I spent a couple of invigorating days at TUCON, Tibco's user conference. Every executive session like the one below Dennis Howlett kindly shared we had with the CEO Vivek Ranadive was strategic and built off the theme of his new co-authored book The Two Second Advantage. (for a longer version of the interview see his blog post). I had other sessions with Matt Quinn, CTO and Ram Menon, EVP and the messaging was consistent - a focus on the right business events in the right context trumps analyzing masses of content and data. In Matt's words "capture many events, store few transactions” as my fellow EI Sandy Kemsley analyzes here.
In contrast the solutions floor was aimed at the traditional IT middleware/messaaging/BPM audience Tibco has flourished in and many new ones it has developed or acquired like Tibbr, Loyalty Lab, Spotfire and Nimbus. The chasm between the messaging and the solutions was nicely bridged by a series of executive sessions and customer meetings.
There was David Calhoun, CEO of Nielsen, explaining how his company helps most major brands around the world understand what their customers watch on their TVs and other devices, and what they buy, and even more impressively the correlation between what they watch and buy. Rob Carter, CIO of Fedex explaining the core tenet of the company "information on a package is as important as the package" driving the huge delivery and tracking infrastructure that runs the company and much of the world's logistics. MGM Resorts CIO Becky Wanta explaining the technology vision for the M Life Players Club aimed at their repeat customers. There was Charlie Feld summarizing his 40+ years in the industry and his influence at Frito-Lay, Delta and several other companies. None of them touched in gory details on specific Tibco products in their presentations but you could sense from their tone the heavy lifting Tibco is helping their companies with. I had other meetings with customers from Qualcomm, Virgin America and from several other industries - the applications and business results they described were impressive in their divesrity and impact.
I walked away impressed that in its somewhat low-key marketing style Tibco has learned to bridge the gap between the technical and the business executives. The sub-title of Vivek's book is How we Succeed by Anticipating the Future - Just Enough. In a world of IT excess, Just Enough sounds magical to business executives.
Last week I blogged on the New Florence innovation blog about the Startup Genome Project, a benchmark of hundreds of startups and why they fail or succeed. One of their findings was “Most successful startups pivot at least once. Startups that pivot once or twice raise 2.5x more money, have 3.6x better user growth, and are 52 percent less likely to scale prematurely than startups that pivot more than two times or not at all. A pivot is when a startup decides to change a major part of its business.”
Earlier this year, as I was doing research for my next book, I had a conversation with Chris Murphy of InformationWeek (if you want to learn about big trends in IT and what sophisticated CIOs are up to he is a must-read) about the need for IT to “pivot” – focus more on technology in the form of smart products and services, focus on revenue and growth rather than cost and compliance. I told him I worried that companies were going around IT when it came to technology in their own products – letting their R&D or product engineering groups handle the technology.
It will mean IT has to learn from Apple’s wildly successful retail strategy. Learn how Google has built a huge Android apps ecosystem from scratch. Learn about industrial design from the likes of amazon’s Lab126 which designed its Kindle. Learn about volatile demand forecasting when introducing new products as in overwhelming demand as with the Microsoft Kinect or Zynga’s Cityville and underwhelming ones like the HP TouchPad. Learn many more disciplines that few computer science courses teach.
Also, most of the CIO’s budget today is spent with vendors on back office applications, infrastructure, telecomm – a few degrees removed from needed product and revenue focus. CIO’s need to learn about a new generation of vendors – product engineering services companies like Persistent and Symphony, contract manufacturing companies like Flextronics and Foxconn.
IT is part of the product, as Chris calls it, is IT’s pivot point. As the Genome benchmark says “startups that pivot more than two times or not at all” don’t do as well as those that pivot once and do it well. Same with IT. The chance to make an impact on product, revenue and growth will not come too often.
NetSuite has announced that thirteen North American university accounting programs have adopted its software as a key component of their degree curricula. Purdue University; University of California, Los Angeles; University of Toronto; Arizona State University; Indiana University; Marietta College; University of Hawaii at Manoa; University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Santa Barbara City College; The Citadel; Bellevue University; Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and North Georgia College & State University are among the institutions.
My question is what took so long for universities to start weaving clouds into their courses?
I saw yesterday morning the print edition of the TIME 9/11 special issue but even more impressive are the video interviews of the people profiled in the issue. The site is here.
Each will move you – some are still angry for what they lost, some like Stanley Praimnath so grateful for their miraculous survival from the Twin towers, some like Lyzbeth Glick Best are amazingly graceful for what they lost (in her case her husband on flight 93), some are just plain heroes (Jim Riches, retired fireman looked for months for his fireman son who died in one of the towers and says “I’m one of the lucky ones. I found my son’s body’s”. His three other sons joined the NYC Fire Department in the ultimate tribute to their dead brother).
Even after a decade, the memories seem so fresh.
And in some ways we may have wasted a decade as Kurt Andersen points out in his column in the TIME special issue
“There was one large way in which America and Americans should've and could've changed but did not. That would have required President Bush to announce an urgent national project for the post-9/11 age: Because our dependence on oil is ultimately what sustains the jihadist pathology, he could have said, we must start reducing that dependence as quickly as possible. In the emergency can-do window of 2001 and 2002, he could have rallied Congress and the public to support a serious, sensible, radical new energy policy, including significant new taxes on petroleum.
But he demanded nothing of most Americans. "We will rid the world of the evildoers," he said, but the armed forces and intelligence community — a tiny proportion of us — would take care of that. The other 98% were encouraged only to keep calm and carry on. "Do your business around the country," the President said in September 2001. "Fly and enjoy America's great destination spots." "People are going about their daily lives, working and shopping and playing," he said two months later, "going to movies and to baseball games."
Yes, right, good: we were not cowed. But with the insistence that American life should not change a whit, we implicitly declared that the era of irrational exuberance would proceed and accelerate.”
Compared to the harrowing experiences of all the heroes of the day, my 9/11 was tame, but in memory of that fateful day, I decided to live through the day through my digital archives of travel receipts.
I was at Bill Kutik's HR conference in Baltimore, MD on 9/10 (it's usually in Chicago) and was planning to go into Washington, DC on the 11th and fly out of National airport. Instead, I managed to arrange a prospect meeting at a bank on Wall Street in NYC on the 11th. I decided to rent a car from Baltimore and have breakfast with a client on the way.
I checked into the Hampton Inn in Willow Grove, PA at 1.21 am and picked up my client at GMAC, Cyndi Joiner in the morning and we went to Otto’s in Horsham, PA for coffee. Among other things her job brief included real estate and logistics. While we were at breakfast she apologized for taking two calls ( probably related to the planes crashed into the two towers around 8.46 and 9.03 am) and after the second call told me she had to cut breakfast short. Something had happened in Manhattan and she had to get back to inventory property and personnel there. My digital archives show I signed the restaurant check at 9.14 am and Cyndi told me on the way out - “You may want to rethink driving into New York today – something’s not right”.
So I went back to the hotel and called my New York appointment. If any one knew someone local would. Turns out he had not watched TV or heard of the two plane crashes. He said “Even if Wall Street is a mess, Queens (where he lived) will be fine. Let’s meet here”. I agreed, then heard on the TV in the hotel room that American 77 had hit the Pentagon. I called him back and we agreed to cancel our meeting.
My planning now changed to finding a flight home to FL. Could not get through to any of the airline reservations. Surely Amtrak would still be running. My Amex statement shows an Amtrak charge on that day for $ 179. I booked myself a web ticket from Richmond, VA to Florida. I called my wife and she thought I was crazy to take such a long train ride. Airports will be open in a day or so she said. Just wait it out. I decided to ignore her optimism.
I still had my rental car – all I had to do was to tell them I would return the car to a different location. The car agent was frazzled but friendly. Hold on to the car, he said, just allow me to put a hold for a $ 500 drop off charge on your credit card. It should be a much lower charge he promised, just we are slammed right now so can only give you an approximate charge. I agreed and started to drive towards I-95 to head south. Then it hit me all the traffic from NYC and Washington would be piling up on I-95, so I stopped at a gas station.
My receipt shows it was a Robert Bulson Exxon Mobil in Willow Grove at $ 9.36. My hand scribbled notes say “maps for the drive.” The receipt shows the time as 10.55 am. I asked the store attendant for directions. He told me to take the Penn Turnpike to I-81 South to I-64 East to Richmond, if I wanted to avoid I-95. Of course, neither of us knew that the 4th plane, UA 93 had crashed in Shanksville, PA further up the Turnpike towards Pittsburgh just a few minutes prior.
That drive was one of the spookiest I have ever done. On the one hand driving through serene West Virginia seemed so peaceful, on the other there were still hundreds of planes in the air and the radio was full of talk more of them may had been hijacked with no clue where they might crash land. I got off on I-64 to head towards Richmond, but decided to stop at what my receipt shows as Goose Creek Shell in Fisherville, VA. I remember calling Amtrak from the phone booth. (Cell phone service had been spotty in the hilly region I was driving through and the network congestion from the day’s events). After 15 minutes of being on hold, I decided against the train option. Got back in the car and decided I would drive the 850 miles home to Tampa. Called my wife, and she thought I was even crazier to do that.
At 922 pm that night, my records show I checked into a Hampton Inn in Charlotte, NC. Turned the TV on, and watched all the horrendous scenes of the day. It did not sink in back then I had been within a couple of hundred miles of each of the 4 planes, and with slight changes in plans could have been even closer to each. I thanked my stars I still had a car and was only 600 miles from home and planned an early start the next morning. I had to be home – with my family and there for my family.
So, today I will celebrate my luck – and all the heroes from that day and from our battles since. And yes, give a bit more thought to the Andersen column on how we can make the next decade a bit less violent and a lot more enjoyable.