For years I have had to interact with IBM as the “Big Dog” or the “Stodgy Legacy Guys” or the “Mainframe guys” or some such appellation that exists somewhere outside the range of any sense of coolness. The last three years have seen a change in the “grand old dame” of IT and I have to wonder if they suddenly – got game.
If you’re wondering, all of this comes from a dream I had last night when I fell asleep with the David Letterman show blaring on my TV. So, then I start dreaming and wind up doing a Letterman routine about IBM in my dream (apparently, a lot of IBM commercials run during letterman – go figure). For those not interested in Letterman or my dreams, just snip on the doted lines below and jump down to the section called “Now here’s the real part”.
So, in the dream I had delusions of grandeur and decided I was letterman and I would do a “Top 10” list about IBM. I mean, even the real Letterman had done one about the “Top 10 signs you work for IBM“, so I figured I was good to go. Even in the dream, Paul (the venerable sidekick) tried to talk me out of it but I did it anyway. And here is the result. Remember, it was just a dream.
Top Ten Reasons Why IBM couldn’t care less about being “Cool”
10.“Competition? What competition?”
9.“So you bought Java, what do you want me to do about it?”
8.“Would you kvetch about “cool” if YOU owned Hursley Park?”
7.“We ran out of standards committees to lead.”
6.“So what if Gartner coined the term SOA. We turned it into coin.”
5.“When we learned cool vendors don’t always make a lot of revenue, we said, ‘Screw it'”
4.“IBM means business because if you write it backwards, the initials almost spell out MBA!”
3.“Yeah…open source…it’s free…suuuure!”
2.“Talk to us again when we run out of other companies to buy.”
And the number one reason, why IBM couldn’t care less about being cool…
1.“IBM Global Services. Our motto is: ‘Don’t hate the player! Hate the Game!'”
By that time I had to wake up because in the dream several guys in blue pinstriped suits riding Gecko’s while talking on iPhones and screaming “there’s an App for that!” were advancing on me in two by two cover formation. Damned commercials!
So, here’s the real part.
IBM has started to deliver some interesting solutions. Sure, they are a big company with lots of issues but I found myself this week wondering if we should give them more credit than we do for some of the things they get right. Even our competition has done this recently so I don’t feel alone in suggesting that a number of areas warrant something more than just tacit approval.
- Business space is a credible and interesting introduction from a company with all the technological pieces to pull off a business operations platform. Sure, it could be less techie-oriented but when you see it, you might want to keep looking.
- BlueWorks is new but even BPM mavens are starting to take a look with an excited sense of hope for something that actually solves problems they have had to deal with for years. Others got there first (Lombardi, Software AG) but IBM is starting to make some really interesting noises around this “BPM platforms in the Cloud” thing. Check out a take by Bruce Silver from BPMS Watch. http://www.brsilver.com/wordpress/2009/05/06/ibm-takes-bpa-to-the-cloud/
- SOA: IBM made SOA a major marketing theme and it has worked for them. Sure, there are people who question the success of SOA but those people are apparently not actually looking at what is happening out there. SOA has entered the mainstream and IBM has ridden it there.
- LotusLive is just cool. Collaboration, people!
- Smarter Planet is an interesting way to talk about the ecology, business, people, styles of work, and technologies all rolled into one. Usually those kind of big campaigns go nowhere but at least this one starts with real world examples of stuff that the last 40 years of computing has made possible.
- Cloudburst….well….nobody’s perfect. But at least they got in the game. Oracle? SAP? Please say something soon. Please?
Now, I await friends and associates from other major technology companies to comment on this but I want to hear it. Post a comment to tell me whether or not you think IBM got cooler in the last three years or if you think they haven’t changed.
If I get enough responses I just might do a Top 10 list about Microsoft’s Cloud strategy – I think they may have something there.