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.


Biznology: The challenges of being a guest blogger

6 08 2008

Some time ago, I volunteered as a guest blogger at Mike Moran‘s Biznology Blog. My first post was published yesterday, along with an introduction.

That post was actually due two weeks ago, but I had zero to offer by then. The major constraint in my blogging activity is to allocate time to write, but this time I was experiencing a bit of a writer’s block.

I have no shortage of things I’d like to write about in my own personal blogs, even though I’m well aware that most of those topics will go by unnoticed. That’s actually what I like about having personal blogs: I don’t feel bad even if nobody reads a post of mine there, as I ultimately use my blog as a personal reflection tool, so a long tail of one – me – is good enough for what I want to accomplish.

Writing for a group blog is a bit more challenging. I haven’t contributed to The Orange Chair blog for a long time, but my guilty feeling is somehow lessened by the fact that it’s still an experiment, a work-in-progress – at least that’s what my id tells my super-ego. Bernie, Sacha and Jen (co-bloggers at the Orange Chair) may not be as forgiving 🙂 .

Writing at Biznology felt different though: It introduced the fear of failure to the process. Mike Moran’s blog is well regarded in the Internet Marketing space, and somehow I felt that I had to write something at THE Mike Moran’s quality level, and naturally I couldn’t do that. After days of procrastination, I realized that this is also a learning curve, and decided to publish something that I did not find to be good, but it was a necessary stepping stone for me to get where I want to be. Take a look at it if you have some time. Hopefully I’ll get the hand of it as I go.

Interactive video and viral marketing

16 07 2008

Most Brazilians have already seen this site, but chances are that this was not widely known in North America. It’s a typical Brazilian beer ad, probably a bit too racy for some audiences, but it’s worth it a view for the novelty of it. I won’t say much more to not spoil it.

Here are the instructions if you still want to see it:

  • Here’s a rough translation of the screen:
Invite a friend you want to tease to visit the Bar da Boa.
Here you can send a very special and personalized invite to a friend.
Juliana (Paes, a popular Brazilian actress) would say so!

For that, fill out the form below:

Your name:
(Maximum of 15 characters)

Your friend’s name:
(Maximum of 15 characters)

Your email:

Your friend’s email:

  • Fill out the first box with your name
  • Fill out the second box with your friend’s name
  • You may leave the other two text boxes empty
  • Click on “Visualizar”

In case you are curious, this is a free translation of the video:

“Hi, I had a tatoo done, you wanna see? Here it is.

Aw, poor guy, don’t be sad. There’s another one with your name, wanna see?

Hey Big Paul, come on here!”

New York – Part 2 of 2: The business

29 04 2008

The client event I was attending in New York was held at the IBM office in midtown, just a couple of blocks from the Central Park. Nice office, even better location, if you ask me.

New York - IBM 590 MadisonNew York - 590 MadisonNew York - Former IBM Tower

In the afternoon, we spent a few hours visiting several retail locations in Manhattan, courtesy of an IBMer who knows that area inside out, and was very kind to pick the cream of the crop. That was a great opportunity to get a glimpse of what retail will look in the near future by observing what’s being tried in the flagship stores. Here’s the highlight reel.

  • The Cube Apple Store – I’ve been to several of those in Canada and in the U.S., but this one is special. Open 24 by 7, 365 days a year, this place is incredibly crowded during the day, so I highly suggest you go there after hours – I went twice, at 4 pm and 2 am, and had a much more civilized experience in the wee hours. The store is actually underground, and the glass cube is the street level entrance. Taking the stairs down gave me the feel that I was entering the Louvre, as the cube reminds me a lot of the pyramids by IM Pei. Somehow, this store feels like a temple dedicated to the Apple brand and technology. I posted some pictures below, but you can see much better ones, and some movies too, here.

New York - Apple Store
New York - Apple StoreNew York - Apple Store
New York - Apple Store 5th Ave

  • Niketown – Talking about Apple, the Nike store ostensively co-brands Nike+ with Apple. I’m not a runner – in fact I hate running – but this is so cool that I may even try it one day. The whole store is very well thought, from the colour palette to the overall layout and the glass tubes to transfer items from the storage rooms to the PoS (point-of-sale) stations. Other cool feature is the NIKEiD.STUDIO: you can create shoes customized to your taste and have it delivered to you – if you live in the U.S., of course.
New York - Nike StoreNew York - Nike Store
New York - Nike StoreNew York - Nike Store
New York - Nike StoreNew York - Nike Store
New York - Nike Store

  • Nokia Flagship Store – A three-story mecca for cell-phone fans. The huge screens behind the phones are interactive: they can react to actions such as text messaging and handling of the mobile devices. Very cool and blue. You can get more details about it here.

New York - Nokia Store

  • Citibank – As city regulations around the world become more strict towards visual pollution, retail stores are becoming more creative and using colour and shapes as brand identity clues. I just mentioned the blueness of Nokia’s store. Citibank is using the Chevron format in the façade of its branches. This particular branch is very modular, with sliding internal walls to provide ample spaces during business hours and access to ATMs only after hours. Another curiosity there is a terminal for client feedback, which was used to request a water cooler to be brought back after the branch redesign. Who would’ve thunk that clients would miss the good and old drinking fountain?
New York - Citibank Branch

  • Bank of America – This branch has two interesting features: a bookcase with finance-related books & magazines is a comfortable living room setting, and banners at the top with a timeline showing how BoA’s history is deeply ingrained in the U.S. history. I know it sounds trivial, but it was very well executed. Unfortunately no pictures could be taken inside.

New York - Bank of America Branch
  • Commerce Bank – Open extended hours, including Saturdays and Sundays, this branch has some kiosks with free souvenirs (like pens) and also a coin counter game for kids: if you get the total amount right, you’re eligible for a prize.

New York - Commerce Bank

  • ING Direct Café – This is the one that blew my mind away. This is not a bank office or a branch. It’s more like a Starbucks store, including free Internet access, and it was insanely packed when we visited. Why would a bank do that? Many reasons, including probably some that I have not even thought about yet. Having coffee is a very social thing so people just go there for a break, and while in there, there are some cross-selling opportunities. In the second floor, there’s a space for people to meet or learn about financial services. What a great way to associate a pleasant experience with a strong bran. They also sell souvenirs, including toys for kids with Cedric and Amy, ING characters from Planet Orange. If you were wondering why I tagged this entry as “web20forbiz”, there is your link! You can read more about it here and here.

New York - ING Cafe
New York - ING CafeNew York - ING Cafe

This was a really long post, sorry about that. I should give a prize too to anybody getting to the end of it.