Sidewalk: Innovation is the flavour of the season!

In the last week, I attended two events, first IBM Forum 2008, a premier event held by IBM across major business capitals and second, Gartner CIO Summit. And surprisingly when I attended Gartner summit, which took place after IBM Forum, I couldn’t help but experience deja vu feeling. There was a pattern. Innovation and Talent management were the topics discussed by many a speaker!

The most notable speaker at IBM Forum 2008 was Ginny Rometty, IBM’s chief of global business services. Her speech centered around 3 key challenges for organizations today: Innovation, Globally Aware Talent, and Mindset. Interestingly, she observed that Business Model innovation is more important than pure product or service innovation. What that means is that innovations in Business and process models will bring about competitive advantage for organizations as product and services get commoditised.

Gartner India CIO summit held over two days in Mumbai had two primary themes: Business Alignment & Workforce, and Technology & Processes. During these two days, while there were few generic presentations on Technology Trends for 2008 & Beyond, there were few interesting sessions.

Frank Kern, IBM’s Asia Pacific leader, shared his views on the forces shaping the next generation of global business, and the lessons emerging from leaders who make no distinction between their business strategy and the role of IT. His crisp and well received presentation had a strong under current of IBM’s Innovation agenda. I had a question for Frank; what was more important – technology(BPM, SOA): that brings about flexibility & agility or rapid process of development (SDLC) – for high growth organizations today? Not surprisingly, he suggested that both were equally important.

Greta James, Research VP of Gartner, presented Gartner’s BPM Maturity Model and addressed issues such as how should ogranizations assess their readiness for BPM, How should organizations plan for BPM initiatives and What the typical CSFs are for initiatives such as BPM.

Kathy Harris, VP & Distinguished Analyst of Gartner, made an excellent presentation on Application Maturity Model. She made an interesting point about system development process while responding to a query on the need for rapid and flexible system development approach. She quoted a European company’s IT function that was required to bypass standard SDLC to deliver quickly so that the company could compete in a a highly competitive business environment. She seemed to be one of those rare western experts who viewed process as a means to an end and not the end by itself.

Andy Kyte, VP & Gartner Fellow, made a fantastic presentation on the changing software systems horizon, how the Big 4 – Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and SAP – are likely to play this game and how should user organizations evaluate the ecosystems from the Big 4.

Diane Morello, VP & Gartner Fellow, made an interesting presentation on identifying changing assumptions and practices that will put companies on the leading edge of the quest for talent.

These were interesting 3 days that gave me an opportunity to listen to some of the best minds in the industry. Like me, the event was attended mostly by the IT professionals. However, considering the high quality of these presentations and issues discussed, I strongly felt that audience of such conferences should have been my business colleagues rather than IT professionals alone.

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