Friday, May 29, 2015

IBM Think on the New Engagement Model (2)

[a] Josh Silverman, President, Consumer Products & Services, American Express Company, [b] Carlos Giménez, Mayor, Miami-Dade County and [c] Bridget van Kralingen, Senior Vice President, Global Business Services, IBM discuss social, mobile and security - the new engagement model, at the 2014 IBM THINK Forum.
Silverman suggests essentially that smart technology allows American Express to shift from discerning trends or patterns in aggregate data (i.e. one to many), to forging eyes on individuals and their personal situation and matters (i.e. one to one).  Traditional science has worked on the premise and methodology of the former, simply because it was highly impractical to investigate every single member of a population under research.  So broadly speaking, science must weigh this shift carefully, as it has the potential, I think, to make its principles and approaches obsolete.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

IBM Think on the New Engagement Model (1)

Bridget van Kralingen, Senior Vice President, Global Business Services, IBM discusses social, mobile, and security - the new engagement model at the 2014 IBM THINK Forum.
van Kralingen speaks to a kind of race among companies, where real time insight is crucial and split seconds matter a lot.
  1. Customize to the moment, and learn the thoughts, behavior and preferences of your customers.
  2. Win the battles in the split seconds.
  3. Build and innovate on an ongoing, daily basis, and shed the notion of a big bang innovation.
I fully appreciate her point that going forward, innovation will be about principles, values and purpose (rf. The Core Algorithm) rather than procedures and perhaps structure and hardware, too.

Monday, May 25, 2015

IBM Think on Security (2)

Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, IBM discuss security at the 2014 IBM THINK Forum.
We do need truly smart technology that not only remembers, learns and recognizes, but also adjusts, adapts and even alters its own algorithms.  Jackson makes a good point in that such a technology ought to detect anomalies as well as precursors.  Of course anomalies may be precursors, too, if they precede a more concerning, perhaps catastrophic incident.  In any case, the idea is to anticipate any problem, before it emerges or worsens.

Friday, May 15, 2015

IBM Think on Security (1)

Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, IBM discusses the security challenge at the 2014 IBM THINK Forum.
If any CEO, organization or staff do not appreciate how critical security is and how alarming breaches are, then he or she has opportunity right now to do so.  To me, it seems that this equation captures what is going on:  human nature + technology channels + viral capacity = IT havoc and vulnerability.

So Rometty runs down some practical tips:
  1. Increase the security IQ of every employee, which of course speaks to knowledge, motivation and behavior.
  2. Create a response team - including legal, HR, IT, communications, forensics - that is ready and able to go, when needed. 
  3. Secure the workplace for BYOD (bring your own device).  One IT friend cautioned me from connecting my mobile to our office wireless connection, because of the risk I myself would face, if heaven forbid, I unwittingly brought a virus or a breach to the office system. 
  4. Decide what your crown jewels are.  It may be some specialized IP, like the formula for Coca Cola, but Rometty is right to say that what has to closely guarded is far more than that.
  5. Think of security as a Big Data problem.  Her analogy of germs is a curiously insightful one, I believe.  So the idea isn't to eliminate security threats completely, which may be next to impossible.  Rather, a system may let some degree of threat to exist, but monitor it closely and react accordingly.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

IBM Think on the Future of Computing (2)

Robert B. Darnell, MD, PhD, President, CEO and Scientific Director, New York Genome Center; Danny Hillis, Co-founder, Applied Minds; and Dr. John Kelly, Senior Vice President and Director, Research, IBM; with Geoff Colvin, Senior Editor-at-Large, Fortune discuss the future of computing--augmenting intelligence, at the 2014 IBM THINK Forum.
There are some weighty issues in this discussion clip:

I imagine that some, maybe many, people will continue to see technology advancement as Man versus Machine, but indeed how we grasp issues, solve problems, and perform tasks is best served with a Man and Machine perspective.  Technology is more than poised to augment our human capacity, without necessarily losing what makes us human.

It may be easy to think that we mainly need logic and analysis to do business and improve our lot in the world.  Indeed, however, there are intuition and instinct, which perhaps take up the bulk of the iceberg that lies hidden below the waterline.  But again there is a range of views on this very matter: Can technology truly enhance the latter, or will it eventually supplant the former?

Darnell points out that the value of science is its ability to predict the future.  So, if I were to knock a glass of water off the table, gravity will pull it down to the floor.  My caveat is this: Science offers us great insight into how the physical universe works and extracts the cause-and-effect laws that govern such operation.  It is in this respect that science can predict the future.  But when we consider human phenomena, human endeavor, and human capacity, that predictive ability becomes a bit dicey.

Monday, May 11, 2015

IBM Think on the Future of Computing (1)

Dr. John Kelly, Senior Vice President and Director, Research, IBM discusses the future of computing - augmenting intelligence, at the 2014 IBM THINK Forum.
Simple mission is of course a tongue-in-cheek remark from Kelly about the thrust of IBM Research: To see the future of IT and its impact on the world, and more importantly to create the future (rf. Part 2 - Making the Future).  Our ability to do this may be limited by our technology, specifically that which manages, stores and analyzes an exponentially ballooning data set.  Also, that we have to give IBM Watson eyes, for example, to work with data as images, is testament to the fact that both volume and variety are the challenge for technology. 

That said, what Kelly speaks to reminds me of this inspiring, jazzy hit from Steely Dan:

IGY stands for International Geophysical Year from (1 July 1957--31 December 1958) of geophysical observations by about 30,000 scientists and technicians representing more than seventy countries.

I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)" is a track on Steely Dan founding member Donald Fagen's 1982 album, The Nightfly. The song is sung from an optimistic viewpoint during the IGY, and features references to then-futuristic concepts, such as solar power (first used in 1958), Spandex (invented in 1959), space travel for entertainment, and undersea international high speed rail.The song peaked at #26 on the Billboard Hot 100 on 27 November - 11 December 1982.

Friday, May 1, 2015

CEO Reflections (3) People Analytics

(image credit)
At McKinsey, we’ve been developing our own approach to retention: to detect previously unobserved behavioral patterns, we combine various data sources with machine-learning algorithms. We first held workshops and interviews to generate ideas and a set of hypotheses. Over time, we collected hundreds of data points to test. Then we ran different algorithms to get insights at a broad organizational level, to identify specific employee clusters, and to make individual predictions. Last, we held a series of workshops and focus groups to validate the insights from our models and to develop a series of concrete interventions.

The insights have been surprising and at times counterintuitive. We expected factors such as an individual’s performance rating or compensation to be the top predictors of unwanted attrition. But our analysis revealed that a lack of mentoring and coaching and of “affiliation” with people who have similar interests were actually top of list. More specifically, “flight risk” across the firm fell by 20 to 40 percent when coaching and mentoring were deemed satisfying.
Reference: Power to the new people analytics.

My intent in this article is neither to summarize it nor even comment on it.  Rather, I mean to prompt CEOs and their leadership teams to pause and reflect on their business and industry, their market and competition, and their people and resources vis-a-vis the advent of people analytics.
  • How do you understand what is going on within and outside your company, and what is your experience of it, both individually and collectively?
  • What are gaps in your understanding, which require bridging, and what haven't you experienced, which require experiencing?
  • What meaning can you draw from such reflection and understanding, that is, in relation to the vision, the purpose, and the values that are at the heart and soul of your business? 
  • Besides your analytic or rational thinking hat, what does your intuitive, creative or non-rational brain say about all of this?  
  • What diverse or critical points of view do you need to engage in this reflection, that is, from your people, networks, advisers, competitors, customers, and resources?
  • What would you like to do about it, or more pointedly what do you need to do about it; that is, what is it that you aim to accomplish?
  • How can you best accomplish what you want and need to accomplish, given the capability, motivation and energy in your current and prospective people?
  • What other reflective questions do you need to ask yourselves?
So, instead of a summary from me, CEOs can read this short article themselves and come up with their own unique, relevant commentary.