Making Data Simple: Support transformation

Making Data Simple: Support transformation


Many industries are tuning in to the importance of customer support as a strategic differentiator. Every interaction with a client is an opportunity, and support interactions provide one of the richest ways to connect. Bob McDonald, vice president of support transformation and training, and Tracy Bolot, director of Analytics Global Elite Program and digital client care, discuss the new and emerging methods of support in the digital era. Additionally, the duo provides tips on what tools your company needs to successfully provide support to clients in 2018.


00.30 Connect with Al Martin on Twitter and LinkedIn

00.35 Listen to Making Data Simple: A new definition of cognitive client care.

00.40 Connect with Tracy Bolot on Twitter and LinkedIn.

00.45 Connect with Bob (Robert) McDonald on LinkedIn.

03.30 Learn more about IBM Watson. Want to read more about Watson Chat-Bots? Read Hello, Watson! by David Thomason. 

13.00 Learn more about AI at IBM or read more on Navigating the A.I. and Cognitive Maze by Steven Astorino. 

13.15 Learn more about Machine Learning and read So what exactly is IBM doing different with Machine Learning by John Thomas.

14.30 Learn more about IBMs Db2

27.50 Connect with Kate Nichols on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Ready to dig deeper? Check out our previous podcast episodes of Making Data Simple.


Al Martin:             You are listening to the Making Data Simple series, this is your hostest with the mostest Al Martin speaking today, we are going to revisit an earlier broadcast we did with Cognitive Client Care. Tracy Bolot and I did that podcast, and she is with us on the call today, but with Tracy we brought in Bob McDonald, he’s going to join us. Bob is the vice president of support transformation and training across all of IBM. So welcome to my humble podcast, you both. 

Bob McDonald:    Thank You, Al, for the Invitation.

Tracy Bolot:          Yup, doing well, Al.

Al Martin:             I am a very strong advocate for transformation, maybe a disruptor, maybe bullheaded, maybe a pain in the rear end as Bob may say. Currently I both support and transformation for analytics, but Bob he eats, sleeps and drinks support transformation 24x7, 365. While we work together, he is the man and the focal across IBM with this transformation of what I would call a revolution. How is that for an introduction Bob, why don’t I allow you to introduce yourself and then Tracy you can follow, I know we already done one podcast, folks may still want to hear what you’re about.

Bob McDonald:    Well Al, I was going to let you keep going, I was enjoying that introduction even better than the one I would offer myself. So I thank you for that. You're right, I guess the opportunity and I truly do mean it's an opportunity to lead the transformation of IBM support across the enterprise with you and all your peers and the 10,000 support professionals that we all get a chance to work with on a day-in and day-out basis. 

                              And it's an opportunity to do something that our customers and the marketplace has been asking IBM to do, which is to modernize, and truly reinvent the support that's offered in the IT industry.

                              And it's an opportunity for us to differentiate ourselves from the competition right of value differentiation for our clients and in the process absolutely drives business results for the IBM company as well.

Tracy Bolot:          Yes, so Al, as we talked on our last call, I run the support transformation efforts for the analytics group. So I work very closely with Bob’s team, on implementing the tooling and the changes that he’s made. 

                              I work closely with our development team in an integrated approach and I also have a team that does some development of new tools working closely with the response team. (Just kind of) work hand in hand with working on these portfolios with the support transformation efforts. 

Al Martin:             So most of you should know Tracy from our previous podcast, but seriously with Bob, he and I work together a lot. Some of the questions that I know that I am going to go through he is going to feel like I'm leading with this they're somewhat rhetorical. 

                              (Bob) you're welcome to throw any questions back onto me at any point in time. I feel like the best way to do this is to have a dialogue as if we were getting a beer or a coffee and questions can go into all directions between you, Tracy and I.                             

                              So the first question I had is, I thought about calling this podcast “the end of support” because maybe that will gather everyone’s interest. But the question I have, I guess embedded within that title or theme is, as we are working, we are revolution support, I said bigger than the transformation, are we nearing the end of traditional support as we know it? What are your thoughts on where support is and where it is going? 

Bob McDonald:    We have to be at the end of traditional support as we know it era. We have to take the lead in our industry and really drive a differentiated experience as based upon product cognitive capabilities that comes from our Watson solution, that is providing a digital service as opposed to voice and web channels that are traditional. 

                              Look at some of the adjacent industries that have seen customer service and support as being paramount to a value that the customers expect when they buy a product. 

                              And yet even as we try to drive a different way of delivering support Al, Tracy has heard me say I think more than a few times, any good service support organization, one of your strategies should be to put yourself out of business. 

                              But what does that mean? We should be looking at support as being sort of a catalyst for how do we bring the right product to market, how do we bring intuitive and contextual support inside the product so the customers don't need to go calling an adjacent channel of IBM to get help. 

                              It's right there in the product. Enhance the product itself, drive and ability for the customers to get information on their own without having to talk to any human being. 

                              And in doing that, sort of putting yourself out of business the people that are delivering the support today will be doing more in the form of knowledge management, getting the information out to the customers, making it available so that those support professionals know what the customers want will just be sort of pivoting and delivering a service to the customer in a different way.

                              But the way in which we do it today, it has to be yesterday's news, we have to do something different. 

Al Martin:             I threw Bob a softball now because you can see that energy go up as soon as he answers that question is like, a couple hundred degrees. Tracy did you have any comments to add to that? 

Tracy Bolot:          Yes, I think it is even bigger than that. It’s not only about how a company deals with a customer but about when we think about 20 to 30 years ago well, let’s go even further, 30, 40 years ago, if I had a problem with my refrigerator, what did I do? 

                              I'd have to find someone that knew something about it. So I'd call people or I would go and visit my neighbor. That's where I got information. In the last 20 years how we get information is we can go through and search it on the web where we can go find information. 

                              We have a new opportunity here where we can get knowledge experts together and you can get help from knowledge experts in all sorts of different ways that you never had before. So it's not just how companies talk to their customers but the community around it. Who else is using these products, who else is trying things?

                              And how you get that whole community to have that discussion whether it's virtually, whether it's individual content forms, whether it's in user groups, so I think we have a new neat opportunity here to really get community based help that we never had before. 

                              So I think it's everything Bob said and more. It's not to say a relationship between a company and a customer but the relationship across an entire industry and how we get all these different knowledge experts together to help each other. 

Al Martin:             Bob, anything you would like to disagree with from Tracy? I would like to get some disagreements going here but

Bob McDonald:    No I agree in the way it’s and more, and the and more long used to be in (unintelligible). We need to constantly be looking for new ways of doing crowd sourcing. Find ways of bringing knowledge to the clients, in the ways that they wanted. 

                              Customers don't want to go to you because what they want is you to come out to them. And if coming out to them means they get to go to their peers and their informal or formal network to get assistance of finding a way to use crowd sourcing or any other means. 

                              I think that's perfect. That is the way that we have to go forward so I agree with Tracy. 

Al Martin:             So here's the way I interpret it. I really think like we're in the experience revolution. I think it's all about the experience. The age of client experience, the age of subscription, driving loyalty, reducing churn, I mean that’s how you have to earn and keep customers unlike ever before and I think that is across every industry. It is almost earth shattering in the impact that it has.                             

                              I usually term things in why, what and how. If I was looking at why, it would be personal relationships with clients. I mean inspiring those personal relationships and expanding value when you do so. The what is delivering that client experience. 

                              It related to expanding value, it's almost like, and (Tracy) you and I talked about the last time you were on, the podcast. You know you don’t want the customers to have to call you. You don’t want the customers to even have to chat with you, if they do have to solicit your advice for a resolution, you almost want to be better off having had the problem to some extent because they get added value from the provider that has given you support. 

                              And then, I think there is the how and how I often have turned it in my mind is almost a cognitive, personalized care platform. And I think cognitive has a place to play, I will get back to that in a bit. But to pause, I want to get back to you Bob, in terms of IBM strategy. 

                              I see the things that we are doing within IBM, and I am always pushing and I am always agitating but I have got to say, the stuff that we are doing is very cool and I am extremely proud to be a part of it. Can you start and talk about what IBM point of view is in terms of the overall strategy and the transformations that we are driving? Then I would like to dive into a few of those transformations.

Bob McDonald:    The heart of our strategy is simple in the sense of, today our support model is very classic it has levels which is a term I think has to go away. We should not use it any longer.

                              Similar to having tiers, we have that, that should go away. It's been built up over decades. And by the way the model has delivered values. However, that's a very reactive model. What the customers want, what the marketplace is pointing to, is more predictive and preventative. 

                              They do not want to have to call up support. It's the point we were talking about a moment ago. So at the heart of our strategy is move from the reactive mode over the predictive and preventative mode. 

                              And also we want to make sure that we're doing it through digital channels in an omni channel fashion we want to make sure that we're applying cognitive capabilities, not just in the way in which the customer gets one for one question answers but actually how we can use analytics to (better) our products, describe it better support experience for our customers. 

                              Everywhere that they are out there in the marketplace. And the heart of our strategy is of course it's also, it's outside in. This revolution as you call it of support is not being driven as by the IBM side of things. 

                              It's being driven by the customers, by our business partners, we can never forget our business partners there critical to our success. So we want to make sure that we recognizing outside in the market forces the client, the different demographics of our client base with the types of people that we work with on a regular basis.

                              They're expecting us to change and in transformative ways in which we're changing many parts of IBM, in the words of our very senior IBM executive is what is sort of the last bashing of that the market is requiring of us if we just take that data going forward. 

                              It's something that we are going to lead. I honestly, as we introduce our advocacy agenda this year and NPS score started to become all of our focus at IBM. 

                              We started to look at the best of breeds in the industry. We are far outpacing the industry that we work in from an from an NPS score perspective. But from the best of breeds, we still have a ways to go. 

                              Our expectation is to leapfrog and go beyond that because the customers when they see that experience here at IBM they will see the change after that is what it's all about. 

Al Martin:             So let me ask you this question, describe that change to me. I think if I am in the audience right now, I understand what you are saying, from a theoretical point of view but give me some objective areas I guess is what I am trying to say, that we have changed, here are the results. Here are some areas that we are going to get into that should be forth coming shortly. 

Bob McDonald:    We have actually introduced nine cognitive solutions across our support organization. some of those are directly to customers, some of them are for the support professionals. Those are demonstrated in the form of customers getting a response from Watson as opposed to ever talking to Al or Tracy or Bob. 

                              They're getting a direct answer from us. Our support professions are finding information more rapidly because Watson, it's serving it up to them at a more rapid fashion as well. We are using Watson Analytics to feed the information back to our development team so that as they're bringing new versions of the product to the marketplace, they're doing it based upon direct customer feedback. 

                              Those things previously we're often manually intensive. They're now automated and they're resonating in front of the customers and in front of our support professionals. And we're just starting. 

                              I think you've heard me tell you, I don't believe in transformation in the way classic way of just sort of taking an ice pick and reshaping what we already have. We're breaking it down; we're breaking it apart what's out there, going to start over wherever we need to. 

                              We have also made some investments that are going to allow the customers to be able to get a more consistent experience across IBM as previously the investment in our technologies were antiquated in legacy and fashion. So were making our investments on this side and resonating in front of the customer. 

Al Martin:             I see all that you have done and all that you are doing in terms of the how that I described and I think the team is doing a great job with this. Its one, driving clients for life. Two, driving the community that you mentioned earlier Tracy. Three, the cognitive insights you just refereed to. A customized experience in other words, personalized experience depending on what that client needs its not one size fit's all. That is four, five is direct to expert and six is integration expertise. 

                              Now we may have talked about this Tracy, in our previous podcast but as you are working with Bob’s team, what are the one or two areas that we have done, or doing that excite you the most? 

Tracy Bolot:          So two things, one is on the cognitive side. One thing that I wanted to mention while I hear Bob talk about all the wonderful things that has done. This is not easy, if it were easy, it would have been done years ago. Trying to do what Bob is doing at the scale across hundreds of thousands of IBM employees and hundreds of thousands of customers is not easy. So when you can do something that moves the needle across that whole set of customers, that is where it gets very exciting. 

                              I think we've done that through the cognitive work. So the ones that think ones that Bob was mentioning through Watson. We have an advantage here at IBM, let's be honest. We have Watson. So we can leverage the best experts in AI and machine learning. 

                              Figure out how to do this well and we've done that in a couple of very specific incidents. So on the cognitive side we have moved the needle. We have done that across the entire corporation thanks to the efforts of Bobs team so again, it's not easy when you look at the scale of that, its huge. The other part that excites me is what we will be doing going forward into 2018 is taking all that stuff that you mentioned. 

                              Getting direct to experts and taking this cognitive ability to get those easier problems solved and getting those direct to expert when you really do have a tough difficult problem, that all is fast like we are moving the needle but 2018 is going to be about pulling the community effort into it and making it more streamlined in a embedded context. So those two things that are coming up again big deal pretty excited too. 

                              So I think what we have on the plate for 2018 with communities and what we got on the plate for the embedded support and how you get that information easily in a streamlined fashion, that is huge and gets me very excited and the scale of the cognitive changes that we have made already takes a lot of good work of Bob’s team. Those things are not small. 

Al Martin:             So this is sort of rhetorical on my part but I want to say this, ask this question to you Tracy because I think the audience needs to hear this and that is can you quickly talk to the different avenues and the different forms of execution that you have done with Watson on the cognitive side? It is pretty dramatic, if you could talk to that-

Tracy Bolot:          Yeah, so Bob talked about them at a high level. So I'll give you an example of one of our products, Db2.  On the Db2 side we have a Watson Chatbot that answers questions that from a Watson perspective answers questions that customers type in. We started working on this when we worked with Bob about year and a half ago. 

                              We put a group of interns on it to help create the questions that we wanted to have to make sure the context was associated with it and to make sure that in that things were streamlined, we worked closely with Bob’s team on making sure that as we got feedback from customers that we used it and continued to tweak and improve which is what AI and ML is all about. 

                              And until we got a chatbot now, Watson that is very good. To answer your question and Bob’s team is now taking it to the next level where a lot of that working is connecting the data. 

                              The questions are being done in a more automated fashion through something we're calling ARM at the resource manager. 

                              So we can link these together in an automated fashion. Our Db2 customers are seeing that today with the Chatbot. What they're not seeing today but we're seeing internally is in the same regard that when you open a ticket with IBM, we have Watson running behind the covers to try and identify what that problem might be. 

Kind of like you type in a chatbot only it senses the PMR, and sees what kind of knowledge may be out there to kind of help you resolve the problem and we see all that internally. 

                              That's helping our customers achieve and getting quicker answers from our support team then they ever would before. Sort of puts some metrics around it. 

                              You have thousands of questions that have come in through the Watson Chatbot for Db2 alone that is resolved by the answer. We also have tens of thousands of PMRs now that have had Watson weigh in. 

                              When Watson does weigh in, I think 30 percent of the time it provides a useful answer to our internal support team. So both of those things are very impressive and I don't know that customers quite understand how much it is helping them get a quicker answer from our support analytics, but it has been really helping us. 

Al Martin:             By the way for those listening tickets equal PMR in our lingo if you will. Bob you wanted to chime in?

Bob McDonald:    Yeah, Al, I can I just add one thing. We're talking about this and answering your questions here and hopefully the answer aligns with everything the customers would want to see that IBM is doing. 

                              But as I tell you, to answer your question, I think about the many customers that I have already talked to or, different conferences that I have gone to. Recently in Q4, where I am often asked, what gets me excited about what we're doing? 

                              It's getting out in front of the customers and getting out in front of our peers in other industries and sharing with them where we're  what we've done and where we're heading. And the response is pretty dramatic. 

                              They're shocked by rate and pace that IBM is stepping up. We think we're not going fast enough and quite frankly we're not. But as I share with them some of the ways we're making changes and how fast we have made them, they're shocked because they would have expected IBM to have done that over five to 10 years as opposed to getting it done in the last 18 to 24 months. 

                              So I honestly believe listening to the market place, sharing our work, our plans, and our results externally is really what gives us the energy to keep going for more. It also gets a lot of times the ideas of the expectations that to go and do more I just think that we have to get our stuff there more regularly and this podcast is one avenue but can’t stop here, we have to keep getting it out there. 

Al Martin:             To extend on that a little bit what do you think. Let’s talk about IBM for a second, there is no harm in doing so, what do you think IBM does or is set up to do that is better than anybody else in this space. 

Bob McDonald:                    Oh there is no doubt in my mind that AI and Watson have the trump card. There is no doubt in my mind that because of the point that Tracy made earlier, we have not only the technology but the expertise in house, and we have the appetite to want to apply that technology inside of IBM and when we do it inside of IBM and more and more of our customers come in and see what we've done they want to bring it outside and do it in their own organization. 

                              So it is an ability to demonstrate - showcase AI and Watson capabilities inside of IBM support that will drive a better support experience for our customers who extend it to their customers. It will also drive business for IBM. 

                              So our trump card is Watson. And it is not exclusive but it is the trump card in my opinion. 

Al Martin:             So the proof is in the outcome. Talk to a few outcomes in Watson that demonstrate or align with what Bob just stated.

Tracy Bolot:          Yeah, I think the metrics that I gave just a little while ago for Db2 for example is great metrics. We look at the Chat Bot and when Watson weighs in with what it thinks a helpful answer would be it's correct majority of the time. This has happened thousands of times in the past year. 

                              I think Bob is right here. It is not only the combination of not only having the technology but the deep skills on the technology that allow us to do more than other companies may. 

                              The size of our company and the access to that technology and the subject matter experts has really given us a unique opportunity. Not that we don't have a way's to go but I think we've made big strides in a very short time to really change how customers experience and support. 

                              And I think if we can afford it over the next 12 months our customers will see will be more and more changes that are quick and impactful in getting to that vision that we talked about at the beginning of the podcast. 

Bob McDonald:   Al, I think what you and Tracy, definitely want to take some credit for and I think all of your peers should as well, this transformation has been less about an organization known as IBM support but - and more about the delivery of value through IBM support. 

                              And in that case, one of our peers coined the phrase that support at IBM is now a team sport. So we're getting our colleagues from other parts of IBM, we have be it our sales colleague, our upper management, development colleague, our quality and test engineers, everybody is rallying around to determined for support more so than I think we've seen in the past. 

                              I think it's in the background but now it's much centered and support is seen as a business driver it's beyond just being a back end office function. And I think that's a significant shift in my opinion that's happening at IBM and I think we have to lay claim to that.

Tracy Bolot:  Yes. So by the way I don't think that's just IBM and I think we've seen the shift here at IBM but I've talked with other companies and I think that they're also seeing that need for this shift. 

                              And I think it comes from back to the subject matter experts and the community approach. When you no longer have the need to owe the company and then have for you to find out an answer in their database.

                              We can then get to source of questions support that you have and the issues that you need help with, the knowledge experts that need to resolve them end up being a deeper technology knowledge than you had in the past. 

                              And so that's where you get development and offering management, lab services and whatever else all those other functions in the company the company, they need to be pulled in a lot more because the questions and the things that are coming through are truly more difficult where they have the knowledge to answer them. 

                              And I think they're excited about that because they get a chance to talk to how the folks using the products that they developed and able to figure out based on what that customer's asking about, how they're really using it in a deeper sense.

                              It is not quick easy how to questions anymore. It's experience and I think there's some excitement around the company for that. 

Bob McDonald:    I agree with you, Tracy, but I also think within our industry at the size, the scale, and breadth of IBM there's no one that's taking the lead like IBM is, no one of our size rather. But also I don't believe that there's a true pace setter in this space in our industry. So other industries, yes, in our industry I think that we are setting that rate. 

Al Martin:             So in terms of our implementation of Watson for select product, where we put focus, we have seen greater than 40 percent question and answer success rate have we not? For select areas that we put out now remember that IBM is a big I mean, the more you expand the aperture, the more difficult it becomes. But look if I am a client out there and I am looking to leverage that technology, if we can do it there is no reason other clients could not do that just as well.  

Tracy Bolot:          You’re right and it takes a dedicated approach. So it's not something that you can ask everybody to just kind of in the back of your mind think about. Everybody needs to take every question that you have whether its from a peer, a testing organization, a tech supporter, whatever the case and think about, okay, how would I be able to put information out there some place that someone could easily find or that Watson could easily find that would address this question so people would not have to come to me. 

                              When you put a dedicated effort on it, you are right. We've seen an increase in 40 percent actually a decrease in 40 percent of the questions that come in. 

                              We've also put a couple of our products accesses of our documentation increases because that's where they're more able to be easier to find them and get the information that they really need to have them. 

                              As our accesses increase the number of open tickets decreases. So we have less people needing to contact us and do a one on one phone kind of help because they are able to find the information they need through the stuff that's out there. 

                              And so there's a direct correlation between the two and it goes back to putting a direct effort and a real consideration of how you want to make sure people find the knowledge rather than it just being kind of a half way thing that you occasionally think about, it's at the forefront of everything they do. 

                              So the whole idea of knowledge in content, if we get that information out there, kind of drive that culture is important. And I think probably in a future meeting it would be great for Bob to talk that side as well. Because I know he has put a focus on that this year as well. 

Al Martin:             So I am sure if I am a client out there if they are looking at gathering what IBM is doing and what it has done, I think data plays a huge role. 

                              You kind of referenced this a bit. I mean there is proprietary data, there is non-proprietary data, there is structured data, there is unstructured data. I am not sure if you can answer this or not Bob but, what is our strategy, how are we aggravating and how- are we creating data lakes around this or are we changing the process from the inset to make sure the right push and answer pairs? 

                              What is the strategy, I mean this is the Making Data Simple podcast so I think we have got to ad a little- 

Bob McDonald:                  In terms of data lake, yes, we're actually working with that colleague for across other parts of IBM so that we can correlate data from different sources and make sense of it and drive the values in both the product team and also customizing uses for customers. 

                              You put the word customizing in there earlier Al and you're right, how do we take the information that's available in different departments of IBM and put it in our data lake and customize its support for the with experience back and a more predictive free access information back to the customer and also have that content that context that is available for machine learning. 

                              So that Watson drive a better experience as well. So all that is in place, I also just wanted to stress that something that Tracy touched upon. At the base level of everything we're doing data and contact, technical content itself is a bridge for IBM. 

                              That is the foundational layer that absolutely has to be made available. In the '80s and early '90s our knowledge equals sort of power. In the circa of 2018 the availability of data and content people value.

                              Value the business and most importantly value to the clients. So if you've got to sort of correlate this to the data sources we're talking about here, it can bring together a totally different value proposition our customers and form a better support system. 

Al Martin:             What role does data privacy and governance play? I am sure it is of interest I know that it is in front of the interest in our clients right now. 

Bob McDonald:                 As customers have come to expect of IBM. They know, our customers know that their data is held in strictest confidence at IBM. We do not share it with and we're working with one customer who does not share the experiences but the customer data that they have been found in the course of delivering support in the way that we bring back a response.

                              We have setup provisions in our data structure and also in the processes of  we might get data file from a customer. We have set up this to allow us to protect that data from the availability of both no have a need to know.  Some of our highly regulatory industry customers. 

                               We have absolutely conformed to some strict regulations surrounding around their data privacy as well so. It's at the heart of what we're doing and everything that you brought back in.

Al Martin:             Tracy you set up and enhanced secure support did you not? 

Tracy Bolot:                 I did and I was just going to say that what Bob is talking about it again is not easy, right? Because we're talking about machine learning, and data, and how quickly that data is to be able to share it with everybody. 

                              You got to be really careful that you're sharing the appropriate things, and you're not sharing the things that you shouldn't. And setting that structure up is difficult so yes. We set up an environment that data that needed to be kept protected was kept protected in an auditable way. 

                              So we all need to do that but again going back to the whole data governance you have to kind of think about what data you want to use and then what you can't use as you're sharing a lot of information with others.

                              So setting up a governing strategy at the start is easier and trying to do it after the fact. The quicker you get that into you get that into your architecture is better because once you get everyone kind of aligned with the rules and regulations its fine. 

                              Later set up  is tricky all we think about is a governance strategy especially when you are thinking about data in AI and ML and Watson that always seems to be at the forefront.


Al Martin:             I could go into social. I would like to talk about social and Kate Nichols who is our producer, Kate we may need to do a one on one just to talk about social aspects of support, content and everything in between but what engagement models.

                               I mean obviously there is a huge push towards social and there is a lot of support that is done in the social realm of things, but look today we do phone, chat, email, there could be virtual reality or other socials that I just mentioned. What engagement models or methods do you think are going to increase and which ones do you think are going to decrease?


Bob McDonald:                  I think the voice channel is going to decrease and it should by design and intent. I think maybe even the traditional web support as we have known it in the last 15-20 years will decrease. I think that with social channels that we are all familiar with will increase. 

                              I also think that that the some of the capabilities that you all know we made a significant investment in Salesforce service cloud across IBM, the board and inherent in the sales force service cloud is the omnichannel capability that reaches out into just about every social domain that's out there today. 

                              Those we want to take advantage of. They also talk to the point that Tracy bought it earlier. Sort of leveraging the power of the community because that's where you're going and providing support on the customer's territory as opposed to forcing them to coming to you. 

                              And you're leveraging expertise from across the ranks. So I really believe those channels continue to grow. I also think we're going to find that they're trying to get into mobile support and using capabilities of mobile devices in the form of getting support out to our customers and leveraging the other half of my business hours in training and skills organization.

Al Martin:             To be fair and objective, any competitors you see out there that are doing some good things that you would say.I am pretty impressed with this or that?

Bob McDonald:   I think some of our traditional competitors are doing some things on the –EMC has done some really good things on their space in the storage world and some of their very predictive capabilities. Microsoft does have some things I actually came from a conference recently with TSIA and I was blown away by some of the things (Unintelligible) is doing. They are really leading the pack in some of the things that we really have to go and take a closer look at.   

                              I will tell you one thing, traditionally support has been seen in many industries for some time as a negative. But the fact is, every support interaction with a customer presents yourself with an opportunity. I really think that shift of thinking is really happening across IBM right now and we are taking every customer engagement and every customer touch point as an opportunity to drive a better customer experience. 

                              I think that's a significant change that we have to take credit for.

Al Martin:             So let me finish with a lightning round Tracy we already did this with you. So if you don't mind I'm going to ask Bob these questions. They're a little bit more personal but I promise we won't get too personal we're about to wrap up. 

                              What are your tips and tricks on influencing the size of IBM? Anything you can talk to I mean it is a mammoth task right? You have to make an elephant dance right?   

Bob McDonald:                    I would hope you would absolutely agree with what I'm about to say. I'm a pretty meat and potatoes, straight talk kind of guy. And I believe IBM'rs just like that, right? 

                              So do communications in all kinds of different ways but the simplest way is reaching out to my colleagues and just frankly let's talk about it, figure it out. And I firmly believe that some of the additional ways of doing business still applies. 

                              And at IBM because of matrix management and the size collective of our organization if you rely upon classic electronic media communicating only you'll miss both. You got to pick up the phone, you got to talk to each other and you also have to have a little bit of fun.

Al Martin:             What has gotten you the most excited about this transformation and quite frankly to keep that balance, what have you struggled with or just drives you crazy? 

Bob McDonald:                   What excited me about it is the response from the support team within IBM and all the adjacent colleagues and different stakeholders moving across IBM the support of our senior leaders it has been pretty remarkable. 

                              Having support on the agenda of the senior leadership team of this company has never happened before. We always relied upon support but they have never been focused on the value of what support can bring to the IBM company than they are right now. 

                              That's tremendous. What drives me nuts? Is that we just don't go in fast. And I know that probably shocked to hear it but you may think you want to go faster. You actually can't go as fast as I want. 

                              I just think I keep up with the inhibitor that maybe you don't see and I actually I meet people like you and (Tracy), (Will), Rob, Brian and others be willing to stand there and say you're not doing as much as you should. 

                              So that's a frustration point, that frustration point is just a matter of overcoming it and just going. 

Al Martin:             Thank you very much for being a part of this podcast we learned a lot from it. There is a lot more so maybe we will have you back. Thank you, Tracy, very much I appreciate having you again. We will talk to you next time then.

Bob McDonald:    Thank you.