These days IBM’s Impact Conference is as much about sales as education, but one of the things it sells is ideas, and ideas can change the world. The first and last main tent keynotes contained two of the best, most-inspiring speeches I have ever seen in any context. TED-class.
The two talks that really nailed it for me came from Doctor Jeffrey Burns of Boston’s Childrens Hospital and Grady Booch – IBM Fellow and inventor of UML. Both talks deserve their own posts – hopefully the videos will be posted soon and I can recommend you. just. watch. them.
Burns is leading a revolution in healthcare that could see infant mortality rates around the world plummet – with a tool inspired by IBM’s web site for the 2009 Masters in golf. We hear a lot in enterprise tech about “business-IT alignment” – Burns never used any of that kind of language, but he spoke beautifully and eloquently at the interstice of business and IT.
Booch meanwhile gave us a poetry lesson.
“Software is the invisible thread and hardware is the loom on which computing weaves its fabric, a fabric that we have now draped across all of life.”
His presentation continued in that vein, but made it clear that every software development decision has an ethical dimension. Beautiful, or even workable, code just isn’t enough. Development decisions in the small, can have a large impact on the world. The history of IBM in its 100 years, tells us a lot about capability vs responsibility. I for one, am grateful to see the firm committing to a long term, mature view of sustainable development. If only its customers were so inspired.
In terms of main tent presentations IBM was mostly pitching its business process management tooling again this year, having made recent acquisitions in that regard, most notably Lombardi, which are now integrated with the mothership. I don’t think there were any main tent coding demos. Redmonk is more about code than modeling and drag and drop configuration but that’s not to say we can’t see the value of both approaches…