Tag Archives: innovation

EMC Innovation Conference – day 2b

Continuing from the first half of my day two notes…

Steve Santini (internal EMC link), CTO, Bank of America Securities spoke next as the day’s featured guest speaker. Steve shared his perspective on how how Bank of America (BofA), as a very large company, organizes itself for successful innovation; the bank’s vision for the future of information; and the Center for Future Banking. Notes from this session:

  • Per Steve’s acknowledgment, this presentation itself is innovation, since normally BofA has avoided such engagements so as not to appear to be making an endorsement. To those at BofA who made the call to allow Steve to present during this conference, a hearty “Thank You!”
  • BofA is a company that is always in transition (e.g. due to M&A activity), and it has a well-defined process to handle transitions such as merging IT data centers (i.e. concept of a “lean” – e.g. if I could do X or Y, I lean toward X). A first lean is about gut feel. A second lean is about details, and a third lean is about execution.
  • BofA has to innovate in order to deliver products that meet ever-changing lifestyles.
  • First, create the room and the structure for innovation to grow.

Next, the conference focused on university research and heard updates from several EMC-sponsored efforts as follows:

  1. Fudan University Ph.D candidate from Parallel Processing Institute, Haibo Chen, presented “Inside and Outside Protection of Cloud Services through Daoli Trusted Infrastructure.” More (EMC internal) details on this presentation are here.
  2. University of Washington doctoral student in Computer Science & Engineering, Evan Welbourne, presented “RFID Data Management for Pervasive Computing Applications.” More (EMC internal) details on this presentation are here. Evan is the graduate student lead of the RFID Ecosystem project.
  3. University of Michigan Professor Peter Honeyman, research professor, scientific director, Center for Information Technology Integration (CITI), challenged the conference audience to look to parallel computing for storage innovation. During session Q&A (in response to modern OS deficiencies where massive throughput is concerned): “you solve the problem you have…CITI is addressing new problems…”

The final segment of the conference was the announcement of showcase judging results and awarding the winners, which are outlined here.

This was a great conference both in terms of content and in terms of networking with fellow EMC colleagues. It was invigorating, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s event.

Update 10/27/2008: Cornelia Davis posted a nice blog on her conference experience here.

EMC Innovation Conference – day 2a

Continuing from the good start on day 1 (10/21/2008), the second and final day of the conference (10/22/2008) began with a world tour of EMC’s Centers of Excellence in China, India, Russia and Ireland. It was great to see a large remote gathering at each site via live video feed. The leadership of each center discussed how they innovate current EMC products and research the next generation of offerings. There was plenty of energy apparent in each team. Notes from this session:

  • India is the largest and most tenured CoE, and this year its innovation showcase submissions alone outnumbered all submissions last year (i.e. the first year of the showcase).
  • China is a much younger CoE, yet it already represents a significant percentage of innovations submitted this year. Where will the China CoE be at the same point in its history? Or Russia? Or elsewhere?
  • The CoE concept has the advantage of multiple products being developed under the same roof (e.g. benefits of co-location collaboration, etc.).
  • The “Great Wall” in the China CoE is a large, lengthy wall that acts as a whiteboard dedicated to capturing innovation.
  • As we do in CMA, the China CoE has site-wide wiki and collaboration is encouraged.
  • I’m a fan of Charles Fan, head of the China CoE, and it was a pleasure to meet and talk with him in person. Consider, for example, his perspective on hiring talent (with which I agree): It’s all about building EMC’s brand. A very selective hiring process–one that targets the best of the best–means that few are hired into EMC; however, many more candidates and applicants are exposed to what EMC is all about. Furthermore, many of those not hired become employees of EMC’s customers.

Next, there was a panel discussion about driving innovation within several EMC business units (i.e. which processes and programs work and which don’t). Doc D’Errico was an effective moderator of Rich Napolitano, Amnon Naamad and Mark Sorensen. Notes from this session (raw):

  • Convergence – process/workflow
  • Technologists maturing into business people
  • Rid complexity (!…and reduce engineering cost); simplify to enable technology adoption by customers
  • Tyranny of the installed base–the innovator’s dilemma
  • Quarter-based drivers versus long-term strategy
  • Critical transition for a successful startup: making the move from idea to value proposition; therefore, pay attention to wider industry and look for such events
  • Practice of “R&D grants”: receipt of one rewards recipient with 1 day/week to pursue idea (e.g. 10 people in a 2000-person organization)
  • (Music to my ears…) First architect; then implement.
  • Not being able to measure is no reason not to start. Start!
  • Forrest floor…big trees block out the light; develop others by allowing light hit the “sapplings”
  • Encourage risk-taking (don’t reward failure)
  • Mark captured Rich’s “army of innovators” remark, which I fully align myself to (versus an ivory innovation tower approach)

More to come in a follow-up post…some of which I see already captured here

EMC Innovation Conference – day 1

First of all, I echo what Mark posted about the refreshment that comes from talking with people face-to-face that I typically communicate with less personally (e.g. IM, email, wiki, blog, etc.).

Being at the conference in person also allowed me to meet several folks for the first time.

Right before lunch, I spent some time talking with Kartik and Steve about various ways to bring different parts of the EMC business together for real customer impact (e.g. around archiving–not just reacting to today’s concerns but helping customers articulate their vision toward long-term return on information such as may be found in a presidential library or elsewhere “100 year problems” may exist).

This year the conference went virtual, with over 1000 participants around the globe. (Last year was just a physical event with roughly 400 attendees). This is a welcome development.

The conference itself kicked off by Harry You welcoming this physical-and-virtual audience and fielding questions. In short, I really like Harry. He is a strong advocate for technology and technologists, and he is both warm and plain spoken.

Next, Jeff Nick addressed the topic of “Innovation at EMC: One Year Later.” Jeff did so by talking about seven new C’s: concepts, connections, communities, career track, customer interactions, communications and course. Within this seven-C framework, Jeff emphasized a disruptive, collective approach to innovation rather than one living only in ivory towers.

He provided compelling evidence of the inclusive, viral nature of innovation at EMC, especially taking place in our Centers of Excellence (CoE) around the world. Internally, we have EMC ONE, which provides an easy-to-use platform for group collaboration (e.g. communities and wikis) and individual editorial (e.g. blogging). EMC ONE was preceded by an internal wiki pilot in the corporate CTO office and has since influenced the corporation’s public web properties (e.g. EDN).

The model Jeff described works; it has been proven already within EMC. However, it doesn’t scale…yet. (To those of my colleagues at EMC: think about this next year holds.)

Jeff closed by stating the following three things that matter:

  • EMC puts the ‘I’ back into IT. Information doesn’t commoditize; technology does. Therefore, focus on the derivation of value from information.
  • EMC leads the way in inclusive innovation. EMC’s talent pool–its people–is its least commoditizable asset. Therefore, leverage it; don’t go around it.
  • EMC inspires, empowers and honors its technical community. The conference thus far certainly reinforces this priority and commitment.

The day’s guest speaker was Alan Marcus, Director, Head of IT and Telecommunications Industries, World Economic Forum. Alan spoke on “The Geography of Innovation” (or as he suggested, the economy of innovation). His presentation was both interesting and meaty (i.e. I need to re-read his presentation, which was packed with engaging visuals, charts and anecdotes).

Here are some of the rough notes I took during Alan’s talk:

  • Patents are a terrible measure of innovation, but no one has come up with a better alternative.
  • For the first time, there are four generations of workers in today’s workforce–each wanting very different sets of things.
  • Collaboration is a tough problem where innovation is concerned (e.g. openness vs. IP risks).
  • Closed, open, mass–these types of collaboration remind me of interaction design and observation of user-system interaction (e.g. the value of understanding mass behavior as well as the innovation produced by the mass). That is, I believe that you must be engaged in the process–perhaps more so in a mass context.
  • WEF Innovation Heat Map
  • Understand the implications of comparative advantage
  • Out-innovate yourself, or someone else will!
  • Innovation is about a core aspiration. Structures form and structures fall (e.g. middle management moving to use LinkedIn, then moving to use Facebook, then moving to…). Structure serves aspirations.

Following Alan’s presentation, conference attendees were invited to attend the innovation showcase, which featured the final 30 submissions diligently reviewed and selected from among the 984 total ideas submitted from 19 countries world-wide (414 India; 205 US; 169 Ireland; 97 China; …). The team or individual behind each final submission stood by a large poster conveying (visualizing) the idea’s essence. What a great set of ideas! Furthermore, the passion behind each idea was clearly on display, too. I had a chance to meet and share ideas with Dr. Jidong Cheng from EMC Research China, and I look forward to our future collaborations.

To wrap up this post, here are some additional notes I took during the day:

  • Inspiration doesn’t guarantee impact. Therefore, will to make innovation presented during this year’s conference more impactful.
  • Innovation investment is all the more critical in a down-turn (e.g. current, prevailing economic conditions).
  • Connecting ideas and communities is the essence of EMC’s innovation conference.
  • Integration isn’t just about technology or technical integration. I will continue to maintain that SOA is least about technology; it’s more to do with organization and behavior (thinking and acting).
  • I got to thinking about Cloud/SaaS/PaaS as a way to pool together smaller business/tenants into larger “unions” to yield better cost (TCO). For example, consider such behavior for health insurance or even phone company discounts offered to employees of larger corporations. The implications of the economies of scale makes me think…
  • Nearing intersection of personal and professional information management
  • Pain typically precedes change/action/transition (e.g. cost of IT…hosted solutions)
  • Enterprise space can learn from consumer space, and vice versa–what are the key lessons/observations?

More to report in a follow-up post…

Upcoming travel

This has been a light blogging month thus far; however, I suspect this is about to change due to the following events I’ll be traveling to during the rest of October:

  • EMC’s 2nd annual Innovation Conference (e.g. sample coverage of last year’s inaugural event: [1], [2], [3])
  • A follow-on EMC summit on next-generation collaboration
  • Microsoft PDC

I’ll do my best to blog what I can. Cheers…