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Insights in 5 with Jen Q. Public: What are public sector thought leaders discussing?

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Digital Marketing Lead, Public Services Sector, IBM Analytics

As I hit the Insight 2015 conference trail, just looking at the sessions I’ll have to choose between has me wishing I were a twin! This year’s conference focuses on the insight economy—an economy whose leaders “are applying insights to uncover trends, discover patterns, recognize opportunities, create markets and change their industry.” To kick off my week at the conference, I asked a few thought leaders in the insight economy to give me a peek at how they are doing just this. Keep reading to discover how they are reinventing their industries in the insight economy.

1. What does economic vitality mean to you?

Shahid Shah, CEO of Netspective Communications: “The economy is frictionless for everyone who wants to participate—from a student who needs a summer job to a new graduate looking to start a career, all the way to experienced professionals who can easily grow their incomes through upward mobility across companies. Vitality also means creating jobs that are engines of the buying and selling of never-before-seen goods and services. It also means that those who need access to capital—whether to buy a new home or to start a new business or expand an existing one—can do so with a minimum of friction.”

Michael Stevens, senior government industry specialist at IBM: “Leaders in government should view the transformative potential of new technologies and changing demographics as catalysts for growth, translating them into economic and societal value to enhance cities, regions and nations in the years to come. In an era marked by exponentially increasing sources of data and information, ubiquitous digitization and new expectations for citizen engagement and personalized services, government organizations must challenge and change their traditional organizational mindset. The new economic equation favors transparency and collaboration, enabled by growing volumes of available data and a population whose members increasingly seek to shape the services they receive.”

2. How can personalized learning boost student retention in an age of personalization?

Raymond (Robert) Dolan, global industry marketing, government and education at IBM: “Personalized learning is a particularly promising approach to managing retention, especially at the primary and secondary school levels. If students can consume content that fits their learning style, they develop a passion for learning that stays with them for a lifetime. That passion translates into a continued quest for knowledge; indeed, without it, learning ceases. Many educators believe that we lose students when they become bored with the content of what they are learning—or when they have trouble comprehending it. By looking at the learner first to understand how he or she learns, we can address one of the chief causes of retention, setting learners on a lifelong path of learning toward a future in which they can thrive.”

3. How is cognitive computing changing education?

Anand Mahurkar, CEO of Findability Sciences: “Cognitive computing is changing the one-to-many model of education that has been used for centuries. Thanks to cloud-based cognitive computing, each student can be served very specific content and allowed to interact with it using natural language. Cognitive computing is also changing how educational institutions collect and analyze data to maintain student records. Cognitive analysis can give teachers access to longitudinal records of students, enabling the delivery of personalized content to meet each student’s specific needs.”

Raymond (Robert) Dolan, global industry marketing, government and education at IBM: “Cognitive computing in education is the dawn of a new era of deep interaction and insight for learning institutions. Imagine a system that helps students navigate complex university systems and processes—one that recommends a course of action by merely asking a question. Sound provocative? Deakin University in Australia is doing just this today using Watson Student Advisor. Similarly, imagine a system that looks at each student, deciding who might be at risk and recommending a series of personalized steps to help keep each such student on track. Imagine a system that evaluates not only the course of study required for a profession, but also a student’s personality fit for that profession. For example, if you want to be a nurse, you need biology—but, no matter how good you are at biology, how do you deal with blood? Cognitive computing is ushering in an era in which we no longer rely on gut reaction but rather feel confident that the decisions we make are based on a solid foundation of fact and information. This is an exciting time for education.”

4. How can we have the right information at the right time in healthcare?

Shashi Vangala, system director of enterprise business intelligence at Baylor Scott & White Health: “We first understand the needs of our patients, caregivers and researchers. Then we deploy systems, processes and people across the healthcare continuum to meet those needs, all driven by an integrated strategy that aims to constantly challenge the status quo, pushing for innovation. We have our own triple aim of healthcare: efficiently delivering information that is of high quality, that is timely and that is accessible within the framework of controls and best practices.”

Navdeep Ranajee, global industry marketing leader for healthcare at IBM: “The healthcare industry is moving toward value-based healthcare focused on medical outcomes rather than volume. Analytics acts as an integral part of producing desired outcomes by ensuring that clinicians have the right data at the point of care. In a world filled with multiple sources of data, data silos and data sharing across the enterprise, healthcare organizations must be able to rely on an enterprise-wide data warehouse that can capture, normalize and integrate multiple sources of data into a single version of the truth, empowering clinicians.”

5. How can analytics help minimize the surge of cyber attacks?

Shahid Shah, CEO of Netspective Communications: “Most external cyber attacks follow patterns, and many—if not all—internal cyber attacks are perpetrated by users who have been able to elevate their privileges or who are otherwise departing from their normal patterns. Whenever patterns are involved, analytics tools become indispensable. Accordingly, user behavior analytics (UBA) can help monitor, detect and prevent many internal and external breach attempts. Though separating duties and adopting the principle of least privilege and the need-to-know basis are excellent approaches, UBA and broader security analytics go beyond them by using machine learning and other next-generation techniques to discover, in or nearly in real time, trends and patterns that humans would easily miss.”

Liesl Geier, market segment manager for i2 Enterprise Insight Analysis at IBM: “Aside from legislative efforts and enactment of sanctions against cyber threat actors, I don’t think we can really control cyber attacks. However, we can try to minimize their effectiveness by turning defensive cyberstrategies into proactive, intelligence-led strategies. Cyber threat analysis can help organizations develop comprehensive and contextual intelligence about the threats and threat actors that they face, allowing them to proactively strengthen security measures while quickly countering and mitigating threats. The IBM i2 Enterprise Insight Analysis solution integrates multidimensional visual analysis capabilities with advanced analytics, helping organizations quickly ingest, query and analyze external and internal data sources to generate valuable insights about threats, including not only the identities of threat actors, but also their motivations. Such insights can then be used to help security systems detect, disrupt and counter future attacks.”


The ideas these thought leaders have shared are only the beginning of what you’ll find at Insight 2015. To discover sessions that will touch on these same topics in greater depth, check out this sample agenda. I look forward to seeing you there! Also, be sure to learn more about IBM solutions for governmenteducation and healthcare.

And that's analytics in the public sector through my lens.

Until tomorrow,

Jen Q., from Insight 2015