At IBM Insight 2014 this week to hear about IBM’s latest data and analytics offerings. Tomorrow I will be speaking myself on how event-centric decisions represent an inflection point in real-time decision making. For now though it’s going to be all IBM.
After some great rah-rah intro material from Jake Porway and Jeff Jonas, Bob Picciano came on to kick off the keynote. Bob said that IBM sees a new insight-economy driven by data and that the business world has reached an inflection point as a result. This is based on three forces interacting:
- Data, the new basis for competitive advantage – the what
- Cloud, changing the economics – the how
- Engagement, fueled by mobile and social – the why
Bob brought up a range of statistics showing how much data is available, how fast it is growing, and how this is driving the “insight economy”. Big Data and Analytics, he says, are transforming companies in every industry. Creating new business models, improving customer engagement, managing risk/reducing fraud more accurately and much more. To make this work, IBM has a reference architecture for big data analytics, that brings everything together.
Pratt and Whitney came on stage next to discuss their use of analytics with Bob. Pratt and Whitney has begun to use the data they gather from its engine sensors in real-time, using predictive analytics to predict possible problems and drive preventative maintenance. Fuel usage, keeping engines in service are the focus today but they are also looking into using predictive analytics in quality, in the supply chain and in many other areas.
Next up Bob focused on cloud. Cloud is becoming increasingly central to clients, becoming a strategic platform not just a way to save money. In particular new companies focused on data and analytics are using the cloud as a central integration and analytic delivery platform.
Bob brought Marcus Hearne on to talk about actionable insights and Watson Analytics. I blogged about Watson Analytics from the launch. I won’t repeat myself here – check out the old post for an overview (it’s actually part of a series so check out the related posts from the TOC too). It’s a great tool, nice interface and good use of technology to eliminate a lot of manual steps in data preparation and predictive model development. Hopefully it will be integrated into IBM’s decision management technology to allow deployment into production before too long…
Inhi Cho Suh joined Bob to talk more about cloud and data, beginning by a discussion of the completely casual way in which today’s kids run servers, join games and collaborate in the cloud. She walked through how the use of Watson Analytics as a core technology can help clean and manage data – IBM DataWorks, IBM’s new cloud data refinery service. This service is available on BlueMix PaaS and so can be accessed programmatically, allowing developers to integrate data services. IBM has also launched a private-cloud/local data center version of Cloudant, a new cloud data warehouse IBM dashDB. These services are integrated so that data in Cloudant can be moved into dashDB using the DataWorks services, improved and pushed into predictive analytics using Watson Analytics. New DataWorks services include probabilistic matching and a new curation service, IBM Watson Curator. All in all a strong set of cloud-based data and analytic services designed to be separately consumable but also integrated.
Bob also spent a few minutes on a demo of IBM Navigator with its content management capabilities, multi-platform capabilities etc. Then Jake came back on to introduce Bridget van Kralingen came on to wrap up with a discussion of systems of engagement, social.
Bridget talked about the intersection of Big Data and social engagement. She talked about an interesting scenario, though but the ability for flight crews to re-book and re-schedule people on a delayed flight requires neither social nor mobile really, just decision management systems. Anyway, Bridget’s main point is that creating more individual and engaging relationships with customers and prospects is now essential and the data that might make this possible probably does not exist yet and must be created. The front-end engagement of individuals, how you initially talk to people with your apps and systems, will determine what they will tell you. And if they don’t tell you they will tell someone else.
She went on to point out that a market of 1 is not really the end goal, engagement with customers so they feel personally engaged, is. So IBM is investing massively in their interactive studios for design to make it possible to build and deploy these new, truly engaging applications. Increasingly these are going to be immersive experiences with gestures, 3D, real-time video etc.
Finally there is the pressure for real-time – the decreasing degree of patience among customers! This is the topic of my talk tomorrow, in fact, the need to move to what I sometimes call “real real-time”. Building and delivering apps that support this kind of real-time engagement is the next challenge but IBM is seeing clients get real value out of these new systems. Indeed even internal enterprise systems will head in this direction too, engaging with staff more effectively and in real-time. This will be a key element of recruitment and retention in the future she says. As part of this IBM is rolling out some apps as part of its new partnership with Apple such as a app for retail associates, another for emergency services first responders.
So data, cloud and social – three pillars of IBM’s strategy as it tries to helps its clients deal with what it sees as a transformative moment.