#IBMImpact: Rod Favaron: Introducing Lombardi Day

Scott Francis
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I hustled from the main session to find some coffee and get down to the Lombardi Day sessions at Impact.  First process breakdown: Coffee ran out in about 5 minutes on the main floor.  Rescued by coffee down on the first floor, but, unfortunately, it wasn’t good coffee.  Not to worry, I ran the gauntlet of Lombardi employees down the hallway to the Lombardi session.  It was good to see old colleagues from Lombardi, people I haven’t seen, in some cases, in a year or more. I got into the room, and immediately saw a problem.  This room was going to be too small. Literally every chair was full, and standing room only in the back of the room for Rod Favaron’s opening remarks.  Clearly, a room twice as big was needed for comfort (and to my untrained eye, it appeared that the salon next to ours could have been combined to provide some breathing room… ).  The room was hot and stuffy, but there were a lot people interested in hearing what Rod and company had to say.  I think IBM missed an opportunity to make this Lombardi Day event more accessible to people who aren’t familiar with Blueprint and “Websphere Lombardi Edition” – but there wasn’t room in the room… Alan Godfrey, in holding with tradition, was emcee – introducing speakers throughout the day.  He gave a brief introduction and handed the mic to Rod Favaron.  Rod gave the opening talk for the Lombardi portion of Impact.  He described it as integrating “Driven” (The old Lombardi conference) into Impact, to try to get the best of both worlds.  Rod has talked to customer gatherings (and partner gatherings) many times over the last decade, and he was clearly at ease in front of the friendly crowd. He also knows just which points to hit. First, he thanked the customers for investing in Lombardi “when we were small” – and said that he and the executive team really felt a responsibility of stewardship to customers, investors, and employees, to sell Lombardi to a company that could really leverage what had been done to that point.  He felt that IBM represented the best opportunity for Lombardi to scale what it had already been doing. The Lombardi org has come en masse to IBM.  IBM and Lombardi are trying to keep the transition activities transparent to customers and prospects.  It isn’t transparent to partners, but I can attest that IBM and Lombardi folks are working hard to keep partners in the fold and to make the transition relatively painless (other than the quantity of documentation and contractual language we have to read!). Rod emphasized investments in Lombardi activities: more R&D, support, services.  There is a plan to create a Lombardi-specific practice within GBS as well.  Someone in the audience asked “What do you do now that you’ve been bought?” Rod described IBM as a machine that has a lot of gears in motion, and he’s trying to integrate Lombardi into this spinning machinery without getting fingers cut off.  I was picturing double dutch jump rope as an analogy.  You have to watch for the rhythm before you jump in with both feet, but when you jump in, everything is moving at full speed right from the start. The focus is also on enabling 800-1000 sales people at IBM and IBM partners.  That’s a huge increase in sales reach.  Going from 15 sales reps to 900 is quite a change in 90 days. Rod pointed out that they’re investing more – core innovation R&D investment is Websphere Lombardi Edition, and they are applying more resources to this than they were previously planning. However, they now have the flexibility to assign additional resources to product integration, Websphere integration, localization, that don’t detract the core Lombardi team’s attention to the BPM problem space. There was also a comment about Blueprint becoming, over time, the center of an emerging cloud strategy for BPM – which is good, because it should be! Finally, Rod encouraged the group in the room to be patient because it will be a journey – just 90 days in, and a lot of work yet to do.