With about 8,000 others from 79 countries, I recently attended IBM Pulse in Las Vegas, where IBM focused on four common themes – mobility, cloud, security, and smarter physical infrastructure. Pulse historically is IBM's Tivoli conference, though IBM seemed to be making a concerted effort to deemphasize the branding and emphasize capabilities and how IBM serves businesses that "need technology to manage technology" and, in IBM's words, optimizes the world's infrastructure.
I liked IBM's Steve Mills' advice to attendees at IBM Pulse: Start managing IT based on the realities of your business; you are not an IT company. Coupled with IBM's Scott Hebner's comment that IT leaders need to be business leaders and drive business transformation, the two statements emphasize the fact that IT must deliver business value with the expectation that IBM and its technology is going to help them do that. Along those lines, IBM wants to show how combinations of its offerings (such as hardware optimized for software and vice versa and complementary services) bring more value, more quickly.
Below, I've highlighted some of my conference notes on mobility, smarter physical infrastructure, and Maximo. More details can be found in an upcoming document for clients.
IBM reiterated its interest in supporting enterprises' full range of mobility requirements from the more technical components - building mobile apps and connecting, managing, and securing mobile apps and devices, to a more business-oriented perspective - extending existing business capabilities and driving new business opportunities. Part of the conversation included the recently acquired Worklight described generously as an open, complete and advanced mobile application platform for HTML5, hybrid, and native apps, and how IBM can now offer "complete end-to-end solution". While we'd argue that IBM isn't supplying a solution (nor is any other vendor), we can see that IBM offers many of the critical components necessary for a solution.
Questions from the audience raised the connected/disconnected dilemma, which IBM categorized in two ways - the tunnel challenge, with short, possibly anticipated disconnections, or the airplane challenge with long term disconnections. Think about the fact that a long disconnection requires a decision about how to process email attachments that could potentially fill a mobile device's memory. The question draws attention to the fact that how employees work may dictate how mobility investments are configured and managed by IT. Some of the other mobility references included additions to IBM's growing contributions to the mobile app store, in social business and collaboration, commerce, and business intelligence, and analytics over the last year. Another update of note is the IBM Endpoint Manager for Mobile Devices V8.2, which is built on BigFix technology acquired in July 2010 to extend visibility, control and automation to mobile devices.
Smarter Physical Infrastructure
In the Smarter Physical Infrastructure keynote, IDC Energy Insight's Rick Nicholson presented some megatrends in this area, and I'm sure he'll elaborate on this topic more related to Smart Grid, Smart Buildings, energy management, and more. Essentially one of the key points of this IBM initiative is expanding IT's reach into areas where data could be analyzed to drive efficiency and productivity improvements, such as taking traditional building systems and enterprise asset management (EAM) tools and connecting them with IT tools, not to mention improving the data collection process as well.
Ken Bodine from Michelin also spoke during the keynote, about Maximo's role in supporting the maintenance side of the 'Michelin manufacturing way'. Bodine is Michelin's Maximo project lead as the company adopts a global EAM approach to 70 manufacturing facilities. This includes lean manufacturing across all facilities and driving standard operations for safety, quality, and maintenance. One of the expectations is for increased collaboration and knowledge transfer among plants. Part of this project also includes integrating EAM with ERP and adding WiFi into the plant. Bodine's targets from the project included improving factory efficiency by 10%, reducing maintenance costs by 20%, and improving energy performance by 10%.
From a strategic perspective, we also note that a stronger connection between IT, enterprise asset management, and facilities management is an opportunity to create environmental sustainability and business benefits, including energy reduction.
More on Maximo
In a Universal Studios example, IBM highlighted some of the plans for Maximo's Mobile Suite, including the fact that support for Android should be added this year (in addition to the existing support for iOS) and Windows 8 to be added in 2013. While Universal Studios is obviously not a manufacturer, the company does have its challenges related to maintaining its park in Orlando; I wouldn't mind seeing the process in action as long as I don't have to get on a roller coaster. Universal uses a number of Maximo products - Maximo Mobile Work Manager, Mobile Inventory Manager, Maximo Everyplace, and Maximo Scheduler and Assignment Manager. Some of the results were cost savings in inventory , the speed of repair, a decrease in rogue spending on parts, increased visibility into the demand of parts, and to some extent, more proactive maintenance, though the company admitted it's a slow transition from reactive to proactive. Universal is not using mobile smartphones for the process at this time, primarily because of the work environment.
While the IBM conference deliberately segmented the key conference topics - mobility, cloud, security, and smarter physical infrastructure, it was virtually impossible to separate the content. It's clear that the combination of new technology is where manufacturers will find the most value, such as combining cloud and mobility, or mobility with smarter physical infrastructure, and security overlying all of the new technology. If IBM truly works to demonstrate capabilities before promoting product line brands, we think manufacturers will find it easier to understand how IBM can support not just specific technology challenges but how IBM can help them address business requirements.
Let me know how you're making progress with mobility or smarter physical infrastructure.