Aerosmith, smart cars and cooking with data at IBM InterConnect


What do you get when you gather over 20,000 techies in Vegas, add in a celebrity chef and sprinkle in a dash of Aerosmith?

The whirlwind week that is known as IBM InterConnect, IBM’s new premier cloud and mobile conference.

Digital transformation and disruption were the threads running throughout the 2000+ sessions, which covered everything from the Internet of Things, to hybrid cloud, to integration of key technologies such as cloud, mobile and analytics.

Robert Leblanc, SVP IBM Cloud, opened the first general session of the conference. (Source: Anastasia Medytska)
Robert Leblanc, SVP IBM Cloud, opened the first general session of the conference.
(Image credit: Anastasia Medytska)

It’s well known in the tech industry that data paves the road to insights, that mobile and social engage a broad audience and that cloud is the engine that keeps everything running.

As Bob Picciano, SVP IBM Analytics, masterfully summarized – “Data is the what. Cloud is the how. Engagement is the why.”

While those were crucial themes at Interconnect, the conference took it a step further by showing how these technologies can be applied and, more importantly, “interconnected.”

Sexy & smart – a model for a connected car drew attention at the Solution Expo. (Source: Anastasia Medytska)
Sexy & smart – a model for a connected car drew attention at the Solution Expo.
(Image credit: Anastasia Medytska)

One particularly popular application is the connected car – fueled by data from the cloud, it is a prime exhibit of the digital disruption of a traditional industry.

These machines can analyze traffic patterns, react to weather conditions, and use behavioral analytics to better understand the driver. From the Tesla parked in the middle of the Solution Expo and sessions with Volvo and Volkswagen on their work in this field, it became clear that the connected car is closer than you might think.

Another unique application of these integrated technologies is disrupting the food industry. In one of my favorite sessions from the conference, Fabio Viviani, a restaurateur and former Top Chef contestant, whipped up some recipes with Chef Watson and Bon Appétit using big data.

Chef Watson taps into the Bon Appétit recipe database to help any home chef cook up meals based on type of occasion, desired cuisine, available ingredients, omitted ingredients (i.e., an allergy inducer) and more. You can select how “surprising” or “traditional” you want a particular meal to be, and Chef Watson will analyze and suggest ingredients that alter a single recipe in multiple ways. It’s a delicious marriage of data mining and cognitive computing, run on cloud of course.

Jeff Charette, CEO of Menuat, explained the “ingredients” behind his software.  (Source: Anastasia Medytska)
Jeff Charette, CEO of Menuat, explained the “ingredients” behind his digital menu software.
(Image credit: Anastasia Medytska)

While it may seem surprising at first, data and analytics are becoming pantry staples in the food industry. Beth T. Smith, GM IBM Analytics, asserted that “analytics are no longer for seeing how your business is doing, but for driving how it will perform.” Our recent study, “Inside the mind of Generation D,” would suggest she’s correct. It found that data-rich, analytically driven companies report above average performance on KPIs, such as share of wallet, customer retention and revenue from digital channels.

The old adage “show, don’t tell” was the differentiator for me at InterConnect. Stories from Citi, Mayo Clinic, Shiseido and others demonstrated real business results from these technologies. Multitudes of demos and labs showed IBM products in action. Physical applications of these technologies such as the Urban Art Cloud, allowed people to actually interact with a cloud-powered product – blurring the lines between physical and digital experiences.

My Urban Art Cloud masterpiece!
My Urban Art Cloud masterpiece!

And, finally, no conference is complete without an Aerosmith concert, right?

The connected wristband from Glow Motion Technologies – look for it on next year’s runways! (Source: Anastasia Medytska)
The connected wristband.
(Image credit: Anastasia Medytska)

But given that it’s Interconnect, even this show was digitally disrupted using cloud-powered wristbands. They changed color and flashed in beat with the music as the legendary band rocked the stage.

Echoing IBM Cloud CMO Nancy Pearson’s keynote, the crucial question to consider as you evaluate these key technologies is, “Will you disrupt or be disrupted?”


  • More posts on the IBMCAI blog about the Internet of Things
  • More posts on the IBMCAI blog about Generation D


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s