Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent
Archive for July, 2012

by Professor Jacques Beauvais, Vice-rector for Research, Université de Sherbrooke and Dave Danovitch, Senior Technical Staff Member, IBM Bromont, Microelectronics Division

What do a smart phone, computer, navigation system and digital scanner have in common? Microchip technology.

Technology is now engrained in every facet of our lives with new products and applications commercialized at a rapid pace. Consider this: We are already more than 2 billion people on the Internet  and by 2015, there will be more than 1 billion smart phones in circulation–in a world inhabited by 7 billion people .

This is opening the boundaries to endless opportunities. Governments, universities and enterprises worldwide are now tapping into the development of the next generation of technologies able to transport data faster with enhanced speed, quality and energy.

With massive investment in leading edge research and development activities in the microelectronic sector, we will accelerate the go-to-market process. Already, some activities are surfacing in the northeastern part of North America, stretching from East Fishkill in New York State to the Eastern Townships in Bromont, Canada in the microelectronics industry.

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By Erich Clementi, Senior Vice President, Global Technology Services, IBM

When CEMEX—one of the world’s largest cement makers and building companies—needed to transform its global IT operations into a strategic advantage, it had to qualify 17 partners for the right fit.

I’d like to give you my insight as to why IBM won the deal announced today and how it points to things to come in the IT industry.

First, IBM was chosen over competitors due to our world-class expertise tapping the entire breadth of IBM’s capabilities—services, hardware, software and research and development.

That means we are opening the doors of IBM Research, the largest, most creative and productive R&D organization in the industry, as well providing our most innovative technologies like Cloud computing and PureSystems to drive their business innovation, analytics to help predict energy consumption, and social collaboration tools to work more cohesively across global operations.

Secondly, CEMEX benefits from our services expertise gained from thousands of complex projects—which IBM converts into repeatable software assets and global delivery. We bake-in IP from our $6B R&D organization by commercializing innovation around processes, service management, industry expertise and security.  We have invested tremendously to industrialize our services business.  And this is where that investment pays off.

Finally, CEMEX is in a growth market and looking to expand further.  It needed a global partner like IBM with established Global Services Centers in Hungary, Romania, USA, China, India and the Philippines, for example, with more than 70 service delivery centers and 400 data centers, with talented people who speak more than 40 languages. No other company on the planet can offer that kind of global capability.

Look at another recent win in Latin America, to see how CEMEX is part of a larger IT trend. IBM signed a similar contract to outsource EBX’s IT operations for approximately $1 billion over 10 years. IBM will contribute with more intelligent solutions with new products, software and services that complement EBX’s experience in oil, gas, mining, shipbuilding, ports and others.

For growth market companies like CEMEX and EBX to grow and scale at the pace they need, they have to have an innovation partner. More than just running IT, outsourcing deals have become a partnership steeped in innovation and global capabilities.

For details on this CEMEX $1+ billion, 10-year deal, check out the press release

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by Stanley S. Litow,  IBM’s Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Responsibility and President of the IBM International Foundation

We tend to think about education only when school is in session. But that tendency – just like our anachronistic, agrarian school calendar itself – is an example of the out-of-date thinking that is jeopardizing America’s competitiveness on the world stage. The truth is that “school” is (and ought to be) always in session – for industry, for educators, and for the young people on whose fortunes our economy will rise or fall. A vigorous and vital society never stops learning – even if that means using innovation to reinvent its educational institutions to make them more responsive to the demands of a global economy.

IBM has written the playbook for combining high school, college, and workplace learning to connect education to jobs by providing students with the skills they need to pursue 21st Century careers. Working with our partners from government and from all levels of education – kindergarten through college – we are helping students, teachers, parents and communities understand that the mid-20th Century standards of the post World War II era – a time when people could enter the economy and pursue lifelong careers with only a high school diploma – are no longer enough.

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At first glance, IBMer Beju Ekperigin’s day-job may not seem related to cervical cancer. However, this proved untrue during her time as a part of IBM’s Corporate Service Corps team in June.

Launched in 2008, the Corporate Service Corps is a global IBM initiative that sends hundreds of IBM employees into emerging markets every year. The volunteers work with small businesses, non-profits, non-governmental organizations, and educational institutions to solve a specific problem on a pro-bono basis, donating their expertise and professional skills to help improve local conditions and foster job creation. IBM’s Corporate Service Corps considers Africa a key continent for its work.

Beju Ekperigin and IBM Corporate Service Corps team members in Nairobi.

A recent Corporate Service Corps team, made up of ten IBM employees total from six different countries, spent four weeks volunteering their skills in Kenya. Ekperigin was part of a three person team developing an approach to collect data on cervical cancer screening and treatment in Kenya.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer and the most common cause of cancer related deaths among Kenyan women. Though the disease is easily detectable and curable, only about 3 percent of Kenyan women between the ages of 18 – 69 have had cervical cancer screenings in any 3 year period.

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By Lee Green IBM VP of Brand Experience and Strategic Design

The history of measurement may seem arcane, but consider how people centuries ago measured time, length, or the Earth’s rotation. Compare that to measuring atoms with a scanning tunneling microscope — and all the historic milestones in between.

Today IBM is releasing a free, interactive app, IBM THINK Exhibit, for iPad and Android tablets. It shows how early tools have evolved into modern advances that make the world word work better — healthier populations, greener energy and safer, less congested cities. The app is for people of all ages who love science, history and technology — think of it as an “innovation time machine.”

A page from the IBM THINK Exhibit app that traces the history of metal detectors to President James Garfield.

Through thousands of images and historical anecdotes, IBM THINK Exhibit app brings to life stories of the history of progress, from space exploration to weather prediction and medical advances. It documents the roots of Big Data, from early charts and scales to microscopes and telescopes, from RFID chips and biomedical sensors in clothing to breath-sensor diabetes detectors.

The app shows how maps have been used to track data from early geographical charts to today’s data visualizations. It chronicles how “models” have been used to understand the complex behaviors of our world – from the Wright Brothers’ plane prototype in 1903, to today’s airline mechanical parts simulations. Given its strong educational bent, the app will even be used to create lesson plans for middle school students later this year.

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By Lloyd Treinish, Senior Technical Staff Member, Chief Scientist – Deep Thunder, IBM

The dog days of summer are upon us, and while for some of us, that means more care-free days of fun in the sun, many of us associate the summer months with severe and sometimes unusual weather events.  These events pose increasing economic and societal impacts, and the  challenges can leave us wondering what other weather-related surprises could be around the corner.

According to a recent report released by NOAA, the 12-month period from July 2011 to June 2012 was the warmest on record for the contiguous United States (since record keeping began in 1895). To make matters worse, these blistering heat waves are expected to increase due to a changing climate. In a recent publication, a group of Stanford University scientists made the prediction that certain regions of the world could start to see permanentlyhotter summers in just a couple decades.

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It is important to note that a warmer atmosphere contains more energy and can hold more moisture, which can lead to greater volatility and intensity of extreme weather events. Hence, it may be no coincidence that each day seems to bring a new headline about another weather-related disturbance. These events are to blame for countless fatalities and billions of dollars annually in property damage and loss.

Deep Thunder, IBM’s high resolution weather modeling technology, provides the granularity needed to improve preparedness. Using both historical and near real-time data, sophisticated analytics software and ever more powerful supercomputers, we can get extremely accurate weather forecasts and the impacts of severe events for specific locations (less than a mile) up to three days in advance.

Just recently, a rare type of severe windstorm for the eastern half of the US called a “derecho” blew through the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic areas. Not only was it unexpected by local authorities, it left millions to deal with sweltering temperatures without power or air conditioning.

Of course, such high temperatures over long periods have been linked to drought. For this year alone, that probably has an impact on the US economy of tens of billions of dollars. But such heat waves also have impact on the health of individuals and increase the likelihood of wildfires. So far in 2012, fires have burned about 2.4 million acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center and the outlook for the remainder of the summer is grim.

And while we haven’t been hit with any major hurricanes so far this year, we are just six weeks into a six-month long hurricane season. Only twice before since such records have been kept (1887 and 1908), have two tropical storms formed before the official start of the season on June 1. Further, 2012 is the first year that four named storms occurred by June 23. This is the highest level of tropical storm activity based upon strength and duration since 1968. Therefore, we could have some significant events later this season.

In an ideal world, we would be better prepared for the potential impact of extreme weather events. Traditional weather forecasts provide a look into broad weather patterns, but given the technology that is available to us today, we can do even better.

Deep Thunder can provide longer advance notice of adverse weather conditions, allowing more time for disaster prevention. Rather than monitor a storm, we can stage resources at the right place and time prior to an event to minimize the impact and save lives. For example, we could have provided a detailed, 18-hour warning for the derecho that impacted Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia late last month.

The practical applications for such specific and timely forecasts are nearly limitless. Detailed weather forecasts could help utilities better prepare for demands on the grid such as pockets of high load during a heat wave, and anticipate conditions that could result in power outages to proactively deploy repair crews. Fire fighters can anticipate the direction of a wild fire to prevent further spreading. Cities can plan more effective responses to heat waves to protect their citizens from extreme conditions such as loss of power or mitigate the impact of flooding. Highway patrols can even anticipate buildup and redirect traffic in the case of evacuations. In all of these cases, Deep Thunder uses an approach of coupled modeling, driven by advanced weather modeling focused on a specific area of importance and connected to sophisticated techniques, to predict and visualize the impacts of weather on business and citizens.

The weather affects much of our daily lives — everything from sports to produce prices — and although we don’t have the technology to change it, at the very least, we can better plan for it.

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By Dan Chenok, Executive Director, IBM Center for The Business of Government

I am testifying today before the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet. I outline how Cloud computing can transform our society and government, save money, and increase efficiency and effectiveness.

Here are the top five benefits I will discuss at the hearing:

  • Cost Saving. Cloud computing allows customers to pay for just the computer resources they use. They can avoid both a large initial upfront expenditure in hardware and software, and ongoing operating and maintenance expenses for their own IT. Resource usage can be monitored, controlled, and reported in a transparent way for both the provider and consumer of the cloud service. Indeed, a Brookings Institution study found that “… agencies generally saw between 25 and 50 percent savings in moving to the cloud”; this same report refers to other studies which claim savings from 39% to 99%. Continue Reading »

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This is part two of a series about retail shopping trends.  See the first part here

by Leeann Fecho,  Marketing Manager for Emerging Media and Loyalty, Follett Higher Education Group

Managing the digital marketing activities of 900+ different stores brings both constant challenges and immensely rewarding work. Follett Higher Education Group is the largest operator of university bookstores in North America, and as Marketing Manager for Emerging Media and Loyalty, I’m responsible for the company’s loyalty marketing strategy and execution, which includes email, social media and mobile marketing efforts.  Our customers are primarily in the 18-24 year-old demographic—college students—a group that is typically known for being both cost-conscious and social media-savvy.

While speaking on an IBM breakfast panel in Chicago, I had the opportunity to discuss the growing influence, rise and reach of digital marketing. Marketing—in particular, digital marketing—must be very responsive to marketplace shifts fueled both by the business and the consumer.  Of all the consumer trends felt by retailers today, there are three I believe are having an immediate and seismic impact on marketing initiatives. Continue Reading »

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By Michael Haydock, IBM Business Analytics Optimization Chief Scientist & Distinguished Engineer

Last week, I was sitting on a panel with Ellen Davis of the National Retail Foundation on Back to School shopping trends. We engaged in a spirited hour-long discussion around changing consumer shopping behaviors, the state of the economy and of course, predictions for the upcoming fall retail season. Ellen and I both work with retailers every day, and we continuously find our clients challenged with the age-old question: “What do consumers want?”

One of the reporters that I met at the meeting dubbed me a ‘data geek.’ It’s fairly accurate considering I’ve been collecting retail data for the past 22 years and combining it with current economic trends to create a predictive retail forecast.

My latest forecast, for the third quarter, predicts that the fall season will be moderate to strong (depending on the category) for retailers, particularly in the categories of children’s and women’s apparel, as well as footwear. Despite the economy (which is not as strong as in the 1st quarter of this year), consumers still are showing signs that they are ready to shop – given the right conditions.

This quarter I decided to take these numbers a step further and couple them with an IBM Social Sentiment Analysis. The big insight from the data revealed that consumers do plan to shop, but they are deferring some purchases and waiting to see if retailers can offer them the right deal.

My team looked at nearly 237,000 posts on social platforms, such as Twitter, blogs, message boards and news sources from mid-April to mid-July 2011, and the same time period for 2012. We found a 50 percent increase in online chatter around coupon and promotion sharing in the span of a year. Yet, women’s satisfaction in the quality of online offers decreased by 20 percent this year, as compared to last.

In 2008 at the start of the recession, many retailers overstocked on inventory, later being forced to slash prices by 60, 70 even 80 percent. Consumers, no doubt, were delighted with the quality and quantity of these sales. The IBM Social Sentiment Index shows that consumers are still clinging to the discounts of the past, as they are still looking for deep discounts, and holding out on their purchases until retailers can provide better offers.

Today retailers are in the tough position of trying to reset consumer expectations that a 25 percent-off coupon is, indeed, a good deal.

The reason that we produce these analytics-based retail forecasts and social sentiment reports is to help retailers understand their market influences and customers, better. We try to arm businesses with insight into what items are going to sell, what promotions might work and what items and categories that they may need to stock up on.

This fall season is poised to be a promising one – led by women’s and children’s sales. Personalized and timely promotions will be key to securing consumer purchases. Retailers—go ahead and stock up, but don’t forget the coupons!

This post is the first in a series of posts about retail shopping trends.  See part two of the series here.

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July 24th, 2012

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By Indulis Bernsteins, Consulting Systems Architect, Systems and Technology Group, IBM Australia

Since our beginning, we have turned to the night sky in search of answers to universal questions. The vast and utter expanse, teeming with wonder, has always seemed to contain the answers to unlock the many mysteries of our existence, as well as the history and future of the universe.

As we grew, we developed tools to help us look deeper and more clearly into space.  Ironically, the further and longer we peered, a simple truth came into focus: we weren’t peering at all. We were receiving. We were catching light waves that were coming from stars millions and millions of miles away and that took years and years to finally reach us. All we were doing was capturing them in the lenses of our telescopes.

A fraction of the MWA antenna "tiles", as they will be built in the final configuration. Credit: Murchison Widefield Array

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