Friday, 11 June 2010

IBM UK Impact 2010

On Tuesday I dropped in on IBM's UK Impact 2010 conference in London. UK Impact is effectively a pocket-sized version of the 5-day, 6000 attendee Las Vegas Impact event held last month.

The Conference was well organised, held in the (rather swanky) Grange Hotel St Paul's.

This was a one-day event, with the morning being single track, and the afternoon multi-track.

As you'd expect given IBM's recent 'Smart' branding (imitation is the highest form of flattery), the Keynote was a startlingly on-message presentation entitled "How your Organization Can Work Smarter".

There were some interesting gems in there: Did you know for example that certain electrical companies in the states give customers a circa $300 annual rebate in return for handing over the keys to their air conditioning to the electrical company? In times of peak demand (but not when it's health-threateningly hot), rather than power up another turbine, they'll start a rolling programme of AC shut-downs to reduce demand. That is smart.

A fun set of statistics for you: Among the businesses run by the top 500 CIOs, compared to other businesses there is:

  • double the usage of process modelling and automation technology.
  • 3.75 times greater usage of collaborative workspaces.
  • 9 times greater usage of SOA.

... of course, how you define 'top' CIOs or 'greater usage of SOA' is potentially subject to interpretation!

A key message, which I really buy into is that 'excellence is a moving target'. It's easy to be complacent when you're at the top of your game. What (arguably) separates the likes of Google and Apple from Microsoft is their ability to know what the customer wants, before the customer knows it themselves. Doing this, obviously, requires an ability to innovate at speed and change on a dime.

To me, the only way to achieve this is to keep everything as simple as possible at all times. If your IT is so complicated that your business can't wrap their heads around it, is it any wonder you struggle to keep up with their demands? Sometimes the best investment you can make is one that leaves you with less than you started with, particularly if it makes your IT look more like the business it serves.

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