Innovation again. IBM goodness.

IBM continues to impress me. Via twitter and Dennis I came across Roo Reynolds’ presentation , and it is well worth a look.


This presentation cleverly brings together the SOA stuff and enterprise 2.0. For the HR folks check out slides 13-18 and ask yourself how can this impact organisation design, skills management, career planning and so on? Employees are deploying powerful tools to self-manage and self-organise. The opportunity for HR to use these tools is there too, but HR’s absence from the picture is all too typical. Perhaps it is time to work on an HR 2010 presentation….(the workshop this week in Stockholm may help)

Also via Twitter, I noticed that Elsua will be at the same gig. I’ve never met either of these gents, but I read them regularly. Some day we may meet in the real world. Next time I’m in Barcelona I’ll be looking Elsua up.

The tools though, are not just about connecting, they are about fostering new ways of innovating. A recent paper by IDEO gurus Rodriguez and Solomon explores “the singular insight of many minds

Until this decade, the ability to use technology to enable networked innovation was very limited. The primary technologies used to facilitate group innovation were paper and, more recently, the whiteboard and dry erase marker. Certainly telephones and faxes helped link people, but the utility of a live call diminishes quite rapidly as the number of participants grow. However, a great deal has happened
in the past decade that is revolutionizing collaborative innovation. New communication and collaboration platforms, media, and tools now allow many-to-many collaboration at a scale and cost that could never have been achieved in the past. The Internet, an overnight success three decades in the making, along with its younger cousin the Web, really does change everything. For the first time, we now have tools that enable the free exchange of information across many individuals with remarkably low friction. As a thought experiment,imagine a single person or nonnetworked organization answering hundreds of inquiries per day in a productive and effective fashion. In the industrial-world paradigm, this would require dozens, even thousands, of customer support representatives. It would probably feel a lot
like calling an airline. And yet a technology-enabled organization like Google responds to over 200 million search queries per day with sub-second response time: new technologies can change our sense of what can be done at scale.

Looking from the outside, it seems that IBM is rapidly embracing these new ways of working. This links in rather nicely to what Andy Grove had to say recently.

Forget about startups, says Intel’s co-founder. It’s large companies that generate real change. Apple upended the music industry. Wal-Mart may reinvent health care. Now if only G.E. would build an electric car

Those that constantly moan about inability of big companies to innovate miss the point. Yes, guys in a garage is the romantic image of innovation, but lots of it happens in big organisations too. IBM continues to reinvent itself, and as collective innovation processes and technology become more mainstream and sophisticated, this will help the larger organisations exploit their massive human and financial capital more effectively.

Technorati tags: , ,


9 thoughts on “Innovation again. IBM goodness.”

  1. Hi Tom. I’m interested in how this stuff fits in with HR too.. it’s just not an area I in which I have much experience. Enabling employees to innovate, as well as communicate, is a huge part of this though, and hopefully has a positive impact on corporate culture.

    Do give me a shout if you’re ever near Hursley by the way.

  2. Hi Thomas! Great post! I would be really looking forward for that time when we can meet up face to face. I have been following your blog for some time now and we share plenty of different topics, including that one of innovation.

    As I have been through your blog post I just couldn’t help remember the blog posts I created just recently w.r.t. to the topic of how the IT and HR departments should start hanging the ways they help encourage communication and collaboration by focusing on social computing and how if they don’t adapt good enough the struggle they would be placing on to the business itself. You could probably have a listen into the recent podcast I referenced as well from Jon Husband and Dave Snowden on the impact of Web 2.0 on Knowledge Management, which taps quite a bit into the roles of IT and HR.


  3. Yes, it is goodness…but how about a bit of balance.?

    IBM introduced On-Demand as a marketing concept in 2001, but did not do much with that “SaaS” concept. It has taken start ups like IBM has owned Lotus Notes for over a decade now. But it has taken SocialText and Facebook and others to popularize wikis and social networks. IBM’s SOA (and for that matter Oracle’s middleware) suite is made up of many acquired products, not developed in its labs.

    In my blog I am also generous to Intel, Walmart, Apple like Andy is…but in each case they either “ate their own children” or reshaped an industry like Apple did with music…I would love to see IBM, SAP, ATT and other large vendors do the same. But for the most part they are defensive…innovating marketing but not delivering “change your market” stuff.

  4. Hey Thomas. I like the new skin you’re in. Sorry if I haven’t dropped by in a while. I blogged about IBM innovation earlier this year with the same basic theme But, what impressed me about you writing about IBM is that you work for SAP. In the 90s, a former IBMer who was dearly loved coined the word “coopetition.” His name was Sam Albert. At his passing, many came to call on the web with their fond words for him In this 2.0 era, I suggest we have a new word: collaboratition. I don’t hesitate to reach out to friends on Facebook for info that would otherwise be deemed competitive advantage, and they don’t seem to mind… And we give away IP on our blogs and on Twitter every day. And here you are celebrating IBM innovation.

    May we continue to live in interesting times.

  5. Hi Thomas,
    For my part, the slide I prefer is the #8. It explains very simply what Web 2.0 is. To continue on your comments on where is HR in this picture.

    1. Software as a Service

    I don’t think there is another vertical that has adopted the SaaS model more than HR. From ADP early on to all providers of Talent Management applications (I am not even sure there is still a Talent Management product that is not SaaS), this industry has a long experience of delivering service and not software. So, this is an area where HR is leading the way.

    2. Simple user interface and data services.

    We’re getting there. If you look at Taleo’s performance management module, it is all AJAX, very responsive, very simple. I know other TMS vendors who are in the process of re-architecting their application and are looking at all the technologies (AJAX, RSS, REST, …) Roo referred to in his presention for the UI layer.

    3. Community mechanisms

    This is where we have a long way to go. I say long, because the issue is not so much the new mechanisms (social networks, tagging, recommendations, ….) that are now available, but rather the HR approach that is very workflow-, command-and-control-, and standardization-oriented. It will take a while before HR focuses more on building a culture of collaboration and communities than on building standard workflow-based processes.

    When HR will be ready, so will the tools. In the meantime, the tools will support what the market is ready to buy.

  6. Hi Thomas! I am sure that you may have listened to the pitch Roo recorded from the session, but just in case you may not have, go ahead and have a look. You will enjoy it! 😉 Oh and you are on for that 2.0 meetup with HR! Should be way too much fun!

    And w.r.t. to Vinnie’s comments, he brings in a good point and perhaps lots of good food for thought in there, but one thing for sure is that the IBM of today is not your father’s IBM of say, 10 to 15 years ago, and if not time will tell 😉 Would love to chime in some more, but guess Roo’s presentation, listening to the pitch, does a lovely intro of where things may be heading. Lots of work to get done and lots of exciting times ahead, but Vinnie brings in a good point to take into consideration.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: