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Citing an increase in IT spending across all sectors of its business and all global geographies, IBM announced record revenue and earnings for the first quarter that exceeded analyst projections.

After the close of trading on Monday, IBM (NYSE: IBM) reported a first-quarter profit of $2.6 billion, or $1.97 per share, a 13 percent improvement from the $2.3 billion, or $1.70 per share, from the same quarter last year. Revenue rose 5 percent year-over-year to $22.9 billion.

Analysts on average had expected earnings per share of $1.93 on revenue of $22.7 billion, according to a consensus survey by Thomson Reuters.

However, while IBM CFO Mark Loughridge was optimistic about the overall economic climate during a conference call with analysts, he pointed out some of the more near-term indicators of strength for his company.

Total Global Services revenues increased 4 percent with $12.3 billion in services contracts signed, including 13 contracts greater than $100 million. Consulting services signings were up 18 percent, with 25 percent of signings related to Smarter Planet and Business Analytics.

IBM now has a services backlog of $134 billion at actual rates, compared with $126 billion in the first-quarter 2009.

The one real area of services weakness came in IBM’s Application Management Services group, where revenue fell 23 percent, or $700 million, over the same quarter last year. Loughridge’s explanation is that AMS had enjoyed a particularly strong quarter last year, so it was hard for the group to match it.

The better news, in his view, was that there was an 18 percent year-over-year growth in revenue from outsourcing and consulting, a service that’s often the first to be cut when belts are tightened.

“This is important because consulting has been a leading indicator and has the greatest impact on near term-performance,” Loughridge said. “We expect our services business to return to modest growth in the second quarter.”

Software revenues for IBM totaled $5.0 billion, an increase of 11 percent from a year ago. Among the best performers were Tivoli, up 23 percent, while WebSphere business was up 13 percent and information management was up 11 percent. Sales of ILOG software rose 30 percent from a year ago, thanks to its use in IBM’s Smarter Planet program.

Systems and Technology, IBM’s hardware business, delivered $3.4 billion of revenue for the quarter, up 5 percent year over year. It saw an 11 percent sequential improvement in hardware sales, in particular for storage, System x and the Power 7 mid-range. Loughridge said x86 blade sales rose 55 percent year-over year.

IBM continues to pursue HP and Sun customers, racking up another 170 competitive wins for $125 million in business for the quarter, Loughridge said. Most of that share came in low- to mid-range systems. He said that IBM will introduce the next-generation of its System z mainframes coming in the second half of the year as well as some new high-end System p computers running IBM’s new Power 7 processor.

Big Blue’s Global Financing segment revenues decreased 7 percent from last year to $537 million. Loughridge said that this quarter’s economics were driven more by business opportunities than currency. “With a strong dollar, currency was less of a help,” he said. Adjustments for the dollar only changed things by 5 percent instead of the usual 6 to 7 percent and impacted revenue by $250 million.

“So business was better than expected,” Loughridge said.

IBM said it now expects to earn $11.20 a share in 2010, up from its prior projections of $11 per share. Analysts had projected an average FY2010 EPS of $11.12 a share.

The company also said it expects constant-currency revenue growth for IBM and for its total services, software and hardware businesses in the second quarter.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at chúng tôi the news service of chúng tôi the network for technology professionals.

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The Aggregation Of Marginal Gains

Applying Dave Brailsford’s philosophy of excellence to improve results from digital marketing

The recent announcement that Sir Dave Brailsford has stepped down as British Cycling performance director to concentrate on Sky team management reminded me of his famous philosophy for improving performance from his team and how it can be applied to digital marketing.

British Cycling describe his marginal gains philosophy as perhaps his greatest British Cycling legacy. The technique is encapsulated by this quote:

“If you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by one percent, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together,”

Implementing his marginal gains approach initially led to success in Chris Hoy’s gold in the kilometre time-trial and Bradley Wiggins’ gold in the individual pursuit in Athens. More recently, multiple Olympic gold medals and the Tour de France victories by Wiggins and Froome again showed the technique in action.

With results like this, unsurprisingly this philosophy has been discussed around how it can be applied in the business world too, so I thought it would be interesting to step through how this can be applied to digital marketing.

First, it’s worth exploring more how Brailsford explains how the approach is applied to cycling. In this 2010 article on the aggregation of marginal gains. He explains it with this example:

“It means taking the 1% from everything you do; finding a 1% margin for improvement in everything you do. That’s what we try to do from the mechanics upwards.

If a mechanic sticks a tyre on, and someone comes along and says it could be done better, it’s not an insult – it’s because we are always striving for improvement, for those 1% gains, in absolutely every single thing we do.”

He also gives the example of Nicole Cooke winning road gold in Beijing:

Applying the aggregation of marginal gains approach to digital marketing

So, how can we apply this approach to digital marketing? You can see that the mindset of marginal gains is closely linked to the mindset of data-driven marketing and improving online sales through conversion rate optimisation. Many companies are already following this approach at level 4 and 5 of what we called Always-on marketing in our research on Managing Digital channels from earlier in the year:

To create this “Always-on” philosophy of testing and improvements these are the actions that I have seen working with companies who are applying the marginal gains approach to digital marketing.

1. Adopt the optimisation mindset. Optimisation is a way of thinking in the same way that British Cycling and Sky call their approach a philosophy. Optimisation requires a dedicated process and resource. It is difficult to make it part of existing processes or roles.

2. Gain senior support for resourcing and optimisation initiative. In all companies, a senior manager who champions optimisation is needed. They can help ring fence the resource and time needed for continuous optimisation. Without this other campaign activities will tend to always take chúng tôi research on supporting digital initiatives from PwC shows that leading organisations have a champion for major digital initiatives.

3. Use specialist resource. Brailsford brought in many performance specialists such as nutritionists and psychologist Steve Phillips.  In the digital marketing world, although vendors of AB/multivariate testing services will say that it is easy to setup a test and this is true, designing the test and evaluating the results at the right level of statistical confidence is not. Specialist CRO consultants and agencies can help here.

4. Identify and prioritise your performance drivers across customer touchpoints. Optimisation is much broader than testing some key landing pages. Every page template on the site can have an impact as can media through remarketing and email marketing, even more with targeting and personalisation. Persuasion needs to be optimised across the whole customer journey.

Here are some common digital marketing optimization initiatives, which would you add?

Conversion rate optimisation. Removing inefficiencies in customer journeys and optimising different page template types using AB and multivariate testing.

Email marketing optimisation. Testing subject lines and email creative – particularly for automated emails that are used to boost conversion or retention.

Social media optimisation. Defining the best type of content and timing using SMO.

Media optimisation. Improving the efficiency of display ad investments across publishers and social networks by refining bidding and creative, for example using Real-time bidding services or AdWords display network optimisation.

So, there are many optimisation techniques that can be applied IF their importance is recognised and they are resourced accordingly.

A final point to bear in mind is that many of these techniques centre on boosting efficiency rather than communications effectiveness. Often, bigger gains are possible through improvements to the good old 4Ps of the online marketing mix, that’s Product, Price and Place (Promotion is well covered by optimisation). Developing a desirable, engaging brand is also part of this mix. I’m reminded of an AB test I was involved with for a credit card provider where it was all about the rate on the card rather than the page layout, creative and copy. The product managers needed to look at that to get the improvements needed.

What Does The Chair Of The Board Do?

Serving as a leader and facilitator, the chair presides over meetings. Primarily, the chair’s responsibility is to the board.

Chairs must ensure that the meeting process is as seamless, constructive, and deliberative as it needs to be when the board gathers.

Chairs’ roles can vary widely across different industries. Often, it depends on the company size; smaller companies will have chairs that are more active in the company’s day-to-day life. Some may concurrently serve as CEO.

In bigger companies, this is less likely. It is also generally not recommended to preserve independent observation and cooperation and maintain a system of checks and balances at the top level.

If you’re new in the role of chair or have ambition to become one, here are some tips on maximising your impact.

You know your role

A chair is not a CEO, not a managing director, and is not concerned with leading employees. It’s important to remember this because the definition can become lost in practice.

This is especially true for former CEOs, managing directors, and other executives who have now moved on to fill the role of chair. Such people need to leave their hands-on, direct leadership mindset behind, but they can sometimes struggle.

One of the chair’s primary roles is facilitating and planning board meetings.

Acting like a CEO in a board meeting – with more command and less guidance – will stifle colleagues’ voices and limit the board’s ability to be the think tank it’s supposed to be.

You are ready to act

A good chair knows that they are at the helm of a board that may need to act fast and decisively if the company finds itself in hot water. The CEO, who may well hold the most power day-to-day, may suddenly look to the board for urgent decisions in a crisis.

The chair holds a powerful voice on the board when this happens.

Decisions are never yours to make alone, but when something goes wrong, your colleagues will depend on you to create a positive, deliberative discussion around what to do next.

In hot water, a company may have tough decisions to make; maybe its best next move is a rapid change in environmental policy, an en-masse move to remote working or a dismissal of the CEO?

You will need the experience to know what this move should be, the confidence to endorse it, and the ability to take others’ opinions on board to ensure it’s done correctly.

You maintain your independence

Take the above point with the caveat that the reverse is also true.

Your role is chair; if you’re not on hand to deal with an urgent, top-level problem, take a step back.

Maintaining a healthy level of distance from the organisation’s inner workings is essential.

Ensure that you are looking at the organisation’s progress with a ‘sovereign mindset’, free of day-to-day management issues, fuelled by your industry experience and knowledge.

That experience, your broad judgement, and your ability to facilitate discussion are your strengths. They let you see opportunities and challenges for the organisation that others might not.

The chair is a vital link between all of these areas of governance, and colleagues should enjoy a sense of comfort and confidence in the environment you create

You’re a good relationship manager

As chair, you will work alongside a collection of board members – each with a wealth of experience, each with their unique view on the company’s direction.

In addition, you need to act as a mentor to the CEO, as an ambassador in the industry, and as a link between shareholders on one end and employees on the other.

This is where your ability to manage relationships matters.

If you’re chair, you’re a vital link between all of these areas of governance, and colleagues should enjoy a sense of comfort and confidence in the environment you create. Otherwise, that vital link risks being broken.

It would help if you were a good communicator, listener, and facilitator.

When fellow board members have issues to address, ensure they can manage them.

And above all, if you see friction developing within or between these company layers, be ready to tackle it.

You’re committed to the role

Chairs are some of the most respected members of a governance community. There is a high degree of professional achievement associated with those appointed to the role, but remember that your responsibilities go beyond that.

You should always be aware that you are an essential part of the company machine. Phoning it in, primarily if you work in a part-time capacity, won’t produce results.

Keep in mind that your duties will likely go beyond the baseline of chairing board meetings.

You’ll need to induct new board members, evaluate current ones, be available for shareholder queries, pay attention to diversity on your board, provide input to the remuneration committee, and represent the company wherever necessary.

Put aside time, thought, and energy for all the above. 

Discover the three top tips for chairs below.

Google ’S Astro Teller Sees The Future

Popular Science: How do you vet moonshot ideas?

Astro Teller: We probably look at 1,000 ideas, for a few hours each, for every self-driving-car project we end up with. So it depends on where the project’s Achilles’ heels are. If it has only one Achilles’ heel, it can take a long time to find it. If it has many, you can find one quickly.

PS: Give me an example.

AT: Yesterday I was in a room with 30 people discussing a potential new project, and they were pitching their hearts out. And frankly, they had me excited. The idea had to do with the ocean. And they were telling me why it was going to be important. Eventually I said: “Look, I’ll give you three choices: Between sharks, storms, and pirates, which is the most likely to kill this project?” Everyone started laughing—not because I was kidding, but because that question sounds funny and yet was totally appropriate. I didn’t want to find out in a year from now this idea wasn’t going to work because of pirates.

PS: What was the idea?

AT: I can’t tell you. And I realize that’s why we’re often painted as a secretive organization. But that’s not our intention. I want to be able to kill projects as fast as possible with as little emotional baggage as possible. One of the rate-limiting issues of innovation is that people have a hard time killing their projects. So the more we are publicly committed to a project, the harder it becomes for us to kill it. If I tell you we’re making a space elevator or an anti-gravity machine, and then next week we find a flaw in the idea, people would resist ending the project partly because the public has gotten excited about it. So it’s not that we don’t want to share it with the public. We just want to be sure of our thesis before taking victory laps.

PS: Skeptics and Google’s own investors say these projects take too long and that they’re too future-forward. How do you respond?

AT: I’m not even sure what that means, “too future-forward.” That sounds like a compliment, not an insult. Our goal is not to produce immediate results. We’ve been tasked by Google with producing long-term results. Like all other parts of Google, we are held to the standard of producing value. But we still aspire to a strong return on investment. We don’t take on Google Glass or the self-driving-car project or Project Loon unless we think that on a risk-adjusted basis, it’s worth Google’s money. But that’s different from saying we have to produce liquid value by today or it’s all worthless. That’s not the spirit of long-term bets.

PS: What are you most proud of?

AT: It’s not any one project. It’s the factory. Our goal is to make a moonshot factory, to systematize innovation in an efficient and productive way— and to kill things when we have to. The truth is that most companies end up littered with a huge number of un-killed projects because there isn’t the culture in place, the belief structure in place that allows those projects to get ended quickly. Two days ago, we killed the largest project we’ve worked on here. It’s been going for more than two years and had 20-some people working on it.

PS: What was it?

AT: I can’t tell you. It was an unannounced project. And it’s good that we didn’t announce it, for exactly the reason I said [laughs].

How Astro Teller Became Captain of Moonshots

1992 Graduated Stanford University with bachelor’s in computer science

1993 Graduated Stanford University with master’s in symbolic computation

1998 Graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with PH.D. in artificial intelligence

1999 Founded BodyMedia, a fitness tech startup

2004 Graduated from Stanford University School of Business

2008 Founded Cerebellum Capital, a hedge fund

2010 Became director of Google[x]

This article was originally published in the October 2023 issue of Popular Science.

The Best Views Of Mercury’s Transit Across The Sun

Full Transit

The full transit of Mercury across the Sun.

Mercury passed in front of the sun today. It was the first time that Mercury had passed between Earth and the Sun since 2006, and it was something amazing to see.

Images of the event put into perspective just how tiny Mercury is (radius: 1,516 miles) compared to the Sun (radius: 432,288 mi).

But even a small planet like Mercury can block the light of the Sun, even if it’s just a small part of the Sun for a small amount of time. Transits like this one happen when exoplanets pass between their star and our telescopes.

As NASA took the opportunity to point out today in an Instagram post, the long-delayed James Webb Space Telescope will one day be able to determine the details of exoplanet atmospheres by watching the distant planets transit in front of their stars, just like we watched Mercury pass in front of the Sun today.


Mercury begins its passage across the Sun.


Mercury completes its transit of the Sun.

New York Board Of Trade (Nybot)

New York Board of Trade (NYBOT)

A physical commodity futures exchange located in New York City

Written by

CFI Team

Published June 18, 2023

Updated July 7, 2023

What is the New York Board of Trade (NYBOT)?

Founded and established in 1870, the New York Board of Trade (NYBOT) is a physical commodity futures exchange. The NYBOT is located in New York City and trades futures and/or options on currencies, interest rates, market indexes, coffee, cotton, orange juice, cocoa, and sugar. It later became part of the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) in 2006.

In its earlier years of operation, the NYBOT made use of human traders to carry out commodities trading. The trades would be found on trading floors. Currently, a greater portion of NYBOT’s trades is conducted digitally and electronically via computers.


The New York Board of Trade is a physical commodity futures exchange.

The NYBOT is located in New York City and trades futures and/or options on currencies, interest rates, market indexes, coffee, cotton, orange juice, cocoa, and sugar.

Companies that trade on NYBOT employ brokers, and the brokers are sent to the trading floor to facilitate trades. On the trading floor, futures contracts are traded in order to purchase or sell currencies, commodities, and other instruments, at predetermined prices and predetermined dates in the future.

History of the NYBOT

Upon being founded, the NYBOT’s trading was mainly conducted by humans. In 1997, the NYBOT acquired the Coffee, Sugar, and Cocoa Exchange (CSCE). The move increased their presence and position in the trading market. In 2006, ICE then purchased the joint entities. In 2007, the NYBOT was renamed to ICE Futures U.S. The NYBOT trading floor is regulated by the CFTC.

How the NYBOT Works

Companies that trade on the NYBOT make use of brokers, and the brokers are sent to the trading floor to facilitate trades. On the trading floor, futures contracts are traded in order to purchase or sell currencies, commodities, and other instruments at predetermined prices and predetermined dates in the future.

It means that companies that are reliant on certain commodities can purchase them at predetermined prices for a future delivery date. The date can be in future weeks, months, or years. It gives companies the capacity to determine the cost of their raw materials.

The contracts are exchanged in a “trading room” (also referred to as a “trading pit”). The traders in the pit determine future rates in such fast-paced markets.

It is very important to remember that investors involved in the futures contracts are not buying the agricultural commodity but are rather trading the contracts which allow for control of the underlying asset. What is really exchanged is money (cash).

Importance of the NYBOT

The NYBOT provides a means for investors to achieve leverage. Futures and options contracts allow for the creation and deployment of leverage, which can result in either substantial wins or losses for the investors.

The NYBOT keeps a post margin requirement of 5%. The post margin is needed from the investor to make the trade. Hence, the investor only needs to pay 5% of the contract value to trade.

In addition, with the ability of traders to make use of market forces to reach realistic price expectations for certain commodities and other financial instruments, the NYBOT provides a means for smoothing market imbalances.

Finally, with the small post margin requirement, an investor is granted considerable control of an underlying asset. With prices that fluctuate quickly and higher than 5%, the investor only holds a small stake, thereby providing leverage.

The NYBOT in the Real World

The ICE, which acquired the NYBOT, currently functions and trades digitally and electronically via computers. It allows quick transactions and trades between market participants. The move, in conjunction and support of a new digital era, brought about an increase in market sizes and transactional volumes. Being an international marketplace, the ICE provides traders with a platform to trade in various commodities, ranging from agricultural commodities to derivative products.

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