IBM and Cisco seek power after dinner

If you're doing medicine genetic analysis and wireless network planning are divorced from your reality. But high overhead top management is thinking about these things, led by executives of companies like IBM and Cisco.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive

When are the big mainline tech vendors going to take over the health market from specialists?

After dinner.

(This print of post-dinner brandy, cigars and coffees is available at Art.com for just $19.99. Plus tax and shipping. Framing available.)

After dinner come the big, expensive, and awesomely complex problems C-level executives like to think about, problems decision makers below them don't have time for because they're busy fighting alligators.

Today execs with IBM and Cisco called to talk about problems they're working on, meant to endear both companies to top management while those below continue developing solutions that will actually sell.

Dan Perino, general manager for IBM's life sciences business, described a new chip that aims to get the cost of a full genetic screening below $1,000 by 2014, which is the government's goal for the technology.

Is it a product? No. When will it be a product? Can't say, but it will certainly be made by partners, not IBM itself. Is the chip ready? Well, we just simulated it, but we'll soon know how to turn it into something.

"The race is to deliver the price performance where it becomes commonplace. Today genetic screens are only available for the most chronic conditions," he said. "We need to build more confidence. Then we need to work with our partners and get prototypes and releases out."

But it sure will sound great over drinks at the club. "You hear IBM has a new chip that will decode a full genome for under $1,000? I better call IBM. No one ever got fired for buying IBM." Chuckle, chuckle, inhale the drink and puff thoughtfully on the cigar.

Perino closely followed Kaveh Safavi, head of Cisco's health care practice, who had just finished demonstrating his company's "telemedicine" solutions to invitees from the Health 2.0 conference in San Francisco.

"We brought a variety of technologies and showed what was possible, as opposed to what you buy today," he said.

An avatar appears on a patient's TV to explain the bill. A wheelchair tells a patient what's about to happen. "We want to stimulate leaders to plan for what might be coming. We weren't selling and no one was buying, we were provoking ideas." (Dr. Clippy, I presume?)

What's it all about? It's about getting meetings with "C-level" executives, CEOs and CTOs and the like, to whom Cisco will deliver its 30,000-foot view that networks need to be planned, not just created willy-nilly based on vendor solution sets.

"Yeah, I was talking to Cisco today. They said we need to see where our business will go and then fit products into it. Planning, that's the thing." Long pull of the drink opposite the guy who talked to IBM.

If you're actually doing medicine the problems of genetic analysis and wireless network planning are probably divorced from your day-to-day reality.

But high overhead top management is thinking about these things, led by executives of companies like IBM and Cisco. So when it comes time to build for 2014, who do you think gets the first call?

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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