What happens when you ask an entire continent to illustrate its challenges and opportunities in photos?
That’s exactly what IBM’s newest research lab wanted to find out. IBM Research – Africa, which opened its doors last November, was created with an ambitious mission: to conduct applied and far-reaching exploratory research into the grand challenges of the African continent by delivering commercially-viable innovations that impact people’s lives. Though it opened with clear objectives and an understanding of many of the infrastructural concerns across the continent, the Lab wanted a more personal understanding of the challenges.
“We quickly realized that if we were to make a difference in Africa, we needed to operate outside of the walls of the lab,” said Dr. Kamal Bhattacharya, Director, IBM Research – Africa. “While we benefit from 25 PHDs from some of the world’s best universities, it is crucial that we enter a dialogue with the people who best understand their own realities.” Continue Reading »
By Harry van Dorenmalen
Societies across the world are reaping huge benefits from the new natural resource that is data. But at the same time that people are experiencing improvements in public safety, health care, flood protection, weather prediction, transport planning or water resource management, politicians around the globe are grappling with how to legislate data.
Here in Europe, the European Commission’s DG Connect has been instrumental in promoting an innovative Digital Economy. However, rhetoric that is currently emanating from parts of Europe reminds me of this: that in mid-19th century Britain, laws forbade the use of self-propelled vehicles without a person walking in front, waving a red flag to warn pedestrians of a vehicle’s approach and to slow its speed. This dramatic measure hindered early automotive adoption. Continue Reading »
By Wendy Lung
If you ask people what they see as challenges in the venture capital environment in Africa, you will hear a few common themes: the lack of seed and early stage capital, the need for mentoring and knowledge transfer, the need for greater global networking, and the lack of exit opportunities.
While these genuine challenges exist, there is much to be excited about in the growth of venture in Africa and how VCs are addressing these challenges.
I had the chance to catch up with Mbwana Alliy when he was visiting San Francisco last month. Mbwana is the Managing Director of Savannah Fund, a seed capital fund specializing in early stage high growth technology startups in sub-Saharan Africa. Based in Nairobi, Savannah Fund has a unique model of combining venture capital with mentor networks both in the region and from Silicon Valley via an accelerator program. Continue Reading »
By Erich Clementi
When Thomas J. Watson Sr. renamed a small New York manufacturing firm International Business Machines in 1924, it was both a reflection of his outsized ambitions and a projection of his belief that business would go global in the 20th century. He was right on both counts. Since then, IBM has led the way in enabling companies to become multinational organizations even while it has emerged as a globally integrated enterprise–with more than 430,000 employees doing business in 170 countries.
Today, IBM is taking steps to lead yet another wave of change in business and technology—one that promises to transform organizations, business models and the way work is done. We’re taking cloud computing global. Continue Reading »
By Steve Hamm
Charity Wayua grew up in rural Kenya and did not use a computer till she was 17. Through hard work, Charity excelled academically and landed a scholarship from the Zawadi Africa Education Fund, which provides support for disadvantaged African women pursuing university educations. She got her undergraduate degree from Xavier University and a PhD in chemistry from Purdue University, both in the United States. Now she’s back in Africa—a fresh hire at the newly opened IBM Research lab in Nairobi.
She always planned on returning home after completing her studies. “I wanted to come back to be part of creating solutions for the continent, doing work that would make a difference for people here,” she says. Continue Reading »
By Judith E. Glaser
About 30 years ago I wrote an article for IBM managers that talked about “navigational communications.” It was my first major piece that captured my current thinking about the power of listening to influence success in business. It said,
“For a leader, listening is perhaps the most important skill. As a leader, we must learn to listen while navigating along with the speaker toward a common destination – mutual understanding. Whether your talents are in sales, systems engineering, administration, technical support, or leadership, listening to connect with others – requires a new and powerful form of deep, non-judgmental listening.”
Fast forward to 2013, and the world has transformed. While technology and globalization have reshaped much of business, it’s surprising how little the basics of communication have actually changed, and how much listening is still the cornerstone to navigating successfully with others. Continue Reading »
By Amitabh Kant
By Kaethe Engler
I grew up on a farm in Germany where my family raised cattle, horses and sheep, but I had never seen anything like the scene I recently witnessed at a cattle market in Adama, Ethiopia. The market was a sprawling collection of huts and outdoor pens crawling with all manner of livestock. Farmers, traders and buyers sized up the animals and dickered to make deals. It seemed like chaos to the untrained eye.
In fact, it was more like a puzzle to be solved. Two IBM colleagues and I who are members of the Corporate Service Corps team in Ethiopia were visiting Adama to learn how livestock markets in Ethiopia work. Our goal was to be able to make recommendations on how information technology could help them work better.
IBM isn’t known for having expertise in agriculture, but part of the company’s commitment to Africa is being willing to listen to the local people, understand their needs, and produce technology-based solutions that improve local businesses, economies and society as a whole. To read more, go to the CitizenIBM blog.