Talking to one of IBM’s top strategists

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The world’s biggest technology company. No, it’s not Microsoft. It’s still IBM.

And my first IBM interview starts with Drew Clark, co-founder of IBM Venture Capital and one of IBM’s top strategists.

We spend an hour together talking about a range of things. Not just IBM stuff either. It’s Drew Clark unedited.

I have the best job in the world. I get to have conversations with interesting people like Drew and I get paid for it.

Thank you to Seagate for sponsoring my show, which enables me to do stuff like this (congrats on reporting good financial results, too).

I’ll bet a lot of people at Microsoft watch this video…

Oh, this guy is damn smart. We talk about everything from Eclipse to Nuclear Power and a bunch of things in between.

77 thoughts on “Talking to one of IBM’s top strategists

  1. Heheh. I’ll bet with you on that, but one thing, the loser donates the winnings to the winner’s choice of major charities. Something like Breast Cancer Research (my choice).

  2. Heheh. I’ll bet with you on that, but one thing, the loser donates the winnings to the winner’s choice of major charities. Something like Breast Cancer Research (my choice).

  3. Robert, I can see we’re only going to be able to settle this with a bet. So, I’ll bet you lunch that no company will use Twitter for “reporting on real-time retail sales transactions” before July 22, 2009.

    I just put a note in my PDA – hopefully this thread will still be in the archive by then :)

  4. Robert, I can see we’re only going to be able to settle this with a bet. So, I’ll bet you lunch that no company will use Twitter for “reporting on real-time retail sales transactions” before July 22, 2009.

    I just put a note in my PDA – hopefully this thread will still be in the archive by then :)

  5. @35 So you are saying in two years Twitter will be completely secure,and scalable, and companies will feel safe about SOX compliance with its use? So this is on Twitter’s roadmap? Are they planning a version that can be run inside a corporate firewall? Are they planning a version that can interoperate with any directory? Hell, they care barely scale to satisfy their current user base.

  6. @35 So you are saying in two years Twitter will be completely secure,and scalable, and companies will feel safe about SOX compliance with its use? So this is on Twitter’s roadmap? Are they planning a version that can be run inside a corporate firewall? Are they planning a version that can interoperate with any directory? Hell, they care barely scale to satisfy their current user base.

  7. >I’d actually love to be proven wrong – care to list companies using Twitter for their private info?

    Again you’re missing the point. It’s too early to note its “official” use by corporates.

    But, then, back in 1977 we’d be having the same argument about Apple IIs, wouldn’t we?

    And you would have missed the forest for the tree.

    Twitter will be used by corporates. In about two years.

  8. @23 “A combined Web/RSS/SMS stream that’s already built for you. Plus one that has a robust identity system and a good API and an ecosystem of apps and search engines built on top of it.”

    And you sound like a nerd simply infatuated with bright shiny objects without any clue how they could be put to any real business use or what the risks of doing so are. Clearly you’ve never worked in any sort of enterprise environment (no, MS doesn’t count.) and lack the understanding of the risks IT orgs have to consider. (and, no, 30 minute interviews with random CIO’s wanting to sell their product doesn’t qualify you either)

    Brian is asking the exact questions every IT manager asks when considering a new technology. You, on the other hand think that because every nerd in SV uses some technology, it must be good for everyone.

  9. >I’d actually love to be proven wrong – care to list companies using Twitter for their private info?

    Again you’re missing the point. It’s too early to note its “official” use by corporates.

    But, then, back in 1977 we’d be having the same argument about Apple IIs, wouldn’t we?

    And you would have missed the forest for the tree.

    Twitter will be used by corporates. In about two years.

  10. @23 “A combined Web/RSS/SMS stream that’s already built for you. Plus one that has a robust identity system and a good API and an ecosystem of apps and search engines built on top of it.”

    And you sound like a nerd simply infatuated with bright shiny objects without any clue how they could be put to any real business use or what the risks of doing so are. Clearly you’ve never worked in any sort of enterprise environment (no, MS doesn’t count.) and lack the understanding of the risks IT orgs have to consider. (and, no, 30 minute interviews with random CIO’s wanting to sell their product doesn’t qualify you either)

    Brian is asking the exact questions every IT manager asks when considering a new technology. You, on the other hand think that because every nerd in SV uses some technology, it must be good for everyone.

  11. >> What does Twitter add here that didn’t already
    >> exist?

    > A combined Web/RSS/SMS stream that’s already
    > built for you. Plus one that has a robust identity
    > system and a good API and an ecosystem of apps and
    > search engines built on top of it.

    I was referring specifically to a scenario involving a company publishing private internal information. Simply providing an RSS stream is sufficient – you can get web and sms from that easily. The apps and search engines would provide little value for the “retail publishing sales info” scenario. I think you just gave me a knee-jerk pitch for Twitter in general. Robust identity??? I don’t think so.

    The API may be decent, but I doubt companies will trust their sensitive private info to the Twitter network. I also don’t think they’ll want to be a the mercy of Twitter’s downtime, system update outtages and delays in getting messages.

    I’d actually love to be proven wrong – care to list companies using Twitter for their private info?

    > You sound like a Microsoft engineer: “I could
    > build me one of those in a week.” Sigh.

    Ouch – that’s *really* hitting below the belt with the Microsoft engineer crack! You’re missing the point, it’s not, “I could build it in a week”, it’s “I could assemble the pieces in half a day – they already exist.

  12. >> What does Twitter add here that didn’t already
    >> exist?

    > A combined Web/RSS/SMS stream that’s already
    > built for you. Plus one that has a robust identity
    > system and a good API and an ecosystem of apps and
    > search engines built on top of it.

    I was referring specifically to a scenario involving a company publishing private internal information. Simply providing an RSS stream is sufficient – you can get web and sms from that easily. The apps and search engines would provide little value for the “retail publishing sales info” scenario. I think you just gave me a knee-jerk pitch for Twitter in general. Robust identity??? I don’t think so.

    The API may be decent, but I doubt companies will trust their sensitive private info to the Twitter network. I also don’t think they’ll want to be a the mercy of Twitter’s downtime, system update outtages and delays in getting messages.

    I’d actually love to be proven wrong – care to list companies using Twitter for their private info?

    > You sound like a Microsoft engineer: “I could
    > build me one of those in a week.” Sigh.

    Ouch – that’s *really* hitting below the belt with the Microsoft engineer crack! You’re missing the point, it’s not, “I could build it in a week”, it’s “I could assemble the pieces in half a day – they already exist.

  13. IBM must be doing something right over the last few quarters, check out the stock price. Cell technologies, patent donations, open source community participation, as well as running the IT backbone of most fortune 500 companies, state and federal governments create lots of revenue opportunity. It would be nice to see IBM support free unlimited online storage, a open search platform and free domestic wifi initiatives.

  14. IBM must be doing something right over the last few quarters, check out the stock price. Cell technologies, patent donations, open source community participation, as well as running the IT backbone of most fortune 500 companies, state and federal governments create lots of revenue opportunity. It would be nice to see IBM support free unlimited online storage, a open search platform and free domestic wifi initiatives.

  15. Hey I didn’t say they did GOOD work, just a lot of it.

    The blame should be shared by most companies in the consulting business. A lot of “Gee whiz” applications ideas turn into death-march projects and companies like IBM are called in only after in-house resources have exhausted themselves. But the REAL blame often lies with the customer for not adequately spec-ing the project to begin with.

    I rather doubt IBM is as good at this game as they once were, but then I’m not sure most of the other companies in the business are either. The industry threw out detailed project planning a long time ago in favor of JAD/RAD techniques and now we are living with the results.

    A consultants approach is very simple: “I’ll bid on this project on a fixed price basis if you let me do the whole think MY WAY, or I’ll do it using your methodologies on an hourly basis. Guess which route most customers take?”

    Preaching to a potential customer that their basic assumptions are wrong is a thankless job, and it doesn’t pay very well.

  16. Hey I didn’t say they did GOOD work, just a lot of it.

    The blame should be shared by most companies in the consulting business. A lot of “Gee whiz” applications ideas turn into death-march projects and companies like IBM are called in only after in-house resources have exhausted themselves. But the REAL blame often lies with the customer for not adequately spec-ing the project to begin with.

    I rather doubt IBM is as good at this game as they once were, but then I’m not sure most of the other companies in the business are either. The industry threw out detailed project planning a long time ago in favor of JAD/RAD techniques and now we are living with the results.

    A consultants approach is very simple: “I’ll bid on this project on a fixed price basis if you let me do the whole think MY WAY, or I’ll do it using your methodologies on an hourly basis. Guess which route most customers take?”

    Preaching to a potential customer that their basic assumptions are wrong is a thankless job, and it doesn’t pay very well.

  17. I’ve worked with IBM consultants before. I’ll leave it at that. I’m sure anyobody else who has done the same will have a sour smirk on their face as well.

  18. I’ve worked with IBM consultants before. I’ll leave it at that. I’m sure anyobody else who has done the same will have a sour smirk on their face as well.

  19. So many errors, so little time (the commenters I mean, this time at least).

    It’s hardly hype to compare Microsoft and IBM, definitely more correct to say “technology company” than “software company”, although if you are measuring the amount of work done at IBM pertaining to software (whether it is profitable or not) I don’t think it outrageous at all to consider IBM as the larger of the two. (Consider all the consultants out there who are writing user-specific software for their clients.)

    Software has never been a PRIMARY aspect of IBM’s business model, a distinction Gates wanted to make when he named his company. As Microsoft goes into making mice, video game consoles, providing web services and the consulting business (as they were claiming a year ago) the name “Microsoft” will be as hard to apply to what the company does as the name “International Business Machines” was to that company (I think “IBM” now officially stands for nothing).

    To the comment that IBM selling off Lenovo constituted exiting the hardware business: Go get a book on the history of computing. IBM has been in and out of the PC business more than once. They used to make clocks, typewriters, copiers, and they still do make mainframe computers and fab chips, including the guts of the XBox 360.

    IBM is a MUCH more agile company than Microsoft, especially when you consider how long they have been around. Their business doesn’t depend on “superstars” such as Gates or Ballmer. Since most of their products are for business use, not consumerism, the average person, including apparently the average techie who reads this blog, isn’t aware of all that they have contributed to how we lead our lives today.

    Did I mention that they bankrolled the invention of the PC, and, errm, the founding of Microsoft?

  20. So many errors, so little time (the commenters I mean, this time at least).

    It’s hardly hype to compare Microsoft and IBM, definitely more correct to say “technology company” than “software company”, although if you are measuring the amount of work done at IBM pertaining to software (whether it is profitable or not) I don’t think it outrageous at all to consider IBM as the larger of the two. (Consider all the consultants out there who are writing user-specific software for their clients.)

    Software has never been a PRIMARY aspect of IBM’s business model, a distinction Gates wanted to make when he named his company. As Microsoft goes into making mice, video game consoles, providing web services and the consulting business (as they were claiming a year ago) the name “Microsoft” will be as hard to apply to what the company does as the name “International Business Machines” was to that company (I think “IBM” now officially stands for nothing).

    To the comment that IBM selling off Lenovo constituted exiting the hardware business: Go get a book on the history of computing. IBM has been in and out of the PC business more than once. They used to make clocks, typewriters, copiers, and they still do make mainframe computers and fab chips, including the guts of the XBox 360.

    IBM is a MUCH more agile company than Microsoft, especially when you consider how long they have been around. Their business doesn’t depend on “superstars” such as Gates or Ballmer. Since most of their products are for business use, not consumerism, the average person, including apparently the average techie who reads this blog, isn’t aware of all that they have contributed to how we lead our lives today.

    Did I mention that they bankrolled the invention of the PC, and, errm, the founding of Microsoft?

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