Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Toast to IBM Verse at ConnectED 2015

As part of the festivities at IBM ConnectED 2015, our big collaboration and digital experience user group conference in Orlando, I had the pleasure of introducing one of the products my team is working on, IBM Verse, to a "launch party". Our events team was able to get some champagne and sweets, and asked me to provide a few introductory comments to the party. Here's my Johnny Carson moment that I wanted to share, hope you enjoy

Welcome to today's celebration of all things IBM Verse! <raise glass>

I'm your host, Jacques Pavlenyi, Marketing Programs Director for Enterprise Social Solutions.

There are definitely a few people I think we should all thank for getting us where we are today. 

First of course, a big thanks to Alison Fesler and Beth McElroy on our events team for pulling this wonderful little party together. 

And of course a huge thanks to the product, development and design teams for IBM Verse including Scott Souder, Jane WIlson, Kramer Reeves, Rebecca Buisan, Lily Ryzebol, Carolyn Pampino, and so many more that naming them would require another 20 bottles of champagne.

There are tons of great sessions and content in the Developer Labs and the TechnOasis and even here in the Engagement Lounge. So rather than go into Verse, I wanted to look at some other notable launches throughout the ages that, like IBM Verse, have been about simplifying our life. This is of course an enormously biased list based on my slightly skewed sense of humor.

We're going to skip the fire age (the invention of fire), the stone age (the invention of the wheel), and the iron age (plowshares and swords), and go right to the Middle Ages. 

First up, of course, is the Printing Press, which had the unintended consequence of turning the Bible into the worlds' first junk mail.

Skipping ahead to 1879, next up is the first practical commercial application of the lightbulb by Thomas Edison. It wasn't enough to be an insomniac workaholic, he had to make everyone else one, too.

Right around the same time, Alexander Graham Bell commercialized the telephone. It wasn't enough for the lightbulb to keep us up at all hours, now every household with teenagers had it doubly bad.

It took a long time to free the telephone from its wires. It wasn't until 1973 when the first hand-held cell phone was demonstrated by Motorola, using a handset weighing around 4.4 pounds. Because nothing shouts "look how cool I am" like carrying a beige brick bigger than your 1970s hairdo.

In 1967, Amana introduced the first popular home model of the microwave oven, the countertop Radarange, at a price of US$495. That's over $3,500 in today's money. It took about half as long to make chicken as a regular oven, but had the added benefit of making it twice as rubbery.

In the 1980s, the concept of personal serving bottled water took off. Now we can never feel like we'll ever be dehydrated ever again. What's 1000 years of plastic waste and paying $1 for something that's free, compared to saving the 3 minutes it takes to look for a tap?

Text messaging was used for the first time on December 3, 1992, by sending the message "Merry Christmas" from a PC to the phone of Richard Jarvis who was at a party, setting the stage for a far way to ignore people at parties than hiding behind the ficus tree in the corner.

Getting serious for a moment, though. For all our grousing about unintended consequences of technology, the reality is these advances have made complaining about mundane things actually possible. When you're running away from predators or freezing in a mud hut, complaining is kind of the last thing on your mind.

And, being an optimist, I think the pace of good change is only going to go faster. From ARPANET, to USENET to Compuserve to AOL to Mozilla and the Web, to social and Web 2.0, the morphing and merging and mashup of mobile, cloud, social technologies, to a renewed emphasis on designing not just beautiful things, but beautiful experiences, digital or otherwise, each day brings us another unexpected way to simplify our lives. 

It may sound corny, but I honestly do believe IBM Verse, and similar ways to rethink business technology from a distinctly user-centric view  is going to be another one of these great moments. I hope you share my enthusiasm.

So here's to our newest member of the team looking to create a new way to work, IBM Verse!

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