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 But that tendency – just like our anachronistic, agrarian school calendar itself – is an example of the out-of-date thinking that is jeopardizing America’s competitiveness on the world stage.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.
When Andrzej Klesyk became chief executive of Poland’s PZU Group in 2007, he brought with him years of experience as a consultant with McKinsey & Co. and The Boston Consulting Group. His goal: Nothing less than a top-to-bottom transformation of Poland’s No. 1 insurance company.
Klesyk has made a lot of progress. The 209-year-old company has centralized and re-organized its operational processes and claims handling, restructured the workforce, and evolved into a customer-oriented and performance-based organization. Klesyk’s goal now is to become the largest and most profitable insurance company in central and eastern Europe.
PZU and IBM Poland combined forces to complete Operation Trigger–the company’s operational overhaul. They way they worked together provides a model for how such business transformation projects can be managed.
When IBM unveiled its Smarter Planet agenda in late 2008, government and business leaders in Poland were intrigued, but the global financial crisis made it difficult for them to act on their positive impulses. Today, in spite of lingering concerns about the situation in Western Europe, the Smarter Planet concepts are starting to gain traction–especially with government leaders.
The Polish central government is launching an e-health initiative, a new citizen ID program and a new electronic tax filing system. “Smart is all about how to make the citizen’s life easier, safer and more ecologically sustainable,” says Anna Sienko, IBM’s general manager for Poland and the Baltic countries.
New York City may seem an unlikely hot spot for solar energy, but think again. Consider the fact that there are 20 million square feet of usable solar farm space on top of the city’s 1,100 public school roofs alone–enough to generate 170,000 megawatts of electricity. So its no wonder that city government and business leaders are taking solar seriously.
Market forces are cooperating. Prices for solar panels are plummeting. But there remain some major impediments to solar adoption. All things considered, it’s still more expensive than traditional energy sources.
That’s where data analytics comes in. As part of the SMART NY, IBM is working with CUNY Ventures, a for-profit offshoot of the City University of New York, to create a system for gathering and analyzing information about the entire solar ecosystem within the city. The goal is to bring down the cost of installing solar. “We’re looking to make solar competitive with other sources. We need to mainstream this technology to make it easy to adopt,” says Tria Case, CUNY’s director of sustainability and coordinator of SMART NY.
In graduate schools these days, marketing isn’t for dilettantes.
Want proof? Two teams made up entirely of masters-of-marketing candidates placed first and second in last week’s Watson competition at the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business. They beat five teams made up of traditional MBA candidates.
Their apparent edge: Simon School’s marketing program concentrates on quantitative analysis—the art of turning data into valuable insights. “We didn’t have a lot of background information, so we had to find a lot of data,” says Christian Beck, a 25-year-old from Hannover, Germany, who was on the winning team. “This reinforces my belief in the power of data.”
The seven teams spent two weeks preparing for the competition. Their task was to choose applications within specific industries that they believe will be fertile ground for IBM’s Watson, which last year defeated two former grand-champions at the TV quiz show Jeopardy! After that, they presented their proposals before a panel of judges including Simon School faculty members, a Rochester-area business CEO and two IBM executives. It was the first of a series of such competitions, which are aimed at getting top business students excited about the potential for data analytics.
How do leaders develop character and competence ? Dr. Bernard Banks, Colonel in the United States Army and the Deputy Department Head of West Point’s Department of Behavioral Sciences & Leadership, shares his point of view as part of our Next Gen Leaders Series.
Leadership is often equated with simply the act of getting people to do things they otherwise might choose to not to do. while this colloquial definition might suffice in some instances, I think it fails to take into account the complexity associated with exercising leadership.
One problem is that body of literature around leadership has never distilled the phenomena’s definition down to one universally accepted statement. Dr. Peter Northouse’s well-regarded book, Leadership: Theory and Practice (2010), noted that four components are central to all concepts of leadership.
First, leading requires two or more people acting in concert with each other. Second, leading is a process and therefore transpires iteratively over time. Third, leading people involves influence. Finally, leading requires the pursuit of common goals.
I am delighted that IBM recently launched Minds of Modern Mathematics, the free iPad app that recreates the remarkable 50-foot infographic on the history of math designed by Charles and Ray Eames.
IBM collaborated with the Eameses to develop the richly illustrated timeline for Mathematica: A World of Numbers…and Beyond, an exhibit that opened at the California Museum of Science and Industry (now the California Science Center) in Los Angeles in 1961. Replicas later traveled to the New York World’s Fair and beyond.
Mathematica’s interactive models illustrating basic math concepts have intrigued visitors at the Museum of Science, Boston since 1981. Children like playing with the Celestial Mechanics machine, releasing steel balls into orbits like those of planets around the sun, while a 12-foot-high Probability Board captivates adults, as it sends plastic balls clattering through a maze of steel pins to form a bell-shaped probability curve. Here is our exhibit:
By Dr. John E. Kelly III
IBM Senior Vice President and Director of IBM Research
When I was a child, my father worked at General Electric’s research lab in Niskayuna, N.Y. I would visit and watch him tinker with vacuum tubes—light bulb-like devices that were used to direct electrical current in all sorts of gizmos, from radios and TVs to radar and computers. At the time, I didn’t fully understand what he was doing, but those visits inspired me to study science and, ultimately, to get degrees in physics and materials engineering.
I later came to understand that I had witnessed one of the great transitions in the history of technology. While my dad was showing me vacuum tubes, other engineers at GE’s lab were experimenting with the vacuum tube’s successor, the transistor, which ultimately ushered in modern electronics and personal computing. Those core technologies enabled computers that could be programmed to perform a wide variety of tasks.
Today, we are at the dawn of another epochal shift in the evolution of technology. At IBM Research, we call it the era of cognitive systems.
This is a big deal. The changes that are coming over the next 10 to 20 years—building on IBM’s Watson technology–will transform the way we live, work and learn, just as programmable computing has transformed the human landscape over the past 60+ years. You could even call this the post-computing era.
By Wayne Balta
IBM Vice-President for Corporate Environmental Affairs
Ever since then-CEO Thomas J. Watson Jr. made environmental stewardship a company-wide priority in 1971, IBM has been in the vanguard among corporations when it comes to protecting the natural environment. And, with more than 425,000 employees in 170 countries, we can move the needle on sustainability.
But in addition to large companies like IBM, the world’s millions of small and medium-size businesses can also collectively accomplish quite a bit. More than 99% of all businesses fall within the SME category—which is typically defined as organizations with fewer than 500 employees. So, based on sheer scale alone, the world’s SMEs are not only the primary source of innovation and economic growth; they’re also the key to saving the planet.
Editor’s note: To celebrate the history of math and its impact on the world, IBM has released Minds of Modern Mathematics, a free iPad app that re-imagines a classic 50-foot infographic on the history of math created by the design team of Charles and Ray Eames and displayed at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. Janet Perna, a retired IBM executive and one-time math teacher, has strong feelings about the importance of math education–starting in elementary school. Join the conversation on Twitter: #math #Eames
By Janet Perna
former General Manager, IBM Information Management
When I was a young math teacher fresh out of college in my hometown of Middletown, New York, I tried to make math entertaining and practical for my students. I’d have them learn basic arithmetic by doing things like making change and dividing a sheet cake into equal servings. They learned the basics of geometry by imagining that they were tiling the classroom floor. These exercises made math seem useful especially for those children who were not destined for college, but would become the backbone of the community taking on blue collar jobs in Middletown.
Unfortunately, then and now, most children are turned off to math by the time they enter junior high school. I have found that many elementary school teachers with whom I have spoken are intimidated by math, and aren’t confident enough to make it interesting and useful to their students. If teachers are afraid, the students will fear math, too. That’s why I believe that we need new programs to strengthen math skills and creativity in our university teacher education programs, and, even more broadly, in liberal arts curricula.