Musings from IBM Impact Keynote

Scott Francis
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No doubt others will cover the IBM Impact keynote better and more completely than I will.  I’ll just say a few things that really jumped out at me:
  • Wow the music was loud.  And I never figured an IBM conference to be a place to hear Beyonce while waiting for the session to start. Not complaining, just pointing out a dichotomy.
  • The smart planet messaging probably makes sense for an operation as big as IBM – and for the high level customers they pitch to.  But for little guys like us, it just doesn’t resonate; I want results sooner, I can’t wait on the whole planet to get smarter :)
  • The wireless just plain didn’t work.  Oh, I got a signal. I had a security key. But the poor wireless infrastructure was overwhelmed, and as a result, no one could get an IP address or access to the outside world.
  • The opening act – a band – definitely woke me up.  I guess that was the point.  Not a huge fan of blaring music in the morning – but I’m not sure what you do to get the attention of 6000 people at 8:30am Monday morning…
  • The comedian was good.  I know, not everyone appreciated him, and I saw a lot of tweets to the effect that his humor fell flat on folks not from the USA, but honestly, if there is a comedian that everyone thinks is funny, I haven’t met that one yet. He gets bonus points for making fun of snuggies.
  • I wasn’t excited about Cantor’s presentation.  I really get turned off by thought frameworks that start with the idea of putting the word “super” in front of another word… super-phone (Google), super-man (several times in history), super-corp (Cantor).  It was pretty high flying and to me, doesn’t get to the meat of things.  She also cited Second Life, which is so 2007.
  • Kaiser Permanente’s David Yoo gave a great recap of what Kaiser is up to with process improvement and improving the quality of healthcare, and how technology plays into that. A friend and former colleague is at Kaiser working in the process improvement group, he would have been proud of the representation.
  • I was impressed with Paul Nussbaum’s recap of Ford’s improvement efforts.  I hope they don’t let up on the gas when it comes to the focus on quality, process improvement, and product.  He gave a great endorsement of Lombardi Teamworks (now Websphere Lombardi Edition) in his talk as well. This was the first of many good mentions of the Lombardi brand within Impact.
There were some pretty interesting things going on at Impact that were logistical in nature:  RFID tags in every badge, and RFID scanners at the entrance to every session room.  IBM must get some great data about who enters each room and how well sessions were attended.  And clearly IBM knows how to handle an event of scale like this in many ways. But I think Impact would benefit from some outside ideas, and to prioritize things like making sure wifi works.  People don’t get the word out about your sessions and events if they can’t get online! (Conflict of interest disclaimer: My wife owns and operates an event management company, Red Velvet Events and I shamelessly plug the firm because they win international awards and they really get high-tech conferences – recently they ran Bazaarvoice’s Social Commerce Summit, for example). More to come about specific sessions…