This is another in a series of my notes on Lotusphere 2012. I am very pleased to be back again after last year thanks to support from IBM. The Wednesday general session included: “Social Business Technology,” Keynote Speaker: Manoj Saxena, IBM General Manager, Watson Solution; and other speakers including Tim Berners-Lee, Director, World Wide Web Foundation.
Tim Berners-Lee began the morning. The web was supposed to be about collaboration and social business was wrapped up in this original idea. The IP internet protocol was developed in 1969 so you did not have to think about the machine. Tim was in Geneva in 1989 thinking about interconnectivity to allow things to be shared through http and url. Today when you are on a Web site you will find that you are interested in more than documents but the event or context. For example, a calendar can be private and shared. This is part of the new wave of linked data through the semantic web. It means that the data is out there so the computer can understand it unlike simply putting documents up. You can see relationships. You can see context because the computer can.
Linked data allows you to compare data from different parts of your life or your business. Then you can share data so everything gets richer. Google Maps allows you to put things in context. You can also see timelines and learn from them. Space and time are two big dimensions. There is also personal identity. While there are privacy issues there is lot we can learn. People are more exciting than locations.
Social is not just a bolt on. It should be a part of what you are doing. The ability to include social adds much richness and power. You can overcome silos but having granular security is key for it for it to work, as there are times when you do not want to make things open for good reasons. Tim thinks all this social stuff is really exciting. It is about empowering the person but also about empowering the computer to do much more.
Manoj Saxena came next. He led the Watson team. I have to say that I played against Watson at a Forrester event. I won the first question and so decided to quit while I was ahead. I am sure my lead would have been gone quickly. Watson leverages $6 billion in annual R&D investments and over $14 billion in analytics acquisitions. Watson can process 200 million pages in three seconds. It started in 2006. It is now focused on commercialization and is looking at healthcare. I talked Mike Rhodin about this last summer (see IBM's Mike Rhodin on the Convergence of Social Business, Analytics and Commerce: Part Two)
Ninety percent of the world’s data was created in the last two years and it is mostly unstructured. Watson looks at both structured and unstructured data. Half of IBM’s customers say they do not have the information to make decisions. Watson can look at the unstructured data. Customers are now eager to use Watson. It understands human language. It generates hypothesis based on evidence, and adapts and learns. Watson so does probalistic applications rather than limited to deterministic applications.
They are applying Watson to healthcare. It is a huge market. Medical information is doubling every five years. It is hard for docs to keep up. Now 20% of diagnoses are likely wrong with bad consequences for both life and costs. Watson is not making decisions but giving the doctor better information to make decisions. It can go through a structured process that can also make use of unstructured data. It can build a confidence model for a diagnosis.
He said they are approaching Watson with excitement and humility. They want to try to understand what doctor’s real needs. So they are partnering with healthcare organizations. Cancer is a disease that we can do much more work on. Doctor and patient communities are both growing. They are looking at beyond healthcare to financial services and government applications.
Now Andy Miller CEO from Polycom, a leading in communication, came up to talk about collaboration and the cloud. He talked about video communications. Video can now be delivered in many channels and is not limited to a room. Polycom is trying to make video pervasive. They are now offering it through the cloud and through mobile for all sizes of organizations for B2B and B2C.
He started with healthcare where 80% of hospitals and top phrama companies are using Polycom to flow medical information. This allows for remote diagnosis and treatment. At the same time 80% of top universities use video for better education and it is growing at a very fast rate. The US military is using video for command and control. Video can be on a helmet to allow for command to better see what is happening in the field.
Top auto manufacturers are using video to determine issues on the assembly line. Entertainment companies are using video to reduce time to market for productions that are created in disperse locations.
There are five trends in the use of video.
Younger generations werebraised on video and expect it
Mobile device proliferation - 64 million tablets now 320 million by 2015
Network readiness - #G and 4G and wifi – they are ready to facilitate the bandwidth
Social connectedness – 800M on Facebook and 140M video chat in 2012
Cloud delivery – large investments here
Now the session moved to a panel with the three speakers. Tim said that net neutrality is important and we need to stop SOPA. Ahem. These laws not do respect human rights. There was much applause. Manoj said there will be new opportunities but they will require new skills. You need people who can bridge the divide of generations. Andy talked about the digital divide between generations from looking at email vs. text messaging etc.
Manoj said they are getting many ideas for how Watson should be used from dating services to childcare. They are looking at information intensive industries such as financial services.
Tim said we need people who understand they new technologies and can stay current. Andy said that now firms should use existing applications in place to add video capabilities. You should understand requirements and look for new uses. Manoj said that you need to educate your organizations on the possibilities, Move forward in an incremental manner and then share successes. Andy said there is a level of investment to put in the infrastructure for video but then leverage it fully for very little additional cost.
Tim said the semantic web is important as people start to connect you can get disruptive change. You need to be the first with this disruptive change to fully benefit. The cultural change needs to overcome those who hoard their data. You also need to go beyond black and white differences. People need to learn from each other and see the other’s perspective.