IBM Impact confab has a Steve Jobs vibe

Steve Jobs once threw rocks at IBM. Now, Big Blue treats him like a rock star.

One of Steve Jobs' defining moments in business was the famous 1984 Apple commercial which not-so-subtly suggested that IBM was a dictatorial "Big Brother" depriving the world of technology choices.

At this year's IBM Impact conference, Jobs was openly revered as the late, great savior of business technology.

Consider the vibes:

  • The conference kicked off with a keynote speech by Walter Isaaacson, author of the best-selling Steve Jobs biography. Isaacson hailed Jobs as a great larger-than-life contrarian thinker and innovator, in a league with Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein. He cited one of Jobs' tenets of design: that the part of the product users don't see should be just as beautiful as the exterior.
  • IBM leaders, including Senior Vice President of Software Steve Mills and General Manager Marie Weick talked about achieving good, or even beautiful design within the product lines. Weick even alluded to SOA as "just good design."
  • IBM VP of business process management Phil Gilbert took the stage, lauding the simplicity and power of the Apple iPad, while demonstrating IBM's latest socially driven BPM interface. He crowed about the new, "beautiful" interface for IBM Business Process Manager software.
  • Also taking the keynote stage was Dale Potter, CIO of Ottawa Hospital, who discussed his facilities' adoption of iPads for its physicians and healthcare professionals, which dramatically improved patient care.
  • Many, many, many of the sessions and panel discussions focused on the opportunities and challenges from extending enterprise capabilities to iPhones and iPads, among other mobile devices.
  • And -- need I even say it? -- everywhere you looked, conference attendees and IBM employees were either gazing at or talking on iPhones.