Four years ago, IBM set out a vision for building a Smarter Planet. Behind this promise was the idea that the world could become a more interconnected, smarter and better place to live. IBM Fellow and Global Business Services CTO Kerrie Holley is an example of one person who has made a difference in making the planet smarter.
Kerrie grew up in the South Side of Chicago—an area known for its crime and poverty. He never knew his father, knew very little of his mother and was raised by his maternal grandmother. Fifty years ago, one might have predicted a young Kerrie to fall victim to drugs, gangs and other negative influences in his environment. Instead, he excelled as a student at the Sue Duncan Children’s Center, where he would later tutor U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Academy Award nominee Michael Clarke Duncan. There, Kerrie developed a passion for science and math, which he would later use to earn a Bachelor’s of Science in mathematics and Juris Doctorate from DePaul University.
“Transformational education enables kids and adults to break patterns of poverty and thinking. I had this with Sue Duncan’s style of teaching and education. She continues to run a children’s center in Chicago that helps kids break generational patterns,” says Kerrie.
What makes Kerrie a leading innovator at IBM is that he knows first-hand how to take what you have to work with and then make it better. As part of the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant program, Kerrie has worked with New Orleans to make it a better place to live. Following Hurricane Katrina, the city’s population dropped from 600,000 to 350,000. With fewer residents, federal funding was soon cut, challenging city officials to re-work their internal structure under a tight budget.
Kerrie led a team that helped New Orleans to establish a single comprehensive view of all the information coming in from government, non-profit and private organizations. Using business analytics technology, the city was able to identify areas of improvement, such as transportation policies that effect economic development, while providing transparency to the public.
As an IBM Fellow, Kerrie is often dubbed one of the pioneers of service-oriented architecture (SOA). To explain SOA to a non-technical audience, Kerrie uses a Legos analogy. Much like his work in New Orleans, organizations have the ability to take software assets – the Legos – and use them to build a solution. As new challenges emerge, the Legos can be restructured into a new solution, without having to take apart the system or begin from scratch.
An example of this is illustrated by IBM’s work in the banking industry. IBM had custom-built investment management software solutions for Swiss private banks. With private banking now growing in new markets like Hong Kong and Singapore, IBM is able to take these proven solutions and quickly assemble them for other banks anywhere else in the world.
Earlier this month, The Banker’s named IBM GBS “Best Technology Consultancy” at its Innovation in Banking Technology Awards. People like Kerrie can be attributed for this recognition for always looking beyond the norm by inspiring individuals, cities and the world to become a smarter, better place to live.