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Live @ IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit Madrid: IBM’s Mike Rhodin On Insight-Driven Computing

with 12 comments

IBM vice president Mike Rhodin hit the stage this morning at the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit, with presenter emcee Jon Briggs introducing Mike as “the man who eats analytics for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.’

IBM senior vice president Mike Rhodin explains to the gathered audience in Madrid how the Smarter Commerce initiative was a logical and inevitable offshoot of IBM’s smarter planet campaign, one driven by the need for more insight- and action-driven analytics.

Rhodin’s talk was entitled “Transform Your Business Around the Customer,” again with the central theme of the Summit that if more businesses wanted to keep theirs, they would increasingly have to pivot their business around customer needs.

Rhodin indicated that he wanted to take a step backward from yesterday’s more outcome-driven discussion, and instead talk about “some of the foundational ideas that led us to Smarter Commerce.”

He explained that four years ago, IBM started a conversation about having a “smarter planet,” one increasingly instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent, and that since that time, “analytics emerged as a centerpiece across our entire portfolio.”

Rhodin joked that the financial crisis’ onslaught wasn’t the best time to launch a new marketing campaign, but then explained smarter planet wasn’t that, that it was a signal call heralding a new age of computing. That it was, in fact, the beginning of a movement that was going to happen “no matter what else happened in the world.”

The change this movement would bring was startling.  We saw the social media embraced in both the social, political, and, increasingly business realms, and we saw that the physical world was about to become digitized…to some degree, because of the crisis.

Scott Laningham and I sat down with Mike Rhodin in the Smarter Commerce Global Summit Solutions Center just after his keynote in Madrid here this morning to discuss the evolution of the Smarter Commerce initiative, and the opportunity it, and other emerging technologies such as IBM’s Watson, provide companies looking to become more analytics and data-driven.

Ergo, the world, and organizations, needed to better understand systemic risk in advance of its rearing its ugly head.  Hence, the need to instrument the world around us.

“Information was flowing around the planet at a breakneck speed,” Rhodin articulated, “and so there was another form of input to make business decisions that became apparent.”

“We also instrumented the virtual world,” he went on, “whereby understanding the sentiment of your employees, your partners, and other constituents was critical.”

Yet all this new data was overwhelming many. “It was growing at such a speed that people couldn’t read or process it with traditional means, and so that’s where analytics started to play a key role, and served as a foundation for Smarter Commerce.”

“This began what we’re classifying as the next generation of computing,” Rhodin went on to explain.  “We went through the age of ‘tabulating’ — we’re now entering the age of “information-based” computing.”

In this age, business outcomes are increasingly insight-driven, solutions are more intelligent, and technology is designed to be more and more cognitive.

“It’s not about understanding what happens, but rather, what you do about it, what actions you take,” Rhodin concluded.

With this explosion of data from a hyper-connected society of empowered consumers, we “must extract insight from our most important assets – employees and customers – through smarter analytics,” and the challenge, then, is to address the need for “volume, velocity, and veracity” to help find the right data amidst all those needles amidst all those haystacks.

And it’s a big series of haystacks and needles.  The data generated between the dawn of civilization and 2003 is now created every two days! Rhodin explained.

He went on: “These next gen systems are creating opportunities in IT we haven’t seen in 50 years.  But now, with all this information and analytics, and the march of globalization, we can start to automate areas of business we could never automate before. We can start to automate and make more intelligent the front-office areas of our business. Chief Financial Officers, CMOs, head of sales, HR…we can turn HR from a reactive to proactive process.”

“We’ve identified a new pattern of automation across industries, one whereby we can instrument, interconnect, and analyze more and more data about the world, and in the process unlock more and more valuable insight,” he explained. “We are infusing intelligent into the fabric  of organizational processes. This shift is as profound as the last evolution was to transaction processing and back office automation.”

The shift being, of course, a continual transition whereby today’s analytics evolves into tomorrow’s cognitive computing capability, where Watson-style technologies utilizing natural language processing and hypothesis-generating and adaptation and learning systems virtually reinvent the IT future.

“We can remake parts of industries that have been untouched by IT in the past,” Rhodin concluded.

12 Responses

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  1. I give may full respect to one of the greatest IT companies to grace the planet for displaying inspirational brilliance to start-ups and data storage entities;let us make “cloud computing” a reality.Thank you IBM…


    May 23, 2012 at 12:29 pm

  2. Who will / What will manage the ingestion of data for the AI leading the Culture of Analytics?

    Josie Dorsett

    May 24, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    • Josie, I checked in with a couple of our experts who work on the IBM Watson initiative to get their take. This was the essence of their response:

      There are two parts to your question:

      — Clients: There will be new roles/extended roles for data and content curation and governance. This would be very similar to how clients had to manage the rise of content and Web managers over a decade ago.

      — Within IBM: We have dedicated teams focused on this effort in both engineering and solution delivery. This is a new field with lots of emerging tools, best practices and skills. IBM is also working with universities to build this skill set.

      You can learn more at http://www.marketwatch.com/story/first-academic-case-competition-proposes-novel-ways-to-put-ibm-watson-to-work-2012-05-17

      Thanks for the question, and I hope this goes a long way towards answering it!

      As to Cooper’s comment above, no, thank YOU. : )


      May 24, 2012 at 3:58 pm

      • No hard feelings TODD;Thanks for the “Highlight” …


        May 24, 2012 at 7:22 pm

      • Thank you greatly for your response. Research on fact based historical and present day analytics runs through my veins by birth, rearing and adulthood. The “data” we have is often the result of the places where we are directed. We can hope that if common practices relay to artificial intelligence that the proper keywords have been enlisted, that we do not in fact lose directions for finding the needle in the haystack. Questions will often unknowingly limit and alter responses. No doubt, we need better traction in the vast field of data. It is a mighty and a moral dilemma. Keep on moving on and with Best Intent to You, JSD

        Josie Dorsett

        May 25, 2012 at 3:20 am

      • Josie,your comment is a “pre-cursor” for what’s in-store for the tech industry.I emphasize the importance of “cloud computing” as it is accordind to me the next frontier in secure communication we do not have to rely on home based servers to do storage for us but if my data is safe and sound 1000 miles away,then well & good’spread the word as for CLOUD COMPUTING…the sky is the limit !


        May 25, 2012 at 7:53 am

  3. Is there any live stream so that we can watch like we have previously watched IBM IMPACT


    September 5, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    • It is good to ake note of this Thanks !


      September 5, 2012 at 7:09 pm

      • I am very much thankful to you that u replied to my question but if can u help me in getting a link so that i can view the event.


        September 5, 2012 at 7:58 pm

      • This is an event of a “lifetime” worth not missing !

        2012/9/5 Turbotodd

        > ** > snhashmi commented: “I am very much thankful to you that u replied to > my question but if can u help me in getting a link so that i can view the > event.”


        September 5, 2012 at 8:32 pm

  4. […] Read this blog post from IBM’s Mike Rhodin (or better yet, watch the video interview we conducted with him in Madrid this past May) to learn more about “insight-driven” computing and IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative. Share this:ShareTwitterFacebookRedditStumbleUponDiggPrintEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

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