is a hilarious and plain-spoken guy – and wrote the book in his voice exactly. Some of his stories are just priceless. Especially the ones involving the early days with him and Steve Jobs building Blue Boxes, devices to make free phone calls. Also, the book talks about why Steve believes IBM overtook Apple with its IBM PC. Steve thinks the fault lied with the faulty Apple III, which was designed by committee.

What’s your next project?
You can see my series, Tech Tour, right now at www.techtour.msnbc.com. We are going city to city show-casing inventions. My next book is tentatively titled Five Threats to Global Civilization, but I am taking a bit of a break before starting that. I am also doing lots of work with Link TV, a satellite channel, on American Ramadan and other Arab-related issues. Most people don’t know this, but I am a major ethnic mix. My mother was half Muslim, my father was half Jewish and I was raised Catholic. So covering Islamic issues and other topics outside of science and technology is a real treat for me.

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.

Disk Drive Update

I have my T42 back, and thanks to the work of the IBM help center, most of my data was saved. Here is the synopsis?

Lost:

My Linux partition and data. Since it isn’t the standard image, I either have to rebuild it or forget about it. I got the Linux partition because I was getting tired of 6 Windoze security updates a day and software glitches and crashes. The Linux image that was available to me as a standard load was at best tough to work with. It didn’t have the right graphics drivers and the support was nonexistent as yet. I have to research this more and likely take a different Linux path than before.

Also lost was all of my “remembered” links and passwords and a lot of customization that I do to get the a machine to my liking. I’m a tinkerer and am finicky as to how I want it to work. This will take days if not weeks to get it to where I was before. Each time I visit a controlled place (inside the firewall at IBM for example), I am re-entering data. Some stuff I’ve had for so long, I can’t remember the sign in’s.

I’ll admit, as an option to Windoze when I retire, I considered Apple as it seems more stable and secure, it’s going to Intel, and my computer life is more media oriented at an increasing rate.

Saved:

All my music and podcasts, most of my recent data from the Windows partitition and anything that was on a server somewhere else of course.

Lessons learned:

Keep backing up, this saved me. Keep a spare computer as a back up and keep it current. Yes, your life is very disrupted when your computer crashes. We shouldn’t be that dependent on something so unreliable.

Disk and storage technology has changed in capacity (I once heard that 49 GB was the physical limit when I was in the storage industry) and size (cramming more and more into smaller disks), but is still mechanical and electrical, therefore the part most likely to fail.

Update: After I wrote this, I read this article from ZDNet, remarkably similar to my story, but I didn’t like the MAC failing also. Steve O’Grady also has recommended Ubunto to me also.

David Hill – Chief Lenovo Designer, a Man Who has Created Much, and Touched Millions

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Many years ago, I brought John Dvorak back to the ThinkPad design center for an interview with David. This is a room with more creative designs than most museums. Many items never make it out of this lab, yet they would make a lesser designer famous.

I never sensed that David yearned for fame, but it follows him nevertheless because of his work. If you’ve ever touched a Lenovo or IBM Personal Computer or Server product, David has touched your life, I’m guessing many hundreds of millions here. As you’ll read below, his design reaches out to you rather than you looking at it.

I always try to bloggerview interesting people, and this is as interesting as any I’ve done. While being quiet spoken, his thoughts and creativeness speak loudly. Go to David’s Blog to be informed. That was what I did and why I asked him to be a guest here.

I was speaking with Bill Howard at PC Magazine during his laptop roundup one year. He mentioned to me that while you see Dell’s or HP’s or whatever laptop in advertisements, if you go to the businesspersons working area or any airport’s premium flyers lounge, regardless of the airline, it is a ThinkPad convention. He said they were the best designed, most rugged and the most trusted laptop, enough said.

Briefly explain what you do for Lenovo, and is it the same thing that you did for IBM?
What I do for Lenovo is lead all of the design activity for the commercial products, ThinkPad, ThinkCenter, Lenovo 3000 and ease of use. I also am in charge of the corporate identity element for the company including building design, signage, storefront, business cards and the overall identity of the company beyond the products.

The job is similar to IBM except for the corporate element which has been exciting for me. We are designing a new Lenovo building in Perimeter Park near RTP. It is a new facility and I’m leading the architectural style and appearance. I’ve been working with an external architectural firm on the interior design, landscaping and courtyard.

What is your background and qualifications?
Early in my university education I was fortunate to meet a working industrial designer who brought in portfolio of products and talked about design of everything from household products to cars.

So I studied Industrial Design at the University of Kansas.

I worked for several years at a design consulting firm in Wichita, designing everything from underground trenching equipment to wristwatches. I worked with talented and interesting people there, but I always had desire to work in an environment where I had control. At a consulting firm, you might do a sketch (for example I designed a hand held spotlight) and then never see it again until it was a product. They changed the spotlight and it negated the design concept which compromised the product. I found that to be frustrating and realized that this wouldn’t work for me.

I looked for a company with strong internal design organization and a sense of history, and found IBM in Rochester MN, Interestingly, I took the job of a classmate from college who went back to school to get a PhD. I worked there on the systems product division, then known as the System 38 and 36. I led design for the AS/400 Advanced Series, which we changed from being beige, innocuous and drab products into powerful, black, purposefully designed servers. This design became pervasive throughout the entire server series from the initial 1994 product. The beige products were too “quiet”, we made design into bigger statement for the company.

What inspires you for your designs?
Design inspiration comes from many things, It comes from your own personal experience of using products, observing someone else using a product, market research, seeing interesting products at a store, a garage sale or a museum. It is difficult to pin down. I’m always looking at design and architecture, art and products to see what is interesting and why is it interesting.
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The thinklight which I blogged about recently for example. It was an invention in my head which came out of necessity (link to Friday blog). My son had book light made from a small led and batter and I saw the “light”. It came from necessity and constraint which were the inspiration. When sitting on a plane, you had to disturb the passenger next to you with the overhead light, or open and shut the monitor part of the ThinkPad to see. Ultimately, I couldn’t see the keyboard in the dark.

If someone said design a computer with no restraint for example, I would be at a loss. Constraint would be logical, a cost, a reason or a solution to a problem.

It is more challenging to design something that has to be better or fit into a smaller box.

What makes a design work or be successful?
I think that it is difficult to pin down, It can come in many ways, There are examples of great design which solves a problem, but are not a financial success. The ThinkPad 701C butterfly was such a product. It had tremendous brand building success which people talk about today. It had an element of creativeness and innovation that lives on in the ThinkPad design today.

What designs have surprised you as being more successful than you expected?
I never anticipated that the original work on the AS/400 Advanced Series would be so significant in changing the landscape to the entire line of servers, It later extended to NetFinity now System X for example. At first they weren’t rack mounted and had the same design problem as AS/400, they were uninspiring. It did work and was functional, but they were not exciting. We worked on extending the AS/400 to Netfinity in terms of design…then everything followed suit and finally the entire server line had a similar look. I never expected it to go that far. We changed the Rack mounts as the beginnings of what they are today.
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It was a big battle internally to get IBM to make the servers black…in fact it was a major controversy. Very early on in his tenure as chairman, Lou Gerstner came to visit the Rochester site, only his second visit, We had a room set up with the Advanced Series on one side and Beige Racks on the other. The plan was to bring him in and give him a history of the product, Then we were going to turn his attention to the advanced black model. The server folks thought it would be way to kill it and to “get David Hill out of the way”. Well, the entourage came in and the first thing Lou said was ” wow those are the coolest computers I’ve ever seen, you must have an industrial designer”. I stepped forward and said I’m in charge of industrial design and we had a nice talk about the product, then he left. Needless to say, that was the end of the beige/black issue.

Conversely, what designs didn’t work/sell as well as you thought?
The Butterfly. I thought it was the most amazing thing I’d seen, but it was too good to be true, It combined everything about great design, utility and value with a compelling aesthetic attribute, but when larger flat-panel displays dropped in price, the volumes didn’t take off and the design was never extended.

If someone were looking to be in the design field, what advice would you give them?
Be prepared for tremendous amount of hard work which on surface may not get any attribution. Art schools are filled with emotionally charged people. There were only 8 people in my graduating class, and thousands in business school. You would find that the lights were on 24/7 in the design school. They are emotionally connected to what they are doing. You can’t cram for final on design of building. I once designed the interior of a tractor cab in college. You couldn’t cram for that. I would say that this amount of time follows you wherever you go. It’s hard to turn design off and on. Once, I bought a TV and painted the knobs because i didn’t like them.

Why did you become a blogger?
Design is a core element of Lenovo’s strategy. It spans behavior, aesthetics, emotional, ease of use and human factor. As people believe products become commoditized, design changes its value. For example, if you go to an electronics store, there are rows of toasters. Some are long, some black, some lay down, some stand up, some mount under a cabinet and many other designs. A corkscrew is another product with design differentiators. There are whole museums on this subject. Design is a way we differentiate.

It’s also about solving problems. A blog gives us chance of making people aware of design and features and solicit feedback on what they have, what they like and what they don’t like. What may be the next inspiration of new ThinkPad. Dialogue on the subject of design and the human factor to a company. Lenovo should be easy to approach and work with and a blog that supports this will help. Many blogs are corporate communications inspired and are sanitized, and not written by a designer….my blog will help bring us closer to user.

I’m also going to post about the design of motorcycles. I’ve been associated with them since I was 13…would Dell do that? It’s about me talking about design. The television show “American Chopper” is fun to watch because of the interaction between father and son. The design of choppers is mysterious.

I hope to put a human face to Lenovo, and make people think design matters.

I look at modern architecture in friends house, some homes are designed some are cookie cutter houses. It’s the same way in our industry. Some computers are designed well and some are not…read between the lines on generic computers and generic companies here.

What are you looking at (other that what is on your blog) for future Lenovo design?
We are in brand building mode. While we are strong in china, outside of china we are still growing. I want to make it iconic. We have several ideas that will do this. Perhaps at some point i may blog about it.

More Dell Hell – Battery Recall

4 million batteries are being recalled by Dell. And it involves Sony who made the batteries.

Here’s another story about it from TechWeb.

I know we’ve all seen the exploding Dell Laptop in the Japanese boardroom. This is not a time I’d like to be in the PR department at Dell.

Since I have some close ties to Lenovo, I asked if they had the same problems. If you read the Ziff article about how they are dealing with it, you see that they are not having any of the same issues. I haven’t heard anything about HP, but since they are high profile, I’m sure it would appear quickly.

I think the issue is bigger than the battery. It is the R&D at Dell, one of the lowest in the business. They buy what is out there on a just in time basis at the lowest cost. This doesn’t give you either time to do proper quality control or allow you to use much of your own development, also vital in problem solving.

When I was in the Technology Group at IBM, we OEM’d a lot of parts to Dell. I think at one point, a Dell computer was half IBM cost wise when you included Intellectual Property. They’ve since gone to other sources as the patents for PC’s have expired and offshoring is cheaper for parts. What I learned was their MO for cheapness. The PC industry has always had price as the main reason for buying, to the point of vendors losing money and going out of business, but you get sick of quality problems and go away if the product doesn’t perform. As I go on ad nauseam, consumers vote with their money.

Since I worked in the PC division, I have seen that things like software and Design do make a difference. Lenovo is not having these Dell problems because they are better machines with seemingly the same parts.The cost of this is going to be far more than the replacement cost. It is a perception cost on quality which they don’t need right now. They should also incur a greater R&D in house cost to ensure that the proper design and testing of parts are insured.

Dell has had it’s time at the top. Most will tell you it’s harder to stay at the top than to get there. IBM has reinvented itself many times, all companies have to. We’ll see….

HP buys Mercury – is it IBM envy?

I heard a lot about Mercury at the Rational Users Conference.  How they had a good product but were having problems delivering on product promises…I’ll give them a pass there, all software and companies have issues.

It caught my attention not that they were acquired but by which company, HP of course.  It is good in any number of ways that they did this.  Sure Mercury is a big competitor of Rational, but if you’ve read any of my blogs, I like competition, it makes you better or your beaten.   The fact that HP is strengthening it’s middleware to compete confirms to me that we are on the right track.  You don’t copy a losers strategy hope to stay in business.   I’m looking forward to the fight there.

It’s also good as it gives Rational some time to move forward during the HP/Merc aquisition and integration phase, always a time of slowdown while you evaluate how to integrate multiple HR, benefit, Accounting, manager redundancy issues to begin as one company.  My favorite is marketing departments having to combine…talk about the department of redundancy department.

Companies acquire other companies all the time.  Why I care about this one was that it was pointed out to me by a number of analyst’s that HP (specifically Carly) had IBM envy and specifically Lou (Gerstner) envy when they acquired Compaq.  The reason given was for a play in the Services market that IBM had explored, developed and became the market leader.   Now they are trying to be a middleware player.  Back to trying who to emulate, IBM is a good role model if you do it right.  I don’t see them as a Services force, albeit they are a player.
Not that Mercury was a bad acquisition, nor that trying to be a middleware player is bad either, but the 4.5 billion seemed excessive to me for a company that has problems like stock option issues, multiple acquistions recently, product delivery.  Maybe I don’t know the rest of the story yet. Given they way overpaid for what they got out of Compaq (what happened to the iPaq sales?)  it seems as though they pay too much for what they get.

Mark Hurd has done a great job fixing the screw ups that Carly created, but 4.5 billion is a lot of change….

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.

Changes and Trends in Communications

I guess they chiseled press releases on stone at some point to promote the invention of fire. Later, parchment must have been sent out to document the parting of the Red Sea.

But the industrial revolution gave us good tools like the printing press and the typewriter, fax machines and let’s not forget the copy machine from the Xrocks corporation which allowed us to mail press releases an astonishing 2 weeks prior to the announcement, embargoed of course.

Then came email, the internet, instant messaging…I’m not going out on a big limb here history wise. Now with the push of a button, bingo – news everywhere.

So what’s the point here? I like to see trends and be an early adopter where possible. There have been times I wait for the technology to stabilize before I expose my backside to any corporate or public lashings, but for the most part, I like to be or know about what the next advantage possible to be gained. I remember using MCI Mail in the mid ’80’s to beat the big companies to the story (then my competition was, gasp – IBM). I was talking to Bill Howard, Bill Machrone and John Dvorak of PC Magazine when it seemed like there were about 25 email users total in the business world.

Despite my daughter’s ability to overwhelm me in Instant Messaging volume, I did use it as a communications tool to reach analysts in the ’90’s before others caught on.

I’ve been beaten to the punch more times than not on new trends, but I give credit to those that catch on before me and I try to learn to do things in a newer better way. Social Computing is such a trend that offers the next new world to those who have vision.

I originally called this the change/death/other titles here of PR, but that will never die, only morph. Those that adopt the new media approach which is happening now, which includes but is not limited to (good lawyer speak there) blogging, podcasting, videocasting, wiki and the various other components of Social Computing will beat others to the punch. (I was later to this game than I wanted to be, but still ahead of many I’m finding out as I beat my head against the wall here sometimes.)

While there was no moment of truth type revelation about why this is, I’ll give Charline Li the credit to why big companies are not always the leaders on this, it requires giving up control. Now tie this into the above stated PR change issue, as control is vital to shaping the message or dealing with the other large major media outlets. The quicker more nimble folks who already embrace Social Computing are moving ahead and larger companies are trying to figure it out and sometimes try to control it. I will say that IBM is conducting perhaps the largest social computing exercise ever right now, but the control issue prevents any details here until it is complete. I hope to blog about it soon, and I hope to start an analyst relations practice/position about Social Computing, send your positive references in now about me as I’ll be canvasing soon for a new frontier that I think we need here.

This is not just a company/industry or PR issue either. Smaller and more nimble analyst firms are leading the way and are way ahead of 800 pound gorillas here.

So I know people who were naysayers to email, IM and other trends and look what happened there. Social Computing will change the messaging capabilities, the way we will work and exchange information and that train is leaving the station, be on it or miss the chance.

BRIC or Brac

IBM hasn’t ceded any space in the America’s or Europe and is doing just fine there, that’s not the point.

Where we are doing well is in the new farmlands of the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC). According to the Economist, July 8-14, 2006 edition, Page 94:

GDP, Q1 2006, % of change from a year ago:
China, +10.3
India, +9.3
Russia, +5.5
Israel, +5.2
Brazil, +3.4

And, according to Boston Consulting Group in BusinessWeek the July 31 issue, BCG identified 100 emerging multinationals that appear positioned to “radically transform industries and markets around the world.” The 100 had a combined $715 billion in revenue in 2005, $145 billion in operating profits, and a half-trillion dollars in assets. They have grown at a 24% annual clip in the past four years.

I’ve been in countless briefings where it has been stated that we are doing well and companies are coming to us because we committed to open standards and software. It has been widely read that Germany has committed to Linux and development is picking up on open platforms.

What kills me is those that buck the trend. I was around for Token Ring, SNA, OS/2, Micro-Channel…don’t buck the trend. The markets decide by voting with their money. I’m not sure if it will be late software, SaaS, SOA security issues or just the overwhelming desire by people to want software to work and not care what their platform is as better written than I by Steve O’Grady.

So look out world, we see you growing and it shouldn’t be lost on those companies who want to succeed as markets ebb and flow that you need to be there. If you’re an analyst, count on us mentioning it, ask for proof.

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.

Sametime is not sometime, rather all the time

Our WPLC (Lotus) announced Sametime 7.5 this week. I’ve been using it now for a while as a beta product. I use any number of instant messaging products depending on who it is and what they use. We at IBM use Sametime and up until now, instant messaging was IM to me, just another package to get work done. This announcement has the ability to change the direction of what IM is and how software can work together.
The fact that it is integrated into Microsoft applications, blackberry, Motorola Q and any Eclipse oriented environment changes things now. It just closed the world a bit for me. I’ve always wanted a one size fits all device and software that actually talked to each other. I view this as now headed in the right direction. We’ve even announced upcoming support for OSX Mac users. Don’t get me wrong that any one product should be a panacea, because I firmly believe that competition drives up quality and drives down price, but the point is to have things work together seamlessly.
Not trying to be a commercial here, but the audio and Video support brings in a whole new list of things to do on a device or through an IBM platform. Not that I think email is going away, but we are a society who wants things faster and better and Sametime 7.5 is a step in that staircase.

Note: Earlier this year, IBM announced that Sametime is connected to AOL, Yahoo and Google…I think most have heard of these companies.

Other Note: Good Technology also introduced a service for Domino users to remotely check email on any number of devices. Partners supporting your products and platforms are important factors for success (note to the micro channel marketing department there).
So more things appear to be working together, a good thing and maybe proof that our strategy for open standards is working. I find it interesting that IBM is reaching out into the Microsoft space to work with their software. I don’t think it’s as much an olive branch as it is a proof of what we are trying to do to get software to work together. It will be interesting to watch whether Microsoft closes the kimono more or opens up to us.

I can’t believe I’m the only one out here that wants to have things work together without getting a computer science degree first.

The executives call this Sam Time as Palmisano uses it to constantly stay on the ass of his direct reports.  The best feature is DND which keeps people from bothering you and gives the appearance that you are there or in a meeting.  Unfortunately, it is now used as a babysitter to see if you are working or not.  Instead of a tool, you have to have it on so management can monitor you like a child, rather than trusting you to do your job.

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.

Off to Linux

Just like why I’m blogging, I’m installing Linux. I figured that if I’m going to talk about it, I need to experience it.

Fortunately, IBM has a desktop install that I currently have underway, approximately 817 files to be downloaded and installed. The only issue for me is that I work remotely and I had to go into an IBM facility to load it. So I blog here from a cube farm in a building that is half IBM and half Lenovo.

But the good news is that I’ll work as much as I can from Linux, except for the Windoze only programs that I have to keep until I find a work around.

I’ll have to speak with Steve O’Grady to see how he migrated his iPod/iTunes to Linux, cause that’s one of the programs on the table for me.

Oh, I forgot to mention that one of the reasons I’m switching is the millions of blue screens of death I’ve experienced, the delay’s in operating system releases, the bugs, security, and some amount of arrogance.  By the way, I’ve been at this since DOS 1.0, so I have experience with PC OS problems.
I also need to expand my boundaries technically. I can’t bear to sit back with the norm, it seems I have to push the envelope to test my abilities, hope I can pass the test.

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.

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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Gearing up for RSDC

All attention for me from now till June 4th is on RSDC in Orlando. We have the next edition of the show blog by execs and analysts (we were the first IBM group to try this last year), we have podcasts. We’ll have the first IBM blogger meetup (see below). So it’s heads down and get the work done which includes all the announcement prep and analyst briefing.

Except that it’s memorial day and I’m going fishing . There is the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indy 500, the Coca Cola 600, all which have to be watched. I’m also going down early to see my Mom for the first time since my Dad’s funeral and I get to fish with a good friend on the Indian River Lagoon.

I also have a ton of followups from analyst briefings, reports and other IBM issues that have to be handled before I leave.

So I’m laser focused on all things RSDC right now with no distractions

Blogger Meetup at RSDC

IBM will be having it’s first ever meetup at RSDC in the Dolphin Hotel at Disney from 6-8 on Tuesday June 6th during the Rational Software Development Conference.

This is somewhat significant as we’re doing a meetup, but you’d expect a blogging company to do these things.   Well, we weren’t the first company to blog either, but we’re in that game now.  I’m just glad I had something do to with something that is a first, which at a company the size of IBM, is tough to do.  In all fairness, Steve O’Grady helped us with it so we didn’t screw it up, thanks Steve – you were a big help.

Additionally, we’ll be hosting a blog during the show for executives and analysts and webcasts with the Rational and developerWorks Executives.

See you there, either in person or in the blogosphere.

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.

Follow the Money, where are the lands to Farm?

We’re in the fight for Partners, middleware, marketshare and mindshare.

There are many things in play. First of all, many of the middleware vendors (Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, IBM) are well established, especially in the traditional geography’s like the US and EMEA. The fight for standards is down to .Net vs Open (or NetWeaver I guess), I think each will have plenty of share, plus or minus some points along the way. The ISV community will have to make a decision on who to partner with or develop for, another decision being made.

So there is plenty of ties here and no clear winner so far, lots of the companies here are neck and neck in the established playing field, so who will take control? The caveat here is the established playing field. The opportunity is in the unplowed farmland which is the emerging markets.

Here is where I’m referring to. The BRIC countries are Brazil, Russia, India and China. Most have no real allegiance to any of the stated companies above, although there is considerable upside for open standards. There are many Asia Pacific and Eastern European countries who also tend to go to open, which doesn’t bode well for .Net or NetWeaver as they are more or less proprietary, Microsoft has a perception problem with monopolistic tendencies, Oracle won’t have a full fusion integration offering until 2007 and then there is IBM.

Sure my view is contaminated as I’m taking the IBM viewpoint, but I’m also a student of history and I’m for competition. I doubt that there will be a dominant player like there is in the operating system space, but I do know that the opportunity is in the masses or the Long Tail of the market. That is the many small players that make up the majority of the marketplace, especially in the emerging markets
Now that I have set the playing field, here is what we are going to do to in this space. IBM is pushing hard to localize the partner programs by region, by country. We’ve checked with the country and area managers to see who is their target ISV’s. We also have a resource that the competition doesn’t have, 40,000 sales reps to help the partners close sales.

So we will fight the good fight for the marketshare points in the traditional space.  The ISV’s and customers will vote with their money and we’ll see who is the winner. The big win for us is the rest of the world, the emerging markets. We don’t see the other companies much there and we’re heads down on that space.

So I doubt that Ballmer or Ellison or Schwartz read my blog, but if they did, they’d know where we are gaining ground and where we are going to do our damage. Even if they did read this, do I think they’d listen? I’ll let you know if the recruiters call soon. I’ll bet that we continue to make progress and they’ll be playing catch up.

December 6, 1941: A day that will live in…..Innovation

Yes, the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt signed the secret documents to not only fund the research for developing a nuclear bomb, but he changed the view of science, innovation and destiny. Now, humans had a means for self destruction. More important, it now focused the world on bringing scientists previously doing disparate research together to solve a situation. They had to take a theoretical concept to fruition.

Not only didn’t they know how to do it, they had to invent everything along the way such as the first reactor to test whether fission would even work, and did all of this under fear that the Nazi’s were ahead in this same project and would deliver the nuclear bomb to Hitler first. After only a year on December 2, 1942, the first test of a nuclear chain reaction was tested in unprotected blocks of graphite. Hiroshima was just around the corner.

If Leo Szilard and Enrico Fermi hadn’t delivered two letters to Roosevelt signed by Alfred Einstein declaring that this was not only feasible but possible (and Hitler might get it first and use it to control the world), the ways of innovation may have been different.

In 1961, John F. Kennedy declared that The United States of America would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, at a time where less computing power was available than in today’s simple GPS units. Again, much would have to be invented and built just to be able take the next step. We went from not being able to put a Satellite to another of the greatest feats in innovation.

The US came from having only the V2 rocket remains and Werner Von Braun to putting Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon in 1969. For what it’s worth, my father worked in White Sands, New Mexico preparing the site and delivering the V2, the beginnings of America’s space program. Along with Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon, we have velcro, microwaves, spandex, freeze dried food, wireless telecommunications and it sped up the progress of computers, all resulting from moon rocket innovation. Oh and IBM was instrumental in the design, development, innovation and execution of the moon rocket program.

Much of this focused discovery and innovation now is in the private sector. BusinessWeek just published a story on the World’s most Innovative Companies. In the top ten were companies you’d recognize like Apple, Research in Motion, 3M. Others were interesting picks like Toyota and BMW. Toyota for having developed the Prius and driving research down to the development cycle with suppliers to save on all parts. Untold in the story is the $500 million that it is spending in Formula 1, the testbed of development and innovation for cars.

A newby and somewhat interesting company was Starbucks, whose use of Ethnography to fuel it’s innovation.

Leading off the story and in the top 10 was IBM, but for a company that has been around for decades, it shows staying power. IBM has reinvented itself a number of times, for example when committing from a typewriter and tabulation to a computer company in late 50’s/early 60’s, long before most on the list were even companies.

IBM is so focused on innovation that it was the theme of this years Leadership Forum in Rome held recently. To quote Businessweek, “IBM CEO Samuel J. Palmisano had made the day before: “The way you will thrive in this environment is by innovating — innovating in technologies, innovating in strategies, innovating in business models.” This doesn’t mean relying on a status quo maintenance model of business, rather to be like the Manhattan project, gather the best minds and drive to success, inventing and developing along the way. Of the top 10, only IBM, P&G and Nokia had all three Product, Process and Business model best practices.

What is interesting to me is that the chips that are in most of the computers, cars and maybe even a coffee maker, much of the technology in the computers that did the design of the products and software development of the companies in the top 100, came from IBM.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Original Article here:

History is reliving itself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proprietary, Monopolistic, Bureaucratic, Schizophrenic about the competition.

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

IBM buys Language Analysis Systems

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SaaS, the Partner work begins

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

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

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

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

PartnerWorld – Day 3, Leaving Las Vegas


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PartnerWorld – Day 2

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

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

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

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

PartnerWorld – Day 1


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next there was the analyst conference with Donn Atkins.

Then the Press Conference,

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

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

PartnerWorld, the day before

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PartnerWorld, the ship is leaving the dock


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

If it's Tuesday, I must be in Paris, No, make that San Francisco

Here I am in San Francisco looking out over the bay waiting for a cross IBM meeting on SaaS. This is a big issue for us so this is a big Pow-Wow. They’ve brought together the technical, marketing, p/r, a/r and executives to map out our yearly activities.

I go to a thousand meetings, most of which cover a lot of topics. This one is special, so take from it that it’s IMPORTANT to us. More on that in later blogs.

I’m going to be on the road a lot until April, so I’ll try to post what we’re up to. There’s a big target on PartnerWorld the week of March 13.

On another note, IDC rated our developerWorks program number one (tied with Microsoft) which is good for us as we have only had the program for 5 years, and Microsoft has been in the game for 15 years.

Finally, I sat next to a fellow trekkie on one of my connecting links, so instead of climbing into my travel cocoon, I actually had a pleasant plane conversation.

Nice Chip Job Apple

Macslash reports that Apple picked Intel for it’s new processor because it was faster and they got more attention from Intel. Ok, I get that. What should they say, we picked it because it was the same?

Today I read stories from the WSJ, Financial Times, Reuters (sorry, they’re paid links, but the stories are all over the place) that IBM has a new Power chip that is clocking in at 6 Mhz and lower power and heat consumption. Just after the big Intel/Mac splash, here comes a chip revolution.

Was this a bad choice by Apple to switch? History will decide, but I’m thinking that since IBM has all the game boxes and there is a move to control the consumer market in the house for audio/visual/lights/AC that this is going run together. The person that controls the entertainment and the house from a pc is a winner.

So I ask, did Apple make a mistake going to Intel? Switching your OS to work with different hardware is no small feat, so there had to be some thought going into it. I thought when they made the switch, here comes another Intel box, and since it was vehemently denied, it’s probably truer than we were led to believe.

All the articles today say that the other chip makers are going to have to do some catch up to the new Power 6 chip, so who’s made the right decision here? Apple has made some good decisions before. I-Pod is a killer product, but more of a one off as more stuff is going to be integrated into the phone/mp3 player/thumb type email device. Palm was once dominant too, ask Blackberry users what they would rather have there.

So I’m going to be watching the Mac numbers and Apple spin.

Disclaimer: even though I’m and IBM’r, I love my video I-pod, and I’ve worked as an Apple dealer selling tons of Mac’s in a prior job. I have no affiliation with the chip division other than through working for the same company. I looked at this one as if I was an outsider.

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.

A compilation of Bloggerviews

If you’ve read them all, nothing new here. But many have joined late to the game at Delusions and I thought I’d put a round up of the Bloggerviews I’ve done. Everyone is interesting in their own way. Note to readers here: who would you like to see bloggerviewed next at IBM?

Tom Morrissey
Doug Heintzman
Harriet Pearson
Bob Sutor
John Mihalec
Ed Brill
Nancy Riley
Jeff Jones
Cameron O’Connor
Bandit, my dog
Someone not to mess with

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.

IBM and Crime, a Podcast to hear

This is an advertisement for an IBM Podcast on crime that drew my interest.

The podcast is hosted by Ben Edwards and features a discussion between Dr. Charles Palmer, head of security and privacy for IBM Research, and Bob Bragdon, publisher of CSO Magazine.

Other IBM Podcasts range from banking, driving and online games.

IBM got dinged for being late to the blogging party (which I took exception to since I was as early to the game as anyone), but here’s some evidence that things are going in the right direction.

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.

IBM leads in patents, good for VC's

Once again, for the umpteenth time in a row, IBM leads in patents. There is also a component of working with the Open world increasing relevancy. Here are excerpts from the official statements:

The initiative has three elements:

· Open Patent Review – a program that seeks to establish an open, collaborative community review within the patenting process to improve the quality of patent examination. This program will allow anyone who visits the USPTO web site to submit search criteria and subscribe to receive regularly scheduled emails with links to newly published patent applications in requested areas. Established in conjunction with the USPTO, this program will encourage communities to review pending patent applications and to provide feedback to the patent office on existing prior art that may not have been discovered by the applicant or examiner. Professor Beth Noveck of New York Law School will lead a series of workshops on the subject. For more information, visit Professor Noveck’sproject website.

· Open Source Software as Prior Art – a project that will establish open source software – with its millions of lines of publicly available computer source code contributed by thousands of programmers – as potential prior art against patent applications. OSDL, IBM, Novell, Red Hat and VA Software’s SourceForge.net will develop a system that stores source code in an electronically searchable format, satisfying legal requirements to qualify as prior art. As a result, both patent examiners and the public will be able to use open source software to help ensure that patents are issued only for actual software inventions. Information for this project is available on the OSDL web site.

· Patent Quality Index – an initiative that will create a unified, numeric index to assess the quality of patents and patent applications. The effort will be directed by Professor R. Polk Wagner of the University of Pennsylvania with support from IBM and others and will be an open, public resource for the patent system. The index will be constructed with extensive community input, backed by statistical research and will become a dynamic, evolving tool with broad applicability for inventors, participants in the marketplace and the USPTO. Information about the Patent Quality Index is available also.

Recently, IBM announced that we’ve opened up the entire patent portfolio for our VC’s. Since we are driving towards open standards, connecting the dots here is not that difficult.

Working with IBM isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but we’re making steps to make our IP meaningful, and available to startups and a lot of other folks that would benefit from IBM help….what’s to lose?

Gates, IBM is number one, but how many balls can you juggle?

At CES, Bill Gates said IBM is our number one competition . Ok, I’m fine with that, as I’ve said before, everyone shoots for number one. At least we’re relevant to them.

Here’s my point, I’ll use an analogy. To win an Olympic medal, you have to keep your eye on the goal, win the Gold. You train hard, eat right, strict schedule and most of all FOCUS.

Microsoft is trying to release Vista, compete against Sony and Nintendo with the XBox360, fend off Google, win ODF issues (perception and reality), legal battles around the world on monopoly issues, fight off Linux both in server and in the desktop, Google issues, Yahoo issues, instant messaging, dot.Net in the middleware space, office application needs/updates and star office competition, mobile and hand held device operating system competition, need I go on?

So how in the world are they going to focus on winning? I get multi-tasking, although Windows doesn’t do that as well as Unix/Linux but come on! How are you going to concentrate on not dropping a ball here.

One would say, yeah but these are only Software issues, look at IBM or Sun that has hardware and software, and services. This would be a good point, but Microsoft is doing better than Sun, so throw them out of this argument for now.

IBM has lived through these issues more than once, trial by fire changing from tabulating machines to computers, from near death to resurrection by Gerstner, changing the business model from mainframe only to software and services. Oh yea, and a lot of mistakes along the way like the one that made Microsoft a company, giving away the PC operating system.

Does Microsoft need to re-invent themselves? Not in the traditional sense, but they are going through growing pains that will either get them focused or diluted to just juggling.

Going away? Hardly, they’ll be a force for a while. Sun was a force during the dot.net bubble also. IBM was a force during the 360 days also.

Predictions here? No, just wondering about history before it happens. At least they think we’re number one. Or maybe Bill is trying to get the press to focus on IBM and not on him.

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?

IBM Buys Micromuse and Bowstreet – Lou Gerstner's notes on why these are important.

I’m not going to get into the coverage of the purchases of these two companies, there is plenty of news and links out there. I will say that it is the 10th and 11th acquisition by IBM Software Group this year.

When Lou Gerstner was retiring, he came to RTP to make his farewell remarks. There were over 15,000 IBM’rs at the site and about 200 got to go, I was one of the lucky ones…. thank you Lyle McGuire.

I have always had a lot of respect for Lou. Not many executives can save the largest company in a particular industry (IT of course for us) and accomplish an 18 BILLION dollar turn around. While I’m commenting on Lou, I once heard some folks say he made to much. I say he didn’t make enough for what he did (kept IBM together and made it profitable and productive). I wouldn’t be blogging today if it wasn’t for him.

Back to my point on the aqusitions. Lou spoke during a downturn in our industry. He said buying companies is easy to do, but hard to do correctly. He spoke of the HP purchase of Compaq, that it was not smart to buy a company that does relatively the same thing you do, no added value there. Although at the time it was disguised as a “services purchase” to get on equal terms with IGS (that still hasn’t come close), it was described to me by more than one analyst as thinly disguised “Lou Envy” by the then head of HP who has met her demise.

Lou then commented on the purchase of Price Waterhouse Coopers for business consulting services. From this purchase, we used the PWC data and research to help formulate and design our industry strategy, a go to market par excellance strategy that is being copied by our competition.

Lou’s point was that in tough times, smart companies position themselves to be on top when the market turns around or when the next trend of strategic selling comes to fruition. So there is a little insight on how to do things right. Some buy for R&D, some for customer base and some for extra bottom line. While there is some of that in our acqusitions, strategic positioning for the future to make us stronger and more competitive, advancing our business strategy is a driving force.

No, no one consulted me on which companies we are going to acquire, but being smart and doing it for a good reason, not just to do it is nothing to sneeze at. I’m guessing that Steve Mills, the head of SWG and Sam Palmisano ultimately pull the trigger on these, but every time they do, Gerstner’s words come back to me and make more sense each time.

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.

IBM to offer 40,000 patents to VC's

If I were starting a company, I’d like to have a unique concept that I could patent and know that it was both a killer idea and have legal protection…oh yeah, I’d like a bunch of VC money also.

Since I’m not a good engineer, or an engineer at all (my Dad was engineer of the year in Florida, but I didn’t get those genes), the next best way is to have help and get the same benefits.

IBM has announced a plan to offer access to the 40,000 plus patent portfolio to VC’s that they can share with their startups. A pretty sweet deal, money and access to the patent leader. Pick your technology, hardware, software, services and a lot of other stuff. I’ve said before that one of the most under told story’s is the cool stuff that IBM research has. Can you imagine what the value of this portfolio is, not just in terms of money but the invention time must be staggering.

In planning this, we worked with our VC advisory council to see what they would want and how it should be structured. They come out a big winner as now they have something tangible other than just money to offer startups. They either pay a one time 3 year fee for alpha stage companies or for products that are ready, a 1% of revenue relate to an IBM patent (not the entire product). This is relatively the same terms that we offered the largest companies we deal with in these arrangements (yes i mean company’s located in Redmond). The VC’s were quite pleased with the terms as they were a part of structuring from the get go. They viewed it as very fair and were glad to be on equal footing with bigger players.

Most of the analyst comments centered around the tools to search this many patents. Amazing how they see right through everything and pick out vital points. To that, we will provide access to the inventor and the technology, and to the specific comments…we’ll be working on some search tools to help the VC’s.

Startups win as they get the patent protection (ask RIM and NTP about this) and VC money.

IBM wins as it is a reason to partner with us. We offer not only the protection issue, but access to some incredible research. Yefim Natis of Gartner pointed out that this is good for IBM in that patent portfolio is likely under used. Lou Gerstner issued a mandate when he was reshaping IBM that we WILL use research and patents in our products. Now it’s not only IBM products, but it is spreading out to the industry also.

We’ve been rightly criticized for not being far enough down in the SMB stack (in the S part). This may not be the golden egg, but it sure is a step in the right direction. You don’t get much more of an S than in a small startup.

Like all announcements, programs at maturity usually wind up being molded along the way due to various things like industry or technology trends. I’m sure this program will be also, but it’s an interesting start.

More information is found on the VC group link.

Bob Sutor blogs about it also.