Friday, December 1, 2000

PalmPower interview: inside IBM’s pervasive computing strategy


By David Gewirtz

On November 1, 2000, Palm, Inc. and IBM announced a new relationship to develop enterprise solutions together. Given that IBM is the "Big Kahuna" of enterprise computing companies, we thought it'd be fascinating to learn how IBM views handheld computing in the enterprise. We're thrilled to be able to bring you David Gewirtz' in-depth, exclusive, very open interview with Jon Prial, Director of Marketing and Strategy for IBM's Pervasive Computing Division, pictured in Figure A.


IBM's Jon Prial (click for larger image) DG:

Help our readers get to know you better. Can you tell us about your role at IBM?


As the marketing executive responsible for Pervasive Computing at IBM, I really have two roles. The most important, or the broader role, is to help IBM, as a company, ensure that we're focused on delivering pervasive computing solutions from all parts of IBM. Just as IBM focused on the Internet a few years ago with the creation of the Internet division to ensure that all parts of IBM were leveraging these new Internet technologies, the formation of the Pervasive Computing Division in 1998 recognized that we want all parts of IBM to really look at and take advantage of this explosion of new device types and make sure that all business areas are really focused on leveraging this part of their overall solutions strategy.


Let's dive in for a second and help our readers understand the concept of pervasive computing.


We view pervasive computing as an extension of e-business. For years now we've been working with our customers, helping them leverage Internet technologies--whether it's Internet, intranets, or extranets--and merging them with existing IT (Information Technology) infrastructures to reach to their customers, their employees, their suppliers, and their distributors in new ways. And what's happening is we have an advent, an explosion, of new device types showing up now. We want to make sure that we continue to work with our customers to focus on extending these e-business applications to be a new class of device.

"Pervasive computing is, in reality, pervasive e-business: leveraging new technologies such as a wireless infrastructure and the emergence of new devices to enable a whole new class of applications."

It's easy to get confused by the buzzwords. Do you consider e-business another term for e-commerce (like, for example)? Or do you consider e-business a broader topic?