IBM Executive Steve Mills Outlines Value of Software for Smarter Planet
October 28, 2009

The head of IBM Software, Steve Mills the senior vice president and group executive outlined at the annual IBM Information on Demand conference the state of the business environment and citizenship reality that are faced upon everyone from the impact of globalization and sustainability. The IBM focus on the theme of ‘smarter planet’ brings to practical reality the legacy and also stupidity of how our planet has evolved and operates with inefficiency that is now part of our daily lives. This discussion brings to life what now is the responsibility of our business and government leaders to not debate but create concrete solutions for smarter continuity of how we live every day. There is no doubt as Steve outlined the changes in the world that have resulted in becoming more instrumented and interconnected that we definitely need better intelligence for how we operate. The digital revolution has created what I call information anarchy or IBM nicely says the information explosion. In either path this needs to be addressed with information technology that should be a heck of a lot smarter for all of us.

Steve introduced a range of very specific activities that innovative companies have taken to use technology and of course from IBM to build smarter organizations. IBM presented what is possible with ‘Smarter Manufacturing’ and work at AirBus using RFID and SOA to advance the information flow across the manufacturing process. IBM efforts to build ‘Smarter Cities’ where Alameda County, CA helped instrumented a more streamlined effort in human services to administer programs and funding. ‘Smarter Public Safety’ at New York Police Department for crime data systems to understand criminals and action required to respond and act upon it. ‘Smarter Education’ with Hamilton Country using predictive analytics for improving education potential across schools and yes ‘Smarter Energy’ with DONG where remote monitoring and control devices are essential in energy processing in northern Europe. The examples were tirelessly presented across industries and were clearly intended to help energize other companies in the same industry and others to see what is possible if you think outside of the conventional wisdom of what most are doing in business and IT today.

At the press and analyst conference, I got a more personal perspective from the IBM leader of the $24 billion software company who has the natural ease to discuss the widest range of business and technology unlike any other technology executive in the industry. Steve has been working and delivered one of the largest software portfolio expansions and investments in the industry focused on a mission of transforming how organizations operate using information and computing power. I have been to every IBM Information on Demand conference where initially it was mostly IBM DB2 and related tools but now has blossomed into a diverse but interconnected portfolio ranging from information management technologies, content management, business process management, analytics, business intelligence and performance management that now is really about IBM sales and services executing and marketing to simplify how it is communicated.

While many of would like to have seen some rebuttal from Steve or dispute to jabs by Oracle in recent weeks, this is not their style. IBM is focused on their mission, and I would personally say if they are actually not the cheapest and fastest in specific technology segments, they are focused on the customer and their solutions to meet their needs. There is nothing wrong with being maniacally focused on the customer and if IBM is bringing a ‘Smarter Planet’ approach, well it will be up to CEO, CFO, CIO and other technology buyers to determine who and where they make those investments. IBM has clearly been doing quite well in a challenging global environment and investing to bring new software innovations for everyone to examine and determine where they can help their technology advancements. My analysis so far is that IBM continues to evolve and expand their software investments into the information agenda (See: “IBM Doubles Down Again on Information Agenda at Annual Conference”) which is no easy feat when operating as one of the biggest companies on the planet.

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Mark Smith - CEO & EVP Research


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