The annual Norwegian IBM User Group spring conference for 2016 is now a thing of the past. I arrived home yesterday, and after having been away from home for almost fourteen days, I arrived to an empty living room where workers are still fixing my ceiling. In addition, the battery on my car was flat, my bike needed to be fixed and I had two episode of Game of Thrones waiting for me. So the summary I always write had to wait until today.
Oliver Busse does a great write up on the social aspects of the conference (no, I don’t mean IBM social but real social stuff, dinner, people hanging out together and stuff like that), so I won’t repeat much of that.
We4IT was the platinum sponsor of the event, so they got to do a short presentation of their products and services.
IBM Strategy Update
IBM-er Huguette Ranc, Social Business & Smarter Workforce Unit for Europe was up next and did a 15 minute presentation on what IBM’s thoughts for the future are. Highlights:
- Research shows that in the US 80% of your time is spent at work with meetings. Phone calls and email. That leaves a small amount of time for real work
- We spend on average 15,5 hours a day reading news and articles. That’s 174 newspapers
- She talked about IBM’s platform Toscana that will make it even easier to create seamless integration between various collaboration platforms
- IBM will soon start more strategic co-operations. Today they are doing this with Facebook, Twitter, The Weather Channel (which IBM own), Apple and DocuSign
Cognitive Collaboration – the next breakthrough
Next up was IBM-er Rob Koplowitz, Program Director of Watson – Enterprise Social Solution strategy. His session was spread over two hours. He mostly focused on IBM Watson, the technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data.
In short: Watson is a robot that can process a huge amount of data, and is able to learn from it. And he gave several examples on how they used Watson in various situations.
Koplowitz described Watson as a young athlete. You can see the potential, but he has to learn, train and grow for the greatness to shine through. Watson is like that. The more questions and answers Watson receives, the more it learns and understands. The system is self learning.
He told a story on how Watson was used for support. When someone asked how to delete an email, Watson told the person how to delete his entire mail account. Today Watson is able to come up with answers and suggestions that people would never think of themselves.
What’s special about Watson compared to other IT-systems, is that it’s ok if Watson gets the answer wrong. The reason is that 1) Watson learns from it when given the correct answer and 2) Often the wrong answer can generate good ideas and other ways of looking at a problem
The principle is understand, reason, learning. And while we used to be able to look at experience from the past to make plans for the future, technology now is changing so fast that this is no longer an option.
Unstructured data is a huge challenge for companies. We’ve been talking about this for 25 years, but nothing much is happening. In addition, we have companies like Uber, Airbnb, Tesla and Facebook who do things completely different from the way business was conducted before.
In the second part he gave a demonstration on how Watson helps you prioritize your email and communication. For example suggestions for who to include in email conversations, who to include in meetings, what files you might like to share and so on.
IBM has never been famous for design, but there’s a new principle at work at IBM now. Designers are a part of the process all the way these days. And part of the design is that Watson should not be intrusive (like the annoying paper clip from Microsoft Office a decade ago).
IBM Connect 2016 – The way forward
Then I was up next. I won the ISBG scholarship last autumn and was therefore able to go to Connect in Orlando in January. A part of the scholarship is that I had to blog every day while over there, and I also had to give a presentation on what I learned.
I told basically what you can find in my blog postings from Connect, so go read them.
The feedback afterwards was really good, and I got quite a few shout outs on Twitter for some of the stuff I said. IBM was also pleased, and I didn’t say anything wrong, I think.
I did warn everybody that if they hated the world social, they should be ready to hate cognitive, which is the new buzzword from IBM. I got a chuckle from several IBM-ers, as well as from the audience and on Twitter.
I also told people that they should know that moving from on premise to the cloud is a project, and not just copy and paste.
IBM Connect 2016 – The tools we love
I also did a presentation after lunch on what is new and up and coming from IBM Collaboration Solutions (IBM Notes/Domino, IBM Connections and so on). I was very humbled and happy that so many people turned up that it was standing room only when I started.
Are you approaching adoption like holding a ball under water?
The next session I went to was IBM-er Peter Bjellerup’s session. He is Executive Consultant, Social Business, Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing. He talked about the challenges you face doing self-sustained adoption. The users have to want to change and keep using the new tools and ways to work.
All of this is a challenge that most of us are familiar with, and I kept nodding most of the time, because I’ve been through most of them.
MittEA – Social Intranet with IBM Connections
For the final session I was torn. I really wanted to go to Item’s session on how to use third party services, like Facebook, Twitter, Google and others to sign in to your IBM Cloud solution
Instead I went to the session on how Euro Accident had created a social intranet, pretty much what we want to do at Brunvoll. This means using IBM Connections as our intranet, and then skin and adapt it like we want it to look. Got a few helpful tips in this session.
Then it was time for some fun. The team competition, which also includes a speed session where all the vendors and exhibitors are given four minutes in front of each team where they give a presentation of their products and services.
I still say that the premise and conclusion for the riddle of the green eyes (check it out!) was wrong, but I guess you can’t argue with Math, can you?
Dinner and after-drinks
After the competition, I completely rewrote my after dinner speech, which I had been asked to give. This was because I had originally had written it in Norwegian. However, since I did my first presentation in English earlier that day because there were so many foreigners in the room, I realized I needed a new one in English. Puns don’t translate well…
It was then time for dinner, and I was lucky enough to be seated with two wonderful women from IBM (Renee and Camilla), my colleague Gunnar and Rolf from Moderne Byggfornyelse. We were served a three course dinner at the top of the PWC building in Bjørvika in Oslo (where the entire conference took place). We had a great view over Oslo, and the food was great. As usual we had a magic show, and the finale with the coin trick was amazing!
I did the after dinner speech, and with all my puns and jokes it went from pain inducing groans to big rounds of laughter and applause. So I’ll take it as a win.
We then went on a drinking spree and I’ll spare you the details. Come back later for a summary of day 2, where I’m up for election as a new board member for the Norwegian user group. Exciting stuff!