What kind of world do we live in?

IBM_interconnect_blocksI was lucky enough to attend my first formal, large-scale IBM conference a few weeks ago – IBM InterConnect. The sheer scale of everything that IBM is involved with made me realize how little I truly understand. I now have a deeper understanding of what business and IT leaders have to go through, navigating the ever-changing technology landscape. I tried to listen with a sympathetic ear to what was new, what was different and how things are changing. With that in mind, based on the sessions that I attended, I took away five ways to view the world we live in.

1. We are living in the midst of a computing transition

As enterprises are doing more and more with public and private cloud, a number of critical issues need to be addressed. How do you best integrate robust, secure and powerful traditional enterprise IT systems with the more open, dynamic and customizable cloud ecosystem?

This shift to hybrid was addressed by Robert Leblanc – he highlighted the need for a flexible environment that provides fast, secure access to the data your applications need when they need it. This environment has to be open and visible, but also provide control and security. Intelligently and successfully blending both established and emerging technologies and services to drive the business will be the hallmark of this transitional period.

IBM’s cloud pavilion (Image credit: David Jarvis)

2. We are living in an “insight economy”

During his keynote, Bob Picciano introduced the concept of insight as the new currency. It is not data, or a platform or a single technology, but what we can do with it all. To link it all together, he explained that data is the “what”, cloud is the “how” and engagement is the “why.” Businesses want to be able to solve tough problems in new ways – in real time, continuously and at massive scale. He explained that in the past, IT value creation and competitive advantage came from the codification of business processes and logic, and then distributing that across the enterprise through applications. Now, it is about leveraging structured and unstructured data sources throughout the business (a key characteristic that the IBM Center for Applied Insights identified for “Generation D” enterprises). It is all about empowering the individual with the insights they need to do their job when and where needed.


3. We are living through a paradigm shift in crime

In Brendan Hannigan’s keynote, he discussed that crime can now be done at scale – one person can now impact millions instantaneously. Attacks are becoming more targeted, and attackers are more organized and collaborative. Cybercriminals are even using business intelligence tools to become more effective. Brendan also debunked four security myths: (1) you think your company is not infected – it probably is, (2) you can do it alone – you need to share and collaborate, (3) you are making wise security investments – most aren’t focused on the right things, and (4) if you innovate with security you are being too risky.

I also got a chance to hear Ori Bach talk about mobile security, specifically mobile banking fraud. The anonymity of mobile is driving growth in crime and fraud. Criminals are using a variety of techniques – phishing, ransomware, overlays, fake apps, mobile exploit kits and device takeover – to accomplish their goals. He warned that the mobile channel is not like the web channel and to not make the same mistakes we did with the web in the past.

Both of these presentations highlighted the security threats that are out there, and how they are altering the world we live in. The Center’s recent Chief Information Security Officer Assessment provides a snapshot of how security leaders view this “brave” new world.

The IBM Asset Management and Internet of Things booth had interesting demos (Image credit: David Jarvis)

4. We are living in a world where everything is becoming connected

A surprise to me, the Internet of Things (IoT) was also heavily represented at the event. In my opinion, I don’t think the world really understands how this particular technology area is going to change everything quite yet. I think it will be a longer, slower and more transformative process than some might imagine. Many examples of early applications and adoption were evident at InterConnect, including the announcement of the new IBM IoT division.

As part of this shift, connected vehicles were well represented. I attended a discussion with Volvo, VW and others, where I learned a lot about the difference between a connected car and an autonomous car and all the permutations between the two. Technologies like active safety features – driver assist and collision avoidance – and vehicle to vehicle (V2V) and vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) communication were discussed. There are a lot of potential impacts from these technologies – from education to insurance to construction and more.

LED wristbands were used to help emphasize key points during presentations (Image credit: David Jarvis)

5. We are living in a world where everything can come together in wonderful ways

What made all of this click for me was one of Marie Wieck’s presentations. She discussed the Passenger+ application that IBM is developing in conjunction with Apple. It allows flight attendants to better understand who is on the plane and address what they need – both passengers and flight crew (e.g., rebooking, maintenance issues). It shows the convergence of so many different things – mobile, analytics, APIs, enterprise data, rules, workflows, security and back-office systems. This is the future, empowering individuals with the tools and decision-making capability and authority to become better at what they do best. Big companies can interact in very personal, meaningful ways, and small companies can have the power and insight of their larger brethren.

What kind of world do we live in? Hopefully, one where these emerging areas can come together to create something new and powerful – for enterprises, clients and individuals.

Image credit: David Jarvis

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