By Michael Karasick
The world is on the cusp of a new era of computing, which we call the era of cognitive systems. New computer technologies are coming that will help people and organizations penetrate complexity and make better decisions. At IBM, we believe that this coming revolution in artificial intelligence has the potential to transform the way business is done and dramatically accelerate innovation. Cognitive systems will enable humans and machines to interact together and achieve things that neither could do on their own.
The victory of IBM’s Watson on the TV game show Jeopardy! was one of the milestones in this new phase of computing. Scientists at IBM and elsewhere are pushing the boundaries of science and technology fields ranging from neural networks to machine learning to create machines that sense, learn, reason and interact with people in new ways.
(IBM Research Director John Kelly is speaking about the future of computing today at 7 p.m. Pacific Time at the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley. His book about the new era, Smart Machines: IBM’s Watson and the Era of Cognitive Computing , will be published in the fall by Columbia University Press. To read a free chapter now, go to the Columbia University Press web site.
Teddy Goff led a team of more than 200 people focused on digital media for President Obama’s re-election campaign. They generated more than 133 million video views, developed innovative tools to build grassroots communities, and raised more than $690 million. Recently, he and two colleagues formed a strategic marketing consultancy, Precision Strategies. Here, Goff talks about the importance of cultivating relationships and how President Obama’s re-election campaign ultimately relied on the effective use of predictive analytics.
What was the digital campaign’s key contribution to President Obama’s re-election?
It put supporters back into a primary role. We realized the most important thing we could do on the digital side was to cultivate relationships with the supporters on e-mail, Facebook, Twitter. We wanted to keep them inspired, engaged and informed. If we gave those people a reason to hit the retweet button every now and again, hit the share button, they could reach almost everyone in the United States more powerfully than we as a campaign operation ever could. President Obama on election day had about 34 million Facebook fans. Those people were friends with 98 percent of the U.S.-based Facebook population, which is more than the number of people who vote. Continue Reading »
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. 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? 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 »