Q&A with IBM

John Maley is the Global Leader for Freight Logistics in IBM Travel & Transportation. Generations asked John to share his views on connectivity, how it affects companies and communities, and where the road ahead will take us.

IBM built its reputation on computers and computing power. Now the focus is on artificial intelligence, or cognitive technologies, with IBM Watson. How will cognitivity shape connectivity?

While it’s true that IBM has successfully built a very strong reputation for having both hardware and software computing power, IBM has also been transforming itself over the past several years. This transformation has been and continues to be essential in order to ensure that IBM meets the changing needs of our clients. As part of this transformation, we divested our commoditizing offerings and dramatically accelerated the growth of our strategic imperatives – Data and Analytics, Cloud, Mobile, Social and Security – to help our clients ‘become digital’. Then last year, we launched integrated units to make it easier and quicker to put together solutions drawn from our expanding digital portfolio. Now, in 2016, we have reached a new stage in our transformation. As important as becoming digital is to our clients, it has become clear that it is not the destination. Rather, digital business is converging with a new kind of digital intelligence – what you will recognize as Watson. We call this Cognitive Business. Today, IBM is much more than a hardware, software, and services company. IBM is now emerging as a cognitive solutions and cloud platform company. And this capability will be our cornerstone as we enable connectivity across the enterprise, across the ecosystem and across the globe.

As one of the more connected companies on the market, what is IBM’s vision for the truly connected world? 

IBM’s leading-edge cognitive technology is the starting point. The company is developing entirely new solutions businesses around that cognitive capability. For example, in 2015 the Watson Health unit was formed, which is IBM’s first business unit designed around a single industry. The company is now also focused on cognitive solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT). It is estimated that there are more than 9 billion connected devices operating in the world today, generating 2.5 quintillion bytes of new data daily. Watson IoT will bring the power of cognitive to the challenge of extracting and analyzing data embedded in intelligent devices in real time. In addition, the recent closure of The Weather Company acquisition expanded the company’s IoT platform. Now we can collect, integrate and analyze data from three billion weather forecast reference points, including satellites, weather stations, airplanes, consumer apps, and more.

Are there any drawbacks to the connected world, or is it all good? If there are down sides, how does IBM deal with these?

This is one of the most common questions I get asked when I discuss IBM’s view of a digitally connected world. And without a doubt, the conversation will eventually navigate to the question of security. With more “things” talking to systems of record, systems of engagement, and each other, how do we ensure that all of this data is transmitted and shared with 100 per cent security? IBM views security as the foundation of any new technology or IT project. That’s why we have invested so heavily in this area. Not just as solution offerings for our clients, but also as security solutions used by the IBM Corporation to ensure our own information integrity. You could say, we eat our own cooking.

ABB is a global leader in power and automation technologies. Trending right now for the maritime segment are remote diagnostics and integrated operations, and automated container terminals. As ABB’s marine and ports business continues to embrace the concept of  ‘The internet of things, services and people’ in their business model, what role can IBM play in ABB’s future success?

In today’s world, physical devices of all types are now instrumented with computing capabilities that allow for direct sensing and communication of data. IBM’s focus is enabling companies to use that data to improve operations, drive new business and work directly with clients. It’s a conversation that starts with data, continues to information and arrives at insights. The expression “data is the new oil” is very true. Without refinement, raw data is useless to an end user. But once the conversion has taken place, insights into business can be obtained. It is IBM’s mission to use our skills and technology to assist and advance our clients along their cognitive journey.
John Maley

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