IBM Connect 2013 Notes: Monday Morning Press Q&A

This is another in a series of my notes on IBM Connect 2013. I am very pleased to be back again after the last two years thanks to IBM’s support. Here is a summary of my notes for 2012 and 2011. These notes are real time so please forgive any typos.

These notes cover the Monday morning press Q&A with Mike Rhodin, IBM Senior Vice President, Software Solutions Group; Alistair Rennie, IBM General Manager, Social Business; Craig Hayman, General Manager Industry Solutions, and Rudy Karsen, CEO, Kenexa – an IBM company.

Mike began by talking about big data. Traditional data processing had a set order. Now we need to be more flexible and adaptive based on what we learn from analytics looking at big data. This capability has to be woven into everything that is done in the workplace. Supporting employee engagement is key as it leads to better customer experiences and increased revenue. Computers need to be taught rather than programmed so they can continue to learn, like Watson.

Alistair continued with more social business opportunities. IBM found that 82% of CMOs plan to increase spending on social media. IDC has ranked IBM as number 1 in the social business market for the past three years. They now have an employee experience suite to go along with their customer experience suite. The next release of Connections will have greater integration with enterprise content, as well as content outside the enterprise at sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Rudy and Craig joined the group as it was open to questions:

The first one was on roles within IBM.

Senior VP ranks above General Manager.  Mike has four General managers reporting to him including Alistair and Craig.

It was next asked about learning, OutStart, and Kenexa which also led to their acquisition strategy.  

I like that a Boston based firm worked with OutStart on their blog before the Kenexa acquisition. IBM sees great capability here to integrate into their efforts. They had already started work in this area even before the acquisition. Connections will connect with the Kenexa 2x platform.

Rudy explained how their survey capability can be used for talent management. First they survey to find key managers. Then they use these characteristics to develop an assessment model for all potential managers. He      said the survey business is evolving.  On one hand it is getting less complex and on the other big data makes things complicated.

Mike said that social and analytics are interconnected. This is part of the excitement of the Kenexa acquisition. Mike said there will be more acquisitions in his Solutions Group. They are looking a lot at front office digitalization. Here are more of Mike’s ideas on acquisitions and convergence.

Craig gave an example of how the capabilities of different firms they are acquired are interwoven. Mike said they are looking to provide a single integrated solution. Customers often have to go to many different vendors to solve their business problems. IBM wants to provide total solutions. They also want these solutions to be flexible and draw on many options, including those from other vendors or open source.

It was asked about how stricter privacy laws in Europe affect the analytics.

Rudy said they use different capabilities to adapt to country laws. They also centralize the data to keep individual data private. Craig said that all of their acquisitions are in the leadership quadrants in their space. Mike said they have been very careful in their acquisitions. They do not want to give up best of breed to have integrations.

It was asked about the competitive landscape in the social space.

There are start-ups such as Jive, Yammer, Box that have gained mind-share. Mike said many of these companies offer a “freemium” model to gain market share. IBM has ranked number one in revenue for the past several years. Many of these tools are standalone tools. IBM is building an integrated platform and they are unique in this goal. Craig added that many IBM partners are building Connections integrations.   AppFusions is one of these with integrations with Atlassin JIRA with Connections and SameTime.

It was asked about the fit of IBM products and Connections for smaller organizations.

Craig gave an example, the marketing center that was shown this morning. The marketing center runs in the cloud. There is no software and hardware to install. This makes it easier for small businesses. IBM is making money in this business. Mike said this is the key metric of success.

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