Welcome to the Cognitive Era: Insight 2015’s opening session

Social Lead for IBM Analytics - Financial Services Sector, IBM

What a fantastic opening session we were treated to at IBM Insight 2015! The excitement in the room was electric, even for Las Vegas.

The opening session began the thematic arc of the entire conference: “Leave no problem unsolved; transform your industry.” During the session, we learned how analytics and cognitive computing are creating an Insight Economy that will transform not only the world of business, but everyday life.

What is the Insight Economy?

The Insight Economy is about businesses using analytics to push the boundaries of their industries, accelerating beyond their competitors. Being a part of the Insight Economy means becoming data-driven, tapping into diverse data sets and creating new business models. It’s about using insight from both structured and unstructured data—social data, market data, even weather data—to spot revenue opportunities, innovate sooner than the competition and drive performance at every level.

Taking the lead in the Insight Economy: The advantage of analytics

Jake Porway, founder and executive director of DataKind, kicked off the opening session with a high-energy laser show, advising us to fasten our seat belts as we begin our journey into the Insight Economy.

Bob Picciano, senior vice president of IBM Analytics, pushed the session into high gear, declaring, “The Cognitive Era is here.” If the buzz last year at Insight 2014 was all about Watson Analytics, and the buzz at Insight 2015 will be all about Watson—IBM’s revolutionary cognitive computing platform. With IBM Watson and cognitive app development, the analytics fueling the Insight Economy will help drive business transformation into a whole new era.

Leveraging the power of partnership

As IBM's strategic data partners took center stage, we got to see how IBM Watson and analytics are transforming real-world businesses.

Laurent Borne, general manager of connected appliances at Whirlpool, showed us how the Insight Economy manifests itself in daily life through the Internet of Things (IoT)—a smart washing machine, for example, can use predictive maintenance to prevent problems from occurring rather than leaving them to be repaired after they arise.

Chris Moody, vice president of data strategy at Twitter, together with Mike Weaver, group director of data strategy at Coca-Cola, took the stage to talk about how partnering with IBM has enabled Coca-Cola to use Twitter data and analytics to drive precision marketing.

Mike Rhodin, senior vice president of IBM’s Watson Group, took us farther into the cognitive era by introducing several Watson ecosystem partners: GoMoment, VineSleuth and StatSocial. Afterward, a representative from each partner organization took us deeper into the world of data analytics:

  • Raj Singh, founder and CEO of GoMoment, revealed how a cognitive concierge is transforming the hotel experience.
  • Amy Gross, cofounder and CEO of VineSleuth, wowed everyone with her description of how Watson supercharges wine selection.
  • Rob Floyd, senior vice president of StatSocial, described how IBM Watson powers next-generation social customer relationship management by helping retailers customize the client experience.

Better, stronger, faster: With IBM Analytics we have the technology

I’m an IBMer, but even I was surprised to discover how many industries IBM Watson has been transforming. As the session continued, audience excitement was surging, clearly visible in social media conversations as each new business leader took the stage to talk about how IBM Analytics was helping his or her company disrupt its industry, enhance customer service and drive growth.

I’m an IBMer, but even I was surprised to discover how many industries IBM Watson has been transforming. As the session continued, audience excitement was surging, clearly visible in social media conversations as each new business leader took the stage to talk about how IBM Analytics was helping his or her company disrupt its industry, enhance customer service and drive growth.

Aaron Levie, cofounder and CEO of Box, took center stage to talk about how the strategic partnership between Box and IBM, which launched in June 2015, is helping transform the way that businesses work. Box partnered with IBM to deliver a data, content management and analytics ecosystem that allows enterprises to use their data to gain the strategic advantage in their industries. Aaron talked about Box’s growth among enterprise clients, then described how IBM leadership in areas of specific client concern—in the cloud and security sectors, for example—offered Box crucial advantages. The success achieved by this strategic partnership became crystal-clear when Aaron shared an incredible statistic: 53 percent of Fortune 500 companies use Box.

When David Kenny, CEO of The Weather Company, talked about his company’s partnership with IBM, he explained the reasons for the partnership by sharing some compelling figures:

  • 90 percent of weather data is currently discarded.
  • 65 percent of Fortune 500 corporations attribute earnings losses to inclement weather.
  • 20 percent of all automobile accidents are caused by weather conditions.

Using IBM analytics, The Weather Company can access massive amounts of weather data that once were simply discarded. The transformative potential of such a capability is staggering and affects a wide range of industries, among them insurance and transportation. For example, David noted how weather data analysis has helped airlines reduce/avoid turbulence by 50 percent. We also saw how this relationship is growing when Jack McMaster, of the American Red Cross, described how the Red Cross is collaborating with IBM and The Weather Company to develop preparedness apps that can save lives.

Welcome to the future: Entering the cognitive era with IBM Watson

If this is how IBM is transforming business in 2015, then what does the future hold?

During the opening session, we got a glimpse at the future in the form of Pepper the Robot, a Watson-empowered robot who joined Mike Rhodin on stage to show off her Japanese skills. Designed by Aldabaran, Pepper incorporates Watson capabilities that allow it to converse with humans, to recognize human emotions and react to them and to move autonomously. Pepper works as a store greeter for one of the largest mobile phone operators in Japan, but that job description may be expanding—the presentation clearly demonstrated the Watson-powered Pepper’s potential as a social companion.

The opening session also described how IBM Watson’s cognitive capabilities could help save lives through health and medicine applications. Modern health systems generate vast amounts of health-related data—but discard most of it. Only think what could happen if health professionals were able to access this data and use it as a basis for diagnosis.

IBM Watson Health aims to put health data to work for everyone, offering the ability to “see” with advanced image analytics and bringing to bear cognitive capabilities designed to help physicians uncover insights, from complex medical imaging, that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. Using its powerful cognitive capabilities, IBM Watson could soon be helping physicians make patient care decisions that will save lives.

As a long-time IBMer, I felt like cheering at this: IBM Watson is not only transforming will be saving lives!

 In sum, the opening session of IBM Insight 2015 delivered some incredible and inspiring stories from a wide range of companies—Twitter, Coca-Cola, Box, The Weather Company—describing how IBM Watson, analytics and cognitive app development are transforming how the world does business.

If you weren’t able to attend IBM Insight 2015, then don’t miss out on the online Insight experience. Watch sessions and hear the latest analytics and industry buzz at theCUBE, all brought to you through IBMGO. Join the social conversation at #ibminsight to share your thoughts and insights, and be sure to stay tuned to the IBM Big Data & Analytics Hub for all the latest on IBM Insight 2015.