IBM Think 2018 took place from March 19-22 this year and was a massive success. It was also just massive in general. Presenters covered everything from high-level philosophical musings about the future of intelligence to the technical nitty-gritty of enterprise modernization. Grave security threats were analyzed, and there was also a cute dancing robot. In short, it was a convergence of ideas and perspectives that indicated where IBM is headed, and therefore where tech is headed.
The lessons of IBM Think say a great deal about where smart enterprises need to go in the future. In case you weren’t lucky enough to be there, here are a few takeaways that could help steer you in the right direction.
Cognitive is Coming to Everything
The crown jewel of the IBM Think 2018 showroom this year was the Maserati GranCabrio, a car that’s beautiful, fast, and, most importantly, has a dashboard that contains an IBM Watson assistant. This is a new kind of automotive experience, where you can tell your car to assemble a playlist of chilled-out music for a country drive or ask it to send an email to your mom saying you’ll be late for dinner because you’re stuck in traffic.
Now, the Maserati is a great gadget in and of itself. But it’s also a sign of what’s to come. In 2018, cognitive is coming to everything. As Dr. John E. Kelly III, the Senior Vice President of Cognitive Solutions said, “I can’t think of a single industry that won’t be impacted or transformed by artificial intelligence.” Banking and investing will be revolutionized by improved risk management made possible by AIs analyzing millions of transactions. Reputation risk and social perception will be gauged by using cognitive on social media analytics. And security will take a huge leap forward by using machine learning to pre-emptively defend against likely attacks.
This means that companies need to start figuring out where cognitive can fit into their strategy. Machine learning can easily detect efficiencies that humans can’t possibly. And, since the necessary ingredient of machine learning is data, we’ve all got to learn as much as possible about harnessing our data resources.
The Data Explosion is Now
For some years we’ve been hearing hype about big data. Journalists have written pieces about how Google can figure out that women are pregnant before they’ve told their spouses. Scandals like the Cambridge Analytica affair have alerted consumers to just how much data about them is floating around, and how powerful it can be if deployed for good or evil. But that was really only the beginning.
There was a stunning fact floating in the air at Think this year: 90% of the world’s data was created in the past two years. At first, it’s a statistic that’s astonishing and perhaps even seemingly implausible. But it makes sense. Digital transformation and the Internet of Things mean that our businesses and our blenders are both going online. The only question is how that data can be used, and who can use it.
Some clues were provided by CEO Ginni Rometty, in her Chairman’s Address. She pointed out that only 20 percent of the world’s data is searchable. The rest of it is hidden somewhere in private sources. Which means that your data is, well, yours—it could be a competitive advantage that you’re not harnessing.
The Rise of Augmented Intelligence
Perhaps the single most compelling presentation at IBM Think 2018 was given by Steve Ardire. He’s a startup advisor who predicts that the future of intelligence isn’t accurately described by the phrase “artificial intelligence,” but rather “augmented intelligence.” We’re moving into a time when AI can remove the drudgery of sorting through reams of unrelated information, and reveal previously undiscovered patterns in it. But rather than replace human workers, this will empower us, dramatically enhancing the potential of our intuition, and allowing us to overcome our biases. Ardire’s talk showed that AI, rather than provoke dystopian pessimism, should make us excited about our potential.
Basically, cognitive solutions should be thought of as a tool for enhancing human creativity. With cognitive computing, we can navigate new courses through an ever-expanding sea of data. In our upcoming blog, Cognitive Analytics: Powerful, but Perilous, we can show you one way to do that.
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