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Live from IMPACT 2009 – Keynotes


Well here we are at another IMPACT. The event has 5,000+ attendees. Keynotes begin with some humor from Billy Crystal. Steve Mills got the serious section kicked of by reminding us that technology is so pervasive it is easy to forget what we rely on it for. Billions of transistors, billions of people connected to the internet, petabytes of data generated every day and soon billions of RFID tags and other focus of instrumentation. Smarter planet starts with an instrumented world then interconnects and finally adds intelligence. Imperative to do this:

  • 70cents per $1 spent on maintenance
  • 45% of traffic in NY is circling looking for parking
  • $40B is lost through supply chain inefficiency

and so on. And all of this requires a service-oriented approach and analytics/optimization to maximize the value of resources (nice to see analytics get an early mention). Steve gave some examples including a power company using monitoring devices and analytics to improve efficiency; a freight company with faster/easier systems development and integration; a refinery using RFID to track everything (parts, equipment, people) to ensure up time and safety. All of these companies building a smarter planet by working smarter and building smarter systems.

A speaker from Singapore came next. Singapore is a country and a city that has been making great strides in smarter systems. Nearly 5M people in an island just 3.5x the size of Washington DC. It has gone from a third world country to a modern one in one lifetime. Space is a critical resource in Singapore and the road network had reached a critical limit. Instead of trying to build tunnels or other expensive infrastructure, they have focused on smarter transportation systems to reduce congestion and improve throughput. In particular dynamic and optimized pricing to incent behavior. Singapore, interestingly, is a major ILOG customer and takes full advantage of their business rules, optimization and visualization technology.

Sandy Carter brought out some key themes

  • Instrumented customers using RFID and other monitoring technologies
  • Interconnected not just across processes but across organizations
  • Intelligent or smarter

The use of Key Agility Indicators, introduced last year, came up again as IBM has been enhancing them. KAIs are designed to measure how fast you can adapt to change.IBM has defined 300 across 11 industries and many have been updated as the climate changes – adding a new vendor, for instance, has gone from weeks to days as a target. Improving work takes from siloed to connected, from historic/reactive (cue predictive analytics) and from isolated to people centric. Sandy outlined three areas with new announcements. The first was dynamic processes had some themes that struck me particularly:

  • Act on real-time insight (predictive analytics to the fore)
  • Empower business users (business rules to the fore)
  • Adapt to change dynamically (decision management and adaptive control)

Key announcement here was that new industry frameworks have been released. She also announced BlueWorks or BPM modeling in the cloud. Hopefully I will find out later if business rules are included. She touched on collaboration – some nice announcements around Social media and collaboration tools and SmartSOA. SmartSOA is a dynamic scalable foundation supporting faster service delivery. One of the key elements of SOA is education and IBM found that it is serious game Innov8 has been very effective at teaching it. They are adding some new scenarios and making it available over the web. I am hoping that some support for rules and optimization will appear in these new Innov8 scenarios.

Russell Irwin of Standard Life was on stage talking about their experience. Emphasizing that they have really been using it and have got great results. After 10 years working on it they have lots of examples or real solutions. Reuse of services for consistency in customer experience, improved agility and speed to market. They have hard numbers showing a $40M value for SOA. They have 227 service consuming applications and 569 services in the catalog – all of which have to mean something to the business – and somewhere around 1,500 instances of reuse.

Russell pointed out that executive support is critical and that executives today are focused on risk and cash in today’s environment. SOA has much to offer in both cases, as does decision management of course, so emphasize these areas. He suggested measuring, measuring and measuring and turning the results you find into monetary value – reuse of a service saves the cost of developing one, for instance. Governance is also important as is starting small and focused.

Tom Rosamilia introduced the IBM BPM stack with a demonstration to show how it supports smart work. The demo starts off with some alerts, generated from correlated events using WS Business Events. In his demo, one of these was a warning (handled ok with the exception processing) and one was more serious. Tom showed how you could immediately add a new exception rule using a  rule template and then re-run the process, applying the new rule, to execute without an alert.

Tom had some announcements. He announced that IBM is building feature packs targeted at specific business roles. These add a bunch of widgets and build on the business spaces functionality. Tom also announced to the audience that WebSphere now includes ILOG and, in particular, its business rules management system which has huge potential for improving processes built on WebSphere. Tom’s group has also added Z support for Business Events (nice to see IBM bringing CICS and mainframes into the event side of WebSphere). Lots of announcements from Tom on the use of the Amazon EC2 compute cloud for WebSphere sMash, Portal and Mashup Center. Many many product improvements aimed at cloud and scalability. He wrapped with his big moment – the WebSphere Cloudburst appliance for private clouds. IBM has several other appliances and this builds on their experience with those.

Press announcements at http://www.ibm.com/press/impact2009 (though this was not working at the time of writing.

I should point out that Billy Crystal kept the whole thing moving and was very funny, especially when he reinacted a movie seen with 3 IBM execs on sound effects!


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