By Joyce Phillips
It used to be that next generation technology to make humans smarter, faster and at the top of their game was the stuff of cinema and science fiction.
Here at ANZ, we are exploring a groundbreaking solution that holds this very same promise – a cognitive assistant, if you will, that can empower our regional bank advisors to better serve our two million wealth management clients.
To understand why and what we’re doing to foster this innovation, it’s important to start with the perspective of the customer.
Imagine yourself entering a regional bank branch. You’ve arranged an appointment with the branch’s financial advisor, to discuss the life you want for you and your loved ones upon your retirement, and the solutions you need to achieve it.
Two of the key questions you and your advisor need to address are: what types of insurance, retirement and banking solutions do you have now, and do they cover you in a way that will safeguard your assets and yield a secure, well-funded retirement. Continue Reading »
By Manoj Saxena
Social and technological shifts are driving rapid change, altering ways in which individuals interact with one another, learn, and attend to their personal and business needs. These shifts offer the potential to strengthen the relationships between companies and their customers—enabling more individual and directed communication and allowing organizations to cater to individual needs. Yet, for many, today’s online customer experiences lack personalization, timeliness and trust.
But what if companies could offer their customers the kind of personalized and knowledgeable assistance when they’re online or on the phone that people have come to expect from top-flight customer service delivered in person? We believe that a new generation of cognitive systems will do just that. They will provide individuals with intelligent personal digital assistants that interact with them, answer their questions, and help them make complex purchasing decisions or solve problems they’re having with products like cell phones, computers and consumer electronics devices. Continue Reading »
By Takreem El-Tohamy
There’s a wonderful word in Swahili that I think expresses one of the imperatives for the future of Africa. The word is “harambee.” It means pulling together, collaborating and supporting each other. I believe that one of the key factors in the ability of African countries to create sustainable and equitable economic growth will be the emergence of innovation ecosystems. Harambee perfectly captures an essential element of such ecosystems—the ability of institutions and individuals to pull together and build a mutually supportive environment.
Innovation ecosystems are complex organisms that are difficult to create yet tremendously powerful when they work. Think Silicon Valley. They require a melding of all of the capabilities of governments, businesses, financiers, universities, and individuals. Together, these organizations and individuals provide the web of support that makes it easier for startups to launch and grow quickly, and for established companies to innovate more aggressively. With that kind of support, African entrepreneurs and businesses will find it easier to produce new products and services, or even create whole new industries. You can think of an innovation ecosystem as a collective intelligence—harnessed for the good of society. Continue Reading »
Andy Stanford-Clark, an IBM Master Inventor who lives in the United Kingdom, jokes that his goal was “world domination” in 1999 when he and Arlen Nipper of Eurotech invented a protocol aimed at greatly improving machine-to-machine communications. This was at the time when another British technology pioneer, Kevin Ashton, coined the term “Internet of Things” to describe how the Internet could be connected to the physical world via a vast network of sensors. Stanford-Clark believed that his protocol, now called MQ Telemetry Transport, or MQTT for short, would enable organizations to quickly and affordably gather, integrate and make use of all of that sensor data. It would be an essential underlying technology for the Internet of Things. Continue Reading »
By David McQueeney
Five years ago, IBM launched its Smarter Planet initiative, describing the era in which we currently live and operate in as the “Era of Smart,” one marked by forward-thinking leaders in business, government and society capitalizing on smarter systems to achieve economic growth, operational efficiency and sustainable development.
Since 2008, we have moved beyond the world of programmable systems to our first steps in cognitive systems – systems that exploit large data sources and can “learn.” Our Watson system may highlight this new way of operating best. For the first time, a computer has the ability to consult a broad range of human language resources, learn from historical training data, and answer surprisingly complex questions. We are forced to rethink how computers can work with humans on complex tasks, by showing the world a system that is able to respond based on what it ‘knows’ – facts and information and training – rather than simply what words match in a simple search.
By Terry F. Yosie
Environmental issues are big, thorny problems. Scarcities in water, food and raw materials are too complex for any single company or non-governmental organization to solve on its own. In order to make a difference, it’s necessary to collaborate with like-minded partners to achieve shared goals.
Collaboration is a normal feature of customer-supplier relationships, government-business partnerships and initiatives with universities and other partners. It’s also typical for organizations looking for new business models that can sustain profitability while addressing societal needs, natural resource management, product and service innovation, and differentiation of brand value, to name a few. Collaboration can spur organizations to redefine their business purpose by utilizing society as another kind of R&D lab for innovation. Continue Reading »
By Gardiner Tucker
I said about IBM’s research organization, when I joined the Watson lab at Columbia University in 1952, that it provided a wonderful degree of academic freedom, even though it wasn’t technically academic. That was the same spirit in which we started the Fellows program when I became director in 1963.
IBM Research had by the 1960s established itself at the forefront of a number of technical disciplines that we judged had the potential to lead to new hardware and software, as well as entire new fields of information systems. Recognizing our people for leading these breakthroughs was, at the time, through promotion to team leader or department manager.
What we needed was a way to encourage and reward individuals in a way that let them continue creative research, unencumbered by administrative duties. We also wanted to cultivate a way to encourage individual “gadflies” or “catalysts,” who could stimulate ideas in others, and help colleagues overcome bottlenecks.
This is why we decided to start the IBM Fellow program. We chose the name “fellow” by analogy with how universities recognized outstanding scholars. Continue Reading »
By Matthias Kaiserswerth
Steve Jobs famously lured John Sculley from a soda pop company to Apple in 1983 by saying, “Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life? Or do you want to come with me and change the world?” In today’s business environment, the comparable challenge to a young engineer or computer scientist would be: “Do you want to create the next mobile app that makes your friends look like zombies or do you want to help transform the world of computing?”
That, in fact, is the challenge that we’re issuing today. IBM and ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, have assembled what some call a dream team of scientists to create a next-generation computing system capable of handling the ultimate big data challenge. Our project, called DOME, is a system for handling the deluge of data that will be created by the Square Kilometre Array, a radio telescope made up of more than half a million individual antennas that are to be scattered across southern Africa and Australia. When the SKA is completed in 2024, it is expected to process 14 exabytes of raw data per day. The data collected by the SKA in a single day would take nearly two million years to play back on an iPod.
We’re in the process of recruiting more than a half-dozen PhD.-level students to help staff the project–and we’re staging a virtual job fair to engage prospective employees. If you’re interested and qualified, visit the job fair Web site on March 26 at 5 p.m. Central European Time (Noon US Eastern Time). Only top students with huge ambitions should apply.
By Mahmoud Naghshineh
I recently helped my 22-year-old son, who is vegan, pick out a vegetable juicer. He told me a bit about what he was looking for, including the fact that the machine should ingest leafy greens like kale effectively and it should not run so hot that it would diminish the nutritional value of raw vegetables. I searched crowd-sourcing product review Web sites and came back with a recommendation. His reaction: “That’s a good one. Everybody’s talking about it.”
He had reached the same conclusion that I had via my research by soaking up information and opinions from his own social network.
This experience brings home to me one of the salient truths in this age of the digital consumer: Social networks provide tremendous value not just for the consumer but for the creators of products and services who are determined to engage with people as individuals—rather than by catering to traditional market segments. With the right tools, a company can understand my son’s tastes nearly as well as he does. Continue Reading »
By John Kelly
A few weeks ago, I shared a dinner table in Johannesburg with Adrian Tiplady, one of the managers of Square Kilometre Array South Africa, which is managing the country’s involvement in the Square Kilometre Array astronomy project. The SKA is one of the most ambitious science efforts ever launched. The goal of the 10 countries involved is to decipher radio waves from deep space in order to solve the riddles of the universe and the nature of matter. Yet something Adrian told me totally blew my mind: he said the computing challenges posed by the SKA are just as great as those related to astronomy.
It’s gratifying when scientists from other domains come together to push computing and computer science forward. And it’s even more gratifying when organizations like Tiplady’s form partnerships with IBM to bring cutting-edge technologies to bear on the most demanding tasks ever dreamed up by humans. Today, SKA South Africa announced that it has joined IBM and ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, in a multi-year public-private partnership funded primarily by the Dutch government aimed at developing an information technology system for harvesting insights from the SKA’s data.