Turbo Todd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

First Consumer Facing Watson App To Help Military Members In Transition To Civilian Life

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IBM’s Watson technology is now being put to good use to help the military community in their transition from civilian to military life.

Right down the road from Austin, in San Antonio, financial services company USAA is using the cognitive capabilities of IBM Watson technology in its first commercialized consumer-facing application.

IBM’s Watson Engagement Advisor will allow USAA members to ask questions related to the civilian transition experience. To prepare the system for all those queries, IBM Watson analyzed more than 3,000 documents on topics exclusive to military transitions, enabling members to ask and receive answers to separation-related questions.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 155,000 active military members transition to civilian life each year.

Like any career change, moving from a military to a civilian career presents challenges to members and their families. During this initial phase, transitioning military members can visit usaa.com or use a mobile browser to “Ask Watson” questions specific to leaving the military, such as “Can I be in the reserve and collect veterans compensation benefits?” or "How do I make the most of the Post-9/11 GI Bill?"

As a result, Watson combs through volumes of USAA’s business data providing answers to member’s inquiries with confidence while gaining value and experience over time.

USAA is a leader in delivering exceptional member service and innovative tools to its members. IBM and USAA are working together to redefine how a digital assistant interacts, learns and gains value over time by creating exceptional digital experiences.

Watson will also be leveraging sophisticated analytics to help USAA take advantage of new member, social and mobile data and provide a more personalized customer experience. IBM Power Systems will support Watson’s data learning by providing faster access to data.

You can read more about this new endeavor for IBM Watson on the Smarter Planet blog.

Written by TurboTodd

July 23rd, 2014 at 8:23 pm

College Graduates: Avoiding The Social Media Animal House

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Concerned about your new college graduate’s social sharing proclivities? Or perhaps a more suitable word would be "oversharing."

A recent survey by CareerBuilder suggests you might have good reason, as published by our friends at Bulldog.

The survey, which was conducted among 2,138 U.S.-based hiring managers and HR professionals earlier this year indicated more hiring managers are turning to social networking sites to find additional information on potential candidates, and don’t necessarily always like what they see.

In fact, fifty-one percent of HR pros researching job candidates on social media said they’ve found content that caused them to *not* hire the candidate.

So yes, that selfie with the beer bong may not be the best way of representing your professional business aspirations, Dear Graduate.

And lest you think HR pros’ investigations are limited to just social media, you might want to stick around after class to discover that 45 percent of them are also using search engines like Google for candidate research.

What are they finding in their queries? Following is a breakdown of a few of the highlights:

  • Job candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information – 46 percent
  • Job candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs – 41 percent
  • Job candidates bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee – 36 percent
  • Job candidate had poor communication skills – 32 percent
  • Job candidate had discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion etc. – 28 percent
  • Job candidate lied about qualifications – 25 percent
  • Job candidate shared confidential information from previous employers – 24 percent
  • Job candidate was linked to criminal behavior – 22 percent
  • Job candidate’s screen name was unprofessional – 21 percent
  • Job candidate lied about an absence – 13 percent

Oy vey, am I glad I graduated from college so many moons ago.

"It’s important for job seekers to remember that much of what they post to the Internet — and in some cases what others post about them — can be found by potential employers, and that can affect their chances of getting hired down the road," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, in a news release about the study. "Job seekers need to stay vigilant, and pay attention to privacy updates from all of their social networking accounts so they know what information is out there for others to see. Take control of your web presence by limiting who can post to your profile and monitoring posts you’ve been tagged in."

The good news is that many job seekers are taking measures to minimize over-sharing and to protect their privacy.

Nearly half (47 percent) of workers only share posts with friends and family, 41 percent have their profile set to private, and 18 percent keep separate professional and personal profiles.

Twenty-eight percent of workers say they don’t use social media (that may be taking things just a little too far, especially if you want to stay connected to a broad network of potential hirers and hirees).

In short, the study suggests that a little bit of social media vigilance, and a whole lot of common sense, could go a very long way.

That doesn’t mean you can’t go to the Toga party — just leave your iPhone and the selfies at home (Togas don’t make for good pockets, in any case).

Learn more in the full story at Bulldog Reporter’s "Daily Dog."

Written by TurboTodd

July 23rd, 2014 at 6:22 pm

IBM Expands High Performance Computing Capabilities in the Cloud

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IBM today announced that it is making high performance computing (HPC), as part of technical computing, more accessible through the cloud for clients grappling with big data and other computationally intensive activities.

A new option from SoftLayer, an IBM Company, will provide industry standard InfiniBand networking technology to connect SoftLayer bare metal servers. This will enable very high data throughput speeds between systems, allowing companies to move workloads traditionally associated with HPC, such as oil and exploration and data analytics to the cloud.

InfiniBand is an industry-standard networking architecture that delivers high transfer speeds—up to 56Gbps—between compute nodes. That is the equivalent of transferring data from more than 30,000 Blu-ray discs in a single day. The architecture provides additional features, contributing to InfinBand’s overall superior reliability, availability, and serviceability over legacy PCI bus and other proprietary switch fabrics and I/O solutions.

This new HPC option enables very low latency between bare metal servers and private clusters of servers with up to hundreds of compute nodes, making it ideal for applications such as life sciences and genomics, computer aided engineering, financial services, electronics design and reservoir simulation. By reducing latency between bare metal servers in these private clusters customers can easily manage massive amounts of data faster, more effectively and efficiently.

The introduction on InfiniBand on SoftLayer will especially benefit customers who are leveraging fully supported, ready-to-run clusters complete with code name IBM Elastic Storage, IBM Platform LSF or Platform Symphony workload management. InfiniBand will be available on SoftLayer through the IBM Platform Computing team, expected in the third quarter of 2014.

Written by TurboTodd

July 23rd, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Spend More, Crank Up The Cloud (And Productivity)

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A New York Times’ "The Upshot" blog post by Neil Irwin caught my attention early this morning.

Here’s the headline: "Businesses Need to Spend More. The Future of the Economy Depends on it."

Here’s the thesis: Five years into the economic recovery and business aren’t spending much money on big-ticket cap X investments to prepare for the future: equipment, software, buildings, intellectual property, etc.

In fact, equipment spending dove to 5.2 percent during the recovery compared to 6.5 percent over the prior half century.

Irwin’s suggests this undercapitalization can contribute negatively to productivity.

He also notes that the nation’s factories are running close to capacity, which suggests companies will need to spend more on equipment to meet higher demand (and, one might argue, software).

The difference this time around is the elasticity presented by cloud computing — companies are more than ever in a position to adapt workloads and provision (or deprovision) their computing resources, providing much more flexibility and limiting their cap x overhead with fixed IT investments, driving productivity concurrent with increasing demand without overcapitalizing on IT (including software).

Continuing on the topic of cloud computing, you can catch up on Forrester’s take via James Staten’s perspective on the IBM cloud strategy from a recent post. Staten suggests IBM’s new cloud platform strategy, though early in implemenation, is "shrewd and compelling" and that recent moves "put real meat behind the strategy."

IBM’s BlueMix PaaS service is one of the key efforts mentioned in Staten’s POV, which you can read more about in this blog post, "What is Bluemix?

Written by TurboTodd

July 22nd, 2014 at 4:07 pm

IBM Names Chief Accessibility Officer

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IBM today appointed Frances West as the company’s first Chief Accessibility Officer. In this new role, West will guide IBM accessibility policies and practices. Additionally, she will lead IBM’s collaboration with business, government and academia to advance accessibility standards and policy

In addition to the more than one billion people with disabilities worldwide, there are aging populations and people with language, learning and literacy challenges. As mobile devices become the primary means of engaging consumers, workers and citizens, they can become a transformational platform to broaden accessibility.

“IBM has long embraced accessibility to create an environment where all individuals can do their job and reach their full potential,” said West. “We believe that technology can bridge individual differences, enable a diverse pool of talent in the workplace and improve lives. We are at a crossroads where we can begin to personalize every experience and integrate technology in ways that will be very powerful.”

West will work with IBM teams around the world that are spearheading efforts to deliver accessible and assistive technologies to the market. For example:

  • IBM Interactive works with clients to embed technologies like text-to-speech, voice recognition, real-time translation or location-based preferences to create more personalized experiences and to remove both persistent and situational barriers for their customers.
  • IBM’s Bluemix cloud platform will provide an ecosystem of accessibility services, from development tools for design and testing to enterprise-wide compliance services.
  • IBM will design for accessibility in the apps and solutions it creates to unlock the potential of enterprise mobility.
  • IBM Watson will extend the abilities of individuals by tapping knowledge from vast stores of data, using natural language in areas as diverse as financial services and personalized medicine.

Frances West joined IBM Research as the leader of the Human Ability & Accessibility Center. She has served on the board of directors of the American Association of People with Disabilities, the Assistive Technology Industry Association and the U.S Business Leadership Network, among others.

She currently sits on the board of the World Institute on Disability, is a trustee at the National Braille Press and an advisor to the National Business & Disability Council.

For more than 100 years, IBM has advanced technology access for people of all abilities. Some of its earliest innovations include the first Braille printer, a talking typewriter and the first commercially viable screen reader.

Written by TurboTodd

July 22nd, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Chief Information Security Officers: That’s One Tough Gig!

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Being a chief information security officer has become a position where many of its inhabitants find themselves sitting in a very hot seat.

The New York Times’ Nicole Perlroth pens a piece that asks the key question: “Can you hack it?”

The article observes the CISO position hardly existed a generation ago, and now that it does, “the job is is pressured” that the average tenure for one is a mere two years (compared to the average ten for CEOs).

Perlroth provides the outline of some of the recent requisite responsibilities:

  • Stay one step ahead of masterminds in Moscow and military hackers in Shanghai.
  • Check off a growing list of compliance boxes and keep close tabs on leaky vendors and reckless employees who upload sensitive data to Dropbox accounts and unlocked iPhones.
  • Skilled in crisis management and communications
  • Expert in the most sophisticated technology

Probably want to add “very thick skin” in there somewhere.

You can read her full article on the CISO role here.

Last year, IBM conducted a CISO study which I blogged about here. You can read that post and find a link to the full IBM CISO study, but the topline conclusion from that report was that the role of the CISO was becoming more strategic and required them to be both technologist and business leader, “with the ability to address board level concerns as well as manage complex technologies.”

If you have a CISO or you don’t, it’s a study worth scanning through to learn about some of the identified best practices and challenges.

IBM and Monitise Help Financial Institutions Deploy New Mobile Banking, Payment Solutions

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IBM and Monitise today announced an expanded, multi-year global alliance to deliver cloud-based mobile commerce solutions to help financial services institutions embrace the mobile channel and better engage with customers.

The expansion of the alliance will bring together the IBM MobileFirst portfolio of offerings as well as IBM’s financial services and retail industry expertise with Monitise’s mobile banking and payments capabilities, spearheaded globally as an IBM Global Business Services’ initiative.

Financial institutions will gain access to data analytics to offer customers targeted services such as in-store engagement and location-based offerings that empower timely decision making and convenience. Financial services providers will be able to deploy new digital and mobile money solutions while reducing costs and driving new revenue streams.

With increasing smartphone adoption around the world, the ubiquity of these devices has forever changed the way customers engage with banks and retailers. Additionally, with revenues from consumer-originated payments predicted to increase from $249 billion worldwide in 2012 to $460 billion in 20221, there are multiple opportunities for banks to capitalize on this growth via mobile money services.

Monitise will draw from the expertise and resources of the IBM ExperienceOne portfolio and Interactive Experience practice, which improve customer engagement by using data analytics to deliver relevant, personalized brand experiences.

In addition, IBM and Monitise plan to collaborate with IBM Ready Apps, a suite of industry-specific, pre-configured apps that can be easily customized and deployed.

Monitise will also move its production hosting and cloud requirements to IBM, including SoftLayer. Clients will benefit in the future from Monitise’s adoption of IBM BlueMix, a flexible, cost-effective development environment, while developers will be able to gain access to Monitise capabilities through IBM’s developer ecosystem.

For more information on IBM MobileFirst solutions, visit www.ibm.com/mobilefirst or follow @IBMmobile on Twitter.

Written by TurboTodd

July 21st, 2014 at 7:27 pm

IBM Reports 2014 Second-Quarter Results

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IBM announced it’s 2Q 2014 earnings this afternoon.

Second-quarter 2014 diluted earnings came in at $4.12 per share, compared with diluted earnings of $2.91 per share in the second quarter of 2013, an increase of 42 percent. Operating (non-GAAP) diluted earnings were $4.32 per share, compared with operating diluted earnings of $3.22 per share in the second quarter of 2013, an increase of 34 percent.

Second-quarter net income was $4.1 billion compared with $3.2 billion in the second quarter of 2013, an increase of 28 percent. Operating (non-GAAP) net income was $4.3 billion compared with $3.6 billion in the second quarter of 2013, an increase of 21 percent. The year-to-year results include the impact of a charge in the prior year period of $1 billion for workforce rebalancing.

Total revenues for the second quarter of 2014 of $24.4 billion were down 2 percent (down 1 percent, as reported and adjusting for currency, adjusting for the divested customer care outsourcing business) from the second quarter of 2013.

Below is a topline of the 2Q 2014 results:

o Diluted EPS:

- GAAP: $4.12, up 42 percent;

– Operating (non-GAAP): $4.32, up 34 percent;

o Net income:

- GAAP: $4.1 billion, up 28 percent;

– Operating (non-GAAP): $4.3 billion, up 21 percent;

o Gross profit margin:

– GAAP: 49.1 percent, up 50 basis points;

– Operating (non-GAAP): 49.8 percent, up 10 basis points;

o Revenue: $24.4 billion:

– Down 2 percent; down 1 percent adjusting for divested customer care outsourcing business;

– Software, Services adjusting for divested customer care outsourcing business and Global Financing grew; Systems and Technology declined;

o Services backlog of $136 billion, down 1 percent adjusting for divested customer care outsourcing business;

  • Strategic growth initiatives grew double digits:

– Cloud revenue up more than 50 percent year-to-date;

— For cloud delivered as a service, second-quarter annual run rate up nearly 100 percent to $2.8 billion year-to-year;

– Business analytics revenue up 7 percent year-to-date;

– Mobile revenue up more than 100 percent year-to-date;

– Security revenue up more than 20 percent year-to-date;

o Continue to expect full-year operating (non-GAAP) EPS of at least $18.00.

IBM expects full-year 2014 GAAP diluted earnings per share of at least $17.00, and operating (non-GAAP) diluted earnings per share of at least $18.00. The 2014 operating (non-GAAP) earnings expectations exclude $1.00 per share of charges for amortization of purchased intangible assets, other acquisition-related charges, and retirement-related charges.

Year-To-Date 2014 Results

Net income for the six months ended June 30, 2014 was $6.5 billion compared with $6.3 billion in the year-ago period, an increase of 4 percent. Diluted earnings per share were $6.37 compared with $5.60 per diluted share for the 2013 period, an increase of 14 percent. Revenues for the six-month period totaled $46.8 billion, a decrease of 3 percent (down 2 percent, adjusting for currency) compared with $48.3 billion for the first six months of 2013.

Operating (non-GAAP) net income for the six months ended June 30, 2014 was $7.0 billion, flat year to year. Operating (non-GAAP) diluted earnings per share were $6.82 compared with $6.23 per diluted share for the 2013 period, an increase of 9.5 percent.

You can learn more about IBM earnings on the IBM Investor Relations site.

Written by TurboTodd

July 17th, 2014 at 8:22 pm

Apple And IBM Partner To Transform Enterprise Mobility

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Big news on the mobile enterprise front.

Apple and IBM today announced an exclusive partnership that teams the market-leading strengths of each company to transform enterprise mobility through a new class of business apps — bringing IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities to iPhone and iPad.

The landmark partnership aims to redefine the way work will get done, address key industry mobility challenges and spark true mobile-led business change—grounded in four core capabilities:

  • A new class of more than 100 industry-specific enterprise solutions including native apps, developed exclusively from the ground up, for iPhone and iPad;
  • Unique IBM cloud services optimized for iOS, including device management, security, analytics and mobile integration;
  • New AppleCare service and support offering tailored to the needs of the enterprise; and
  • New packaged offerings from IBM for device activation, supply and management.

The new IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions will be built in an exclusive collaboration that draws on the distinct strengths of each company: IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities, with the power of more than 100,000 IBM industry and domain consultants and software developers behind it, fused with Apple’s legendary consumer experience, hardware and software integration and developer platform.

The combination will create apps that can transform specific aspects of how businesses and employees work using iPhone and iPad, allowing companies to achieve new levels of efficiency, effectiveness and customer satisfaction — faster and easier than ever before.

As part of the exclusive IBM MobileFirst for iOS agreement, IBM will also sell iPhones and iPads with the industry-specific solutions to business clients worldwide.

“iPhone and iPad are the best mobile devices in the world and have transformed the way people work with over 98 percent of the Fortune 500 and over 92 percent of the Global 500 using iOS devices in their business today,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “For the first time ever we’re putting IBM’s renowned big data analytics at iOS users’ fingertips, which opens up a large market opportunity for Apple. This is a radical step for enterprise and something that only Apple and IBM can deliver.”

“Mobility—combined with the phenomena of data and cloud—is transforming business and our industry in historic ways, allowing people to re-imagine work, industries and professions,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM Chairman, President and CEO.

“This alliance with Apple will build on our momentum in bringing these innovations to our clients globally, and leverages IBM’s leadership in analytics, cloud, software and services. We are delighted to be teaming with Apple, whose innovations have transformed our lives in ways we take for granted, but can’t imagine living without. Our alliance will bring the same kind of transformation to the way people work, industries operate and companies perform.”

Specifically, the two companies are working together to deliver the essential elements of enterprise mobile solutions:

  • Mobile solutions that transform business: The companies will collaborate to build IBM MobileFirst for iOS Solutions—a new class of “made-for-business apps” targeting specific industry issues or opportunities in retail, healthcare, banking, travel and transportation, telecommunications and insurance, among others, that will become available starting this fall and into 2015.
  • Mobile platform: The IBM MobileFirst Platform for iOS will deliver the services required for an end-to-end enterprise capability, from analytics, workflow and cloud storage, to fleet-scale device management, security and integration. Enhanced mobile management includes a private app catalog, data and transaction security services, and productivity suite for all IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions. In addition to on-premise software solutions, all these services will be available on Bluemix — IBM’s development platform on the IBM Cloud Marketplace.
  • Mobile service and support: AppleCare for Enterprise will provide IT departments and end users with 24/7 assistance from Apple’s award-winning customer support group, with on-site service delivered by IBM.
  • Packaged service offerings: IBM is introducing IBM MobileFirst Supply and Management for device supply, activation and management services for iPhone and iPad, with leasing options.

Announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in June and available later this year, Apple’s iOS 8 is the biggest release since the launch of the App Store, giving users incredible new features and developers the tools to create amazing new apps. For enterprise, iOS 8 builds on the new IT model for a mobilized workforce by improving the way users are informed of how their devices are configured, managed or restricted, with expanded security, management and productivity features.

IBM’s 5,000 mobile experts have been at the forefront of mobile enterprise innovation. IBM has secured more than 4,300 patents in mobile, social and security, that have been incorporated into IBM MobileFirst solutions that enable enterprise clients to radically streamline and accelerate mobile adoption, help organizations engage more people and capture new markets.

For more information regarding the new Apple and IBM solutions, please visit www.ibm.com/MobileFirstForiOS or www.apple.com/ipad/business.

Written by TurboTodd

July 15th, 2014 at 8:48 pm

Whirlpool Moves Enterprise Apps to IBM Cloud

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Whirlpool Corporation, the world’s leading manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances, is taking advantage of IBM cloud technologies to transition from an on-premise hosting environment to a globally integrated cloud models.

As the leading major global appliance company, Whirlpool Corporation needed a flexible and scalable environment to host its e-commerce platform and store and deploy large amounts of critical appliance and commercial data.

Specifically, Whirlpool needed a globally integrated e-commerce platform that would allow it to segregate and manage workloads at the regional level. In addition, it needed to create enough capacity for log retention, maximize security information and event management and develop disaster recovery capabilities for its existing product lifecycle management landscape.

To fulfill Whirlpool’s strategic vision of modernizing its hosting environment to streamline costs and improve efficiency, the company chose IBM Cloud, coupled with AT&T Netbond and the SoftLayer infrastructure to provide a solution that offers a scalable service delivery platform that expands and contracts based on client demand.

By using IBM Cloud capabilities, Whirlpool can provision its applications faster and increase flexibility to integrate managed and non-managed services with future workloads. As a result, the new model is expected to lower its IT costs, improve its market responsiveness, and enhanced user satisfaction and service-level agreement levels.

IBM Cloud Managed Services and AT&T NetBond were the foundational elements for an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) environment for Whirlpool. IBM also used the Cloud Strategy Framework to help Whirlpool assess its entire IaaS strategy.

As an extension of its work with IBM Cloud Managed Services, Whirlpool chose to deploy a SoftLayer Infrastructure on bare metal servers. Using SoftLayer has enabled Whirlpool to develop disaster recovery capabilities for a critical project lifecycle management application.

You can learn more about IBM cloud offerings from IBM at http://www.ibm.com/cloud or on Twitter at @IBMcloud and #ibmcloud

Written by TurboTodd

July 15th, 2014 at 2:45 pm

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