Consistent with IBM’s direction on innovation, the Global (IT) Technology Strategy community of IBM Global Business Services held a two-day even in the Toronto area. After four months of planning, about 120 IBMers convened at the Toronto Lab at 8200 Warden (actually in Markham). Although this internal conference was named the “IT Strategy Master Class”, it was in fact a pilot for a series of IBM events.
The theme of “Business Innovation through IT Strategy” brought together IBM consultants from Canada, the United States, Europe (UK, Netherlands, Germany) and Asia (Japan, China). The approach was not to “invent” a program, but, in the belief that innovation occurs by practitioners at work within a community, request content from practitioners that they themselves believe is exciting and leading edge. From over 100 submissions, 20 breakout sessions were selected. Wrapped around the breakouts were some keynote speakers that provided big picture insight.
- Mark Behrsin, Global Leader, IBM Technology Strategy Consulting, framed the meeting as responding to the needs expressed in the Global CEO Study 2006, recently released. CEOs are focusing on three imperatives: to grow (i.e. products, services and markets), to improve (operations and efficiency), and to transform (business and enterprise models).
- Paul Johnston, from Kennedy Information, is forecast growth in IT Strategy consulting from 2006 through 2008 (as a recovery from the post-dot-bomb trough). IBM is a leader in the marketplace in a 2×2 matrix of “Using Innovation for Competitive Advantage” (i.e. IBM is in the upper right quadrant of “ability to generate innovation assets” and “transference to the market”).
- Irving Wladawsky-Berger, IBM Vice-President of Technical Strategy and Innovation, touched on the Global CEO Study 2006, but focused more on jobs, as a motivator for interest (by students, academics and business people) for IBM’s initiative on SSME (Services Science, Management and Engineering).
- Jeanne Ross, from the MIT Sloan School Center for Information Studies Research, declared the IT-business strategic alignment model as “dead”. In an upcoming book on Enterprise Architecture as Strategy, she described four operating models in a 2×2 matrix of business process integration and business process standardization (i.e. diversification, replication, coordination and unification).
- Alice Keung, Senior Vice-President and Chief Information Officer from Banque Nationale du Canada / National Bank of Canada, described the challenges of enabling business strategies as a hub in an IT ecosystem with four partners (in strategy and integration, infrastructure management, application management and network management).
- Martin Marut, director of the new IBM Information On Demand Center of Excellence, described a new focus on information as a strategic asset, bringing together IBM’s Software Group, Global Business Services and Research Division.
- Peter Andrews, from the IBM Executive Business Institute in Palisades, NY, suggested concentrating business minds by focusing on four crises: the crisis of time, the crisis of talent, the crisis of trust, and the crisis of transformation.
- Mary Jo Frederich, from IBM Research, described the First-of-a-Kind program, and the Industry Solutions Lab in Hawthorne, NY.
- Martin Wildberger, Vice-President of IBM Software Group Industry Solutions and Director of the Toronto Lab, spoke about common questions asked by clients in his briefings on Service-Oriented Architecture.
- Roger Garriock, Vice-President of DIcor, the corporate consulting division of Destination ImagiNation, outlined some tools first used to enhance creativity in children, now extended to the corporate area.
As one of the breakout speakers, I gave a talk on “Business Ecosystem Innovation” content in joint development with Greg Lowes and Simon Kalechstein. I was a last minute substitute to speak on SSME (Services Science, Management and Engineering). I sat in on Greg’s talk on Governance, that includes some content contrasting governance and management.
Attendees seemed to universally give great reviews of the results. Looking forward, similar internal versions of the conference are in negotiation for Europe (maybe in the UK or Germany, in late June) and in Asia (maybe September). Of broader interest will likely be the external versions of the conference, where 50 to 60 customer CIOs will be invited to IBM labs at Hawthorne, Zurich and Beijing. With greater visibility is likely to come additional press.