Tag Archives: IBM

IBM and Hairdryers, who knew

Musical accompaniment included here

Poor IBM. They seem to have found themselves in a bit of hot water  or is it steam around their recent advertising which managed to spawn a “Hack the Hairdryer” meme and earn the ire of some.

The irony in all of this is that IBM has a WOMAN, Gina Rometty, an electrical engineer running the company. Having worked in corporate space myself, I have to imagine final approval had to have been made somewhere near the top, and that maybe even a woman was involved. If such is the case, it shows how hard and builtin this sort of thinking is AND how hard it is to avoid making mistakes.

This latest misstep also underlines the limitations of a “diversity” based model stood up as the solution for improving the “numbers” of  under-represented groups within a given community. Thinking about it, where is the master list for these groups, I mean gee whiz, someone ought to know right ? Or maybe that is the problem; we aren’t being specific enough about what group we intend to help.

We need to go back to first principles and determine what diversity really means. If we really want to see a change,answering that question honestly might help to determine what the tech community is really capable of not to mention being a really good first step.

We also need to address the thinking of communities , after all, and especially with the millennial generation, it’s all about communities.This means community leaders and members need to dust off that little used self-reflection skill set (or maybe develop one) and come to  a true  understanding of why a hair-dryer was chosen as opposed to a lawnmower. While we’re at it, lets update our notion of “meritocracy”  and add the word “equity” to our conversations as well.


Watson, IBM, and “C-squared A-squared S” markets

With IBM providing external developer access to it’s Watson system they’ve made a clear statement as to where they are putting some skin in the game. As a hardware engineer, and one who admires some of their early work (can you say 801 project) it’s heartening to see Big Blue try and push the envelope here.

Watson is not an overnight development. Nonetheless it’s a very interesting notable early commercial step not just because of the system itself. IBM has decided to “open the kimono”  and enable third party developers to create applications and systems in support of their own businesses. Imagine knowledge based verticals having the ability to now provide services to consumer level customers requiring information and advice around virtually anything.

As access prices to systems similar to Watson drop, and application/system development in this space becomes easier, even small businesses will be able to take advantage of what’s  this technology. For example,  small regional nurseries could provide a service for local gardening enthusisasts in determining what plants make the most sense to grow locally. Couple the computing with remote censoring via bluetooth attached sensor on a droid or iOS device and possibilities are limitless.

Is IBM going to own this market ? Who knows for sure .They will certainly be a player, and it seems they are willing to put substantial resources into promoting it’s success both home grown and in support of external developers. Odds are we are looking at a smallish number of years (>2 <4) based on what it takes IBM  to develop hardware specific to this computing paradigm (or to see their standard processor based systems speed up to handle it). 

The real question is not if, but when the tipping point for consumer use of this technology will occur .As I mentioned above, my sense is 2 to 4 years which is a long time in tech space, but remember that part of this play is also a hearts and minds exercise. Crucial to all of this will be how easy deploying cognitive computing systems (hardware and software) becomes for companies besides IBM. Who else will start to develop purpose built hardware in support of this computing paradigm  ?

If you’re a company who has knowledge specific to a vertical, or maybe a help desk, you might want start thinking about this technology as part of  a knowledge solution you offer to your customers.

I’ll be tracking what new hardware crops up in this space going forward, I expect that might help refine some of this timing. In the meantime….

Finally, What’s “c-squared a-squared s” you ask ? “Cognitive Computing As A Service “of course !!!