I was going to write something about IBM’s Smart Planet positioning after a breakfast on the subject at the company’s Software Group summit this week, but it strikes me there is a more important point to make. Smart Planet is going to need Smart People, and IBM has plenty of those.
With respect to IBM I have to say it was GREAT to be there this week. Everywhere I looked there were very senior executives that deeply believe in the importance of global sustainability. This isn’t CSR, or even “shareholder value”. These are smart people, some with children, that care and want to make a real difference.
One dude is totally awesome – John Soyring – he was an environmentalist back in the first wave in the early 70s. In fact he decided not to retire from IBM because Green is too important, and he sees the opportunity/feels the responsibility to drive substantive change in that area. He is working on IBM go to markets in the Energy and Utilities market that will deliver efficiency, Demand Response and peak shaving.
I also spent some time talking to Doug Heintzman of Lotus, a really good guy that I have profiled before. He showed off some extremely cool new editor technology thinking (anyone for office suites with audio editing capabilities?) in his “day job”, but after the reception on Wednesday evening we sat down and talked about how, or should I say if, we’re going to make the disruptive leap from a carbon economy to something else. Is this really as good as it gets? Is it all downhill from here? Do we face managed decline or catastrophic change? Or can America pull off a renewal that will make the Apollo Project look like a cakewalk rather than a spacewalk? Doug is Canadian, but as he said, who else has the resources, especially in pure science and research, to really deliver us from carbon? America.
I have been hanging out with some web types thinking about driving hacker led sustainability. But we can’t succeed without a top down push from the Big Cos. As I said on an email to the group today:
“Quick update – it seems the top down folks are actually quite serious about smart grids. I know Google is working with GE. But I have also been impressed with what’s going on at IBM, SAP and Oracle around Advanced Meter Infrastructures. This is quite real, and the utilities don’t seem to be fighting it.”
If you’re interested in the future of Energy Networks and the Read/Write Grid Neutral electricity check out Greenmonk.net. Tom Raftery is doing a great job filling out the white space.
Job one in creating a Smart Planet is sustainability. We all need to work our asses off. It makes me feel a whole lot better knowing IBM is on the case, and I want to thank Sandy Carter and John Kennedy for “giving it a name”, something IBMers can rally around. The passion is there. This isn’t CSR. This isn’t just making a buck. Its way more important than that.