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 Timothy J. Wholey
We live in a world that’s exploding with data. From smartphones and social networks, to airplane instrumentation and atmospheric readings, we capture more data, more quickly than ever before. It’s estimated that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated on the planet every day.
This incredible amount of data creates challenges and opportunities for organizations, particularly in the aviation industry, because of the volume and variety of data it generates. Air traffic demand is expected to triple over the next 20 years, with passenger aircraft and fleets doubling during that time.
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 »
IBM today christened a new generation of technology innovators, naming 66 new Distinguished Engineers from across the company. The DE rank recognizes people for their outstanding technical accomplishments, as well as their potential for breaking new ground in key areas such as cloud and mobile computing, Big Data analytics, social business, and many more.
This year’s class includes Dr. Anna Topol, IBM’s Chief Technology Officer for the Energy and Utilities sector. A native of Poland and mother of two young boys, Topol holds a doctorate in physics from the State University of New York Albany College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering and has earned nearly two dozen patents. She joined IBM in 2001. The Smarter Planet editorial team recently sat down with Topol for an inside chat with one of the company’s newest DE’s.
Smarter Planet: Where do you see the biggest potential for breakthroughs in your current area of specialization?
Anna Topol: There is a lot of innovation happening in the energy and utility sector. What has been learned from other industries such as telecommunications and retail, where the use of data analytics has had transformational benefits, is now being applied to help us be smarter about how we generate, consume and conserve energy. Right now, there is a focus on automation and the use of smart meters, devices and sensors. For energy consumers, this translates into a decrease in change-related outages through increased efficiency and reduced mean time to repairs. Continue Reading »
By Clyde Pereira
Informed, empowered, and demanding social-media savvy consumers. They’re here to stay – and no one has been more affected by them than those working in the consumer goods and retail manufacturing industries.
While we often point to the Internet as the underpinning of the empowered consumer evolution, thanks to a number of external factors – such as the increased use of mobile devices, social media, Big Data and the interconnectivity of all of our devices – today we must also look at cloud computing as another major force adding to the “consumer power” phenomenon. But cloud’s new reach doesn’t stop there.
In fact, recent research by IBM indicates that while 16 percent of the global sample of business leaders surveyed were already using cloud capabilities for sweeping innovation (such as entering new lines of business or reshaping an existing industry) within the next three years, 35 percent intend to use it to transform their business models. Continue Reading »
By Richard Silberman, Writer/Researcher, IBM Communications
During the past year, we’ve profiled nine exceptional “People for a Smarter Planet” who exemplify the spirit of change, innovation, creativity and curiosity that lie at the core of building a smarter planet. They are inventors and researchers, academics and executives, thought leaders, dreamers, risk-takers, pioneers.
These individuals come from a wide range of fields and possess an array of interests and expertise. What they all have in common is a passion for their work and a commitment to make the world a better place.
They include Ruhong Zhou, whose avian flu research may help prevent a global pandemic; Dave Bartlett, IBM’s smarter buildings guru; Bill Reichert, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist with novel advice for entrepreneurs; and sustainability expert Sarah Slaughter.
If you haven’t met them yet, here are nine People for a Smarter Planet you should know.
By Andreas Dümmler
As one of the world’s leading manufacturers of injection molding machines used to make plastic products, ARBURG GmbH + Co KG is essentially a manufacturer’s manufacturer. We are as committed to smarter manufacturing processes in our own plants as our clients.
One of our foremost priorities is energy efficiency. As a family-owned business, environmental responsibility is a significant part of our culture. We make use of necessary resources, but stay true to a guiding principle to use the most energy efficient production and management systems in our plants as possible. Key tactics in facility engineering and management include the use of geothermal energy, photovoltaic technology, combined heat and power plants, rain water, waste heat from production equipment, and the use of natural ventilation and extraction in our buildings.
By Richard Silberman, Writer/Researcher, IBM Communications
Robert Waymouth, Ph.D., maintains the sense of awe that he’s had since his earliest days as a chemist, savoring those “marvelous moments where it just takes your breath away, you can’t believe something worked like that.”
Waymouth, a professor of chemistry at Stanford University, had one such moment in 2004 when he and his grad students discovered a new way to make molecules using organic catalysts. That breakthrough, followed by years of research with colleague Jim Hedrick at IBM Research in Almaden, Calif., has yielded a process to make environmentally sustainable plastics that could lead to smarter recycling methods, a drastic reduction in plastics pollution and even a safer, more efficient way to administer drugs.
Continue Reading »
By Jamie Kirk
“Houston, we have a problem.” These were the famous words from the stricken astronauts aboard the Apollo 13 space vessel when a technical malfunction left the crew stranded 200,000 miles from safety. In an iconic scene from the film adaptation, NASA employees gathered in a room and were presented with a small box of jumbled everyday items that the astronauts had in their damaged capsule.
The stark reality was that if they didn’t come up with a solution using just those items then the men would soon perish in space. In the face of this insurmountable uncertainty their commander reminded everyone in the room that “failure is not an option.”
In this time of immediacy, the traditional command structure was replaced by pragmatism. The NASA leaders didn’t care about job titles or what informal teams worked together as long as it produced effective solutions. By working collaboratively within tight constraints they managed against all odds to get the astronauts back to safety. Times of uncertainty, scarcity and high stakes when guided by effective leadership often produce the most creative solutions.