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)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Smarter way to work in Africa

Starting fresh has its advantages -- especially for emerging markets. There’s an enormous potential for growth in those markets without the burden of being tied down by an old or outdated technology infrastructure. Companies in emerging market have the potential to leapfrog competitors in more industrialized nations by being early adopters of new disruptive technologies, avoiding the pitfalls of proprietary IT systems and costly infrastructure.

Today IBM announced a new software package, part of IBM's Smart Work initiative, that takes advantage of the rising popularity of disruptive technology -- low-cost netbooks, cloud computing and Linux -- to make collaboration software and services more affordable to businesses and governments across Africa. With the IBM Client for Smart Work, IBM hopes to bridge the so-called "digital divide" in Africa and beyond.

IBM estimates that African governments could halve their IT licensing, administration and maintenance costs -- freeing up money for disaster management, education and healthcare. Businesses that could not afford traditional PCs for all employees can now use a variety of devices and low-cost software to equip workers with the ability to work smarter anywhere.

Arguably you could see this as a business software version of the One Laptop Per Child program that focuses on delivering organizations access to really inexpensive computing.

African organizations can get started today with IBM Lotus Symphony running ‘in premise’ on their netbooks, and then add the social networking features as the cloud infrastructure builds out in Africa -- which varies by country and city. With new high-speed internet access to East Africa, connectivity is improving.

IBM worked with South African entrepreneur and founder of Canonical, Mark Shuttleworth, on the offering. See Mark’s comments on the opportunities for open technologies in emerging markets in a video here.

An article in the Wall Street Journal quoted Venansius Barya Baryamureeba, Dean of the Faculty of Computing and IT at Makerere University in Uganda saying:

If IBM keeps its part of the bargain and provides cloud-based applications at affordable prices then this service will revolutionize businesses in Africa.

This initiative follows the opening of the IBM Africa Innovation Center in Cape Town last week . The center supports IBM's efforts to help grow the burgeoning local IT ecosystem and is a key addition to IBM's US$120 million, two-year market expansion investment in sub-Saharan Africa.

Watch this space to hear more about how emerging markets are turning to innovative approaches to equip their workforces to work smarter.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fighting crime with analytics

Check out this guest post and podcast on the Building A Smarter Planet blog by Jeff Jonas, an IBM Distinguished Engineer and chief scientist in IBM's Entity Analytics group.

Jonas joined IBM in 2005 when his company, SRD, was acquired by IBM.

Collaboration helps the world work smarter

This visualization is a Wordle providing graphical insight to a larger text passage on IBM's Center for Social Software.

This week, IBM is providing an intriguing look into the state of Social Software -- marrying far-reaching Research and our clients' every day practice in collaboration.

At two concurrent events in Cambridge, Mass., IBM is helping people understand how they can work smarter, be more agile and more collaborative.

From a 10,000 foot view, both events are focused on helping people derive greater value from data they use and see every day. But when you get right down to it, the tools these audiences are using to collaborate reflects their preferred method for receiving the data.

For example, this week IBM is hosting its Transparent Text Symposium at the IBM Center for Social Software. The Transparent Text Symposium focuses on how the next wave of analytics will move beyond numeral data to unlock the meaning of textual data. An eclectic group of experts on technology design and government, such as US Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Open Government, MIT Media Lab, The Sunlight Foundation, and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, have convened to discuss visualizations -- making data available to the masses in a visual format (hence creating transparency of the textual data.) An interesting example of social software and collaboration in practice at a research level.

Also this week, IBM is hosting hundreds of leaders from major industries and companies around the world at a two-day collaboration summit. The group is discussing best practices in collaboration and the newest technologies coming out in the collaboration market. In conjunction with the event, IBM is announcing the availability of micro-blogging and other traditionally consumer-collaboration capabilities to IBM's enterprise collaboration software: Lotus Connections. Having micro-blogging, wikis and file sharing features in a business-grade social software platform is yet another way IBM is helping people around the globe connect and collaborate.

Whether its through research into better way to deliver textual data, or delivering enterprise-grade collaboration software to market, IBM is serious about creating a more agile, collaborative and connected business environment. In essence, IBM is helping the world work smarter.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Unique Ubiquitous Center in Korea

IBM established a Korean Software Solutions Lab in Seoul, Korea in 2007. In the lab, IBM operates a Ubiquitous Innovation Center. The Center packages custom-made offerings. At the Center, customers and partners are able to obtain information of technology trends such as cloud computing, business analytics, business process management, social networking, and radio frequency indentification solutions, etc. The center also has a mobile environment for testing and modeling purposes.

Supported by IBM's global resources in business planning and technology davancement, the Center is in a unique position to assist customers and busienss partners to pioneer new businesses in Korea and around the world. Below are two most recent cases that the Ubiquitous Innovation Center helped with.

Case one:

In June, 2009, IBM was selected to establish a city infrastructure project as part of the U-safety City project for the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ), and by the government in an effort to turn South Korea into a major economic hub in Northeast Asia.

The project was to make the IFEZ an interconnected, environment-friendly, digitalized and smart city. One of the purposes is to support The Global Fair & Festival Incheon 2009 and The Asian Games 2014.

IBM will build this public safety system using high resolution cameras to monitor activities in the IFEZ, helping the Authority prevent crime and even predict possible events by analyzing patterns and data in real-time via a high-speed wired and a wireless network. The system consists an analytics framework, meta-data structures, event searching, video storage, video analysis servers and monitor applications.

The U-safety programs also includes SOS emergency rescue, remote controllable safety lamps in vulnerable areas, as well as the intelligent public safety system and wireless city safety network, which is implemented by IBM.

The system is built using technology such as IBM System Storage, IBM DB2 UDB, IBM WebSphere Application Server and MQ. The system, running on a flight of IBM System x 3650 Servers, will be operated by SK Engineering & Construction Co. Ltd and S1 Corporation under the administration of the Incheon Metropolitan Government and the IFEZ Authority.

Case two:

In August, 2009, IBM in Korea announced that POSCO, one of the world’s largest steel makers, is using IBM sensor technology -- including WebSphere Sensor Events -- to make its production plant in Pohang Ironworks safer for employees and visitors.

With more than 500 employees, the plant has an annual production capacity of 1.5 million metric tons. The engagement is a great example of how technology is enabling smarter safer workplaces.

With the system, all workers in the plant and visitors are required to wear ultra wide band technology-based RFID tags so as to monitor their location in real time through the integrated system which has 90 sensors. In case of a fire or gas leak, people in the affected area can be immediately located and necessary action can be taken to protect their safety.

Posted by Mark Guan, IBM Media Relations. markguan@us.ibm.com

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Free the Developers: One Language for Web 2.0 Apps

To help unleash developers from complex technologies needed to build Web 2.0 applications, IBM released EGL Community Edition this week, now completely free of charge. An extensive community of students, web developers, PHP developers and JavaScript developers are defining much of the open source movement and a single language like EGL is key. EGL CE is an Eclipse-based tool that simplifies development of JavaScript-based Web applications. Developers who usually code in PHP, Ruby on Rails, Groovy, JavaScript and HTML can now download free EGL tools to code, test, and debug rich Web 2.0 applications in one simplified language.

We know JavaScript development can be complex, but it's the core of all dynamic Web applications being built today. EGL CE supports development of rich, JavaScript-based user interfaces without writing any JavaScript, and Java-based services without writing any Java code. More time coding and less time deploying.

With complex Web 2.0 applications making up a growing part of developers’ daily workload, an extensible platform such as EGL CE offers valuable time savings in a more simplified programming model. Anyone can try it -- EGL CE is now available for download at no cost at http://www.ibm.com/software/rational/cafe/community/egl/ce.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Reducing paper consumption

Recently I've taken proactive steps to reduce my carbon footprint and be more "green." While I cannot pretend to be truly eco-savvy, I have taken small steps that I feel good about. My daughter, who started Kindergarten today, now has an eco-friendly, BPA-free water bottle and reusable lunch containers instead of plastic sandwich bags. I've taken steps to reduce water consumption and turn off lights at our home. We leave the gas-guzzling SUV at home and drive the compact car whenever possible.
But last night, as I printed my daughter's elementary school lunch schedule, two extra pages came out of the printer each with one word on them. Knowing I could not reuse the mostly blank pages for my next printing job, I tossed the pages in the trash. Could I have reused the scrap paper for a grocery shopping list or gave the pages to my son with some crayons? Yes. But, I didn't. I've been thinking about my actions knowing that the typical office worker users about 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year – enough to cover a three- by six-foot desk more than 360 times.
This morning I read Fortune's Remember Lexmark? The printer underdog is still fighting where Jon Fortt discusses Facebook, Kindle and texting impacting printer and ink sales.

It's staggering how much sales of printer paper and ink cartridges impact the bottom line of Lexmark, HP and others.

People rely heavily on paper to perform everyday duties, despite the high costs associated with lost documents, risk of document obsolescence and labor inefficiency. Not only are piles of paper overwhelming my home office, paper is becoming a bottleneck for business processes and its excessive usage is also becoming a clear impediment for organizations that are embracing greener IT.

A few months back, IBM introduced new offerings to help clients address the costs, risks and efficiency challenges associated with using and storing paper. IBM is helping clients assess their rates of paper consumption and evaluate the benefits of eliminating the paper burden within their organizations.
Most recently, the U.S. Army, an IBM client, received an award for its use of IBM Lotus Forms software. Representing one of the world's largest e-forms installations, the U.S. Army has stopped sending soldiers into the line of fire in order to get an officer's digital signature on a military form. IBM Lotus Forms is currently used by more than 1.4 million Army personnel worldwide, yielding an estimated $1.3 billion in cost savings to the U.S. federal government.
Many clients have already turned to IBM to help reduce paper usage cost. Maybe I should use IBM technology to help me better manage my paper consumption at home? In the meantime, I'm going to grab those two stray pieces from my desk barrel, find some crayons and write up a grocery list.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Nicholls State University Teams with IBM to Prepare Students for Jobs of the Future

Last week Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, welcomed incoming and returning students. As part of the welcome events, dozens of students, administrators, local business leaders and IBM representatives attended a joint Nicholls and IBM event to discuss the new IBM-developed IT Service Management curriculum available to computer science majors and MBA students beginning this fall. The new curriculum has helped increase enrollment in the IS program by nearly 70 percent over last year.

Nicholls is a 210-acre campus approximately 50 miles southwest of New Orleans and 60 miles southeast of Baton Rouge. Nicholls is the sole provider of higher education in the region, and heavily participates in the development of the region, forging major partnerships with businesses, local school systems, community agencies, and other educational institutions. IBM worked closely with Nicholls to redefine its curriculum for the Bachelor of Science in Information Systems program with a specialization in IT Service Management.

IBM is working with more than 150 schools like Nicholls in more than 40 countries to bridge the gap between academic output and industry needs. By introducing this new curriculum, students will be prepared to work on important projects that are being funded by government stimulus plans around the world.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Dedication to every client's success

During four days of July 2003, IBM employees around the world engaged in an online intranet discussion called ValuesJam to shape and define the values that should guide the company and its people in the years ahead. Those thousands of postings and e-mails were thoroughly analyzed and then distilled into three values shared by all IBMers.

A dedication to client or customer success is, of course, nothing new to IBM. As IBM chairman Thomas J. Watson, Jr., said in 1962: "We want to give the best customer service of any company in the world. . . . The relationship between the [IBMer] and the customer, their mutual trust, the importance of reputation, the idea of putting the customer first -- always -- all these things, if carried out with real conviction by a company, can make a great deal of difference in its destiny."

Through the years, IBM has refined its customer service program introducing new features to help clients succeed in their business endeavors. Just this past week, IBM announced the IBM Software Accelerated Value Program -- a new program designed to help IBM clients derive greater results from their current software IT investments. The Program is designed for companies with high availability requirements that use IBM software within complex environments or cutting-edge applications.

Since the program was announced a few days ago, IBM clients are already receiving value from their participation in the program. PT Telekomunikas Indonesia TbK (TELKOM), the largest full information and communication service and network provider in Indonesia, participates in IBM's Software Accelerated Value Program for its use of IBM WebSphere, Lotus, Tivoli and Information Management software.

"As a Software Accelerated Value customer, TELKOM has taken benefit of getting professional support from IBM Indonesia and IBM Worldwide to ensure daily business process continuity and also getting assurance that IT team has access to the latest information about IBM software by being part of IBM Software Technical Community," said Erry C.R. Kusumayadhi, Operational Senior Manager, Information System, Service Support Center.

Creating and maintaining enduring customer relationships is critical in today's economy. There is no cost increase associated with this program for new customers or current customers keeping the same level of coverage. Now that is dedication to every client's success.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Arms" Race Intensifies for the World's Stock Exchanges

The world's stock exchanges -- 161 in all -- are in a fierce battle to win and keep clients by delivering what customers want most: the fastest, most secure and highest reliability trading possible. This has led to a technology "arms race" among the exchanges which are using computerized algorithms to bundle hundreds of thousands of stocks into single, split-second transactions. Speed, or "low-latency," is everything for these exchanges. A fraction of a second can mean mega gains or losses to investors. Transactions that once took minutes and even seconds to complete are now processed in thousandths and millionths of a second, with the fastest trading engines reaping the biggest benefits. However, for exchanges who lose the latency race, failure can be disastrous. The London Stock Exchange learned that last September when a much-publicized glitch in its Windows-based system shut down trading for a full seven hours, leading to enormous losses.

Deutsche Borse, which manages the International Securities Exchange in New York and the Eurex and Xetra exchanges in Europe, has upped the ante in the latency arms race by announcing that it will begin replacing older applications with a new trading infrastructure based on Linux and IBM's low latency middleware technology. The move exemplifies the increasingly competitive nature of the world's stock exchanges to prosper through speed enabled by cutting-edge technology.

Among other benefits, Deutsche Borse will gain flexibility in upgrading applications when they need to, without being tied to any single vendor's code, licensing and support terms. It also gives them bragging rights to one of the fastest transaction speeds on the planet -- the ability to easily execute more than a million trades per second, dwarfing even the mighty NY Stock Exchange.

The dynamics of the world's exchanges and their IT infrastructures is fast-moving and fascinating. Currently, more than two dozen exchanges are actively evaluating new systems to support faster trading. Some of those, like the Mexican and Korean exchanges, are looking at AIX as the backbone because of its robustness. But the vast majority are leaning towards Linux for its performance and stability. These exchanges are investing in systems that will be in place for at least the next decade. But unlike the past, exchanges now need the flexibility to adapt continuously to the ever increasing need for higher throughput and the constant drive towards zero latency. Basing their new systems on Linux, distributed commodity hardware and IBM's low latency messaging provides them the best base to meet those challenges.

Special to the IBM Software News blog by Paul Michaud, Global Financial Markets Industry Architect, IBM Software Group.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

IBM, sensors and the Internet of Things

IBM and its clients across many industries -- government, retail, manufacturing, health care, utilities, and transportation – have been building networks of sensors to bring intelligence to the Internet of Things -- a world in which interconnected sensors communicate their identity, inventory, and location, as well as information on environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity.

Today, IBM introduced software to help clients bring a new level of intelligence to the Internet of Things: IBM WebSphere Sensor Events.

Using WebSphere Sensor Events, companies gain access to the information they need to better predict and react to everyday business events. In turn, the systems that comprise the Internet of Things can positively impact the daily lives of people – to speed the flow of automobile traffic in major cities, ensure the authenticity of prescription drugs, and provide information to consumers about the provenance of the foods they purchase.

IBM software can take the sensor data and add a layer of analytics. For instance, companies can predict and automate a reaction following a set of rules or events to better predict orders for next month, provide alerts on what components will be needed for suppliers, and solve disruptions in a supply chain more quickly.

Automobile manufacturers such as Volkswagen are using IBM sensor software for on demand access to information on the exact location of the shipping containers used to transport parts from suppliers to the manufacturing floor. Volkwagen and other vehicle manufacturers are reducing costs by making their logistics assets function more efficiently.

Enterprising IBMers are taking an innovative twist on sensors with Twitter:

Take IBM Master Inventor Andy Stanford-Clark, who connected his house to Twitter to monitor energy consumption, http://twitter.com/andy_house. The Twitter ID provides updates on lighting, heating, temperature, phone and water usage collected from his house. Each update comes from a simple sensor. The system works both ways too - it is possible to turn the fountain, lights and heaters on and off by flicking switches on a web page or from a live dashboard application on his mobile phone.

A team of researchers at the IBM Hursley Lab in the UK, the largest software development Lab in Europe, have set up the local bus to tweet its location and status, so they know exactly when it will arrive. http://twitter.com/hursleyminibus

The new IBM software is just one example of where IBM sees that connecting the digital and physical world through sensors can enable a Smarter Planet. IBM has a whole set of RFID and sensor technology solutions that bring a new level of intelligence to every day things. Sensors are serving as an instrument -- giving a voice to physical objects, allowing them to communicate important information in an increasingly interconnected world.

Related links:

IBM and VC firms accelerate innovation in Brazil

This week IBM is hosting the IBM Venture Capital Forum in São Paulo, Brazil. More than 100 local VCs, start ups and business partners are gathering at our IBM Innovation Center to discuss key technology trends and fuel new partnerships around industries such as telecommunications, healthcare and energy.

As part of the forum, IBM and FINEP -- the Brazilian Innovation Agency -- announced a new partnership that will focus on establishing new relationships between IBM partners with Venture Capital firms.

IBM has a booming ecosystem in Brazil. This includes more than 3,500 business partners, 500 educational institutions and 100,000 software developers.

And not surprisingly, the VC market in Brazil is thriving. According to the Brazilian Association for Private Equity & Venture Capital, investment has more than quadrupled there since 2004, from $6 billion to $28 billion in 2008. In fact, Brazil is expected to have the largest increase in new investment of any emerging market in the next one to two years, according to a June 2009 report by the Washington-based Emerging Markets Private Equity Association.

Emerging markets like Brazil are becoming increasingly important to IBM. More than 60 percent of IBM's revenue is derived from growth markets like Brazil. One way that IBM is looking to tap into the technological growth in Brazil is through the VC and startup community.

Some interesting articles on this topic were published in BusinessWeek and the Wall Street Journal this morning.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

IBM opens advanced analytics center in China

Today IBM announced the launch of the China Analytics Solutions Center in Beijing, China. The press release states the advanced analytics center is "part of a network of global centers addressing the growing demand for advanced analytics capabilities needed to help clients build smarter business systems and drive improved decision-making."

News of the analytics center follows last week's announcement of IBM's intent to acquire SPSS, a predictive analytics technology company that helps clients forecast trends to drive smarter business outcomes.

IBM also recently announced the Smart Analytics System, the industry’s first comprehensive offering that helps organization harness the power of analytics to make intelligent business decisions up to three times faster and requiring up to 50 percent less storage - saving space and energy.

The acquisition, the new analytics center in China, analytics-ready solutions....all examples of IBM's expanding analytics strategy.

But why analytics?

An emergence of new smarter systems which are interconnected and streaming real time information are presenting organizations with unique opportunities and challenges. Businesses and governments are using data and sophisticated analytics to transform decision making.

The time is ripe for organizations to use this data to predict business outcomes, optimize old systems and spot trends before they happen.

For example, the Mobile County Public Schools, the largest school district in Alabama, has selected IBM analytics technology to more effectively measure student performance, immediately identify students "at risk," and adjust academic programs in real-time in order to best deliver smarter education services that prepare students with 21st century skills.

Areas such as electronic health records, education, smart grids, and financial risk management are creating a growing demand for sophisticated business analytics. IBM's organic and acquisitive growth have IBM well positioned to help our clients rethink their systems and apply business analytics in new ways for smarter decisions.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Are Your Good Instincts, Good Enough?

Check out this CNBC guest blog post by Steve LaValle, Global Leader of Strategy Services for IBM Business Analytics. LaValle discusses the cost savings and business value that can be achieved from greater analytics and optimization of information.

LaValle is just one of the 4,000 IBM personnel focused on the business analytics space. IBM has taken aggressive steps to remix our business so that we are positioned for leadership in the high-growth business analytics space, including a $10 billion investment in the past four years; the launch of a new service line (Business Analytics and Optimization Services); strategic acquisitions (e.g., Cognos, iLog), and the dedication of IBM personnel like LaValle around this opportunity.

Unlocking and extracting value from business information is a top priority for our clients. The good news is, IBM has analytics software that can capture, organize and process all of the data scattered throughout an organization, and turn it into not just organized information, or even knowledge, but actual intelligence.

IBM is making sophisticated business analytics happen today.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

IBM acquisition strategy

By now you've seen the reports on IBM's intention to acquire SPSS for $1.2 billion - a move that will bolster our business analytics portfolio. Today IBM also acquired privately-held Ounce Labs, a small company headquartered in Waltham, Mass.

While the news of IBM's Ounce Lab acquisition is dwarfed by the public visibility of SPSS, the Ounce Lab acquisition sheds light on an interesting trend.

IBM acquisitions are a key part of IBM's growth strategy. In fact, IBM is increasingly relying on software as an engine for growth. IBM derives 43% of its profit from its Software Group, with revenues reaching $22.1 billion in 2008.

What's unique about today's Ounce Labs acquisition is that it is a result of IBM's strong relationships with the global venture capital community. Ounce Labs was introduced to IBM through its ongoing relationship with leading Silicon Valley and Boston-based VC firm Greylock Partners.

One third of IBM's acquisitions are driven by IBM's Venture Capital Group. As a result of partnering with leading venture capitalist firms, IBM is able to foster new partnerships and help to drive innovation in the marketplace. For the VC investing in the startup, it means a profitable exit. For IBM, it often means access to emerging technologies and business models to complement its software portfolio for partners and clients around the world.

These start-up companies provide a fresh perspective and reinforce the company's strategy of focusing on high-value, high-growth segments of the IT industry.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Strategic transformation of IBM

Last week, IBM announced its 2009 second-quarter results. Today Business Week's Gene Marcial discussed Why IBM Remains a Favorite stock pick.

On a call with the financial analyst community, Mark Loughridge discussed the strategic transformation of IBM's business and our ongoing shift to higher-value areas which has positioned us to better meet clients’ needs. Excerpts follow:

  • "This performance (2Q 2009) is the result of the strategic transformation of IBM’s business. Since the end of the dot.com bubble, we’ve been moving out of commoditizing businesses, while investing in higher-value areas. This better positions us to meet clients’ needs, and drives a more profitable mix.

  • [For nearly a decade] "we have been executing our strategy: shifting to higher-value segments, globally integrating the company, driving efficiency and productivity and investing to capture future growth. IBM is a fundamentally different company with a stronger portfolio of offerings and a more efficient cost structure, enabled by ongoing process improvements. Now in the current recession, we’re able to improve margins and profit – even with declining sales."

  • "Since the 1990s, IBM has exited commoditizing businesses, including hard disk drives in 2002, PCs in 2005, and printers in 2007, (actions) which represent nearly $15 billion of annual revenue. In that same time, we acquired more than 100 companies for about $20 billion. This has clearly accelerated our shift to higher-value capabilities. This disciplined focus on shifting our business mix -- and our business model – has driven this turn-around in margins."

  • "The shift in our business mix is even more apparent on a profit basis. From 2000 to 2008, the profit -- from Software and Services combined – has almost doubled … In 2009, we expect ongoing momentum in our Software and Services businesses."

  • "We’ve also been globally integrating our company to improve productivity and efficiency. These transformational changes to our business have reduced our fixed cost base and improved the operational balance point, generating more profit from each dollar of revenue.

  • "We’re using our strong profit and cash base to drive the significant investment needed to expand our base of opportunity, both organically and through acquisitions. This quarter we had great performance (from our acquisitions), with Cognos’ business analytics solutions, Telelogic's tools and ILOG’s business integration capabilities.

IBM's Software portfolio is built around high growth areas such as analytics, stream computing, instrumentation and monitoring of physical assets. The portfolio allows IBM to extend its software "footprint" beyond its traditional customer set to new, faster-growing revenue opportunities that are beyond the traditional IT industry.

Continued execution of a transformation strategy combined with a diverse software portfolio....its no wonder IBM's software revenue in 2008 totaled a staggering $22 billion.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fortune Brainstorm: Tech

This week, two IBMers are speaking at Fortune Brainstorm: Tech, an event focused "on how technology companies, content creators and other institutions can thrive in the recession, and help lead the way to a new era of global prosperity."

The three day agenda is robust with sessions such as "Networking a Dumb Planet" and "Future Tech: Is the Risk Worth the Reward." The agenda concludes with Ashton Kutcher (actor/producer and Katalyst Co-founder) chatting it up with Fortune's Andy Serwer about the ways the entertainment industry can better use technology to advance business and social goals.

The theme of Fortune's event "Global crisis; global opportunity" dove tails nicely to what IBM has been evangelizing through its Smarter Planet initiative. IBM believes the opportunity and time for change is now. The technology -- cloud, stream computing, sensors -- is available and ready. People are ready for change. As a society, many of our current ways of doing things are inefficient and expensive, and eventually will not work.

If you find yourself in Pasadena this week, check out Fortune Brainstorm: Tech and say hi to Bill Pulleyblank and Alan Ganek from IBM who will be discussing how to build a smarter planet.