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.

How to attract developers

Hats off to Microsoft here, I wish we’d thought of this.

Prize in Indian Talent Search

Microsoft has a talent search in India that will produce one member to work with Gates for a year. If you look at this closely, there is one big winner….Microsoft. You may have thought I was going to say the guy/girl who gets to work with Microsoft for a year, but I’m not sure that is that good.

Microsoft is pulling the credit card game, announce a contest and you pull everyone in. Compound that by it being in India, and you have one heck of an idea.

We make no bones about the fact that we are expanding heavily in the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China. It looks like we aren’t the only game in town now.

Hope we learn from this.

First Day of the Analyst Meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Calm before the storm

We’re going into the Thanksgiving break right before the SWG Analyst meeting. We’re wrapping up the 1:1’s and dinner dates and all the executive preparation necessary to make sure they can find the bathroom which is always a crap shoot.

Note to analysts, last chance to get your meeting requests in. We’re trying to wrap it up this week.

IBM and Social Networking (IWB and blogging event)

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

On the panel was:

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

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

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

Bill Ives
Author, Business Blogs: A Practical Guide

Stephen Sparkes
Managing Director, Investment Banking Division, Morgan Stanley

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

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

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

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

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

Mike Gotta

David Weinberger

Press coverage:

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

IBM Software Tracks Blogs, Web Content
E-Content Magazine

IBM launches blog content monitoring software
Newswatch, India

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

Blog-Spotting With IBM

IBM Discovers What Willis Is Talking About

Computing at the speed of light.

I make it pretty clear that IBM Research does and has some of the coolest stuff there is….

Today’s press coverage about IBM moving data on silicon via light is unbelievable. For you trekkies out there, that’s Warp 1. They even have a cool name for it – Photonic Silicon Waveguide. Data is moved via photons creating less heat and using less power, nice side effects huh?

IBM Slows Light, Readies it for Networking

Too cool.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live long and prosper.

SOA for me, I'm off to Richmond

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on Maturing Workforce, % of the population over 60

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ode to Executive Assistants

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

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

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

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

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

alphaWorks, the window to IBM Research

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

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

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

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

Head Pointer


Keyboard Optimizer

Mouse Smoothing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IBM Bloggers, who are we? – Ed Brill

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

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

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

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

Some work experience that you want to tell?

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

Any hobbies or fun stuff you want to discuss?

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

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

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

What are good things about your job?

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

What are things you would change?

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

What are the biggest challenges at IBM?

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

How did you get started as a blogger?

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

How has that changed your job?

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

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

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

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

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

Any thing else I missed you want to say?

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

When you’re hot, you’re hot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IBM analyst relations, who are we? Jeff Jones

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

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

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

Some work experience that you want to tell?

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

How do you describe what you do?

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

What are good things about your job?

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

What are things you would change?

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

Name a funny analyst story.

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

Describe an analyst win situation for you.

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

Describe an analyst disaster for you. (no names)

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

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

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

Any thing else I missed you want to say?

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

RTP, Celebrating the 40th Anniversery

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

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

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

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

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

(Photo by Dave Brainard)

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

There were other cars at the event.

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

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

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

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

(Photo by Dave Brainard)

1964 PORSCHE 356C

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

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

IBM analyst relations, who are we? – Nancy Riley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone shoots at number one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you describe what you do?

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

What are good things about your job?

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

What are things you would change?

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

Name a funny analyst story.

There are no funny analyst stories 😉

Describe an analyst win situation for you.

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

Describe an analyst disaster for you.

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

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

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

The Maturing of the Partner Program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live long and prosper.

Blogging at IBM, a snowball rolling down hill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to IBM, creative vacation scheduling

As we come to the Labor Day break (at least here in the States) it’s time for some to take time off. So, I though I’d comment on it to lighten up from the news of the world.

I’ve worked here for a number of years, more now than any other company, but it’s still the 8th company I’ve been employed by. In no other company has the scheduling of vacation been as creative as here. I’ve observed a number of trends.

First, let’s note that you start with 3 weeks vacation. My first job entitled me to 1, so it was precious to me. I had to plan to get the most out of it a broke new hire could get. The old schoolers here get European quantity time for vacation, so there is lots to play with.

The first trend I’ll call the “creative” schedulers. They always save their time by working around a holiday to “save days”. It’s a pretty good scheme. One can extend the time you have by adding the public holidays to your time off.

The other side of the coin I’ll call the “avoiders”. They purposely work while the “creatives” are off. This way the miss the creatives both coming and going. To them, it’s like getting 2 vacations even though one of them is taken at the office. Not that they goof off, they just get to avoid either people or craziness, and seem to enjoy it. I’ll give you an example, things slow down before a public holiday and it can take time to crank up right after, so the workload can be less. Conversely, let me point out that with fewer people in the office, if the brown hits the fan, guess who has to cover and let the scrambling begin.

The next category is the “travelers”. This one is not unique to any company or country. It’s what it sounds like, tacking vacation on to a business trip to enjoy a place you might not travel too. Let’s see, if you take time off with a business trip, over a public holiday it’s a twofer. Take your family and it’s really a good deal.

Then there are the “Fridays”. These are the folks that will take every Friday of say August or December off and work 4 day weeks for a month, guess they aren’t making plans to travel overseas that year. Tough to do in 3 days and see anything.

So pick you strategy and enjoy. For those that work hard, time off is good to recharge the batteries.

Finally, over the course of my employment at various companies, I’ve observed some that are like Wally in Dilbert. They are mostly on vacation whether at work or away. Ever worked with one of those?

Today's SWG A/R blogging Inquiry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VC's and Mentoring

IBM announced the VC advisory council and mentoring programs today. It was a good announcement and it got plenty of attention. A new term for me came out, BRIC which stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China.

We briefed a number of the analysts, so here are some of the comments.

There was a theme of emerging markets, some as a delivery model, some for cost reduction. The partner network is key in these countries as they are huge opportunities and no one company can cover it. Good thing IBM has a solid partnering program

Open is a big word. Both standards and software. Gluecode and PHP are big for IBM, but RUBY is something that VC’s are looking at.

The council gives quick connection for the VC’s to our executives. Cutting through the maze is a major task at any big company.

A big software company in the northwest is scaring their VC’s with uncertainty and fear of competing with them.

Here’s a link to the lead exec for this, who’s always a good read when checking out IBM and partnerning…

Buell Duncan

developerWorks – IBM’s Resource for Developers

Since someone has to develop software, and millions do, here’s a place from IBM that offers resources to developers ranging from free code to tutorials and training.

developerWorks Link

I’ve also linked to the blog on my sidebar so you can read what IBMers are saying about the different subjects. Some have a particular area, other blogs have multiple contributors.

One of the gems of the site is the alphaWorks site. aW is the window to IBM Research for Software. It’s just like it sounds, software in the alpha stage that you can check out…pretty cool.

What is best about this, is that we set up the first blog site at IBM, right under the nose of the wonks at IBM corporate communications.  They have the mindset of the former Soviet Union, afraid to decentralize any power for fear that some non-sterile message might get out.  Since they have no clue about blogging and social media at the time of this post, we stealthily put up our site, gathered a group of people who were not afraid of stepping out of the brown shirt mentality of the communications guidelines to be successful and before it could be netted by the shrimp trawler that is Armonk PR, we had the only platform where people could blog.

The Shrimp netters shut down all other rogue blogging sites, but dW was so far advanced and accepted as the place to go to for actual information (not the corporate speak you get from a sanitizing department that is Armonk communications). So for over a year, we have enjoyed being the platform for social media.  It is enjoyable to be a part of leading this, as well as the person who was tasked to start-up and lead blogging and social media for IBM A/R.