Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Simple steps for going green

An interesting read from Leslie Gordon, a vice president in IBM's CIO office. This holiday season, she is challenging organizations to "give back" to the environment.

How many of Leslie Gordon's simple steps to reducing paper consumption do you follow in your organization?

ZDNet: Nine ways IT can help organizations "go green" and reduce paper consumption

Monday, November 9, 2009

Saving One Thousand Pages of Paper

Reducing paper consumption is no longer a goal of the eco-conscious few, but a standard. With the accessibility of online collaboration tools, organizations can reduce paper waste while improving the speed and accuracy of document sharing between internal and external audiences.

Just recently, I witnessed first hand how using online collaboration software prevented more than one thousand pages of paper from being printed. In preparation for an IBM Gold Consultants Briefing in Las Vegas, our team uploaded speaker presentations, documents, calendars, and even photos to the cloud using Lotus Live.

How it Works

The documents were drafted, edited, reviewed, and finalized without sending a single e-mail. Our IBM team used the "Activities" function in Lotus Live to upload event materials and collaborate with better version control than an email inbox. Once materials were finalized and approved, they were placed in their respective folders. Settings in Lotus Live allowed us to choose which members have access to the "Activities" for increased privacy.

Lotus Live

Final documents in our "Activities" section were shared online with Gold Consultants while giving them the option to either view online or download to their desktop. The digital distribution of agendas, speaker bios, demo descriptions and more via Lotus Live was fast and simple.

Reducing paper consumption is important, but so is saving time. Speaker presentations were loaded once into Lotus Live folders called "Collections" and shared with the Gold Consultants each day. The time previously spent loading content onto memory keys for each attendee was drastically reduced.

After the briefing, Gold Consultants left Las Vegas, but they still have access to speaker presentations.

Collaboration in the cloud streamlined communications for our team, and saved a few trees. I'm giving the team a gold star for IBM's Gold Consultants Briefing.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Software Patents and Innovation

by Mark Chadurjian
Senior Counsel, IBM Software Group Intellectual Property Law

We've heard a lot lately about software patents. Some folks say software should not be patentable. Others say that any business method run on a computer should be patentable. Why all the controversy?

First, no one is arguing about the importance of software in today's economy. Simply put, software is the backbone of the information age. It has enabled the extension of computing power upward (into the cloud) and downward (into handheld devices). The growth of robust operating systems and middleware has enabled the proliferation of applications that support everything from complex airline reservation systems to music downloads.

Key to that growth has been the existence of a robust patent system. Patents protect innovators who take business risks in bringing new products into the marketplace. In fact, there's a synergistic relationship between the strength of the patent system and a vibrant economy that rewards innovation and risk taking. So clearly, the U.S. economy benefits from a patent system that recognizes innovation wherever it exists, be it in hardware or in software.

So why the controversy? A strong patent system strikes an appropriate balance between private incentives to innovation, public benefit from encouraging dissemination of ideas, and restrictions the resulting patent places on the public. Right now, things are a bit off kilter in the U.S. For example, we've suffered from the issuance of overly broad software-based patents for methods of doing business. Such patents, with their attendant lack of technical content, tend to skew the scales in favor of private benefit to the detriment of associated public benefit. The question of business method patentability is now being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Bilski v Kappos case, which involves a dispute over whether a method for hedging commodities trading risk is patentable subject matter. More broadly, the US patent laws are in need of updating to deal with issues such as facilitating challenges to bad patents and dispensing with archaic rules regarding who is entitled to a patent if multiple parties claim to have invented the same thing...that's why patent reform is so important.

While the courts struggle with whether business methods should be patentable, in Bilski some argue that we should throw the baby out with the bathwater, and revise the law to say that all software inventions should be unpatentable. That would be a mistake, because most software-based inventions embody compelling technical advances that strike the appropriate balance between private incentives and public restrictions. Holding all those innovations to be unpatentable would disincent software development, just when we're seeing software truly emerge as a platform for major advances in technical innovation.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

If you must change, why not for the better?

In advance of the Windows 7 launch this week, IBM and Canonical are delivering an alternative that opens the desktop and cuts 50 percent of its costs.

The new cloud- and Linux-based desktop package for the U.S. includes what organizations expect for office productivity -- word processing, presentations and spreadsheets -- and what they are increasingly interested in adding -- cloud-based email, social networking and collaboration tools.

The package is called The IBM Client for Smart Work. This modern desktop can even run on yesterday’s PCs or low-cost netbooks, making it a great option for those firms contemplating a jump from Windows XP to Windows 7 but who aren’t comfortable in making the requisite hardware upgrades.

To help you get familiar with IBM Client, here is some background on an important component, Lotus Symphony.

10 Things You Might Not Know about Lotus Symphony:

1) Symphony office productivity software contains a word processor, spreadsheet and presentations program

2) Symphony is free on the Internet here

3) More than 10 million copies of Symphony have been downloaded since September 2007.

4) IBM provides free support for users through an IBM-moderated Web forum.

5) Symphony is built by IBM on open source software-OpenOffice.org and Eclipse

6) Symphony is available on the Mac OS, Linux and Windows.

7) Symphony lets users open, read and import Microsoft Office 2007 files as well as a whole host of other formats

8) Symphony gets rave reviews

9) Symphony has advanced functions

  • Drag -and-drop installation of widgets
  • Exportation of files to PDF or JPEG
  • Animations in PowerPoint presentations
  • Data Pilot (or Pivot) Table improvements

10) The savings over Microsoft Office is considerable
Symphony could save a company with 20,000 employees $8 million in software license fees or potentially more than $4 million in software renewal fees.

Now’s the time to start thinking about the impact this change could make. What new innovative projects could your company invest in if it didn’t have to pay expensive desktop software licenses and hardware upgrades?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Software and analytics key to IBM 3Q 2009 results

Yesterday, IBM announced its third quarter 2009 financial results. On his call with Wall Street analysts, Mark Loughridge, IBM senior vice president and chief financial officer, discussed business analytics as one of IBM's primary investment areas, and IBM's Software unit which contributed almost one-third to IBM's gross margin improvement.

Since 2005, IBM has invested $12 billion in strategic acquisitions and organic innovation to build its business analytics capabilities, assembled 4,000 consultants with industry expertise to help clients use business analytics aligned to their specific business needs and opened six analytics centers dedicated to clients worldwide to help them take advantage of industry-specific expertise from IBM.

Most recently, earlier this month IBM announced a new advanced analytics center in New York City with 450 consultants and researchers.

But why the focus on analytics?

Advanced analytics of Software and Services allow customers that generate enormous amounts of data to predict trends, optimize their operations and create new sources of revenue. Much is this demand is also being created by the stimulus investment on electronic medical records, better government services to its citizens, need for accountability and transparency in government spending, and fraud detection.

For example, one key issue clients are facing today, whether its business or government organizations, is managing the "data glut." One in three business leaders frequently make critical decisions without the information they need. IBM's approach to analytics is moving beyond just the statistical data, but really offering clients the technology they can use to make critical information available for frontline employees within an organization, and not just the programmers and IT analysts. It's almost like "democratization of data" making it available to regular employees who can impact the bottom line of a business based on the decisions they make each minute.

This kind of change is transformative and it impacts our lives in new ways. For example, law enforcement officials from Edmonton Police in Western Canada use analytics to help their own real-life crime fighters’ better surface leads, more effectively deploy policing resources and ultimately improve police and public safety and reduce crime rates.

Analytics is a key part of IBM's strategy of moving to higher value capabilities for our clients. As we've discussed before on this blog, the transformation of IBM's business positions IBM for the future with a much better business profile and a more competitive cost structure.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Smarter healthcare with Radiology Theatre

Check out the Smarter Planet blog and related video which discusses an interesting use of technology to improve patient care at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital.

At Brigham and Women’s Hospital, medical experts are using a “Radiology Theatre” to “make rounds” on a patient — no matter where the doctors are located. Using the Radiology Theater, teams of medical experts can simultaneously discuss and review patients’ MRI, CT scans and other medical test data using a Web browser.

IBM's Blue Spruce is the technical foundation of Radiology Theater. IBM researchers have combined different Web components -- data mashups, high-definition video, audio and graphics -- all on the same browser page allowing multiple users to "cobrowse" or interact with these components in real-time and see each others' changes. All of the components are live and all participants can cause change that will be propagated in a secure manner.

With the infusion of tens of billions of dollars in stimulus funds devoted to health IT, projects like this are the tip of the iceberg in terms of how technology can improve patient care.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Opening the Door to Emerging Markets

The “international” in IBM’s name has never loomed larger. IBM got about 65 percent of its revenue from outside the U.S. last year. Much attention has focused on Brazil, Russia, India and China (known as the BRIC countries) -- rightfully so since IBM BRIC sales climbed 26 percent last year, more than eight times the pace in the U.S., according to IBM filings.(See this Bloomberg story for more.)

But beyond BRIC, there’s a larger group of emerging markets ramping up their economic development. To spur innovation in emerging markets in Africa and central and southeast Asia, for example, IBM is extending Linux and open standards resources there.

This week IBM announced the opening of the IBM Center of Innovation for Linux and Open Standards in Kazakhstan.

The Center’s mission is to drive adoption of open standards and open source technologies in Kazakhstan, the central Asian nation that spans territory larger than Western Europe.
"Kazakhstan faces the ambitious task of growing and enhancing its IT infrastructure very fast to match the demands of a new economy," says Inna Kuznetsova, vp of IBM Systems Software, marketing and sales enablement. "Using open source and standards-based computing, Kazakhstan can avoid the pitfalls of an expensive, proprietary infrastructure and build a more flexible IT foundation."

The interoperability from open standards such as HTML for Web and information structure, and Open Document Format for office documents can help Kazakhstan better deliver goods and services locally, and compete with business globally.

This comes on the heels of IBM’s new software package in Africa that takes advantage of the rising popularity low-cost netbooks and Linux to deliver businesses and government a smarter way to work.

IBM offers Linux expertise and resources in emerging markets through its IBM Innovation Centers in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and other locations, such as the Cape Town, South Africa center, which opened earlier this month.

IBM hopes to bridge the so-called "digital divide" that exists among businesses in these countries, especially the growing base of mid-sized firms that are fueling economic growth. Linux is a perfect fit to encourage low-cost, flexible technology in BRIC and beyond.

(Pictured above: Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, where IBM is opening the new Linux Innovation Center. Photo courtesy of Inna Kuznetsova)