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Recap: IBM Data Science and AI at Think 2019

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Recap: IBM Data Science and AI at Think 2019


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The weather last week in San Francisco was wet and harsh, but the atmosphere at the IBM Think 2019 conference was vibrant. Our CEO, Ginni Rometty (that’s her in the banner photo), set the tone in her keynote address on Building Cognitive Enterprises, in terms of both the technologies covered and the focus on hearing real-world stories directly from customers. If you want to see more from Ginni, check out the great panel discussion she led on open source technology, too.

Setting the bar for IBM Data Science and AI

The analytics and data science solutions that we discuss on this blog fit into a new group called IBM Data Science and AI. Last week our general manager, Rob Thomas, highlighted the objectives of Data Science and AI in an interview at theCube, and then joined guests on stage for a longer look at what AI is doing for IBM customers in an engaging session on Accelerating the Journey to AI.

Our sales leader Kimberly Deobald addressed similar themes in her own mini-keynote, Rethink the Value of Data with AI Everywhere. Here’s a summary for her session:

Is your data ready for AI? Can you modernize data for a multi-cloud world? And are you able to operationalize models using open source? In this session, Deobald discussed the challenges facing organizations on the journey to AI. She outlined IBM’s point of view on solving those challenges with a prescriptive approach to analyzing and infusing AI. In an unscripted, onstage dialogue, Kimberly talked with two IBM clients about their experiences and current progress on their companies’ journey to AI. Finally, this keynote shared no-fee ways that IBM can help your business get started on the road to successfully operationalizing AI with trust and transparency.

Think 2019 digs into real-world applications of IBM analytics solutions

If you’re familiar with this blog, you know we talk a lot about advanced analytics and how it can drive better business results. Below, we highlight some of the best sessions on analytics from last week’s conference.

Leonard Holding Company Tackles Food Safety in Real-Time Using IBM Cognos Analytics 11

Ensuring food safety is one of the most important business problems in society. In this timely presentation, IBM partner QueBit and customer Leonard Holding talked about using IBM Cognos Analytics in a digital transformation focused on exceeding compliance requirements and democratizing information. The ultimate goal of the project was to head off recalls before they happened through simple operational transparency and deeper, AI-driven analytics.

How Statsbygg Reaches New Users with the IBM Cognos Analytics Dashboard

By developing several different dashboard solutions, Stattsbyg has increased BI usage among employees by 40% each month. This session demonstrated three of the projects: an energy dashboard on public screens, a dashboard as the front end for a supply chain solution, and a personal management report built in Active Reports sent with burst on mail. The session covered enterprise challenges and experiences with framework, data modules, and datasets using Stattsbyg’s modern data warehouse.

Planning Is for Everyone! Innovations in Planning and Analytics for the Broader Organization

Ronnie Rich, a senior offering manager for IBM, opened the session by emphasizing the critical nature of the functionality, ease of use, and high performance of IBM Planning Analytics and how it permeates every discipline within a high-functioning organization — because every area can benefit from agile, intelligent, and insightful planning. Ronnie also walked through new innovations on the platform such as level-set operators and default sets. IBM Global Solutions Leader Dan Rabella then spent time interviewing two clients — Best Buy and Uber — who are having success leveraging IBM Planning Analytics in their organizations to generate streamlined and more accurate planning and forecasting. In particular, Best Buy, which has been using IBM Analytics for 10 years, has more than a dozen interconnected solutions accessed by more than 1,000 users to facilitate planning across every area of the business, from merchandising to retail and international operations.

How Do 51 Quintillion Cells Factor into Ancestry’s FP&A Process and Subscription Revenue Model?

Ancestry’s sophisticated engineering and technology harnesses family history and consumer genetics, combining billions of historical records, millions of family trees, and more than four million people in the AncestryDNA network. Presented by Ancestry’s Curtis Tripoli, this session focused on the massive amounts of data that Ancestry not only needs to guard, but also needs to model and manage on behalf of individuals across the world. Not many analytics solutions can handle 51 quintillion cells of data (that’s 18 zeros!), but IBM Planning Analytics can — and it stood out as the best choice. With help from Business Partner Data41, Ancestry is able to manage everything in the cloud, from financial data and labor costs to the forecasting of subscriptions and revenue.

Data science makes a strong showing at Think 2019

IBM’s data science solutions took the spotlight in many different sessions at the conference, ranging from more technical sessions aimed at data scientists to problem-oriented sessions focusing on challenges that our customers are overcoming using our data science tools. Here are just a couple of standouts:

Open Source and IBM SPSS: A Powerful Analytical Combination

This session took a more technical approach to pick up on some of the themes of Ginni’s panel on open source. R and Python, the two most popular programming languages used by data analysts and data scientists, are both open source technologies. But organizations still value the integrity of their data and want processes and outcomes that fit their business needs. How do you combine the two? In this session, two data science experts from IBM showed how the latest releases of IBM SPSS Statistics and SPSS Modeler further deepen the link between proprietary software and open source tools — a combination that gives data scientists the best of both worlds.

Using Open Source and IBM Watson Studio to Improve Outcomes for Traumatic Brain Injury Patients

Why do some acutely brain-injured patients live while others with similar injuries die? Even among those who live, what accounts for the great variations in neurological impairments stemming from their injuries? It’s a problem ripe for treatment by machine learning, but collecting data and getting it into a form that is usable for research, analytics, and clinical guidance has been highly problematic. For more than 20 years, IBM Champion Dick Moberg has been working to develop advanced analytics that effectively aggregate and use the massive amount of neuro-monitoring data that is collected on these patients to optimize real-time treatment for them. This talk described a project that seeks to address this challenge, this time using a combination of IBM Watson Studio and open source technology.

Experience Think 2019 through the archive

Customers, business partners, and IBMers alike walked out of Think 2019 full of ideas and excitement for the vision driving IBM Data Science and AI. Whether you got to attend in person or not, check out the video archive and the full agenda for presentations — not just for the sessions above, but for more on other topics that most interest you.

While you’re at it, it’s not too early to be thinking about our other big event this year, the IBM Data and AI Forum 2019, to be held in Miami on October 21–24. Formerly known as IBM Analytics University, this conference will be packed with opportunities to learn from our customers, business partners, analysts, and IBMers on the most vital topics in our field. Speaker submissions and early bird registration are open — with a special discount for Think attendees! — so check out the IBM Data and AI Forum site now.

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