Lombardi’s Impact on IBM: Simplicity

Scott Francis
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I think everyone is aware of the great impact the Lombardi acquisition had on IBM’s BPM offering and ODM offering.  But interesting news last week- I didn’t realize this news was public, and the only reference I’ve seen to it is Neil Ward-Dutton’s blog (which is excellent)- Phil Gilbert has been promoted to “General Manager, Design” at IBM.  This is great news for users of IBM products and platforms.

As Neil says:

One of the most engaging and passionate executives I’ve come across in the BPM technology space is Phil Gilbert. Phil was President and CTO at Lombardi Software, and since Lombardi was acquired by IBM in 2010 he’s stuck around – most recently as VP of BPM, leading product management.

It’s no secret to many people who’ve watched IBM for some years that the arrival of Lombardi within IBM’s software unit has resulted in some really significant mindset shifts: particularly concerning how tools and platforms need to be built to make them more consumable and engaging; and also concerning how tools and platforms can be effectively sold to businesspeople. IBM has continued to push forward using Lombardi’s skills and energy particularly on the first point, and Gilbert has been a major driving force in that.

Phil was the driving force behind the product at Lombardi, and again at IBM.  You can see his fingerprints on ODM as well as BPM.  It would be a mistake to think he designed every screen or pushed every feature – but he does something more important – pulls really talented and motivated people along in his wake – the people who can implement his vision.

From outside the company, it looks to me as if moving to IBM just let Phil paint on a bigger canvas.  If he can transform and evolve the way IBM approaches software design, he’ll be creating lasting value for IBM and their shareholders and customers for years to come.

And the key to that value is referenced as “Consumability” in Neil’s post, but I usually refer to it as “Simplicity” – simplifying the experience for customers.

IBM’s BPM software looks a zillion times better than most of the rest of its software ever has, and it’s really encouraging to see that the company is giving Gilbert a new role that recognises his contribution and passion– he’s now ‘General Manager, Design’; charged with creating a unified design competency across all of IBM’s business units and functions.

I couldn’t agree more.  Congratulations to Phil, the Lombardi team, and most of all to IBM for figuring out how to get the most leverage out of a very good acquisition and team.