Today's opening general session at IBM Impact 2013 opened with a bang, not a whimper.
First, there was the appearance of that lovely Ford Fusion automobile, joined shortly thereafter by IBM senior vice president, Robert Leblanc, and Vijay Sankaran, director for application development at Ford Motor Company.
Vijay explained that the Fusion was a "rolling data center," backing up his claim by detailing the fact that the Fusion uses some 16,000,000 lines of code, as well as loads of microprocessors connected to actuators and sensors, that help keep the car moving and operating efficiently.
Vijay also set the tone for IBM Impact 2013 by explaining that "we had to rethink the way we design and engineer vehicles using software."
Robert chimed in, and suggested that this change wasn't indigenous to the auto industry, that "the impact of design and the features we're putting into products is profound" and that "customer expectations are changing just as rapidly."
Vijay explained Ford's mission this way: "We want to build a personalized experience for our customers in a secure way that's delivered safely."
He joked later about enabling a stock trader to be able to make his trades at 70 MPH, carefully pointing out that it was through new technological capabilities like Ford SYNC that would enable us humans to interact with our auto information systems safely via voice, touch, and other new human-centric capabilities, but that Ford, like so many others, needed partners like IBM to help envision and deliver on these new capabilities.
All of this, Robert chimed in, set the stage for the conference: "This is about 'Business In Motion,' " and that this week in Vegas, "we want to help you gather the skills and knowledge you need to have that kind of 'impact.' "
Robert then explained and quantified some of these massive changes: We're now generating 2.5 quintillion new bytes of information every day, we've got 9.6 billion connected devices, and the Internet of Things is growing that number by the day.
For us to get smarter, along with the rest of the planet, we have to operate in a much more open, transparent world, one where "we've got to be thinking of technology as enablers, of allowing us to do very different things."
This new design he coined a "System of Interaction," a new kind of system that provides intelligent and portable workloads, patterns of expertise to help us get started and build on what's come before, and dynamically orchestrated services that are more flexible and agile.
Robert then introduced what I'll refer to as "Robert's Rules of Systems Improvement Order."
First, put mobile first, front, and center in your Systems of Interaction design. That's where the people are going in their behaviors, and our systems must match that human migration.
Second, reinvenent your business design and processes. Don't simply migrate your existing applications -- map them in the context of new and vital business design that takes advantage of mobile from the ground up.
Third, adapt a flexible and secure integration model so you can change quickly with the times.
Fourth, be insight- and data-driven -- these new systems have measurement inherently built in -- use those insights to constantly iterate and improve.
And finally, build on an open architecture -- use the power and reach of the public cloud and open social capabilities to maximize your distribution and impact.
Marie Wieck, general manager of IBM WebSphere, then took the stage to walk the Impact crowd through a number of customer scenarios where clients had already begun to make these kinds of changes.
Rohde&Schwarz put mobile first with a multiplatform mobile app ecosystem in place for customers and partners to provide information when and where it was needed. The bottom line benefit? Cutting 60 percent off their development costs.
Financaria Independencia accelerated their time to value by streamlining business processes for loan processing (they provide microloans in Mexico).
Marie also mentioned some new product updates and introductions, including the new release of IBM Worklight, which offers seamless interaction and access for mobile apps, along with automated test capabilities and a new toolkit for location-based services development.
She also mentioned the acquisition of UrbanCode, which can assist in getting rapid software development and releases into the market more quickly.
Marie detailed IBM's recent investments in IBM PureData and PureApplications as well, which make it easier for organizations to realize the value of big-data and analytics.
All setting the stage for the week's more detailed discussion about how IBM clients around the globe can go about building their own Systems of Interaction.