Information On Demand 2011 Live: Opening General Session — Data Puzzles
This morning’s opening general session at Information On Demand 2011 here at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, was jam packed, both in terms of stage setting for the rest of the event, and literally in the audience, which filled up much of the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
BBC America presenter Katty Kay was our host, and opened morning’s tidings with a wonderful video and photo montage that she provided the voiceover for, explaining how IBM innovations had helped change our world over the past 100 years (remember that 2011 is the year of IBM’s centennial).
There were pictures and reminiscing about IBM’s Social Security Administration contract, the early days of data processing, the IBM 350 Ramac, the introduction of sequel databases and CICS, and even a remembrance of the floppy disk. Ah, I remember those well. They make great coasters.
Kay explained that the pace of computing has only accelerated, the advent of the Internet and the birth of e-business paved the way to our global connectivity, and the smarter planet initiative from IBM is poised to help companies and organizations around the globe maximize their resources and be more socially responsible.
Considering the financial meltdown of 2008, which journalist Kay didn’t gloss over, companies also need guidance and direction to help them with their analytical capabilities, particularly in an age when 1B Tweets are posted a week, and 90% of the world’s information was gathered in only the past two years.
Enter Jeff Jonas, IBM chief scientist who was most recently featured in this fascinating TV commercial about skating to where your data puck is going to be, NOT where it was five minutes ago:
Jonas explained that organizations are getting dumber as more data arrives, but that that’s not a fait accompli, that it’s not a foregone conclusion that your organization will have enterprise amnesia.
He started with the video of a blackjack dealer, who was clearly taking a stacked deck from a player, a dealer whom, if the casino had better information, would have discovered that said customer and said dealer had the same home address. That casino would later go on to get taken for $250K!
Here’s a retail example Jonas shared: 2 out of 1,000 employees employed in retail have already been arrested for stealing at the very same store. Yikes!
Jonas went on to explain that good information understanding and analytics means context: Better understanding something by taking into account the things around it.
He used, as his example, a series of jigsaw puzzles he had his girlfriend’s kids put together, but having strategically taken some of the pieces of each out. Even with the missing pieces, the kids were able to get a picture of what the puzzles were about, revealing necessary context. But until you take the pieces to the table and attempt assembly, Jonas explained, you don’t know what you’re dealing with.
And that’s where many organizations are today.
Incremental Context provides incremental discovery, and given sufficient observations, there can come a tipping point when confidence improves while computational effort decreases.
Put that in your database pipe and smoke it!
Next, IBM’s managing partner of financial services, IBM Global Business Services, Sarah Diamond took the stage to explain how dire the banking situation was in 2008-2010. The number of bank failures went from 25 in 2008, to over 157 in 2010.
Eventually, the IMF calculated that the banks wrote off $2.2 trillion in toxic assets and bad loans, and emerging from that mess many banks recognized their need to change, to respond to pressure from regulators and their public constituents to better manage risk, and their overall businesses.
IBM customer SunTrust, was one of those banks which were better prepared for the crisis than many, in that they had put together a risk analytics and governance regime before the crisis occurred.
As their senior VP of risk technology explained, SunTrust went from standardized reporting to client-centric reports delivered via intranet portals in just a few short years, and when the financial crisis hit, SunTrust was prepared to know exactly what their exposures were, what they consisted of, and most importantly, who was on the other end of the transaction.
This allowed them to report to senior management on a daily basis at 7 am exactly what their positions were based on their trading partners’ exposures.
If only all banks had been so well prepared.