Today’s Post By: Brittany Bruner, Market Segment Manager Data Imaging and Capture
This past Tuesday, I had the unique opportunity to hear our CEO, Ginni Rometty, speak at the Computer History Museum, apart of their Revolutionaries program.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to hear Ginni speak live, you really should. Not only is she the CEO, President and Chairman of a large company, tops many lists including 2014 Forbes 25 Most Powerful Women in the World, but she is a great engaging speaker. She discussed her background, her degree in computer science, and her first job at IBM as an engineer. At one time, she asked for a show of hands… I was one of maybe 10 who weren’t an engineer in the room. Analytical crowd. Ginni really believes that her engineering degree helped her THINK (IBM’s motto) and problem solve, skills she utilizes in all areas of her career.
The night was held in a Q&A style setting with the CEO of the Computer History Museum, John Hollar. Throughout the night they discussed topics across different areas of technology and IBM, but I wanted to highlight some of my favorites as an IBMer.
First discussion of the night was Ginni’s 3 Top of Mind thoughts. While that could have gone a number of ways, she highlighted the following:
- Don’t protect the past
- Don’t define yourself as a product
- Always steward for the long term
These ‘golden nuggets’ are something that not only organizations can live by, but also individual people. I have a tendency to get caught up in short-term successes and forget to strive for the long game, something top of mind to Ginni.
IBM has been around for 103 years now. Ginni talked a lot about IBM and how we’ve transformed throughout the years. While many may not know, IBM started out producing scales and meat slicing machines… who would of thought back then that a meat slicer company would evolve multiple times through the years to be what we know IBM as today, an enterprise technology company.
Transformation was also a key topic. If you’ve heard anything from Ginni in the past few years,it’s about transformation. Transforming how you do anything is not an easy task, especially in a large company. She gave a great example of what transformation can look like. Imagine you are looking out on the horizon and see a cargo ship. You know it’s large, but it looks so small from your perspective. You know it’s moving, but for the moment it doesn’t seem to be moving at all. Now, imagine you leave and come back that next day, that huge cargo ship is now in port. It traveled all that way, from horizon to port, when you weren’t looking.
Technology is an ever-changing industry to be in. Ginni highlighted 3 major shifts that will change the way everyone around the world does business.
Big Data and Analytics- the ECM portfolio falls into this category, and this category is all about how you transform companies with data. Ginni compared data to a natural resource, ‘It’s nothing unless you can refine it.’ Saying there is a ton of data out there in the world is the understatement of the century, but if you can harness and use the right data in the right ways, now we are getting somewhere.
But of course, you can’t talk Big Data and Analytics without hearing about predictive analytics or IBM Watson. Watson appeared on Jeopardy in 2011, the year of IBM’s centennial. Ginni recalled talking to her husband after the final jeopardy show aired, remarking that“Watson is going to change the world.”Watson learns and you have to teach Watson.She compared Watson to having infinite hypotheses and testing them against all the data in the world. That’s pretty cool stuff.
This is where the discussion got really cool, delighting my inner nerd. If you happen to be in Silicon Valley and have some time on your hands, try to check out the Computer History Museum. It has so many amazing pieces of technology history to look at, but now… they have a new piece. Ginni talked about how much Watson has changed in the almost four years since Jeopardy — from being the size of a small bedroom to now being the size of a mini fridge. The Jeopardy Watson had 90 ‘brains’ on our Power 750 servers and Ginni donated one of those brains to the museum. Not only that, Ginni shared a live demo of Watson for Healthcare that I hadn’t even seen as an IBMer! She walked the audience through a Watson breast cancer diagnosis situation. The doctor pulls up your patient history, a very complete view of it from previous appointments, your test results, etc. From there, the doctor can click on suggested therapies and Watson displays what he thinks would be good in a color-coded model. You can click into each treatment and see why it is a good fit or why it isn’t. In the demo, we saw our patient had a high risk of heart problems due to previous test results. From that, Watson was able to suggest a certain therapy as the best option since the patient had high risk of heart issues.
Many people ask if Watson will replace people. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Ginni once again had a great way of explaining it… image Watson as an augmenting technology, not a replacement for people. Have you ever dreamed of working with a colleague who has never forgotten a single thing? That’s Watson.
The other major two shifts were 2.Cloud and 3.Social, Mobile and Security.
Cloud can be imagined as ‘anything as a service.’ Organizations are pursuing cloud for its agility. Ginni was able to share some intriguing statistics. 90% of all net new software, not new versions but brand new software, is developed in the cloud. And of that, 70% of it is in a hybrid environment. Cloud is paving the way for transforming how business is done.
And what do social and mobile truly do? They lead to an individualized one-to-one engagement. Social and mobile add simplification and personalization to processes, but it completely depends on security.
Security. A daunting task. Ginni suggests we need to shift how we think and focus on security. She gave this metaphor — many times companies view security as a castle with a moat around it, always trying to keep threats out. Instead, organizations should embrace the idea of intruders gaining access to critical systems then design and monitor systems in a way that limits the potential damage an intruder can cause. Ginni said security is truly a big data and analytics problem; you have to be looking for the “footprints in the sand”within your organizations systems.
There were so many other intriguing topics discussed that deserve mentioning, bu tI’ll wrap with the most valuable advice Ginni was ever learned and given.
“Growth and comfort will never coexist.”
This is true for countries, companies and people. You should feel confident at being ill at ease and Ginni would bet you’ve learned the most when you felt at risk.