“Paperwork Explosion” by The Jim Henson Company

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Last week, WIRED Magazine dug up a video from IBM Archives fr an article :
Tech Time Warp of the Week: Watch IBM’s Greatest Corporate Film, Directed by … Jim Henson?

Read the article here: http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2014/03/tech-time-warp-henson-ibm/

IBM Fellow Irene Greif Retires – A Pioneer in Building a Workplace that Works

Irene Greif, IBM Fellow and Chief Scientist for Social Business (Photo Credit:  Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology)

Irene Greif, IBM Fellow and Chief Scientist for Social Business (Photo Credit: Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology)

IBM Fellow Irene Greif is retiring after more than 25 years with Lotus Development Corporation (where she was head of Research) and IBM. At IBM, she went on to create the Center for Social Business, a global research effort on reinventing the way people work. Along the way, these teams built the foundations of Lotus Sametime and IBM Connections, and revamped email to be the social tool it is today.

Irene began her journey into the workplace of the future while at MIT. Trained as a computer scientist, she was attracted to challenges of communication and collaboration – regardless of underlying technologies. In the 1980s, questions raised by Doug Engelbart’s 1968 Mother of All Demos, such as why some inventions (the mouse) took off, and others (video conferencing and shared screens) were still being reinvented in research labs, led her to study the opportunities – and limits – for office automation solutions. She founded the field of Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) in 1984 to help computer scientists and social scientists join forces to understand “how collaborative activities and their coordination can be supported by means of computer systems.”

Irene’s pioneering work changed how technology helps us work, and work together. She reflects on the inspiration to make these tools – and inspiring others to do the same.

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What were the workplace tools like when you started your career?

When I was on the faculty at MIT in the late 1970s and early 80s, office automation was the big thing. But the most interesting technologies being used beyond email were still stuck in research labs. At work, the personal computer – loaded with spreadsheet software, usually Lotus 1-2-3 at the time – was cropping up all over the place, outside IT control. And the question of which word processor to adopt was the next big issue.

Local areas networks were just being installed and slowly replacing “sneakernet” for transferring files. So, there was a lot of opportunity for change. What’s more, since researchers who were inventing new tools for collaboration were looking for realistic test beds outside their labs, it was a great time for a researcher to move into a business setting – that’s where the action was going to be.

How has CSCW evolved since the 1980s?

I started the research field of CSCW before joining IBM, but it fit right into what Lotus (and later IBM) was doing with group support systems. I’ve had the chance to keep reinventing workplace solutions – and recreating CSCW teams – ever since.

In the 1980s, group support systems such as online forms and formal networked processes (to pass information around without printing it or carry floppy disks in our pockets) were still new. Also new were anthropologists studying office life and culture. They found that office work was rarely done according to formal written processes. So, when companies built formal processes into online systems, informal actions, such as just knowing who else was in an approval chain when a manager was on vacation, were ignored.

Working with anthropologists helped us look beyond the technology, and brought social science and computer science together on the team.

How has CSCW impacted design? 

This “observe first” approach led us to reinventing email. We discovered that people hacked together ways to manage their lives around their email. It wasn’t just for messages; they used it for reminders and calendar appointments – well before these functions were built into any email platform.

We set out to design an email system that reflected what people were actually trying to do with it. We used our research to make subtle adjustments, integrating new features into Lotus Notes and providing the rich context that now integrates presence, threading, calendars, and instant messaging.

How else were new ideas by designers and developers meshed with what was being observed?

We also kept an eye on the consumer space to ask “would any of those tools be useful in business communications?” For example, chat apps were popular with kids in the 1990s, and that initially made it a challenge to pitch as a business opportunity. So, we used design through storytelling to prove that it could be useful. Our storyboard showed how customer support could “chat” with experts to help solve a technical issue – while staying on the phone with the customer and providing answers seamlessly. This was the origin of Sametime, the ubiquitous tool that IBMers rely on today.

We’ve been fortunate to work with an extremely open and creative corporate IT department that supports experimentation inside IBM. As a result, we can deploy and observe prototypes inside our really large company. And in some cases, the most important inventions were by the crowd – our users – and not our teams.

We’ve taken a similar approach outside IBM on the internet with projects such as Many Eyes. Launched in 2007, we wanted to know how people would use a visual analytics tool. It’s been active for years and in fact, the users pushed us from numerical to text visualizations that were invented and installed on the site. Many Eyes technology has since been transferred to a product team. Version two was released this year.

What’s next in workplace collaboration technology?

What’s next, in my opinion, is less about technology, and more about design. In fact, at this year’s CSCW conference, the new “Lasting Impact” award will be given to a 1988 paper about why group systems fail. The insight still proves true today: the cost-benefit balance of a tool is often wrong, or not accounted for, in the design phase. If you’re building a new workplace app, some people are likely to benefit more than others. You need to take that into account – either increase benefits to all, or make it particularly appealing for the “helpers” to participate.

Every one of my teams has had computer scientists, social scientists, developers and designers. And we have tried to apply this benefit thought in our designs. The simplest way is to try to assure there is personal value to each participant, even before they realize any benefit from sharing. This approach helped us get buy-in, for example, to add IBM Connections’ shared bookmarks feature. It gets everyone’s bookmarks out of a browser, and into a community of people who will also find them useful.

Since I’m betting on a better design – more user-centered and culturally aware design – as the most important ingredient, I’d like to say just how thrilled I am to see IBM’s renewed focus in design. Their design thinking is close to my heart, based on rich stories and deep understanding of not just how something is used, but why it would be used in the first place.

What has it meant to you to be a “trailblazing” woman in technology?

I sometimes envy the women who came up the technical career ranks after me because they had other women to talk to, and share stories with – something I didn’t have when I was a graduate student. It’s important for me, and others who were “firsts” in their fields, to participate in communities like the Anita Borg Institute. Today, as we see more and more women blazing trails, I remind them to look around and talk to other women while they are in the process.

Regarding mentoring, while having a formal mentor is important, don’t discount your second and third degree connections, who can offer you what I often call meaningful “mentoring moments.” Some of the colleagues I’ve sought out for advice never knew in the moment that their opinions played a role in something that amounted to a critical decision for me.

This kind of interaction is supported in social networking theory: it’s not the people you talk to everyday, but it’s those you reach out to who will have new, and maybe the best, insights.

What are some of your plans after retirement?

The great thing is that I don’t have to have a plan. I never really had a plan for my career, but rather let it evolve and I expect to do the same now. I would like to spend more time on STEM education, mentoring and volunteering, and working with organizations such as the National Academy of Engineering.

And I’ll continue to knit, though maybe now I’ll find time to organize the mess of yarn I’ve collected over the years.

(Video credit: IBM Social Business)

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Related:

- Posted by Julie Yamamoto, Program Manager The Greater IBM Connection via Chris Nay, IBM Research Communications

IBM Expands Big Data Portfolio in India with New Predictive Intelligence Software

IBM-Expands-Big-data-Portfolio-in-India-with-New-Predictive-Intelligence-Software_394x296IBM has announced the launch of IT Operations Analytics in India, a new category of software which leverages both cognitive computing and predictive analytics to help companies more easily predict and respond to opportunities and challenges hidden in data. The new software will help a company predict future outcomes, search and discover, and optimize its IT infrastructure by unlocking insights within the data generated by systems, files, databases and servers.

Today, organizations are increasingly faced with managing a complex IT system of servers, networks and applications. Combined with the proliferation of mobile and cloud computing environments, these systems can generate more than 1.3 terabytes of data per day, including log files, software error alerts, IT service tickets and network configuration updates. This can result in more than one million “events” or system alerts per day, some of which are critical to performance and others that are irrelevant, which can bog down systems administrators.

“IBM has a rich heritage of innovation in applying analytics to numerous areas and industries. Now, we are extending that expertise to IT Operations data,” said Omkar Nimbalkar, Director, Cloud, Smarter Infrastructure & Security Software, India Software Labs, IBM India. “By applying cognitive intelligence to clients’ IT infrastructure, they’re now able to gain valuable insights from Big Data, instead of just focusing on how to cope with its volume. This access to real-time knowledge can help predict and prevent IT downtime, improve productivity and generate cost savings, and is something no other vendor can provide,” he said.

Read the complete article on Computerworld.in

Posted by Khalid Raza

IBM Europe Virtual Career Exploration for Graduates – Nov 15 and Nov 20

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Greater IBMers, is your son or daughter getting ready to graduate?  Or do you know a forward-thinking graduate who might be interested in a career with IBM?

IBM Career Exploration is an exciting virtual careers fair aimed at forward-thinking university students to give them an opportunity to engage in an information exchange with IBM, and learn how they can make a difference for themselves, for IBM and for the world.

The events will be held on November 15 for Germany, Austria, and Switzerland and November 20 for UK and Ireland.  Virtual doors will open at 10am for students to log in, and the event starting with the first webcast at 10.30am. Attendees will have the opportunity to explore career development and continuing education programs at IBM; understand how to build and apply their expertise and further their networks; and learn how to best position themselves in a highly competitive job market.

If you know a forward-thinking graduate who might benefit from this experience, please direct them to the links below to register in advance:

Why Work at IBM?

More:

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- Posted by Julie Yamamoto, Program Manager The Greater IBM Connection

Light-hearted Introduction to Cloud Computing

Watch this cartoon video for a light-hearted introduction to the concept of cloud computing and what’s possible when IT systems are dynamic and smarter.

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Video courtesy of IBM Smarter Planet Australia/New Zealand:

- Posted by Julie Yamamoto, Program Manager The Greater IBM Connection

Why Are There Still So Few Women in STEM?

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Graphic credit: IBM in ‘Helping Women in STEM Thrive’

At the Solvay Conference on Physics in 1927, the only woman in attendance was Marie Curie.  Today, there are still few women who pursue a STEM degree or career (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).  In the US, only one-fifth of physics Ph.D.’s are awarded to women, and only 14 percent of all the physics professors are women.  Globally, only 30 percent of women, on average, participate in STEM fields, both private and public.  A Yale study published last year demonstrated that a young male scientist applying for a STEM job in education is viewed more favorably on average than a woman with the same qualifications and offered a salary nearly $4000 higher. (All facts sourced from 1 and 2 below in ‘Related’ list).

IBM is investing in women, whether new to the company, previous employees or current employees. It is providing support through mentoring and networks that can create a foundation for a career path towards technical leadership roles.  Watch the Technologista YouTube series (below) for an inside glimpse of what women at IBM are doing, and learn more about women at IBM here.

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Related:

- Posted by Julie Yamamoto, Program Manager The Greater IBM Connection

IBM to develop smart cities in the Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor

22806700.cmsIBM would support the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation Ltd (DMICDC) for development of smart cites in and around the Dighi Port Industrial Area, Maharashtra.

As a business consulting partner, IBM is working with DMICDC to support one of the biggest industrial development projects of the government of India by helping build smarter and sustainable cities.

The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) is India’s most ambitious infrastructure program aiming to develop new industrial cities as “smart cities” spanning across six states in India.

With the aim of providing digital connectivity among townships DMICDC selected IBM for the company’s expertise in the area of Smarter Cities.

“We are pleased to have IBM as one of the key partners for this project to develop a city based on international standards in close proximity to Dighi Port. This will enhance economic growth, global competitiveness, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability in select cities,” said Amitabh Kant, chief executive officer and managing director, Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC).

Read the complete article on Economictimes.indiatimes.com

- posted by Khalid Raza