LiveBlog – IBM SolutionsConnect

I’m at the IBM event looking at innovation solutions for digital business. I’ll be updating this post live as it happens. Keep refreshing the page for updates.

Jo Dooley, Director of IBM Digital Sales, opens the event and challenges us to think differently about business strategy, based on research. She notes that everyone talks about digital disruption, but it’s now clear that the focus doesn’t have to be on digital alone, but rather on cognitive problem solving. Human experts need to make better decisions, and human-centred intelligence is crucial to effective strategy.

Today the event will comprise speakers who collectively have registered over 100 patents. Last year IBM registered over 7000 patents. IBM sees itself as strategically committed to innovation. It wants to build “cognitive businesses”.

First speaker today is IBM Fellow, Dr Bala Rajamaran.  He’s been involved in cloud design service and ops and API development.

Rajamaran notes that everyone has ideas but it’s harder to translate these into reality.  We need to think about how to do build technology.  There are some fundamental precepts of digital transformation – cloud, analytics, etc – are available to everyone, so there’s an opportunity for disruption.  But you need to look at what’s happening in the market.  You need to look at how much more quickly you can process transactions.  You need to look at how behavioural modelling can filtrate customer experiences, and improve processing.

Rajamaran refers to CelebrityMatch the IBM Watson fun app that matches your twitter profile with other users.  It’s fun but the serious application of the app was adaptation so that profile matches could define which sales force member should be applied to which customer in car dealerships.

Rajamaran notes that shorter attention spans mean that right now you have 3 seconds to attract attention.  The rate of innovation is exponential.  Experimentation is key to innovation, but 80% of all experiments will fail.  So emerging technologies enable experimentation at a lower risk. [JJ: at Disruptor’s Handbook we say you can fail at a lower cost, rather than innovating at a lower risk, as such.]

The Design Philosophy of Instagram is a useful case study in adaptation of a company’s architecture to support millions of users simultaneously.  But few businesses have the philosophy of Instagram, thinking about how technology needs to evolve to support the market.  Innovation has to be continuous.

Rajamaran says that companies should be building mobile experiences rather than mobile apps.  You should be looking at ecosystem of services – this is an important part of strategy development.  You need to bring things together quickly, but then you need to look at integration on a platform that will best use data and APIs.  Being able to take APIs and expose it to your ecosystem fundamentally changes an enterprise.

Rajamaran believes that enterprises want disruptions but they are often limited by the locking up of data.  Hybrid cloud apps are increasingly becoming the norm for the integrated digital enterprise.  You need to be able to take advantage of internal and external available sources of data.  The combination of these systems of engagement is key to competitive advantage.

Innovation, says Rajamaran, is around communities and how you focus on core values of those communities.  You don’t have to invent everything from scratch.  You capitalise on the available capabilities – or you should be able to. But – he cites the quote – vision without execution is hallucination.  You need to get back to the (dryer) details of architecture, data security, speed of processing, and so on.

The whole DevOps and agile innovation process needs reliable infrastructure to ensure best outcomes for the firm. But there are a series of choices when it comes to preferred services on platforms.  Apps are built in different languages because those languages uniquely suit some functional components.  But if you’re building apps in different languages, you need an architecture that will support those ranging specialties. He introduces the IBM Bluemix platform as an example of how this can work.

Trouble is that global footprint, hybrid models are hard. The decision was made that open standards would be used to maximise cloud effectiveness. Open standards make innovation much more effective.  Rajamaran also notes that middleware and business services can help innovation through curation of data.  There are new patterns of integration for data, so open standards can help improve problem solving around connecting people, processing ideas and securely curating content for the right customers, at the right time. The cycle IBM follows is Think – Code – Run – Learn.  They use the Garage model (which Disruptor’s Handbook uses) for innovation facilitation.

Looking forward, the user experience is going to be informed by IoT, research is being disrupted through analytics and cognitive computing is emerging everywhere.  This is where innovation is fun and interesting.


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