Sam Wong brings answers through analytics during a global pandemic

By | 3 minute read | June 12, 2020

This story is part of Analytics Heroes, a series of profiles on leaders transforming the future of business analytics.

Shortly after the United States declared a state of emergency, IBM responded by creating an interactive Incidents Map found on the Weather Channel app, and developing an interactive COVID-19 dashboard built on IBM Cognos Analytics, both free and available to the general public, researchers, data scientists, and media. Anyone can utilize this dashboard to conduct deeper analysis and filtering of regional data. The COVID-19 data reflected in the dashboard is pulled from state and local governments and the World Health Organization.

The Cognos Analytics COVID-19 dashboard stemmed from an idea that Sam Wong, Head of Business Solutions for IBM Cognos Analytics had, who assembled the team responsible to get it released as quickly as possible. Based in Toronto, Canada, Sam’s team rallied to focus on one mission: helping people get the information they need.

The call to action

In the midst of a crisis that effects everyone, Sam led the initiative for Cognos Analytics to support IBM’s COVID-19 response. Sam recollects the initial call to action, “I was given an opportunity to stand up and say, ‘we can do this, and this is how’ in providing a way for the public to have access to insights and data regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.” In less than a week, working and communicating remotely, Sam was able to mobilize a cross-functional group consisting of Site Reliable Engineers, Development and Design. Sam recalls, “We showed how quickly we can deploy a solution that was scaled to meet the anticipated load (number of views), while being secure and flexible to continuously provide enhancements.”

The dashboard’s initial release coincided with the release of the Incidents Map on the Weather Channel website and app. Since the release of both solutions, the dashboard has become a great source of information that is constantly evolving. When asked about his greatest achievement during this endeavor, Sam says “the ability to quickly build, deploy, and scale a complementary solution while collaborating with a wide network of IBMers, both within and outside the Data and AI organization.”

Meeting the global challenge of COVID-19

In order to rise to the challenge of providing data to the general public, Sam had to move quickly. With his team, they were able to provide critical data and insights on a global scale in less than a week. When asked what he’s learned in this process, Sam replies, “take the initiative, align with leaders that are willing to give you space to grow while also removing roadblocks and advocating on your behalf. Foster collaboration where you can – give credit and thanks to those who help you along the way.”

The go-to guy

In January 2019, Sam joined the team at IBM. Before that, he was a customer himself using a stack of IBM products to build an enterprise analytics practice and solution. Since then, his talents and experiences have proven to be invaluable. By putting himself in the customer’s shoes, Sam is able to see things from a different view, by leveraging his experience to provide collaboration, creativity and real-world use cases, he’s able to properly represent the customer’s persona in both products and solutions.

When asked how he measures success for his work and team, Sam said he relies on asking himself one valuable question “have I and my team made an impact in delivering more value to our customers?” By doing so, Sam is driven to provide the best experience for customers. He knows what it’s like to need questions answered quickly, and he strives to do the same for those he supports. Sam says, “being recognized as an Analytics Hero validates my belief that IBM is a phenomenal organization to be a part of and provides you with the opportunity to make an impact for our customers.”

To learn more about IBM’s COVID-19 response, click here.

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