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IBM’s Rodney Adkins on the Future of Innovation

Rodney Adkins, senior VP of Corporate Strategy at IBM recently gave a brief presentation here at Texas A&M on where he sees innovation headed. Here are a few of the highlights here.

T vs. I
Mr. Adkins sees the engineer of the future as needing equal parts of social/business savvy and deep expertise.  He describes this individual as being a T shaped person who has breadth of experience with

  • critical thinking,
  • effective communications,
  • business acumen, and
  • social collaboration

in addition to the deep characteristics of an I shaped person

  • expertise
  • domain knowledge
  • craft, and
  • professionalism

I hadn’t heard of IBM’s new Watson computer.  Apparently, I should have watched more “Jeopardy”.  The machine beat the prior champions of the show in a tournament held in 2011.  Since then, the machine has been further developed to eventually serve in roles such as medical clinical diagnostician, and customer support.  In the future, you may not only be complaining that you can’t get a native speaker of your particular language on the line, but also that you can’t get a human at all.

Analysis of ‘Big Data’
Mr. Adkins also pointed out several interesting statistics regarding the amount of data available today and the efforts that are being made to analyze it.  He broke big data into four categories that  I’ll list here, each with one or two of their most interesting facets

1  Mobility
The average teenager sends more than 500 texts per month.

2.  Social
There are 70,000 pictures uploaded to Facebook every minute.

3.  Cloud computing
6 exabytes of data are expected to be stored in the cloud by 2015.
Every two days more data is generated than in all of human history up until 2003.

4.  Internet of Things
There are expected to be more than  one trillion internet connected devices by 2015.

IBM hopes to use Watson to mine large data sets in order to make the world a better place.  While I hope this capability works out to its full and (hopefully) beneficial potential, one of the earliest examples seems a bit obvious…Watson figured out that liquor stores are mostly robbed at night

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