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March 20th, 2012
9:10
 

By Steve Mills
Senior Vice President and Group Executive
IBM

Frustration with “information overload” is one of the facts of life these days. For many people, the deluge of information they’re confronted with every day at work, on TV, on the Internet, and, increasingly, on mobile phones and tablet PCs too often seems like a burden that has to be overcome rather than a benefit.

It doesn’t have to be so. At IBM, we believe the super-abundance of information, often called “Big Data,” should be thought of as nothing less than a tremendous new natural resource. In fact, information is becoming the petroleum of the 21st century. But we need a new generation of analytics technology and expertise to help us make the most of it.

Today, at events in New York and London called the Smarter Analytics Leadership Summit, we’re talking with 100 business leaders about the potential for harvesting this great resource to create value for their businesses and for society.

Editor’s note: In addition, we want to open the conversation to many more people via the A Smarter Planet blog and Twitter, at #SmarterAnalytics and #Big Data. For the video simulcast, click here.

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February 23rd, 2012
15:29
 

IBM has been helping cities develop sophisticated monitoring and management systems for several years, but, until now, most of the technology solutions it provided were made to order. That’s not sustainable. A just-announced engagement with Zhenjiang, a  a tourist destination in northern China, represents the first publicly-discussed example of a smarter cities solution that is being built on a single sophisticated software platform, called the Intelligent Operations Center.

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By Mo Zhou, Senior Consultant, IBM Global Business Services

One year ago, I was thrilled to watch IBM’s Watson computer win on the TV quiz show Jeopardy! at a special viewing party at Yale University. It was the second year of my MBA program, and I had already accepted a job offer from IBM, so I was rooting for my own team. I was so excited that I stayed until the very end to get the last Watson T-shirt they handed out as a door prize. Today, my profile picture on Facebook shows me proudly wearing the shirt.

So, you could say I’m a poster child for IBM. Continue Reading »

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The intriguing term “gross national happiness” was coined in 1972 by Bhutan’s then king, Jigme Singve Wangchuck. He was launching a modernization campaign for the tiny Himalayan kingdom, but wanted to embrace modernity without sacrificing his country’s traditional values. Since then, the Bhutan-based think tank Centre for Bhutan Studies has developed a sophisticated method for measuring a population’s general level of well-being. The method is considered in government planning and as a sort of environmental impact statement whenever the kingdom considers a major new initiative.

It may be time to follow Bhutan’s lead and broaden the ways we define economic success.

In fact, Sergio Borger and other scientists at IBM Research – Brazil are thinking along these lines. They’re trying to come up with a way of accurately measuring the quality of life in a city.

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For decades, scientists, engineers and designers have been attaching all manner of digital devices to human beings. Their quest is called wearable computing. Today, the smartphone makes computers essentially wearable and soon-to-be ubiquitous, but there are still plenty of uses for specialized wearable devices, especially in the healthcare field, and there’s one class of device that seems to be on its way to mass acceptance: the fitness monitor. It’s a handy tool for millions of people who made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight.

One of the pioneers in the field, BodyMedia Inc. in Pittsburgh, has just introduced an update of its BodyMedia FIT system that not only tracks physical activity but also provides personalized feedback. The system includes software from IBM that is most often used by businesses–but in this case helps individuals improve their well being. “This is a big step for us,” says Ivo Stivoric, the chief technology officer at BodyMedia and one of its founders. “This helps consumers connect the dots. They don’t just see the data. They get recommendations on what they can do to get back on track.”

The system demonstrates the potential for a combination of sensor technology, analytics software and easy-to-use interfaces to unlock the mysteries of the human body and produce insights that people can immediately put to use to make themselves healthier and happier.

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Medical decision making can be extremely challenging. Physicians are counted on to make the correct diagnosis and choose the proper treatment for each patient. If they’re wrong, the patient suffers. If they’re terribly wrong, the outcome can be even worse.

So why not give doctors some computing intelligence to help improve their results?

HaimNelken_use with cautionThat’s one of the challenges that that inspired scientists at IBM Research – Haifa  to help transform healthcare globally. In fact, the Haifa lab is the lead location for healthcare-related work among IBM’s 9 laboratories worldwide–and making the most of medical information is one of its key focuses. “The important thing to realize is that data is king in healthcare. We can transform decision making, and we can use genetic insight to make personalized medicine possible,” says Haim Nelken, manager for integration technologies at IBM Research – Haifa.

It’s no surprise that the topic for the colloquium being conducted there today is The Future of Healthcare. The colloquium is part of an IBM centennial program designed to convene thought leaders – including leading scientists, academics, leaders of industries, public policy makers and IBM clients — for a series of talks and panel discussions on transformational technologies and their potential impact on the world.

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Rio De Janeiro is a bustling metropolis in a booming country–and, increasingly, an example of how government and business leaders can cooperate to make cities work better. Join the live blog today for a second day of coverage of speeches, panels and hallway discussions.

Update:

Here’s Ginni Rometty, IBM’s senior vice president for Sales, Marketing and Strategy (and IBM’s next CEO) talking about how to build a smarter city.

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In early 2009,  bushfires fanned by winds gusting to 83 miles per hour raced across the landscape north of Melbourne, Australia, killing 173 people and destroying 3,500 structures. It was estimated that the amount of energy released during the firestorm was equivalent to the energy that would be released by 1,500 World War II-era atomic bombs.

glenn_squareThe bushfires, together with the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, quakes in Haiti and New Zealand, the New Orleans flood and the volcanic eruption in Iceland, remind us of the terribly destructive power of nature. The fires were the catalyst that launched IBMers in Australia  into focusing on the role that information technology can play in helping to respond to and mitigate natural disasters. Climate change amplifies natural phenomena, and the increased concentration of people in urban areas makes society ever more vulnerable.  “These major disasters intersect with population density and the interconnectedness of economies and business,” says Glenn Wightwick, director of IBM R&D Australia. “Society has to become more resilient.”

Societal resilience has become one of the pillars of the research agenda for IBM R&D Australia, the newest of IBM’s global research labs, which will be officially inaugurated on Friday. It’s also the theme of The IBM Research colloquium that the lab is hosting tomorrow for more than 100 guests in Melbourne. That confab is part of an IBM Centennial program designed to convene thought leaders – including leading researchers and scientists, academics, leaders of industries, public policy makers and key IBM clients — for a series of talks and panel discussions on transformational technologies and their potential impact on the world.

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Research & Development is a line item on a corporate income statement, but, most often, the R and the D are distinct activities. Research is about inventing, and development is about bringing new innovations to market in products and services. Too often, the organizational gap between these two activities results in products and services that don’t meet market needs or arrive too slowly.

MahmoudWith that conundrum in mind, IBM has launched its Services Innovation Lab, a new initiative aimed at weaving the two functions together with the goal of bringing differentiated services to market more quickly and improving the quality and up-take on its new services innovations. “We want to double the impact in half the time,” says Mahmoud Naghsineh, director of the new lab. Naghsineh understands the problems of bridging between research and development. He has crossed back and forth several times during his IBM career.

robert morrisThe Services Innovation Laboratory brings together scientists from IBM Research with consultants and services technology experts from the company’s three services businesses, Global Technology Services, Global Business Services and Global Processing Services. They will co-invent and co-develop new services capabilities. “Research people invent a lot of things, but they don’t always invent things that can scale and be adopted widely,” says Robert Morris, vice president for services research at IBM. “If you put them together with people who live the problems, they have a much better chance of inventing things that scale and are used widely.”

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puleriBy Jill Puleri

These days when you check out of almost any retail store, nearly without notice or care, the checker passes your purchases under or above a laser and you hear a “bleep” as the laser picks up the product information from that strange looking set of black bars on each product.  The name and price of the product then pops up on the register – and the register sends that data back over a network to a database for inventory processing and analysis.  All this happens in an instant, all while you’re getting out your credit card, reading the latest scoop on a celebrity, or trying to keep your kids from adding more candy bars to the checkout belt.

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Adding a series of black lines to a stick of gum changed the world of retail. Click the image to read the whole story.

Well, here’s something for you: The next time your son REALLY REALLY REALLY needs to have that pack of Juicy Fruit (he just can’t live without), you can pick up the package of gum in the familiar yellow wrapper and show him those crazy looking black bars and on the side and say: Continue Reading »

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