By Ravi Dhar, George Rogers Clark Professor of Management and Marketing & Director of the Center for Customer Insights at the Yale School of Management
This week on the Yale School of Management campus, we are gathering with leaders from IBM, academia, students, business leaders, industry analysts and venture capitalists to discuss the coming wave of new careers that will demand candidates who possess strong analytics-related skills that are being applied across businesses in every industry, ranging from CPG to healthcare to retail.
There has been a staggering uptake in social analytics resources. In 2010, Gartner predicted that social analytics would be one of the top 10 strategic technologies for 2011. In today’s highly connected global business environment, gathering, synthesizing and leveraging customer insights are priorities for many organizations. Continue Reading »
While India is famous for its software factories and call centers, it’s actually home to quite a broad-based technology community–including a host of companies in wireless communications, e-commerce, semiconductors, pharma and biotech. And what about start-ups pursuing Smarter Planet-style technologies? That’s just starting.
But it could pop–and quickly. “The rate of change is very high in India,” explains Ashish Gupta, a senior managing director of Helion Venture Partners, an India-focused venture capital firm with $350 million in its fund. “We’re not developing things in a gradual sequence. You have entrepreneurs who are trying out things for the country’s current level of development, and you have others who who are working on things that people say are still years off. There’s no limit to what can be done if people try them.”
IBM is doing its part to get things rolling. Today and tomorrow, for instance, it’s holding a SmartCamp event in Bangalore, India’s technology capital, aimed at helping entrepreneurs who are focused on making the world work better. The five start-ups that are taking part get feedback and advice from investment firms, serial entrepreneurs, academics, and marketing and technology experts. The outfit that wins the competition will get on-going assistance.
By Brian Cotton, Frost & Sullivan
On April 13 IBM announced the Smarter Traveler, a pilot service developed with Caltrans and the California Center for Innovative Transportation at UC Berkeley. On the surface, Smarter Traveler appears to be a smartphone app to help commuters avoid congestion before they actually begin their commute – but it delivers much deeper value.
More than just a navigational aide, it uses real-time data on road conditions to predict congestion and alert commuters of potential delays in their usual route. In the future, one can envision Smarter Traveler proposing alternative routes or even alternate forms of transportation with related data (such as arrival times of trains and availability of parking at the station). On the back end, this data can feed into a centralized traffic management system, to help transportation system operators understand, predict, and manage traffic across a city or region.
The true potential goes way beyond that. Smarter Traveler could be part of a public-private partnership model built into an intelligent transportation system (ITS) strategy that takes the problem of the congested city and benefits three stakeholder groups in the center of ITS: Commuters, regional transportation departments and municipal governments, and mobile communications service providers.
A Government Fix without a Tax Increase
Government would certainly benefit from the service. Using an ITS strategy to energize a city’s well-being by promoting a smooth, safe, and secure journey clearly helps the government fulfill its mandate. However, deploying an ITS can mean a large expenditure, often funded with public money. Nevertheless, city leaders are developing an appetite for public-private partnership models, and Smarter Traveler is the type of service that would be integral to such a scheme. Using the ITS, the government can not only extract data and intelligence from the service to better manage its transportation system, but also make it available to a communications service provider partner to run a Smarter Traveler service. The government can charge for this data and revert those funds back into the ongoing deployment and operation of the ITS, essentially fixing congestion without raising taxes.
An Instant Success for Cellular Providers
Cellular service providers play in highly competitive markets and a ‘hot’ service can mean multiple market share points. Using traffic data and intelligence provided through a government’s ITS, cellular providers could easily deploy a Smarter Traveler service to their subscriber base. This would undoubtedly need to be an opt-in service, giving the government and cellular providers permission to share ITS and location data on individual subscribers in order to address location privacy concerns.
Assuming a market is in a city with congested traffic, a Smarter Traveler app or service that eases the pain of the daily commute for millions of subscribers would be an instant success. A portion of this revenue could conceivably be shared with the government operating the ITS, funding the collection, processing, and maintenance of the data, which could make the system self-sufficient.
A Commuter’s Dream Come True
The commuter is the obvious beneficiary of a Smarter Traveler service. Apart from saving time and increasing safety, it has the potential to dramatically improve the end-to-end experience of the commute. Frost & Sullivan’s Global Urban Mobility tracking study shows that commuters around the world are least satisfied with the speed/time of their commute, with a root cause of insufficient capacity in the system. A Smarter Traveler service, delivered over a smartphone, can alert commuters to traffic jams and crowded trains, enabling them to adapt their commuting behavior to optimize commuting time. By suggesting alternate routes, it can also take the guesswork out of the commute, which is a commuter’s dream come true.
Smarter Traveler is a technology that can be a critical link in a public-private partnership, which delivers value to all parties in its ecosystem. I look forward to the day when it shows up on my BlackBerry.
Brian Cotton is a Vice President in Frost & Sullivan’s Global Information and Communication Technologies Practice, and is responsible for the Group’s North American Growth Consulting business.
When IBM’s Francesco Papetti traveled to Kenya to participate in the company’s Corporate Service Corps volunteer program, he made a side trip to Kimathi University College of Technology. There, using a Wii game controller and a handful of electronic components, he taught students how to build an inexpensive interactive white board.
Do you fancy yourself a tech visionary? Why not test your ideas about where technology is going over the next several decades by presenting your vision of the future in graphical form? We’ll collect submissions from all comers. (Put yours on a Web site/blog. Cut and paste the link into a comment form at the end of this post. Supply explanatory text, if you’d like.) Our panel of experts will review the submissions and pick a handful of winners who will receive as rewards very cool Watson travel mugs. The deadline is May 15.
Credit for sparking this idea goes to Michell Zappa, a UK-based technologist. He sent me his take on the future, Envisioning technology, and suggested a post on Smarter Planet about it. Michell has launched an intriguing exploration, and I encourage you to look at it and give him your feedback, either on his site or ours.
For ideas about how best to present information graphically, here are a couple of suggestions: 1 Go to IBM’s Many Eyes Web site for tips. 2 Pick up a copy of Edward Tufte’s book, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, which demonstrates the power of graphics to express complex data sets and concepts in easily digestible forms.
IBM, of course, is in the tech visioning business itself. Here’s how we see the future shaping up:
In our Global Technology Outlook, IBM’s researchers look ahead five to 10 years:
Every year, we look at five key technology innovations we expect to transform people’s lives in the next five years:
When IBM scientists J. Georg Bednorz and K. Alex Müller discovered the first practical high-temperature superconductor material 25 years ago, they were considered rebels–and maybe even a little crazy. That’s because they were experimenting with ceramic materials that were deemed by many scientists to be inappropriate for the task.
Their stunning breakthrough altered the landscape of physics. The two were able to demonstrate the phenomenon of superconductivity in materials at a temperature that was 50% higher than had been shown before–theoretically making it possible for the effect to be used in commercial applications. For their work, they received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1987.
But it is only now, a quarter of a century later, that the early promise of this breakthrough is beginning to pay off for humanity. Electrical utilities are now deploying superconductor materials in their distribution lines, and they’re also being used or tested in wind turbines, metal processing equipment, magnetic-resonance-imaging scanners and Maglev trains.
For scientists, there are two thrilling moments in the life cycle of innovations–the initial breakthrough and the big bang of impact. This is one of those moments, and it’s felt not just by the two scientists involved but the entire staff of IBM Research. “You don’t just work for the fun of it. You’re working to have impact,” says Christophe P. Rossel, a physicist at IBM’s Zurich lab, where the superconductor work took place. “Looking at the breakthrough of a colleague is an inspiration every day.”
Last September, when IBM was on the verge of signing a landmark agreement to provide information technology services for Bharti Airtel in Africa, our chief executive, Sam Palmisano, insisted on flying to Kenya on short notice to participate in the press conference announcing the deal. He wanted to demonstrate his personal commitment to the economic future of Africa.
IBM’s task is to not only manage Bharti Airtel’s information technology but to transform the 16 different IT environments serving the company’s African operations into a single integrated system. “At IBM, we see this kind of transformation through the lens of what we call ‘building a smarter planet,’” Palmisano said at the press conference in Nairobi. “By integrating much of the continent… this new infrastructure will enable systems of all kinds, from commerce to government services and more.”
Just a few months have passed since that historic day, but, already IBM has begun fulfilling the promise of bringing its Smarter Planet agenda to Africa. Our company is opening new subsidiaries in multiple countries, including Ghana and Senegal, while expanding its footprint in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.
IBM realizes that in Africa our approach to doing business is at least as important as the portfolio of products and services we offer. If we can provide ideas and solutions that help the governments and businesses of Africa perform better, we will improve the economic climate for citizens and for businesses alike. The market for goods and services is growing rapidly, but it remains small by global standards. “In Africa, it’s not a matter of taking a slice of the pie. You have to help make the pie first,” says Anthony Mwai, general manager of IBM East Africa.
Did you know IBM invented the heart lung machine, the first continuous blood separator which led to treatment for leukemia patients, or the excimer laser used in LASIK eye surgery? Over the years, IBM has worked with the World Health Organization to map outbreaks of smallpox, we built the prototype of the first medical imaging system, and our computers were credited by Dr. Jonas Salk as helping him save valuable time in the race for an effective polio vaccine.
Last week, we announced a research discovery to fight drug-resistant bacteria. IBM Researchers and the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology discovered a nanomedicine breakthrough in which new types of polymers were shown to physically detect and destroy antibiotic-resistant bacteria and infectious diseases like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, known as MRSA. We’re actively applying our deep experience in nanotechnology and chip design to sequence genomes and create faster, cheaper diagnostic tools. We’re exploring how we can use the technology behind Watson, the latest Jeopardy! champion, to support physicians in their pursuit to better serve, diagnose and treat patients. Continue Reading »