Vegas in Blue (& Green)

I’ve just returned from the IBM Tivoli Pulse conference in Las Vegas – a meeting of over 4000 customers, partners, and IBM employees. IBM made lots of announcements this year, many of which are stretching the envelope of what we can or should expect of IBM as well as what we should expect of ourselves as network and application management professionals. There was a lot to digest, but three of the major themes caught my attention, and my imagination. First, IBM put a huge push behind their Dynamic Infrastructure initiative. Sounds like so many other automation and autonomic initiatives of the past, right? Well, things are getting better, and “dynamic” is becoming more of a realistic possibility, especially with the emergence of cloud computing and cloud services models. They announced a new product call Tivoli Service Automation Manager, with the objective of automating resource request/provision/monitor/report steps within IT – and pushing the model towards customer self-service. It doesn’t cover all of the potentially involved domains yet (there isn’t any automated provisioning available for the network, for instance) but it’s a step in the right direction. Second, a lot of time was spent on IBM’s Service Management Industry Solutions. When I first heard of this, my thought was that IBM was creating solutions for the Service Management industry (i.e. food services, janitorial services, hospitality services). But this is much larger than that – much, much larger. IBM is taking their unique ability to pair business (non-IT) expertise with IT consulting, planning, and technology delivery, and constructing (careful – here comes the “f” word) frameworks for several vertical industry segments. The new frameworks can be used to modernize, streamline, and transform not just IT but also non-IT business process and function. And much of this will be done by applying the Tivoli group’s products and technology directly to non-IT domains. IBM is perhaps the only organization in the world that can take this on fully and hope to deliver a meaningful result. But beyond that, this represents a huge opportunity for IT professionals to become the transformation agents within their own organizations, contributing at a whole new level. Lastly, I was really impressed by IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative. The primary thought here was that the key to a greener planet is to take inefficiencies out of just about every form of business through the intelligent application and deployment of technology. At first I was thinking this was just another marketing initiative, but in the course of this event, listening to the keynotes and talking to a number of IBM execs, it became apparent that this is a substantial cultural shift within IBM itself. Just think about that for a moment – when 400,000 employees all change their direction and focus, their sheer mass is going to make a noticeable difference. Oh, and one other thing – a last minute cancellation by keynote speaker Michael Phelps (for somewhat obvious public relations and image reasons) created an opening that IBM upgraded by getting Magic Johnson to speak. Magic gave an excellent talk, and reminded the audience that you should do two things no matter what your job or role. First, service starts with knowing your customers – not just who they are, but what they do and what is important to them. And second – always over-deliver. Go that extra step. Exceed expectations. The boost in loyalty, goodwill, and improved customer relationships will be well worth the effort. Good thoughts to keep with us….

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