DUBLIN, Ireland -- 2020 Vision Executive Summit -- We are entering the cognitive systems era in which data will play a central role, according to IBM's Rashik Parmar, and there's a role for telco as well in capturing, understanding and connecting that data to compute power.
Parmar, an IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) distinguished engineer and lead IBM cloud advisor, addressed the 2020 Vision audience here Thursday, explaining how technology will help us understand the vast amount of data in the digital world in a very different way. Computers will sniff out diseases, digital taste buds will help us eat smarter and computers will augment what we hear, he said.
Even IBM's machine learning and cognitive computing platform Watson is moving beyond programming to learning. It has learning to construct intelligent debates on hot topics by searching data, ranking the importance of the responses and picking out the most powerful statements. (See IBM Acquires Analytics Expert.)
"The heart of this is understanding the data, which requires a different set of thought processes," he said. "The data is chaotic. The challenge we face is drawing from the data the patterns that make sense."
Parmar outlined five new patterns that are emerging for business model innovation:
- augmenting products to generate data with sensors and connectivity to better understand the customer experience
- codifying a distinctive service capability
- combining data within and across industries to optimize it, much like Uber and AirBnB do
- trading data with adjacent businesses as, for example, Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) does when it sells its mobile phone trajectory speed information to TomTom
- digitizing any physical assets to create completely new interaction patents
All of these trends require thinking about innovation at the business model level, but are aimed at creating new experiences from the customer perspective, Parmar explained.
So where does the telecom industry fit into this cognitive systems era in which data reigns supreme? Parmar suggested there are two major roles they play. The key one is capturing the data, he said. It is often lost or tossed out, so that it's never understood. The second is moving data and connecting it to compute power. (See IBM Sows Seed for New Telco Unit, Plans NFV/SDN Push.)
"There are phenomenal technology challenges in moving data around," Parmar said. "We're creating large amounts of data but we haven't figured out how to it move around. How do we get insights from it?"
These are barriers to innovation that could hold back both the telcos and the cognitive era, in general, Parmar said. But the biggest barriers are primarily people issues -- becoming too comfortable with where we are today or being afraid of making a change when the future is unclear are the two biggest.
"There is a valuable set of opportunities in creating that and the digital economy is coming at a pace that's relentless," Parmar said. "Our opportunity is to help clarify that vision and make it more possible."
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