Key Takeaways from IBM Think 2019

Posted on

By Bo Gebbie, Vice President, Sales, Services and Marketing

During the week of February 11, IBM hosted IBM Think 2019 in San Francisco, CA.  In addition to Think, the annual IBM PartnerWorld Conference was also held during the same time.  Hosting these events together saw almost 30,000 attendees descend on San Francisco for the week.

Evolving Solutions had several team members and clients attend the event.  It was an outstanding opportunity to learn about IBM’s 2019 strategic imperatives, new solution announcements and new channel program enhancements.  Additionally, the event afforded us the opportunity to network with hundreds of clients and IBMers from across the country.

As I reflect back on Think, there were several key take-aways for me.

  • Hybrid Cloud is where it’s at. According to the IBM Institute for Business Value, clients are already using between two to 15 clouds.  These environments might be on-premise or in the public cloud.  As the number of cloud silos continue to grow, clients need an easier way to connect the applications, no matter where the data resides.  During Think, the IBM Cloud Integration Platform was announced.  This platform is “designed to securely connect applications, software and services from any vendor regardless of whether those systems are on-premises, in a public cloud or a private cloud,” according to IBM.
  • Data.  Data. Data.  According to IBM CEO Ginny Rometty, “only 20% of the world’s data is searchable.”  Applications such as Office365, CRM, expense management, etc. were the “easy apps” to get into the cloud.  There is 80% of data out there that is critical to an organization’s overall success.  Those core systems will be the focus of the next era.  How do clients utilize that data to make gather meaningful business insights, and make-real time decisions?  IBM is placing big bets on “the next 80%” to help grow its solution portfolio.
  • Artificial Intelligence will transform how we all work. Many people still think of AI as something you would see in a Sci-Fi movie.  But, according to Rometty and several executives we spoke with, AI will be embedded in applications or layered on top of them in the future.  AI will enable new or improved business processes.  AI will enable every single person to do their job in a more efficient or data-led way.  AI will not replace jobs; rather it will augment how we do work.  I like the theory, and look forward to seeing how this plays out over time.
  • Red Hat is key to IBM’s future. The IBM executives could not say a ton about the Red Hat acquisition, since the deal has not closed yet. But, every single IBMer was excited for what Red Hat can bring to IBM in terms of new client opportunity, innovating the product stack and keeping IBM relevant to the next generation of buyers.
  • Holy moly, the Moscone Center is huge. One of my non-business learnings is that the Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco is enormous.  It is no small feat to fit tens of thousands of people into one place!

Over the next few months, we will have Evolving Solutions team members at several of our other strategic partners’ premier conferences.  We will share our insights from those events on our blog.

I am looking forward to returning to San Fran next May for Think 2020.  Hope to see you there!

Bo Gebbie joined Evolving Solutions in January, 2017 as the Vice President of Sales, Services and Marketing. In this role, he is responsible for the sales, pre-sales services, post-sales consulting and marketing pillars within the organization. He is a member of the Executive and Management Teams, and represents the organization externally on vendor and partner Advisory Councils.

Before joining Evolving Solutions, Bo was an IBM executive, serving last as Vice President of Server Solution Sales, North America. In that role, he had sales and profit responsibility for a $3B portfoilio across Power Systems, z Systems and the Server Linux brands. Prior to that, Bo was the Business Unit Executive, Power Systems Sales, North America.

Like what you read? Follow Bo on LinkedIn.

Weather (data) for all seasons

Posted on

By Doug Polen, Software Sales Specialist

Many people don’t know this, but Weather Underground was a part of The Weather Company, which was acquired by IBM a few years ago. They had been offering an API that many customers and weather junkies had been using for quite some time to gather weather data for a vast array of applications.

To accommodate Weather Underground’s rapidly growing customer base, The Weather Company made the decision to move the Weather Underground platform to IBM’s enterprise API infrastructure and set this popular API to be shut down this month.

There are several different flavors of the API that are being published. The scalability of IBM’s infrastructure will allow existing Weather Underground customers to continue to receive the consistent customer experience they are used to, as well as better serve the developers working on the next generation of weather data.

As a result of this change, I was called upon to help with the surplus of inbound inquiries this decision created. Little did I know when I agreed to help work with these folks, the wealth of information I would take in about weather data and its seemingly endless use cases.

So why is this something that’s worth writing about? The Weather Company continues to remain the world’s most accurate forecaster and IBM is committed to ensuring its customers receive precise and accurate weather data at rapid speed.

Weather is something that impacts everyone daily in their personal lives. It’s a lot like the 82,000 memes you’ve seen on social media around the January 2019 Polar Vortex here in Minnesota … this guy survived his first -30° day ever, and here I am writing a weather blog in the postmortem.

Is it going to be sunny today?
What’s the wind chill today?
Will I need an umbrella?

This information is invaluable from a business perspective.

Will a snow storm impact a shipment?
Does an electric utility require more power today because more people will be using their AC’s?
What is the historical sun/wind/rain pattern that could impact agricultural output?

You get the point, the bottom line for business is having the ability to access better weather information can really have an impact on how business decisions are made. Helping clients make their businesses better and more competitive through data, is what I do. These new IBM offerings are both cost effective and robust.

Truth be told, in my sales career, I’ve never enjoyed the customer conversations more than I am right now. These are really fun conversations to have. I’ve learned about vineyards and how weather affects wine production, how off-shore oil rigs rely on accurate weather information to make decisions on worker safety and asset protection, and the ways public safety uses weather to predict what’s coming so they can best plan and schedule the resources necessary to keep public utilities going during weather events.

Speaking of fun, I’m positioning the Weather Company for Enterprise use, but I’ve got a new app on my phone that I simply love. WTForecast is a great app that I recently discovered (not affiliated with IBM). If you want a little humor (and let’s face it, when it’s -30° you need to laugh, albeit carefully, so as not to crack your face), be sure to give this one a try.

The point is, take a look at how decisions are made in your organization. Could better weather data help your company to make better choices to enhance profitability, make a more enjoyable workplace, or maybe even save an employee’s life? Let’s get to work today and uncover what we can do for your future.

#ISurvivedThePolarVortex

Doug Polen is a Software Sales Specialist at Evolving Solutions.  He has been with Evolving Solutions since 2015, after spending 16 years at IBM as a Software Client Leader and Client Executive.

He specializes in IBM PassPort Advantage, Software as a Service, Analytics, Cloud, Cognitive, IoT, Security, Social & Weather solutions and holds numerous IBM software certifications.

Like what you read? Follow Doug on LinkedIn.

Remember that time when IBM’s Watson went to Hollywood with the First “Cognitive Movie Trailer” and it was a horror flick?

Posted on

How do you create a movie trailer about an artificially enhanced human?

You turn to the real thing – artificial intelligence.

20th Century Fox has partnered with IBM Research to develop the first-ever “cognitive movie trailer” for its upcoming suspense/horror film, “Morgan”. Fox wanted to explore using artificial intelligence (AI) to create a horror movie trailer that would keep audiences on the edge of their seats.

Movies, especially horror movies, are incredibly subjective. Think about the scariest movie you know (for me, it’s the 1976 movie, “The Omen”). I can almost guarantee that if you ask the person next to you, they’ll have a different answer. There are patterns and types of emotions in horror movies that resonate differently with each viewer, and the intricacies and interrelation of these are what an AI system would have to identify and understand in order to create a compelling movie trailer. Our team was faced with the challenge of not only teaching a system to understand, “what is scary”, but then to create a trailer that would be considered “frightening and suspenseful” by a majority of viewers.

As with any AI system, the first step was training it to understand a subject area. Using machine learning techniques and experimental Watson APIs, our Research team trained a system on the trailers of 100 horror movies by segmenting out each scene from the trailers. Once each trailer was segmented into “moments”, the system completed the following;

1)   A visual analysis and identification of the people, objects and scenery. Each scene was tagged with an emotion from a broad bank of 24 different emotions and labels from across 22,000 scene categories, such as eerie, frightening and loving;

2)   An audio analysis of the ambient sounds (such as the character’s tone of voice and the musical score), to understand the sentiments associated with each of those scenes;

3)   An analysis of each scene’s composition (such the location of the shot, the image framing and the lighting), to categorize the types of locations and shots that traditionally make up suspense/horror movie trailers.

The analysis was performed on each area separately and in combination with each other using statistical approaches. The system now “understands” the types of scenes that categorically fit into the structure of a suspense/horror movie trailer.

Then, it was time for the real test. We fed the system the full-length feature film, “Morgan”. After the system “watched” the movie, it identified 10 moments that would be the best candidates for a trailer. In this case, these happened to reflect tender or suspenseful moments. If we were working with a different movie, perhaps “The Omen”, it might have selected different types of scenes. If we were working with a comedy, it would have a different set of parameters to select different types of moments.

It’s important to note that there is no “ground truth” with creative projects like this one. Neither our team, or the Fox team, knew exactly what we were looking for before we started the process. Based on our training and testing of the system, we knew that tender and suspenseful scenes would be short-listed, but we didn’t know which ones the system would pick to create a complete trailer. As most creative projects go, we thought, “we’ll know it when we see it.”

Our system could select the moments, but it’s not an editor. We partnered with a resident IBM filmmaker to arrange and edit each of the moments together into a comprehensive trailer. You’ll see his expertise in the addition of black title cards, the musical overlay and the order of moments in the trailer.

Not surprisingly, our system chose some moments in the movie that were not included in other “Morgan” trailers. The system allowed us to look at moments in the movie in different ways –moments that might not have traditionally made the cut, were now short-listed as candidates. On the other hand, when we reviewed all the scenes that our system selected, one didn’t seem to fit with the bigger story we were trying to tell –so we decided not to use it. Even Watson sometimes ends up with footage on the cutting room floor!

Traditionally, creating a movie trailer is a labor-intensive, completely manual process. Teams have to sort through hours of footage and manually select each and every potential candidate moment. This process is expensive and time consuming –taking anywhere between 10 and 30 days to complete.

From a 90-minute movie, our system provided our filmmaker a total of six minutes of footage. From the moment our system watched “Morgan” for the first time, to the moment our filmmaker finished the final editing, the entire process took about 24 hours.

Reducing the time of a process from weeks to hours –that is the true power of AI.

The combination of machine intelligence and human expertise is a powerful one. This research investigation is simply the first of many into what we hope will be a promising area of machine and human creativity. We don’t have the only solution for this challenge, but we’re excited about pushing the possibilities of how AI can augment the expertise and creativity of individuals.

AI is being put to work across a variety of industries; helping scientists discover promising treatment pathways to fight diseases or helping law experts discover connections between cases. Film making is just one more example of how cognitive computing systems can help people make new discoveries.

IBM Power Technical Briefing

Posted on

Evolving Solutions and IBM are proud to present an in-depth technical briefing featuring IBM Power on Thursday, November 9th.  Our briefing will include the latest updates and further details on how you can leverage the capabilities that IBM Power Systems has to offer.  The IBM and Evolving Solutions experts will be available to answer your questions and help your team decide what your needs and requirements are for IBM Power solutions.

Following the briefing, join us for happy hour and networking at Kip’s Irish Pub.

Some of the topics covered in this session will include:
  • POWER9 Architecture & Roadmaps
  • HMC Management & NovaLink
  • SR-IOV & vNIC
  • Nutanix on POWER
  • SAP HANA Linux on POWER
  • OpenSource DB on POWER
  • Tooling for POWER (PowerVC, PowerSC, VIOS Performance Monitoring, etc,)
Who should attend?
  • DB Administrators: Linux, Analytics, and Big Data
  • Administrators and Architects: Cloud, Web Application
  • Architects: Big Data and Analytics, Consolidation, Deployment, Enterprise, IT, Software, Virtualization
  • Managers: Data Center, IT, IT Operations, Project, Procurement, Program, Data Center

AGENDA

7:45 – 8:30 AM Registration & Breakfast
8:30 – 11:30 AM
Briefing Session
12:00 – 1:00 PM
Lunch
1:00 – 4:00 PM
Continue Briefing Session
4:00 – 4:30 PM
Final Q&A Session
4:30 – 6:00PM
Networking & Happy Hour

To register your attendance please continue to event page: http://go.evolvingsol.com/IBMPowerWorkshopRegistration.html

Cognitive Computing: Improving X-Rays

Posted on

“What if your X-ray could predict a potential disease months in advance,” writes Laura Lorenzetti for Fortune. This past summer IBM Watson Health created a new partnership with leading medical providers and imaging tech companies to see if cognitive computing can take medical imaging one step further to actually predict the chance of diseases like cancer and heart failure.

Ms. Lorenzetti’s article points out that much of the data gathered from an x-ray or MRI is “unstructured.” It can be difficult for computers to connect the information to patient records in a meaningful way. IBM Watson Health is trying to change that and utilizing its power to connect unstructured data with its massive databases of patient medical history.  Ms. Lorenzetti writes, “the goal is to provide new offerings across various medical environments (a hospital ER or an everyday physician’s office) that can connect systems (medical records, picture archiving, lab results) and deliver cognitive insights to doctors on the spot for better diagnoses.”

One example from the article is the use of mammograms. Not only could Watson connect the image results to the patient’s medical history but it could also “cross-reference against the similar patients within the Watson database.”  These connections could improve a doctor’s  ability to identify early warning signs or risks.

Another example is the use of cognitive computing to help doctors predict which patients are more likely to have a heart attack after reporting chest pain.  Ms. Lorenzetti reports that 2% of patients who visit an ER with chest pain have the early signs of a heart attack missed. By connecting the data dots IBM Watson Health could help doctors identify these signs better.

IBM Watson Health’s shear power to process unstructured data such as medical imaging while also consuming vast amounts of patient data allows for it to draw cognitive insights that will one day improve patient diagnoses and treatments.

AI – Practical Applications

Posted on

Last week’s blog post featured information on what augmented intelligence (AI) means and the industries using the technology from IBM Research.  Today, let’s review a couple real life examples of AI applications.

First, a quick definition, IBM prefers to refer to AI as augmented intelligence.  Their approach is to use cognitive computing capabilities, such as machine learning, reasoning and decision tech, language, speech and visual tech and human interface tech, to create practical applications that enhance and scale human expertise.

IBM’s Watson Health – Partnering with New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), IBM’s application helps to consume and process the massive amounts of medical research while also “learning” from cancer experts, working to ultimately expand access to cancer treatment options and expertise. Laura Lorenzetti of Fortune explains, “Some MSK oncologists have a highly specific expertise in certain cancers. By training Watson to think like they do, that knowledge expands from one specialist to any doctor who is querying Watson. That means that a patient can get the same top-tier care as if they traveled directly to the center’s offices in Manhattan. IBM’s Watson provides the framework to learn, connect, and store the data, while MSK is imparting its knowledge to train the computer.”

Financial Services – cognitive computing is assisting financial advisors so  they can better serve their  clients.  By ingesting financial information and client data, Watson can answer the everyday client questions while also using its processing power to help identify potential options for the advisor to evaluate.  Many believe that by integrating with Watson financial advisors will be able to expand their practices and serve more clients. William Sprouse of Financial Planning further explains, “In practice, such cognitive computing power would work with an adviser just like a helpful Star Wars droid: virtually present during a meeting with a client, gathering data, and ready to instantly assist with queries and projections, along with its own suggestions based on client data.”

These two examples both demonstrate not only the processing power of augmented intelligence systems like Watson but also the ability to “learn”.  This ability to learn can provide access to critical expertise to more people than ever before in healthcare and financial services.

IBM: AI 101

Posted on

A recent article from Tech Crunch by Devin Coldewey highlights an RFI response from IBM regarding artificial intelligence (AI). Mr. Coldewey writes, “The field of artificial intelligence is so huge, and the potential applications so numerous, that it would be folly to try to explain it all in one — no, wait, IBM just did.” Today we will look at some of the highlights from IBM’s response.

First, artificial intelligence vs. augmented intelligence. IBM prefers to speak to augmented intelligence which is the process of creating systems that enhance and scale human expertise rather than systems that attempt to replicate human intelligence.  IBM further describes their approach as cognitive computing or “a comprehensive set of capabilities based on technologies such as machine learning, reasoning and decision technologies; language, speech and vision technologies; human interface technologies; distributed and high-performance computing; and new computing architectures and devices. When purposefully integrated, these capabilities are designed to solve a wide range of practical problems, boost productivity, and foster new discoveries across many industries.”

How is AI currently being used?  IBM provides the follow highlights by industry:

  • Healthcare – AI is advancing precision medicine through its ability to “ingest” patient information and run it against vast stores of medical research
  • Social Services – AI can be used to predict resource needs from specific population groups
  • Education – AI provides new capabilities to design true personalized learning plans
  • Financial Services – AI is being used to ensure financial resources are utilized well. This can come from the advancement of the applicant approval process or through efficient weighing and processing of insurance needs against risk, costs and regulations

In particular for IBM what started as a contestant on Jeopardy, IBM Watson, is now full blown cognitive computing that can be applied to practical problems in a variety of industries.

Next week, we will feature more on the blog from IBM’s AI 101. Be sure to check back. Until then you can also read more on AI and cognitive computing here.

It’s Here: IBMi 7.3

Posted on

“From the web interface used to order a birthday gift to the mobile interface used for paying bills, companies need modern capabilities like cloud solutions and deeper analytics to run their businesses in a secure environment,” writes Alison Butterill for IBM System’s In the Making blog.  Companies across all industries have a long history of turning to IBM i on Power Systems to meet their needs.

And just last week, IBM announced the release of IBMi  7.3.  Ms. Butterill reports the new release will allow you to better:

  • Conduct accurate analysis of data within a specific historical time period and provide an outlet to compare the insights against current data with DB2 for i temporal support.
  • Analyze data to plan ahead and build new strategies that improve business operations with newly enhanced OLAP functionality.
  • Optimize system management and security with the security authority collection.

 

IBM i 7.3Chief Architect for IBM i operating systems, Steve Will, also discusses the IBMi  7.3 release for IBM Systems Magazine. In his article, he writes the new release will have features that simplify insight, provide intelligent security and bring new open source options to developers.  Mr. Will provides several links to bloggers who dig deeper into each aspect of the new release. Here are the articles of note:

  • For more on IBMi 7.3 DB2 enhancements such as temporal support and OLAP functions, check out Mike Cain’s post on DB2fori blog.
  • Dawn May on IBM Systems Magazine dives into the security enhancements for 7.3, specifically the Authority Collection feature
  • IBM Business Architect for Application Development, Tim Rowe, takes a developer’s look at new integration with open source on System i Developers blog

Are you interested in talking specifically about what IBMi 7.3 can bring to your business? Contact our team at Evolving Solutions.

Industry News Round- up – Watson in the News

Posted on

IBM Watson
The IBM Watson-powered concierge “Connie” at work in a hotel (pcmag.com).
IBM’s Watson continues to be a top news story and industries are finding creative uses for Watson’s abilities.  Today let’s look at what Watson has been up to in retail, entertainment and hospitality.

Watson and MasterCard Partner to Bring Big Data to Small Business

According to ZDNet, MasterCard has integrated IBM Watson into its platform to give small and medium-sized merchants access to big data analytics.  Soon merchants will be able to access real-time, analytics based market insights on revenue, market share and customer types.  MasterCard recognized that their small business customers may have data but they lack the resources to gain real insights.  Watson in particular will be able to deliver more views into customer behavior and buying trends. What they are labeling as “smarter data” will become more accessible and actionable through this new partnership.

Watson at Hogwarts

A little pop culture, according to Tech Insider Watson analyzed the Harry Potter books and movies using the “Big Five” test to assess personality traits to classify characters and to compare how their roles changed from the books to on film.  One finding ranked Harry high for anger second only to Voldemort despite being the “good guy.” Watson also agreed with many Harry Potter fans that Ginny’s character in the movie is not as strong as in the books, noting she ranked higher for intellect and gregariousness in the books. Finally, Professor McGonagall was the character left most intact when comparing the books to the movies.

Watson Works as Hotel Concierge

Have you heard about Connie the robot concierge?  PC Magazine reports Hilton has partnered with IBM to use its Watson-powered robot to act as hotel concierge, recommending restaurants, attractions and hotel amenities to guests. Connie uses Watson speech and language APIs to interact with guests and respond to questions. The more Connie interacts the more she “learns” and the more the technology improves.

Industry News Round- up – What is Watson Up To?

Posted on

With a new year upon us, today let’s look at what IBM Watson has been up to so far in 2016.

More Work for Watson

Fortune recaps Watson at CES where IBM announced new ways in which Watson is being used. Stacey Higginbotham writes, “Watson now offers coaching through Under Armour’s app for consumers using certain products. Watson can also warn diabetics using certain Medtronic devices if their blood sugar gets too low. Whirlpool is using the cognitive computer to grab data from its connected appliances in hopes of understanding if there are flaws in its manufacturing lines. And finally, Watson is now the brains inside SoftBank’s Pepper robot.”  Ms. Higginbotham points out Watson’s ever expanding capabilities – voice recognition, computer vision and predictive intelligence.

For Whirlpool using Watson is about handing data from connected appliances better and for Medtronic and SoftBank it is more about extracting more value and opportunities from existing data.  All in all, more industries are finding work for Watson.

Watson-powered Wellness App

Natalie Gagliordi of ZDNet reports, “IBM’s Watson-powered wellness app with Pathway Genomics enters alpha release.The app focuses on a wellness report compiled from a bevy of data sources, such as a user’s genetic test, health habits, and health tracker information from the likes of Apple HealthKit.”  This new app crunches diet, exercise and metabolism to build a “personalized approach to preventative medicine.” Ms. Galiordi points out that this is the latest effort by IBM to position Watson at the forefront of medical innovation.

Watson Takes on the World

Bernard Marr takes a step back on Thoughts on Cloud and digs into what makes Watson tick. In his interview with IBM, he describes the three “legs” that form Watson’s cognitive computing. First, Watson is designed to use natural language processing so it can work and react in real language and IBM points out it can even learn nuances, idiosyncrasies and colloquialisms of human language. Second, Watson can process enormous amounts of data to come up with probabilistic answers. And finally Watson’s ability to learn, fueled by big data Mr. Marr points out, means Watson can only get better with every use.