Reinventing with Mobile, IoT and Cognitive: don’t be a dodo

By | 5 minute read | March 1, 2017

Mobile World Congress

It’s revolution, not evolution

Opening with the theme of the IBM Thinking Sculpture set the tone for the afternoon sessions in the IBM Theater at MWC 2017. Topics explored included AI, Cognitive, and IoT – digging into the more practical aspects of using new technology to achieve great things.

A different way of thinking

Our host for the afternoon, Warren Tomlin, Chief Innovation Officer at IBM, opened the session by asking the audience to consider three questions: What makes innovation more transformative and less incremental? What are people doing with Watson today? And what are some of the steps you can take to get you there?

Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to innovation. Using the example of orange juice, Tomlin went on to describe how many different kinds of juice there are: When you go to the shop, you can choose from any number of orange juices – some with calcium, some with pulp, some with no pulp, some with Vitamin D. He asks the question – is this innovation? Probably not. Innovation is not about plus one; it’s not about adding something else to a core product. Innovation has to be more than being incremental.

Orange juice

Orange juice

He throws 2 words up on the screen with their definitions:


noun: additive; plural noun: additives

a substance added to something in small quantities to improve or preserve it. “many foods contain chemical additives” synonyms:

adjective: additive

characterized by, relating to, or produced by addition. “the combination of these factors has an additive effect”


adjective: incremental

relating to or denoting an increase or addition, especially one of a series on a fixed scale. “incremental changes to the current system”

Tomlin believes we need to be more than incremental. Greater than additive.

Don’t be a Dodo

Take the example of the Dodo bird. The dodo bird had no natural competitors. Over the fullness of time it only evolved incrementally until it no longer possessed the ability to fly.  As settlers came to the island where the dodo bird was indigenous, the incremental changes or evolution the dodo bird experienced caused it to become extinct. The Dodo bird evolved in the wrong way, while the rest of the world transformed in a different direction.

Don’t be a dodo bird

Don’t be a dodo bird

Use AI and cognitive to create something new and different

Why is this important to use today? Since 2000, 52% of the fortune 500 listed organizations have either gone bankrupt, been acquired or ceased to exist – it bears repeating. More than half are no longer here.  We can either choose to be a dodo bird and disappear, or choose not to be.

52 percent of the Fortune 500

52 percent of the Fortune 500

The challenge many organizations face when it comes to thinking about how to use AI and cognitive computing is to identify how to use it to create something different, not additive, not plus one, but new.  When you think about innovation and transformation, ask yourself, why now? What does it mean for a business to be ‘uberized’?

Take a beautiful idea and turn it into a reality

What’s it take to move a beautiful idea into the realm of reality?

Take a beautiful idea and make it real

Take a beautiful idea and make it real

You need take advantage of hardware advancements – which offer us mobility, computing power, access through the cloud. You need to exploit the latest software advances, things like cognitive, artificial intelligence. To illustrate this point, let’s take the example of a drone which is at its simplest a mobile phone and a camera in the sky.  A drone can look for damage, improve safety for workers. We are now using drones in industrial settings. And don’t underestimate the power of human acceptance. Now that we have all these hardware and software advances where we can improve how we work, live, think, and interact with our environment, we need to gain acceptance.

Suddenly, with the entrance of mobility, the game changed. Where we used to not want to share our location data, now we are willing to accept that in order to gain value and benefit from new services and solutions, that’s information and permission we need to give up. And we do it willingly, with the expectation of a fair exchange of value – our permission to share that data in exchange for the service or experience we gain as a result. In the instance of the drone, it took time to gain acceptance, however, that bump has been overcome, and we are seeing them everywhere.

There’s never been a better time to be a creator or innovator than now

There’s never been a better time to be an innovator or a creator; but, there’s also never been a more difficult time to be in business. Navigating careers, and brands which we represent are all under pressure to outperform, out do, out discover.

What’s this equation really mean?



It means the sum is greater than the parts. But as we navigate the either or pattern, don’t be lulled into complacency and stop innovating one you reach 1 + 1 = 3.  Look at things differently. Ask yourselves, ‘What can I be looking for that is different than the sum of the parts.’ The answer is something bigger, something that’s transformative.

Let’s be anditive

Tomlin suggests that we need to add a new word to our vocabulary: anditive.

A new word: anditive

A new word: anditive

Bees and honey, nature and technology, humans and cognitive: these are all anditive thoughts.  Using this same line of thinking, Tomlin suggests that artificial intelligence (AI) is augmented intelligence.

Yes, the computer is faster – and it can rip through zettabytes of data faster. But, that superfast computer also needs humans with whom it can interact, humans who will use those insights.  A symbiotic relationship allows us to achieve more together than separately.

When you think about innovation, talk about being anditive, not additive; talk about being transformative, and not just incremental. Don’t be a dodo.