In the era of cognitive computing – where systems learn at scale, reason and interact naturally with humans – tapping into the collective thinking of an entire industry that’s passionate about a particular topic can elicit powerful insights. Cognitive represents an entirely new model of computing that includes a range of technology innovations in analytics, natural language processing and machine learning. Together, the Internet of Things (IoT) and cognitive computing have the potential to reshape entire industries and blur what a “traditional” industry was thought to be or deliver.
Take, for example, the Business of Things Jam. It’s a first of a kind event in which electronics and high tech executives and subject matter experts came together online to explore operational, organizational and industry issues and challenges surrounding the IoT – the network of physical objects embedded with electronics, software, sensors and network connectivity that enable these “things” to collect and exchange data.
For three days in October 2015, close to 2,000 business leaders and visionaries (spanning 70 countries), shared their views and perspectives about how companies and enterprises can design business strategies that capitalize on cognitive computing and the IoT. Insights from the Jam were used as the basis for an executive report by the IBM Institute for Business Value – part of its IoT series for the electronics industry.
The concept of “jamming” is not new – IBM coined the term in 2001 when it first started massive online crowdsourcing events with employees to help address business issues. “Industry jams,” however, are a next logical wave in exploring the challenges inherent in the era of cognitive computing.
Building a shared point of view
While traditional surveys remain effective research tools for closed-end questioning, organizations and consortiums often need to tackle ambiguous topics – grand-scale issues where progress depends on developing shared thinking. In the case of the Business of Things Jam, IBM wanted a more contemporary, open-ended digital format to engage players in a frank, cross-industry discussion on the IoT. IBM’s Innovation Jam solution allowed for real-time conversation and real-time content analysis, providing participants in the Business of Things Jam (including 183 C-level executives) with a dynamic, interactive experience. Participants discussed their opinions and views in a transparent manner –alongside peers and competitors – with the goal of identifying common ground on which to pursue change and innovation.
So what’s next? Are there other industries ripe for such an approach? There’s no question that banks and the financial services industry are facing fundamental challenges. Demands of consumers are increasing – especially in regard to service. Competition from financial technology companies is up. And regulatory pressures are ever-changing. Are these issues motivation enough for banks to shed their proprietary nature and collaboratively discuss how to drive meaningful change in operations?
Banks certainly have the ability to work together. Blockchain is a prime example. Led by financial technology company R3, a consortium of 42 banks is developing a framework for applying blockchain technology. But what about a consortium of banks that come together to discuss the cultural inhibitors in the banking industry overall? Could an online “Financial Services Industry Jam” – where banks and other industry forward thinkers come together – be a catalyst for transformation and meaningful change?
The favorable participant response to the Business of Things Jam illustrates the willingness of industry players and experts to have a substantive, transparent exchange of ideas about how to succeed in the IoT. The model is clear: Jams foster the natural collaboration and ideation of a shared ecosystem around a business topic to explore new ideas, new technology and new ways of working. In a world awash in data, Jams can provide an industry with a focal point to reflect and then refine a shared point of view.