IBM: Building a smarter planet

6 11 2008

Note: most of you probably know, but for full disclosure, I work at IBM.

Update: just added some more meat to the post. Succinct is a quality that I definitely don’t have.

Sam Palmisano is speaking this morning at the Council of Foreign Relations. You can find all about it at today’s edition of the New York Times: “IBM’s Chief Sees Technology Leading a Recovery”.

Andy Piper has just blogged about it, so I’ll try not to just repeat what he said – but I whole-heartedly agree with him.

In our daily, mundane working life at IBM we go through mostly small peaks and valleys, but from time to time we get inspirational moments like this, when it feels good to be part of IBM. Google claims that their mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. The smart planet point-of-view tells me that we are paying attention beyond just data. IBM’s reach and breadth positions it uniquely to aim higher than that. We have the potential to be a key enabler of a smarter, sustainable, better world by applying technology and business acumen. Our 3-letter acronym never looked so visionary.

I worked in University research for some time, doing obscure biochemistry work around fireflies, and also on the interactions between ferns and a Brazilian species of moth. When you are deep at work, you keep wondering why you are doing that, and how that is going to change anything in the world. I actually gave up on becoming a scientist mainly because I was not able to see the big picture, and I couldn’t explain to a normal person what my research was all about.

I firmly believe that having an easy to articulate vision is fundamental to keep focus and understand where we all fit in the big picture. A vision does not accomplish anything by itself, but fuels our passion, especially during the dull moments of doubt, like when doing expenses or sitting for hours at airports.

Of course, the actual challenge is to go from vision to realization. In a week where change is in everybody’s mind, the announcement’s timing is impeccable. I hope that a few years from now I can come back to this post and grin, seeing that the promise was fulfilled.

Yes, we can. But “will we?” is the question for all of us to answer.


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6 11 2008
E L S U A ~ A KM Blog Thinking Outside The Inbox by Luis Suarez » Blog Archive » A Smart Planet - Why Think?

[…] would mean for us all, as knowledge workers, readying for that change. Andy Piper, Jack Mason, Aaron Kim, Kevin Aires, Bill Chamberlin, Larry Phipps (Over at The Greater IBM Connection) have already been […]

21 01 2009
Government 2.0: The smarter planet initiative and Obama’s inauguration speech « The bamboo raft

[…] to what I said before, while I find the two excerpts above inspiring and encouraging, nothing has been done yet, so […]

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