Global CIO: The 50 Top Tech Quotes For 2009, Part II

Take two of the five most-profitable businesses in China: they don't pay for their software. We've got 24 more great quotes in Part II of our best of 2009.

Bob Evans, Contributor

December 8, 2009

20 Min Read

Try this excerpt on for size: "The real understanding of critical business issues among too many CIOs is just poor. And that's not cause they want it to be poor but it's the weight of all this other stuff and the time and budget it consumes."

And you think *your* processing and storage problems are bad? Check this out: "In its first hour alone, the [telescope] will generate more information than that currently held in the entire World Wide Web."

From the geopoliticotechno front, there's this beauty (and I couldn't agree more with the sentiment): "It also is clear that this is an attempt to use MySQL as a cover-up to a political agenda. It is protectionism at its worst. The EU is entering deep water here, water that it clearly does not adequately understand."

Global CIO Global CIOs: A Site Just For You Visit InformationWeek's Global CIO -- our new online community and information resource for CIOs operating in the global economy.

As these snippets demonstrate, our two-part collection of the Top 50 Tech Quotes Of 2009 isn't just a patchwork of snazzy put-downs but instead serves as a Rohrshach image of how the CIO profession and the IT business in general stand here on the verge of 2010.

In selecting these 50 verbal images and offering them in chronological order, we also hope to provide you with a sense of context for the year that is about to end: the key issues, challenging questions, emerging trends, and even Bill Gates doing a bit of on-stage comedy (believe it).

We hope you enjoy this list, and as I mentioned with our first batch yesterday, please feel free to send in your own favorites and we'll be sure to publish them. Enjoy Part II.

Aug. 13: Chrevron CIO Louie Ehrlich: "One example I always like to give is about our Pascagoula refinery, where every second more than 60,000 valves are controlled by IT. It's a complex manufacturing plant that requires significant automation. Yet another example is the role IT plays in optimizing our supply, all the way down to automating the refilling logistics on storage tanks at our retail facilities. There is not a single piece of business that doesn't have some kind of technology enablement. In some cases, without technology there simply is no other way to do it."

From Global CIO: Chevron's IT Transformation: A Tech Company In The Energy Business


Sept. 3: Citrix CEO Mark Templeton: "But I think we're getting to the point where the confluence of technologies like virtualization and data centers and the cloud and networks and client devices are intersecting with flat IT budgets, and those two things are intersecting with the consumerization of IT where your experience with technology at home is so much better than it is at work, and on top of that you've got the situation where the real understanding of critical business issues among too many CIOs is just poor. And that's not cause they want it to be poor but it's the weight of all this other stuff and the time and budget it consumes—I just don't think that model can last," Templeton says.

From Global CIO: Citrix CEO Templeton On Killing IT Inertia Before It Kills You


Sept. 12: IBM VP and Global Leader for IBM's Institute for Business Value Peter Korsten: "These transformative CIOs in the top one-third are all about innovation, and by that I don't mean they like to talk about it—they really do it. They make it very real," said Korsten in a phone interview. "They also know they are competing, often very aggressively, for investment dollars from the company with other executives in the company—they know this is an investment game, so they've got to be all about ROI in order to get the funding for their transformative projects. They need to be able to prove what they can deliver, and then deliver it."

From Global CIO: IBM's Massive Study Says Future Belongs To High-Growth CIOs


Sept. 14: Last year, CIO Michael Harte earned $2.8 million at Commonwealth Bank. This year, 40% of his total compensation—based on $2.8 million, that would be $1.12 million—will be tied to customer satisfaction. . . . Executive general manager Nick "At the end of the year if I haven't achieved my targets in that respect then potentially 40 per cent of my pay will disappear. As an individual that helps to focus the mind on a daily basis around understanding what needs to be done to deliver the right outcome, not just go through the motions and see the service level agreement as something that 'oh as long as we're operating at the service level, we're ok'," [Commonwealth Executive general manager Nicholas] Holdsworth said. From Global CIO: Why CEOs Must Tie CIO Pay To Customers And Growth


Sept. 17: Oracle president Safra Catz said Oracle's database revenue grew more slowly than normal in Q1 in large part because of slumping sales via some Oracle resellers, "most notably SAP, who is selling less database because its applications business is down 40%." Yikes—you don't often see Oracle spank its own customers, but then again SAP is no doubt a very special case.

From Oracle Zaps SAP's Apps Slump


Sept. 20, on the computer system IBM is developing for an enormous new telescope: "In its first hour alone, the SKA [telescope] will generate more information than that currently held in the entire World Wide Web," said the commerce minister for Australia, which along with South Africa is competing for the Square Kilometer Array telescope to be supported by the ultra-powerful computer IBM is charged with developing.

(Same item:) "IBM is researching an exaflop machine with the processing power of about one billion PCs. The machine will be used to help process the Exabyte of data per day expected to flow off the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope project. The company is also researching solid state storage technology called 'racetrack memory' which is much faster and denser than flash and may hold the secret to storing the data from the SKA. The story also says that the SKA is unlikely to use grid computing or a cloud-based approach to processing the telescope data due to challenge in transferring so much data (about one thousand million 1Gb memory sticks each day)."

From IBM System Must Handle Each Hour More Data Than In World Wide Web Sept. 24: IBM General Business Division VP of marketing Surjit Chana: "In India, companies have cut back less and have really continued their investments. I think India is poised to lead the second wave of IT adoption and small-and-medium businesses (SMBs) are the engines driving this economic growth. . . I know of many companies that suffered from the recession but Indian companies have continued and survived . . . because they seem to be more forward-looking than their counterparts in the West and round the world." From Global CIO: IBM Exec Says India Will Lead Second Wave Of IT Adoption


Sept. 25: Bill Gates at Carnegie Mellon University: "What's unique to China is you have large businesses using software without paying for it. SUPER-profitable big businesses [he chuckles]. Take two of the five most-profitable businesses in China: they don't pay for their software. So that's a case where the Chinese have done something quite unique [he chuckles again; huge laughter and applause from audience]. But, I'm not complaining about it—I'm, you know, a big fan of China [big smile from Gates; big laugh from the audience], and a lot of great things are going on there [another big smile, and more audience laughter and applause], but, y'know, we've all got things to work on."

From Global CIO: Bill Gates Rips China Over Corporate Software Piracy


Sept. 29: Steve Ballmer to NY Times: Technology companies must pursue constant market expansion and diversity to stay alive and relevant, according to Mr. Ballmer. "I.B.M. is the company that is notable for going the other direction," he said. "I.B.M.'s footprint is more narrow today than it was when I started. I am not sure that has been to the long-term benefit of their shareholders." From Global CIO: Ballmer Blasts IBM For All The Wrong Reasons


Oct. 1: "Some [outsourcers] will be acquired and some will exit the market completely to be replaced by dynamic new partners delivering BPO as automated, utility services," said Gartner research VP Robert Brown.

From Shakeout For Top Outsources Coming, Gartner Says


Oct. 15: Netezza CEO Jim Baum on Oracle CEO Larry Ellison: "Once you get beyond reducing cost, the priorities of today's CIOs all trace back to a revolution around strategic, advanced analytics on massive amounts of data to not only better the business, but also transform it. Really know each individual customer. Understand what's happening instantly. Adapt. Predict. That's the future---and any vision of that future was noticeably absent as Oracle merely tries to remake itself in IBM's image." From Global CIO: Oracle's Larry Ellison Gets Served By Netezza's Jim Baum


Oct. 21: comments from the former CEO of MySQL: "As Cnet's Matt Asay says in his very solid analysis of the EC's shell game: Competition within and around MySQL is alive and well, regardless of Oracle. After all, as former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos has been saying for years, MySQL has never really competed with Oracle, anyway. MySQL serves (and has helped to create) a very different market: the Web database market. When asked in April if Oracle's bid for Sun would end up hurting MySQL, Mickos responded: "MySQL works for Web-based applications. Oracle is for older, legacy applications." The vast majority of Oracle's revenue comes from enterprise IT. The vast majority of MySQL's revenue comes from Web companies like Facebook, Google, etc. MySQL and Oracle don't really compete. They live in two very different markets."

(Same column:) Cnet's Asay also offers this comment from Gartner analyst Donald Feinberg: "The EU does not understand open source. This is clear by using DBMS (MySQL) to extend the deadline. It also is clear that this is an attempt to use MySQL as a cover-up to a political agenda. It is protectionism at its worst. The EU is entering deep water here, water that it clearly does not adequately understand."

From Global CIO: Can Oracle's Larry Ellison Keep MySQL From EU Whiners?


Oct. 23: Sohaib Abbasi, CEO of Informatica: "A year ago, most of our engagements were more about operational efficiencies and compliance. But now, those discussions are about how customers can focus on their most-profitable customers to focus on revenue growth," he said. "And in either case--cost control or revenue growth--data integration continues to elevate as a priority and in urgency, and gains a higher sense of strategic purpose."

From Global CIO: Informatica Joins Ranks Of Elite Enterprise Software Companies


Oct. 26: HP CEO Mark Hurd, asked if HP is positioning itself as "the infrastructure company": "That's right. That is accurate. Because for us—you had these stats up here: in the next four years, twice as much data as you have today. Double the digitization every 18 months. Double the text messages volume in the next three years. The infrastructure that has to support all that content—all that content that has to be processed, stored, moved, shared, visualized—and, we love it when it's printed—and we like to have the consumer and the enterprise services to support those ecosystems," Hurd said. "That ecosystem I just described is HP." (Same column:) Mark Hurd on cloud computing: "I had to give a presentation to a group of CEOs, and I was representing us as an industry (circles his arms to crowd as indicator of inclusion), and here I am talking about the cloud and all kinds of cool things that can happen with the cloud, and, and I got a lot of boos, um, after that, and it started with the whole term, 'cloud.' From a non-technical CEO perspective, cloud computing doesn't sound very clear to them. So their view was, 'Can you guys ever come up with terminology that sounds a little more business-friendly than 'cloud computing?' . . . . A moment later, the interviewers asked Hurd for his impression of the term cloud computing: "I don't like the term—no, I don't like the term."

From Global CIO: Hewlett-Packard CEO Hurd's Strategy: The Infrastructure Company


Oct. 29: HP CEO Mark Hurd: "Because I'll tell you, I don't know how many CEOs are in the audience here, but when you show me bad IT—and I meet a lot of CEOs, and do a lot of talks in front of CEOs—and I get a lot of CIOs who tell me how bad their IT is. My first reaction—to be very frank—is it's probably a bad CEO, as opposed to bad IT."

(Same column:) Hurd on the the interplay among his customers of the CEO and the CIO, and whether HP is at a disadvantage in focusing on the IT leader as the primary target versus the businessperson focused on business outcomes: "Oh I certainly think—and particularly with our acquisition and move into the services space—we want to play a role of helping IT—I wanna make sure I'm clear—our role isn't—and it's a very fine line you touch here, David—uh, we wanna be viewed as somebody who helps IT accomplish their objectives. To the degree we assist with trying to align the business with IT, that is an asset I think we can bring."

From Global CIO: Hewlett-Packard's Hurd Says Bad IT Means A Bad CEO Oct. 30: SAP CEO Leo Apotheker: "In addition, we are driving more multi-year agreements, where customers buy and consume software over many periods, which we believe is a positive transition for both SAP and our customers. We have the benefit of many years of experience in facilitating the purchase of our software in this manner, including the success we had in signing multi-year, Global Enterprise Agreements with our largest customers. We have now started to leverage this approach with a bigger group of customers."

(Same column:) SAP statement elaborating on Apotheker's statement: "Through the Global Enterprise Agreement model we have gained the experience on how customers want to buy and consume software based on building a long-term strategic road map over several years. We are now taking this concept, with some adjustments to take into account differentiated market needs, to our next 580 largest customers. We expect this to open up tremendous opportunities for growth going forward."

From Global CIO: SAP Eliminates All-Up-Front Payment Requirement


Nov. 4: IBM CIO Pat Toole on his professional peers: No matter what industries CIOs happen to be in, "if they don't come out of that cost-cutting mode and help drive the transformation of their company, they're going to be irrelevant."

From Global CIO: IBM's New CIO Sheds Light On Priorities And Plans


Nov. 5: IBM CEO Sam Palmisano on the PC business, cloud computing, and the future: "Dell and HP say they've learned how to make money off their PC businesses. They brag about their 4%, 5% margins. But grocery stores do better with a lot less risk in their inventory. Groceries don't change much—but with PCs, you get a big change in technology, which you always will, and suddenly the $2 billion you've got in inventory has lost a huge amount of its value."

(Same column:) "So now we see all this manifesting itself in Smarter Planet—and we think the analytics wave is just at the beginning," he said. "Cloud computing—what we're really talking about is 'highly virtualized infrastructure'—it's also just beginning, but it's an unfortunate name. There's tons of hype in the beginning and then the industry starts to ascertain what's real and what's not, and that's where we are now. It's starting to take off on the consumer side, which has been very visible, but we don't play there, we're an enterprise company—but even with all the talk and rhetoric about cloud starting to slow down, the real thing behind the name is starting to ramp."

(Same column:) "What this means is that the digital and physical infrastructures of the world are converging. Computational power is being put into things we wouldn't recognize as computers. Indeed, almost anything—any person, any object, any process or any service, for any organization, large or small—can become digitally aware and networked. With so much technology and networking abundantly available at such low cost, what wouldn't you enhance? What service wouldn't you provide a customer, citizen, student or patient? What wouldn't you connect? What information wouldn't you mine for insight?" (excerpted in column from earlier speech to Council on Foreign Relations) From IBM CEO Sam Palmisano Talks With Global CIO


Nov. 6: Excerpt from New York Times article cited in column: By confronting Oracle, E.U. regulators risk ushering in a new era of trans-Atlantic tensions over antitrust law. Yet letting Oracle off the hook would smack of weakness after Neelie Kroes, the E.U.'s outgoing competition commissioner, spent the past weeks trying to goad some of Oracle's top executives into making concessions. The dilemma has prompted speculation that the best outcome for Ms. Kroes would be for Oracle to drop its interest in buying Sun, relieving the regulators of the need to make a choice. "Neither path Ms. Kroes faces is a pretty one, and yet this is the decision she might end up being remembered by," said Spyros Pappas of the law firm Pappas & Associates in Brussels. Probably the best escape for her would be for Oracle to cancel the deal." (Excerpt from the New York Times used in column)

From Global CIO: Oracle Trapped By EU Politics As Sun Employees Suffer


Nov. 11: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison on Sun, IBM, My SQL, and the EU: "Sun has been a national treasure for the last couple of decades and we think with that combination of Sun technology and Oracle technology, we think we can succeed and compete and beat IBM. And that's our goal."


(Same column:) Zander asks, "If they ask you to spin [MySQL] off, will you?"

Ellison: "No."

Rapid-fire, Zander asks, "If they told you to spin it off, would you?"

Ellison: "No. We're not gonna spin it off. The U.S. government cleared this, we think the Europeans are gonna clear this, and we are not going to spin anything off."


(Same column:) "T.J. Watson Jr.'s IBM was the greatest company in the history of the enterprise on Earth because they had that combination of hardware and software running ost of the enterprises on the planet. That company was the dominant company in computing when I came into this industry: it was pre-Intel, there was no Intel, there was no PC, there certainly was no Mac or any of this stuff. It was IBM, IBM, IBM. And I was told that IBM was not a company against which you competed; IBM was the environment in which you competed. We've already beaten IBM in software—on modern systems. And now, if everyone will let us, we'd like to see if we can beat IBM in hardware, or systems."

From Global CIO: Why Oracle's Larry Ellison Will Tell The EU To Pound Sand


Nov. 12: SAP CTO Vishal Sikka: ". . . .Java is the lifeblood of the IT industry, and IT is a fundamental underpinning of the way business is conducted in the 21st century. The technical interfaces that are jointly developed by the community should be immune from bias, and the community should be able to work even closer together in the spirit of cooperation to continue the Java success story."

(Same column, also from Sikka:) "In a flat world whose economy is dependent on global relationships, IT has an essential enabling role to power the global business network. SAP systems are at the core of large parts of global IT, and are powering more than 65% of the transactions that make up the world's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). SAP bears a great responsibility to provide a stable core."

From Global CIO: SAP Tells Oracle To Free Java But Keeps Its Own Software Closed


Nov. 13: Late this year, both IBM CEO Sam Palmisano and HP CEO Mark Hurd said they dislike the name "cloud computing," so we asked the wonderful Global CIO audience to come up with new and better names. Some of your submissions were wonderful, and some make "cloud computing" seem positively riveting. Here are two sets of nominations for your consideration, and you'll see that acronyms were certainly favored by some:

Submitted by Doug: UNIVAC (Universally-available Virtualized Accessible Computing); HAL (Highly Available Logical computation platform); UPTIME (Universally-available Platform for Terrestrial Infrastructure utilizing Modal Environments); and, The Matrix

Submitted by Daniel: EPIC (Enterprise Peer Information Center); BEND (Datacenter Network for Enterprise Business); PROFIT (Platform Resources for Outsourced inFrastructure in Information Technology); (DROP (Data Resources Organization Peer); RAIN (Resource Aplications Information Network); PAIN (Peer Applications Information Network ); and, OIT (Outsourced IT 3rd-Party Distributed Systems iCloud)

From Global CIO: Cloud Computing's New Name: 500 Reader Suggestions!


Dec. 2: SAP press release on one-month postponement: "Until then, a decision on pricing for Enterprise Support has therefore been postponed. With this, SAP once again demonstrates that it takes the concerns of its customers seriously and also recognizes the ongoing pressures bearing down on IT budgets in the current economic environment."

From Global CIO: Will SAP Move To Tiered Maintenance Fees?


Dec. 3: HCL senior VP Prasanna Satpathy: "We're seeing some improvements now, there's no doubt about that, but we really bottomed out last year," he said. "So the beauty of the Equitable deal is that it's an indication the companies are really starting to invest again—and it really feels like you're in heaven."

From Global CIO: Outsourcer HCL To Cut Insurer's Costs By $150 Million"

Dec. 3: General Motors CIO Terry Kline on his recent experience selling some unconventional ideas to GM’s top brass: "I said I don’t know if any of these things will stick, but it doesn’t cost hardly any money to try. We can throw 200 of these things against the wall, and let’s see if three or four of them will stick. And by the way, while we’re doing these things, we’re learning a lot—about ourselves and about our customers."


That's it for our Top 50 Tech Quotes Of The Year—we hope it gives you get a better sense of where we've been and where we're headed.

See Part I of our Top 50 Tech Quotes Of The Year here.

About the Author(s)

Bob Evans


Bob Evans is senior VP, communications, for Oracle Corp. He is a former InformationWeek editor.

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