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Think 2019: Come together and think

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Author: Amanda Johnston-Pell, IBM Chief Marketing Officer A/NZ

After 13+ hours in the air, catching a glimpse of San Francisco through my aeroplane window was an exhilarating way to kick off Think 2019. It’s hard to succumb to jetlag when you know you are going to spend the next four days at a conference with some of the world’s most celebrated visionaries, technologists and innovators.

The event featured 50 keynote speakers and 2000+ sessions. Although I wish I could share every moment with you, here are some of my highlights.

Montage of Think sessions

Chapter two: The next stage of innovation

IBM Chairman, President and CEO Ginni Rometty opened Think 2019 with some of the world’s top CEOs and leaders who shared their journeys to the Cognitive Enterprise. Setting the scene, Ginni noted how, after experimenting with AI and moving simple workloads to the cloud and committing to “random acts of digital,” businesses are now ready to move to Chapter 2.

Three critical areas for businesses on the path to Chapter 2.
1. Digital and AI
2. Hybrid cloud
3. Responsible stewardship

You can watch her keynote here or read the abridged version here.

Chairman's Address: Ginni Rometty

Chairman’s Address: Ginni Rometty

Watson anywhere takes flight with hybrid cloud.

The buzz around the conference was the announcement that Watson is now unleashed, by becoming portable across any cloud and empowered businesses to prevent vendor lock-in. Now AI goes to your data where, when and how you choose.

“Businesses have largely been limited to experimenting with AI in siloes due to the limitations caused by cloud provider lock-in of their data,” said Rob Thomas, General Manager, IBM Data and AI.

“With most large organisations storing data across hybrid cloud environments, they need the freedom and choice to apply AI to their data wherever it is stored. By breaking open that siloed infrastructure we can help businesses accelerate their transformation through AI.”

You can read all about it here.

Introducing Mia

UBank CEO Lee Hatton and FaceMe CEO Danny Tomsett introduced us to Mia who makes use of both IBM Watson and Cloud. Mia, short for My Interactive Agent, is the world’s first Digital Human to assist customers with their home loan applications. FaceMe’s Intelligent Digital Human Platform makes digital conversations more human.

It was especially thrilling to see Aussies and Kiwis representing the innovation of our nations.

Putting technology to work saving lives

In 2018, we announced a 5-year, US $30 million charitable investment in a project that tasks developers to save lives through code, called Call for Code. The winners, who will be coming to our Think Summit in May, is Project Owl. The team developed an IoT and software solution that keeps first responders and victims connected in a natural disaster.

This year at Think we announced we were going to take things one step further with the launch of Code and Response. This $25 million, four-year program will build, fortify, test, and launch open technology solutions that help communities needing critical aid.

The program will take open source initiatives like Call for Code and Clinton Global Initiative University, and support the entire process of creating solutions for those most in need.

You can find out more about Code and Response here.

Reaching Straight to Mars and Beyond

Inspiration can be a word thrown away too easily, but I would defy anyone not to be inspired by aspiring scientist, engineer and astronaut, Taylor Richardson. Taylor is not your typical teenager. She first attended NASA Space Camp at the age of nine, where she earned the title of Astronaut StarBright. Her passion is advocating for girls and STEM. But her great love is space, “I see me on Mars, and I know my possibilities are limitless! Period.”

You can watch Taylor’s talk here.

Taylor Richardson

Taylor Richardson

AI to Combat Human Trafficking

It is heart-breaking to know that despite increased awareness, slavery is still pervasive in almost all communities around the world, including Australia. Shockingly, the industry is estimated to be worth US $150 billion.

Using IBM Cloud and a Watson powered platform called the Traffic Analysis Hub (TAHub), UK-based NGO STOP THE TRAFFIK, IBM and a consortium of industry partners, including Barclays and Western Union are fighting back.

With IBM i2 software, STOP THE TRAFFIK can visually analyse human trafficking trends and hotspots.

You can learn more about this initiative here.

A crowded future

5 in 5 still life

Within the next five years, the Earth’s population will cross the eight billion mark. In Australia, the Australian Bureau of Statistics projects an increase in population between 37.4 and 49.2 million people by 2066. Our food supply chain—already stressed by climate change and finite water supply—will be tested further. To meet the demands of this crowded future, IBM researchers are exploring new technologies and devices, scientific breakthroughs, and entirely new ways of thinking about food safety and security.

In a Science Slam, IBM Research shared their annual “5 in 5” technology predictions that will tackle the challenges that lay ahead. You can watch the replay here.

Think Summit Australia

The conference may be over, but its innovation, inspiration, and insights live on. Access our collection of on-demand videos and session materials to continue learning how to build a smarter business here.

I hope to see you in May when Think Summit lands down under in Sydney.

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