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Author: Mike Smith, Managing Director, New Zealand at IBM

Intriguing and Inspirational – My Take on THINK

Mike SmithOur world is changing, technology is enabling businesses to disrupt and individuals to rise up and change the status quo. THINK, held in Auckland on 1st May, and Sydney on 4th May showed thousands of delegates how to reinvent their business by focusing on strategic initiatives and emerging technologies like quantum computing, security, AI, cloud and blockchain.

At THINK 2018, down under, we set out to Intrigue > Inspire > Engage > Reinvent, a goal we achieved judging by the positive feedback from clients and other guests.

I love THINK because it showcases the sheer breadth and depth of IBM, particularly our contributions to using technology for social good. How many other companies are employing structural biologists to tackle disease, developing software to assist refugees and people who are blind, and even creating new education models?

For those fortunate enough to have experienced the events first hand, or via the live stream from Sydney, you have a sense for the energy created. With the help of Michelle Dickinson, aka Nanogirl, this buzz extended into classrooms across the country as astronaut Chris Hadfield answered questions and inspired a new generation of young Kiwi rocketeers.

Chris Hadfield

Chris Hadfield

Chris’ main message was about developing resilience and the ability to deal with setbacks, core human traits which are even more important in a rapidly changing world which (in his words) ‘will never be as slow as it is today’.  This is highly relevant to our industry.

Rana Novack, who leads IBM’s Refugee and Migration Predictive Analytics Solution, is applying machine learning and cognitive computing to enable Government agencies and humanitarian aid organisations to better manage refugee and migration crises.

Rana Novack

Rana Novack

Chieko Asakawa, an Inventor and IBM Fellow, IBM Research, is advancing cognitive assistant research to help the blind regain information by augmenting missing or weakened abilities in the real world by the power of AI.

Chieko Asakawa

Chieko Asakawa

In Sydney, John Cohn, in his 5 in 5 report reminded us that “IBM continues to have the largest industrial research program in the entire world.” Then shared five innovations that will help change our lives within five years.

John Cohn

John Cohn

While THINK is (on the face of it) an event about technology, it’s really about the people who see opportunities to innovate and dare to do things differently – that’s why the theme for the event was “Where Technology meets Humanity”. There’s nothing more that inspires clients to challenge the status quo and take risks than hearing about the results of their peers and competitors.

When we bring the best of IBM’s global and local talent together, it’s a powerful combination. This really hit home when I saw a Newshub interview featuring the global Head of AI for IBM Research, John Smith, alongside IBM NZ’s own AI Lead Isuru Fernando, and illustrated by the work of our US colleagues in creating the Mercedes Benz stadium of the future. The stadium was just one of the 12 highly visual and interactive technology activations in the Innovation Hub.

THINK is an investment in our local brand in Australia and New Zealand and I was proud to see multiple touch points in the days leading up to 1st May in the street, in media. Many of the conversations initiated at THINK continue, such as our efforts to educate about the responsible adoption of AI. The day after THINK saw the publication of a wide-ranging industry study by industry group the AI Forum, a report which IBM contributed to and co-sponsored.

To relive THINK 2018 – see the replay here.

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