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.
Over the past several years, Big Data, analytics, cloud, mobile and social technologies have infused our world. These technologies provide the instrumentation, interconnection and intelligence that make it possible to build a smarter planet. But, in order to do so, countries, cities, corporations and individuals need to rethink how they go about achieving their goals. Tune in here at the A Smarter Planet blog at 6 p.m. United States E.T. on March 7 to watch a live video of IBM CEO Ginni Rometty laying out her vision of the path forward at the Council on Foreign Relations. Join the conversation here and on Twitter at #IBM and #CFRlive.
Last September, when Typhoon Sanba smashed into the Korean peninsula, it packed winds so strong that they sent rocks flying through the air like missiles and caused massive power outages.
“Hwangsa” storms, carrying dense clouds of yellow dust from China’s Gobi Desert that are sometimes loaded with heavy metals and carcinogens, sweep across the peninsula from West to East.
Menaced by such destructive weather phenomena, South Korea is upgrading its national weather information system with the goal of understanding weather patterns better and predicting better the location and ferocity of weather events. The upgrade being installed by the Korean Meteorological Administration increases the agency’s data storage capacity by nearly 1000% to 9.3 petabytes, making it Korea’s most capable storage system. IBM provides the storage hardware and software. Continue Reading »
Across Africa, an innovation culture is starting to emerge. In Kenya, PesaPal piggybacks on the popular M-PESA mobile payments service, enabling Kenyans to buy and sell on the Internet. Tanzania’s Techno Brain is selling software for managing businesses in 13 countries. And South Africa’s Cobi Interactive, a mobile communications software company, is developing popular applications for smart phones.
Yet for Africa to fulfill it’s potential and emerge among the world’s economic tigers, social and business leaders agree that much more innovation must happen there. The continent’s cities, universities, entrepreneurs and commercial R&D organizations can become engines of innovation producing new products and services that are tailored for the African experience. And, in order to make this transition, African institutions and businesses–plus multinational corporations –must work together to create innovation ecosystems that foster this kind of creativity.
At IBM’s Smarter Planet Leadership Forum today in Nairobi, Kenya, CEO Ginni Rometty said IBM hopes to work collaboratively with the people and institutions in Africa: “We want to be seen as a citizen of the countries, essential to the government, companies and people.” Rometty said IBM’s decision to locate an IBM Research laboratory on the continent–beginning with an office in Nairobi–sends the strong signal about the company’s commitment to Africa.