Home IBM Launches alphaWorks Services – Needs To Bring Sexy Back

IBM Launches alphaWorks Services – Needs To Bring Sexy Back

IBM has
been pretty slow to cotton onto the social Web, but this year they’ve started to embrace
web 2.0 and ramp up its marketing (some would say hype) around it. While IBM has
undeniably always been at the center of technology and innovation, it’s taken them a
couple of years to marry their ‘traditional’ idea of web innovation to the more sexier
consumer trend of ‘web 2.0’ – probably because they are such a huge company with layers
of hierarchy.

IBM has just announced the 10th
anniversary of alphaWorks
– their showcase website for emerging technology. At the
same time they’ve launched alphaWorks
, an online initiative which will let the outside world view work done by
IBM’s R&D labs – by highlighting the company’s most cutting-edge work and providing
it for free download. alphaWorks Services will also let external people provide regular
feedback to IBM’s R&D labs, in hopes of creating a more collaborative community

There’s a video released on
that explains more. In it IBM VP of Technical Strategy and Innovation Irving
Wladawsky-Berger says that alphaWorks will keep IBM young, moving fast and in tune with
the marketplace. He said it will let IBM “keep innovating where it counts”.

I kept thinking though… isn’t this supposed to be a showcase of emerging technology?
So where’s the show?

Note to IBM: Bring Sexy Back

Examples of alphaWorks success stories in the past 10 years are Autonomic
computing, the Eclipse platform and Servlet Express. Others currently in the works
include ADIEU, WebRB and Deep Thunder. None of these are ‘sexy’ consumer web 2.0 apps,
which is one reason I’m a bit skeptical of how the alphaWorks Services initiative will
play out.

The metaphor used in the press release of alphaWorks being “a window for users to get
a sneak peek into our R&D labs” is a fitting one… it conjures up the image of
white-coated scientists doing important stuff in the IBM labs. Universities and a
lot of developers will certainly find this interesting – but it’s not going to capture
the imagination of consumers, like Google labs
does… or even Microsoft’s Windows Live.

Perhaps I’m being unfair. It may not be in IBM’s interests to capture the public’s
imagination like Google or Microsoft, because after all IBM is an enterprise software
company and not a consumer one. Nevertheless with the trend of ‘the consumerization of
the enterprise’ happening at lightening pace, plus all the Web Office (aka office 2.0)
developments, I think there are opportunities for IBM to reach out more to early adopters in
the consumer market.

For a start alphaWorks Services is designed to showcase interactive online services, so how about
making it a bit more interesting for the Web users in enterprises – rather than
just the developers? Just a suggestion, and maybe a wrongheaded one. But personally I’d
like to see IBM sex it up some more!

Slightly adjusted (just the first word) opening lyrics from Justin
Timberlake’s Sexy Back

“IBM bringing sexy back;

them other boys don’t know how to act.

I think it’s special, what’s behind your back?

so turn around and I’ll pick up the slack.”

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