In Memoriam-Don Henderson

HendersonWilliam Donald “Don” Henderson, 79, passed away Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Memorial service: 10 a.m. Wednesday at Shannon Rufe Snow Funeral Chapel. Don was born April 22, 1936, in Galveston to Robert and Eva Henderson. He was a graduate of the University of Texas. Don married the love of his life, Rosalie, on Sept. 6, 1958. Don worked at IBM for 32 years as a systems engineer before his retirement. Most recently, he consulted for Affiliated Computer Systems. In his younger years, Don loved to ride motorcycles and held a black belt in karate. He enjoyed camping and skiing trips with his family and, more recently, had joined the Guys and Dolls Bowling League and the 31 Club with his wife. He was preceded in death by his parents. Survivors: Wife of 57 years, Rosalie; daughters, Dayna and husband, Cruz, Kendra and husband, Wayne, and Sharla and husband, Jose; grandsons, Jason and wife, Farrah, and Randy and wife, Heather; great-granddaughters, Taylor and Kendall; great-grandson, Brandyn; brother, Gregg and wife, Bonnie; mother-in-law, Margaret; and numerous other family and friends.

Published in Star-Telegram on Sept. 7, 2015

– See more at:

IBM, ARM Partner on IoT Analytics Services


  • IBM (IBM +1.3%) is partnering with CPU core giant ARM (ARMH +1.2%) to enable devices supporting ARM’s mbed IoT software/services platform to automatically register with IBM’s IoT Foundation platform, and thereby access cloud-based IBM analytics services.
  • IBM: “This unifies [mbed and IoT Foundation] at the point where information gathered from deployed sensors in any connected device is delivered to the cloud for analysis.  The IoT connection also enables delivery of actionable events to control equipment or provide users with alerts or other information. For example, the triggering of an alarm message on a washing machine to ask the owner to confirm a breakdown engineer appointment if a fault is detected.”
  • With ARM’s CPU cores used by billions of mobile and embedded devices (and billions more on the way), a wide variety of products can be covered. In addition to analytics tools, IBM’s IoT Foundation supports the development of cloud apps (through the Bluemix platform) for analyzing IoT-generated data, and security tools for protecting it.
  • ARM, meanwhile, has followed up on mbed by launching IFC, a framework for quickly creating networks of embedded, Web-connected, ARM-based devices.

Eric Johnsa, Seeking Alpha, 3 September 2015

IBM Watson Can Discern if Your EMAIL is Too Passive Aggressive

angry-emailWe’ve all written emails, texts and blog posts we regret. We thought they would be interpreted one way, but instead they sparked fights.

New test-interpreting artificial intelligence technology from IBM Watson could help protect you from yourself.

IBM introduced instant Tone Analyzer this week, which uses cloud-based linguistic analysis to tell if that email, blog post or text message is really as angry, assertive, happy or sad as you intended.

The super computer has come a long way since beating a human at Jeopardy! It’s now behind a vast array of cloud-based services and APIs that businesses can use to drive everything from computer-generated recipes to robotic interactions.

This new experimental feature, though less tasty than cognitive coooking, could someday change the way businesses and marketers interact with customers and clients.

“Tone Analyzer analyzes given text and provides insights about the emotional, social and writing tones reflected in that text,” IBM scientist Rama Akkiraju explained in a blog post on Thursday.

The analyzer examines each word — in anything from a brief email to a lengthy document — and applies a color-coded rating based on three dimensions or tones: emotional, social and writing style.

For “emotional tone,” which may be the most important dimension, IBM Watson infers the text’s intended emotions: anger, cheerfulness or negativity (of course, it can’t know for sure). It also uses the broad personality dimension measurement known as the “Big Five” personality model to determine the social tone of the text. In particular, IBM Watson analyzes for things like openness and agreeability.

This sounds cool, but the real fun is trying out the demo site. You can drop in any text, press “analyze” and immediately see Watson’s interpretation of your tone. In addition to color-coding, the Tone Analyzer offers two ways of rating your text. Word count shows the percentage of words that apply to each emotion, social tone and personality type; the second view compares your emotional score to a preset score for type of communication (like “business email”).

If Tone Analyzer only told you the tone — intended or not — of your document, it might inspire some curiosity. But it tries to guide you toward a more positive and open document. When you click on a color-coded word, Watson offers a variety of synonyms intended to improve the openness, conscientiousness and agreeability of your note.

I dumped in a bunch of different text and was generally impressed at the intuition. For example, it noted that the use of the word “very” in text could actually come across as tentative and suggested “really.”

On the other hand, when it did not understand the context of a word like “jerk,” it offered completely useless synonyms.

Overall, it’s an impressive bit of artificial intelligence that could eventually sit in business systems, catching angry emails and milquetoast marketing before they leave the office servers.

In the meantime, wouldn’t it be nice if everyone used this demo for just one day and made the email world a kinder, gentler, more open and more assertive place? (Don’t answer that.)

Lance Ulanoff, Mashable, 17 July 2015

How IBM is Answering CIO’s Calls for Workers with Mainframe Skills

Mainframes 2015There are a variety of reasons why some businesses continue to rely on the mainframe’s superior performance and reliability.

Mainframes process 30 billion business transactions daily and up to 150,000 transactions a second in peak loads; they also run the world’s financial systems, and are a platform of choice for other transaction-intensive industries such as airlines, hospitality, and insurance.

The latest IBM series z13 mainframe can process 2.5 billion transactions a day. The mainframe was the originator of virtualization in the 1960s, and the z13 system reflects this tradition with its ability to run thousands of virtual instances of Linux under its hood that support myriad applications, as well as big data processing software such as Hadoop.

Mainframes also play well in the cloud; they can quickly virtualize and deploy systems, running them at high levels of performance, reliability, and efficiency.

Business leaders’ mainframes challenge

The average age of a mainframe professional is between 55 and 60, according to a quote in a 2010 Bloomberg Business article. “The concern that I heard from senior executives at major enterprises in our area was that half of their mainframe workforce would be retiring in the next four to eight years,” said John Turchek, Professor, Computer Information Systems and Department Head, Computer Information Systems at Robert Morris University (RMU) in Pittsburgh. “They were going to need young people with the right skillsets to run this technology.”

The call to action from IT executives came as a bit of a surprise to Turchek. “Between 1976 and 1995, our University taught six core mainframe courses to all undergraduate IT majors,” he said. “Then in 1995, we made these course electives, and in 2005, the courses disappeared from our curriculum altogether.”

The curriculum change was a likely response to 1990s tech prognosticators who predicted that mainframes were going to be totally displaced by distributed client/server computing. However, the futurists of that time were not the IT executives running the data centers at major companies. “I must have had ten IT executives from major companies around Pittsburgh come knocking on my door,” said Turchek. “They wanted us to resume offering the mainframe courses.”

Today, RMU offers an Enterprise Systems Program to IT undergraduate and graduate students that consists of five to eight core series z mainframe courses (depending on student specialty). “Enterprises tell us that they want graduates with skills in the series z operating system, in virtualization environments like z series mainframe zLinux, and in programming, database and transaction processing software that runs on mainframes,” said Turchek. He added that the job placement rate for students in RMU’s mainframe program is close to 100%.

At the University of Arkansas, David Douglas, Professor of Information Systems in the Sam M. Walton College of Business and Director of Enterprise Systems, is quoted in a Transworld Data case study (PDF) that their job placement rate for graduates with mainframe training was also around 100%, and that the University additionally averaged around 30 student internships with enterprises each year. “We don’t quite have a 100 percent conversion rate for our interns into permanent jobs once they conclude their internships, but much of this is due to companies just not having permanent employment openings available, or the student deciding to accept employment elsewhere,” said Douglas. “What we have found is that if a company has an opening when one of our students concludes his internship, the company generally makes an offer of permanent employment.”

Today, over 1,400 colleges and universities worldwide are enrolled in IBM’s z Systems Academic Initiative, according to Don Resnik, who leads the program. Some offer multiple courses on z Systems, others an introductory course, and many of them have students competing in the IBM Master the Mainframe Contest. Many program graduates get jobs at big companies and earn salaries that start in the mid-$70,000s, according to Dr. Bryant Mitchell, Associate Professor of Business Management at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES).

“We had a busload of UMES students visit us here, and we gave a tour and held an open mic forum,” said Anthony Dolan, an IT Director at DTCC, which processes trillions of dollars of securities transactions on a daily basis. “The questions they asked were very astute and sophisticated….On the average, it takes about three years to develop a new hire into a seasoned technology professional in our environment . . . but the students from UMES hit the ground running.”

Mary Shacklett, TechRepublic, 20 July 2015

IBM Acquires Merge Healthcare

Watson 2015IBM has announced plans to acquire Merge Healthcare, a provider of medical image handling and processing, interoperability and clinical systems designed to advance healthcare quality and efficiency for $1 billion. The acquisition will bring IBM Watson’s advanced image analytics and cognitive capabilities with data and images obtained from Merge Healthcare medical imaging management platform to surface new insights from a consolidated, patient-centric view of current and historical images. Merge’s medical imaging platforms are used at more than 7,500 U.S. healthcare sites, including most of the leading clinical research institutes and pharmaceutical firms. 

Acquisition Details

Under terms of the acquisition, Merge shareholders would receive $7.13 per share in cash, for a total transaction value of $1 billion.  The closing of the transaction is subject to regulatory review, Merge shareholder approval, and other customary closing conditions, and is anticipated to occur later this year.  The acquisition marks IBM’s third major health-related acquisition – and the largest – since launching its Watson Health unit in April, following Phytel (population health) and Explorys (cloud based healthcare intelligence).

Benefits of Merge Healthcare’s Integration with Watson Health Platform

IBM’s Watson Health unit plans to integrate Merge’s product and solution offerings with its existing expertise in cognitive computing, population health, and cloud-based healthcare intelligence offerings to:

– Offer researchers insights to aid clinical trial design, monitoring and evaluation;

– Help clinicians to efficiently identify options for the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring a broad array of health conditions such as cancer, stroke and heart disease;

– Enable providers and payers to integrate and optimize patient engagement in alignment with meaningful use and value-based care guidelines; and

– Support researchers and healthcare professionals as they advance the emerging discipline of population health, which aims to optimize an individual’s care by identifying trends in large numbers of people with similar health status.

“As Watson evolves, we are tackling more complex and meaningful problems by constantly evaluating bigger and more challenging data sets,” Kelly said. “Medical images are some of the most complicated data sets imaginable, and there is perhaps no more important area in which researchers can apply machine learning and cognitive computing.  That’s the real promise of cognitive computing and its artificial intelligence components – helping to make us healthier and to improve the quality of our lives.”

Fred Pennic, HIT Consultant, 6 August 2015

How IBM Learned to Love Open Technology

Lou-Gerstner-e1438169769947When Lou Gerstner first arrived at IBM as CEO in 1993, he brought a gripe with him from his time running American Express, one of Big Blue’s largest customers.  As he wrote in his memoir, Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance, it became central to his transformation of the company. What had happened was that an IBM executive had called one of his division managers and threatened to withdraw support from a major processing center. The reason? The division had installed a single computer from a competitor. Gerstner had been flabbergasted and vowed to change things when he got to IBM.

Today, more than twenty years later, IBM’s commitment to open platforms is unsurpassed and last week the firm announced two initiatives—developerWorks Open and an academic initiative for the cloud—that will deepen its commitment further.  The story of how it all happened provides a useful model for how managers can adapt to the new age of platforms.

A New Business Model

Every business strategy is highly dependent on the context in which it arises and Gerstner’s transformation of IBM was no different.  While its business model had been based on proprietary products and systems, the technology industry was shifting towards the Internet and the Web, which nobody owned and were much better suited to open technologies.

This was a completely new way of thinking about business.  As Dr. Angel Diaz, a Vice President at IBM explains,“In the beginning, we needed to understand what open source actually meant.  The natural instincts of enterprises was to try to control it, so these instincts needed to change.  What we realized was that the more things opened up, the greater the opportunity would be.”

One early initiative was Linux, a new operating system built on open principles, where anyone could contribute code.  That not only helped the technology advance more quickly, but also markedly broadened compatibility.  That, in turn, greatly expanded the talent base of people who could work with the software and helped to expand the market further.

For IBM, this was a paradigm shift.  Rather than seeing its business as a “proprietary stack,” Gerstner built a new business model aimed at the customers’ “stack of business processes.” So while the base technologies would be open and free, IBM would create value through designing proprietary systems, software and applications to solve its customers’ problems.

That, in essence, became IBM’s e-business initiative, which transformed both the company and its fortunes.  In the six years between 1994 and 2000, the company’s business grew from $64 billion to more than US$88 billion, and net income had nearly tripled.

Integrated vs. Modular Organizations

For most people, the shift from proprietary to open technologies seems alien and counterintuitive, something that could only be conceived in the shadow of Haight-Ashbury where free love once reigned.  Yet when viewed through the context of integrated vs. modular business models, it becomes clear that the trend has ample historical precedent.

As Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen explained in The Innovator’s Solution, in the early stages of an industry, firms with wholly integrated, proprietary products have an advantage. However, as an industry matures and the technology becomes better understood, it inevitably becomes more modular, with different firms specializing in different parts of the value chain.

For example, when Henry Ford built his famous River Rouge plant in 1928, it was a wholly integrated facility that produced every aspect of the product.  For all intents and purposes, you sent iron and coal in one end and a car came out the other.  A Ford product was unique, with little to no overlap with competitors.

Yet today, the industry is highly modular, with major producers designing and assembling cars, but thousands of suppliers providing components.  The dependency on suppliers is now so complete that, during the recent financial crisis, Ford Motor Co. lobbied for bailouts of GM and Chrysler because, if they went down, so would the supplier network and so would Ford.

The shift from integrated to modular models is never a singular event, but a continuous process that is constantly being renewed.  Value naturally shifts from whole products to components and then back again as new solutions arise, which then must be tightly integrated until connections between components are better understood.

From The PC Revolution To The Cloud Disruption

When Gerstner arrived at IBM, the PC revolution was in full swing.  Computers, which had traditionally been solely relegated to the back office, were quickly making their way to executives’ desks.  The Internet would soon connect these into an entirely new ecosystem, creating new challenges and opportunities.

Many of IBM’s competitors, like DEC and Wang, couldn’t manage the shift and would not survive, while new players, such as Microsoft and Intel, rose to dominate the industry. Today, we’re seeing a similar shift to the cloud, which allows any device to access massive computing resources.  This time the change will be, if anything, faster and more pervasive.

That’s why open technology is moving so rapidly to the fore, because innovation requires greater standardization of basic resources in order to be deployed at scale.  As IBM’s Diaz puts it, “With the explosion of technology, including cloud, mobile data, etc., you need ever expanding centers of gravity that pull together standards into a more coherent ecosystem.”

It is these “centers of gravity,” such as the Linux and OpenStack foundations, that drive open technology forward.  IBM’s newly announced initiatives, continue in this vein. Developerworks Open, will open source 50 new technologies that aren’t yet part of any existing foundation.  The academic initiative will partner with 200 institutions in 36 countries to train new developers on cloud technology.

Perhaps most importantly, IBM’s commitment to open technologies is not wide-eyed altruism, but a clear eyed business strategy.  For example Watson, its advanced artificial intelligence platform, is highly dependent on open source technology.  However, while everybody can access those same open resources, only IBM can do Watson.

The New Era Of Platforms

IBM has embraced open technology and, in many ways, is uniquely positioned for it.  IBM Research discovers new computing paradigms.  Its engineers are adept at transforming those discoveries into solutions and its enterprise sales and consulting services are top notch.  Few, if any companies, can boast of that kind of strategic depth.

Yet today, everybody must manage the shift from corporations to platforms, where competitive advantage is achieved not  through control of resources, but access to ecosystems.  In IBM’s case, open technology platforms allow it to access ecosystems of software developers and it in turn offers those resources, along with its own proprietary capabilities, to customers.

It’s easy to dismiss this as a “technology strategy,” but in reality it is a result of the shift in power from nodes to networks and the same forces are beginning to transform every industry.  Although earlier generations of executives learned to developed vigorously protect their turf, today’s leaders must learn to effectively widen and deepen connections.

It’s been more than 20 years since Lou Gerstner first arrived at IBM and began its transformation.  The road has not always been a smooth one.  Some younger firms, such as Tesla, open source their technologies almost as a matter of instinct.  Yet still, the idea remains something most corporate executives are reluctant buy into.

Nevertheless, in an age of disruption, the only viable strategy is to adapt.  Proprietary solutions only confer advantage when they add value over and above that of base technologies.  Otherwise, they merely hold you back.

Greg Satell, DigitalTonto, 29 July 2015

In Memoriam-Jack Barrett

Jack Barrett passed away on August 13th with his three loving children, Brenda, Scott and Brett, and his wonderful wife Mickey by his side. As many of you know, Jack was instrumental in building IBM’s EDS team at the IBM Turtle Creek Branch Office in the mid-80’s and following. Our thoughts and prayers are with family and friends as they go through a very difficult time mourning a great man.

IBM Community Channels

red_bridge_300x64Join The Greater IBM Connection community on a variety of social networks. You also can share The Greater IBM Connection with your networks by posting a link to the community and using the hashtags #greateribm or #ibmalumni in your posts.

1. LinkedIn: Join the LinkedIn group to participate in the latest discussions and to connect with your fellow Greater IBMers. The Greater IBM Connection is one of the largest corporate networking groups on LinkedIn with an active membership and daily discussions on various business topics.

2. Blog: Follow the blog ( to keep up with the latest news, emerging trends, thought leadership, and career advice. Members who follow the blog can choose to receive daily or weekly digests. Non-English speaking members also can view the blog in their language here.


3. Facebook: Like the Facebook page () to keep up with interesting tidbits and facts about IBM and Greater IBMers, and to receive the latest photos and infographics.


4. Twitter: Follow the Twitter handle to keep up with the latest news and posts from The Greater IBM Connection as well as other IBM communities and news feeds.


5. Portal: See what your fellow Greater IBMers are talking about around the Web through the portal’s feeds and member blogs. To search for feeds by keyword, you can either click on the keywords in the Topics area on the right or type your keyword into the search box and click Filter to filter the feeds by your keyword. (To learn more about how to add your own blogs and Twitter feeds to the portal, see ‘3. What is the IBM ID and do I need it?’ on the FAQ).


6. Other/Geo-Specific: For more information on local communities, or to start one of your own, see the Local Connections section of the blog.

Report from The Greater IBM Connection

IBM BlueThanks so much to those of you who participated in a series of experiments among IBM alumni this summer. We enjoyed testing out some new ideas and hearing from you about what worked and what didn’t. Below are some high level findings from those experiments, along with a big shout out to each of you for your insights and feedback!

Based on our recent research, IBM Alumni are interested to:
– Find each other for professional reasons, leaving the personal connections to social channels;
– Tap into IBM trends, expertise, and learning content;
– Hear from IBM leaders on key questions about the business;
– Get involved in mentor opportunities with each other, early professionals and non profits; and,
– Engage with IBM in an easy, fluid, integrated way (one-stop-shop).

So fun to collaborate with you this summer and generate some great ideas together. We’re packaging up these findings into a proposal for 2016 investments aiming to create stronger mutually beneficial relationships with our alumni. Thanks again to all of you who participated. Looking forward to keeping the conversation going!

Amanda Xu, Social and Engagement Consultant at The Greater IBM Connection, 25 August 2015

In Memoriam-Ron Swift

SwiftRon Swift, 70 years old, of St. Lucie West, lost his courageous battle with lymphoma on August 11 in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Ron was born in New York City to parents of Hungarian decent, Roszy Pogany and Stephen Swift. Ron’s love for Budapest and his Hungarian heritage were with him always.

Ron served 4 years in the U.S. Air Force. He joined IBM in January 1970 and began a very successful career in the information technology field. After retiring in 1992 from IBM, he joined AT&T, later NCR, and then Teradata.

Ron was a world renowned author, speaker, and consultant for his expertise in the fields of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Data Warehousing.

He and his wife Donna were able to travel throughout the world as he continued with his peripatetic professional duties throughout his career. During the last few years he was invited to be an Executive in Residence Professor at the University of Georgia Terry School of Business in Athens, Georgia. He was a natural with coaching and mentoring young professionals and thoroughly enjoyed “The Dawgs”.

Ron’s friends and colleagues will always be grateful for his loyalty and loving commitment to life-long friendships.

Ron leaves behind his wife, Donna in St. Lucie West; his loyal Maltese, Winston.

No services are planned at this time due to his wishes but a celebration of life party is planned for Derby Day May 2016. Donations/tributes are requested for the Cutaneous Lymphoma Foundation in Birmingham, Michigan Phone 248-644-9014 or