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Komminist Weldemariam helping students at Nairobi’s Riara School with Watson Cognitive Tutor.

Komminist Weldemariam helping students at Nairobi’s Riara School with Watson Cognitive Tutor.

Komminist Weldemariam grew up in Arba Mich, a small town in Southwest Ethiopia. Even though he wouldn’t see his first computer until college, the future computer science PhD knew at the age of 11 that math and science, along with intuition, could solve problems. Today, after studying and teaching in cities all over the world for almost a decade, Weldemariam is back in Africa to apply cognitive computing to education. His work developing online learning systems at IBM Research-Africa’s lab in Nairobi, Kenya, recently led to him earning a Next Einstein Forum Fellowship. The Smarter Planet caught up with Weldemariam recently to talk about his education technology projects, like Watson Cognitive Tutor. Continue Reading »

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Arun Kumar, Assistant Secretary for Global Markets, U.S. Department of Commerce

Arun Kumar, Assistant Secretary for Global Markets, U.S. Department of Commerce

By Arun Kumar

As a former entrepreneur and management consultant with deep roots in Silicon Valley, I understand from experience the importance of innovation to fostering economic growth and dynamism.

This week, I’m accompanying Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx on a U.S. trade mission to Africa to assist U.S. companies with doing business in Sub-Saharan Africa.

During the past week, I have seen first-hand how the spirit of entrepreneurship is thriving across the region – from South Africa, to Mozambique, to Kenya where I am today. Dozens of tech hubs are popping up in African cities. Continue Reading »

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(Source: MagicEyes)

(Source: MagicEyes)

By David Sawatzky

A star athlete wearing a new brand of headphones during practice prompts millions of fans to go to a retailer’s website to buy them. A sleeper movie hit suddenly sparks sudden interest in the novel on which it was based. A young celebrity wears an affordable dress on the red carpet and creates a surge in orders.

While overnight sensations like these can be boons for business, they often catch suppliers and retailers off guard, especially online retailers.

Sudden influxes of online shoppers can, and do, bring down commerce sites – sometimes at the very moment the retailer is counting on big sales. The situation is untenable. Today’s websites look beautiful and feel seamless, but behind the state-of-art facade they are often interacting with applications that may have been developed decades ago. Continue Reading »

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David Zaharchuk

David Zaharchuk, Research Lead, IBV

A new study from IBM’s Institute for Business Value uncovers some sobering news on the state of higher education. Of the nearly 1,000 academic and business leaders surveyed, 51 percent believe the current higher education system fails to meet the needs of students while nearly 60 percent believe it fails to meet the needs of industry. The Smarter Planet blog caught up with David Zaharchuk, Research Lead, IBV, and one of the lead authors of the new study, to get some perspective on these findings and learn what might be done to enable higher education systems to remain viable.

Smarter Planet: It’s clear from these numbers that the value of the traditional higher education model is being questioned by the very people who are shaping it. Why?
David Zaharchuk: Higher education is absolutely in a state of transition. Leaders identified a number of challenges as to why the system is struggling. Continue Reading »

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Wendy Hite, cognitive cooking pioneer

Wendy Hite, cognitive cooking pioneer

By Steve Hamm
Chief Storyteller, IBM

Wendy Hite is a bit of a food snob. She grew up in South West Louisiana, where food and family are all mixed up in the great gumbo of life, and, for the longest time, she couldn’t imagine how she could improve on traditional Cajun-style cooking.

Until she met Chef Watson, that is.

She used the cognitive cooking discovery program to develop a crawfish deviled egg dish that was mighty tasty–familiar, in some ways, but also new to her. “This has been fun,” she says. “It gets you to try new things and to be more creative than you normally would be.” Continue Reading »

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James Gardner, CTO, Mindjet

James Gardner, CTO, Mindjet

By James Gardner

If there’s one thing that developers like more than solving a problem it’s not having to encounter operational issues that stifle their creativity and output.

With startups, scale is the name of the game. But frankly, any company committed to innovation and customer satisfaction, whether large enterprise or nascent mobile app developer, should be thinking about scalability.

As CTO of late-stage startup Mindjet, my primary concern is delivering a consistently high level of innovation to our hundreds of large enterprise customers and 4 million+ users.

As our annual user growth climbed to over 30 percent, the team for Spigit – our crowdsourcing platform for innovation – has seen operation costs increase as well, creating scaling limitations for our existing cloud infrastructure. This expansion, though welcome on the user side, quickly started to slow down the pace of internal innovation, affecting our ability to effectively ramp up new users. Continue Reading »

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Randy McIntosh, Director, Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest

Randy McIntosh,
Director, Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest

By Randy McIntosh

In just over 15 years, Canadians living with dementia will increase by 87 per cent, and in the next two decades, the number of seniors is expected to double to over 10 million in the country alone. These staggering reports represent only two of many reasons research on brain health and aging is imperative. It’s time to face reality.

That’s where the Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation (CC-ABHI) comes in. The $123.5-million initiative, backed by industry leaders, philanthropy and government, is a significant opportunity for Baycrest to apply its knowledge on brain health, aging and senior care, and get it out into the community where it can make a real difference. Continue Reading »

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Robert Griffin, General Manager, IBM Safer Planet

Robert Griffin, General Manager, IBM Safer Planet

By Robert Griffin

We live in a dangerous world. You know the threats as well as I do. But we don’t have to live in fear. I’m convinced that technology can help police, corporate security officers, national security agencies and emergency management officials do their jobs better–making people, companies, cities and countries safer.

Situational intelligence is the key to making the world less dangerous. The more we know, the better prepared we are when the worst happens–and the more likely we are to be able to prevent it. To know more, we need to be able to sift through all the evidence to understand what’s happening now, and why, and what’s likely to happen next. Continue Reading »

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June 19th, 2015
8:00
 

Lisa Seacat DeLuca, IBM Master Inventor for Mobile, reads her newly published childrens’ book, A Robot Story, to her twin sons.

Lisa Seacat DeLuca, Omni-Channel technical strategist for IBM Commerce, and IBM Master Inventor

By Lisa Seacat Deluca

We’re bombarded by deals every day. Get an extra 10 percent off (if you use a coupon). Get your tenth cup of coffee for free (if you use a rewards card). What if the “deal” was something you didn’t have to remember to bring with you, or something you didn’t even have to remember you previously received?

What if it was pushed to your mobile device based on a store you were nearby, or a particular section of the store you were shopping in? What if the “deal” was personalized for you based on your shopping habits? Continue Reading »

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June 17th, 2015
6:38
 

Ron Ambrosio, CTO, Smarter Energy Research, IBM

Ron Ambrosio, CTO, Smarter Energy Research, IBM

By Ron Ambrosio

You walk into a room at night and flip the light switch on the wall. The lights come on. You didn’t think twice about that …you were certain it would work. While we’re not at that point everywhere in the world yet, it is true of most industrialized regions that electricity is a highly reliable resource. But the reality behind that simple action of turning on a light switch is a constantly evolving list of uncertainties that utilities deal with 24/7.

Uncertainty takes many forms in the utility industry, from the health of individual devices as they age, to volatility of fuel prices, to the behavior of you, the consumer, and your use of electricity or natural gas. And uncertainty can be equated to risk — the risk of failing to achieve both operational and business objectives. That’s not a risk any business wants to take. Continue Reading »

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