Tech Talk with IBM’s Elite

How Ajamu Wesley turned his passion for computers into a booming career

I have led the development of inventions, patents, and new products. I’m still challenged with new opportunities. It has been fun developing a product [Lotus Connections] from scratch that has been so successful. In many ways social software is in its infancy and is becoming a much larger focus and initiative within IBM. I’m enjoying the ride.

How does what you do impact the black community?

Social networking sites and technologies are clearly pervasive within the black community with services like BlackPlanet.com, TribeFly.Com, and others. The sites are pertinent to businesses that are looking to market to a specific demographic as well. Lotus Connections allows businesses to build their own branded social networking experience that are tailored for their customers and communities of interest.

How does what you do tie into what President Barack Obama is trying to do to stimulate the economy? Where do you see your industry going in the next five years?

It was exciting seeing President Obama and IBM’s CEO Sam Palmisano meet recently [to discuss the stimulus plan]. The plan emphasizes investing in infrastructure, energy, and healthcare costs among other things. Many of these investments are possible because of information technology and other IBM offerings. IBM participates in many industries such as financial services, healthcare, and automotive in over 170 countries. We’re in a unique position to contribute to this agenda. I’m involved in working to design systems that can power software products with less energy. I also work with public schools, hospitals, and other customers to [help them] take advantage of advanced collaboration systems like Lotus Connections to improve efficiencies and reduce their costs.

For more information on African American innovators in the sciences, check out the March 2009 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.

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