Welcome to Think 2019!

Welcome to Think 2019! We decided to try something new this year and update this blog in real-time, so that you may have a glimpse into the conference experience. In case you have not been following along, Think 2019 is IBM’s only conference of the year, taking place tomorrow until February 15th in San Francisco.

Day 4 – Friday, 2/15

On Thursday night, IBM threw a closing bash at Pier 39 for our attendees. “Think By the Bay” culminated in a night of celebrating the week with all our friends – new and old – and connections made throughout the event.

Friday marked the final day of the conference. The Watson team led panel discussions on exploring AI beyond the hype, observing use cases in industries like healthcare and banking.

Missed out on a keynote or panel? We have our Innovation Talks, Trends and Directions, keynotes and other sessions available for instant replay here. Catch up on anything you missed at your own convenience.

Day 3 – Thursday, 2/14

Seen On Site

The Data and AI campus at Think offers a hands-on, fully immersive experience for anyone looking to understand more about Watson technology and its impact on the enterprise.

Are you a visual learner? Right behind our concierge desk, we offer private booths to for attendees to watch bite-sized informational videos to gain a better understanding of concepts like AI, deep learning and machine learning. You can watch the videos on our YouTube channel as well.

Step further into our campus and into the Hall of Professionals. There, we’re offering front and center the chance to learn about types of roles that AI has impacted the most. Whether you work in healthcare, finance, banking or sports, Watson has played a role in speeding up the people are working and helping to find faster and more accurate solutions for business problems.

Forget the photos: you want to talk to someone personally. That’s where our Watson experts can step in. If you have specific questions about Watson Assistant and how a chatbot can improve customer service, or are curious about how to fully adopt AI into your business with Watson OpenScale, our SMEs are readily available to answer any queries.

Check out our photo gallery for some highlights from onsite!

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Think continued the theme of women empowerment by featuring a wonderful panel titled, “Culture Shock: Is Your Business Ready for AI?” featuring:

The session was hosted by Rachel Liddell and featured Katherine Gorman, founder and host of Talking Machines, as well as IBM Watson CMO Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek and Ritika Gunnar, IBM vice president, data & AI expert services & learning.

The panel dove into the pressing issues in AI:

  • How we’re in the era of a modern industrial revolution with AI
  • The skills gap that businesses are facing when operationalizing AI
  • Why certain AI initiatives fail or succeed
  • The culture shift businesses need to undergo to take full advantage of AI

Thursday at Think also featured Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation. “When ideas spring up to answer one problem, are they scalable to be part of a sustainable shift?” The focus of her work is to translate ideas into larger, scalable solutions that solve some of the world’s biggest problems.

Youth is a focus of the Clinton Foundation. Kids think about the world differently, and according to Chelsea, “We at the Clinton Foundation think there are so many dynamic ideas coming from our youth, and we want to foster them from an early age.”

Day 2 – Wednesday, 2/13

Keynote: Accelerating the Journey to AI 

It’s no secret that businesses today need to include AI adoption into their strategy in order to find quick and accurate solutions. Organizations understand that digital transformation all comes down to data – that’s why they are looking for new ways to unlock the value of their data and accelerate their journey to AI.

Successful businesses apply a prescriptive approach to climbing the ladder to AI, based on a unified architecture that delivers everything they need for enterprise AI, on any cloud.

In today’s keynote, Rob Thomas, General Manager of IBM Data and AI, broke the journey to AI down to three key factors:

  • Prediction
  • Automation
  • Optimization


Rob welcomed IBM clients who have successfully adopted Watson to share outcomes from their journey. These included Chief Data Officers and Chief Innovation Officers from several companies:

  • Jack McCarthy, The State of NY Judiciary
  • Laurent Prudhon, Credit Mutuel
  • Guy Taylor, Nedbank
  • Kelly Combs, KPMG LLP

Clients shared stories about how their companies approached managing the full lifecycle of AI, and the essential lessons learned on their journey to drive smarter decisions throughout the organizations.

Enhancing the customer service experience is a top priority for any industry, and AI is key in transforming customer service. According to Guy Taylor of Nedbank, “there’s nothing that beats giving the customer the experience they’re looking for at the right point.”

Kelly Combs said that some of the most common questions she sees from organizations still hesitant to adopt AI revolves around trust. “How do I know my AI system is transparent? How do I know its explainable? How do I know I can ultimately trust it?”

With IBM Watson OpenScale, business gain visibility, control and the ability to improve AI deployments, helps explain AI outcomes, and scales AI usage with automated neural network design and deployment – all within a unified management console.

Learn more about Watson Openscale by visiting our website.

Day 2 of Think 2019 kicked off with a Diversity and Inclusion breakfast, hosted by a video message from IBM’s CMO Michelle Peluso. The panel was moderated by Deb Bubb, IBM HR VP and Chief Leadership & Inclusion Officer, and included:

  • Jay Bellissimo – IBM GM, Cognitive Process Transformation, GBS
  • Molly Q. Ford – Senior Director, Global Equality Programs, Salesforce
  • Shuchi Sharma – SAP, Global Head of Gender Equality & Intelligence

According to Molly Ford, “One of my biggest learning lessons: we lack the vocabulary to have conversations about diversity and inclusion.” In order to be considered an ally in the workplace, it was important to Molly that we all serve as vulnerable leaders who can ask the questions to really understand a person and their background.

Shuchi Sharma added that it’s important for women especially, to feel a connection to the organization in which they are working. Her company, SAP, is committed to focusing on technology that removes bias in the HR process to make it a more inclusive process for employees and candidates. According to one of her company surveys, 87% of SAP’s employees believe gender equity is imperative to their business. Most importantly, for every 1% increase at SAP in employee engagement, this translated to 48 million euros of profitability.

Finally, Jay Bellissimo of IBM left the audience with a call to action for men to get more involved by listening, not always taking action.”

“We’re not making progress. There’s not enough diversity. Diversity is about building high-performance teams and winning the marketplace. It’s not a box you just check. As a man, you have to be accountable. I own this as much as anybody. Status quo is not working. It’s on us to brainstorm. There’s a lot of things that have to change. We’re the stewards change.”

What are Jay’s steps to supporting women in the workplace?

  1. Listen– Does not happen enough, as men always want to take action and do not take a step back to listen and understand a viewpoint differently than theirs
  2. Attack holes and weaknesses where there isn’t enough equality
  3. Leaning in– It’s important to look at a workplace in a more flexible way to support whatever both men and women need in their personal lives

Day 1 – Tuesday, 2/12

Today launches the first official day of Think!

Chairman’s Address

Watch a replay of IBM Chairman, President and CEO Ginni Rometty take the stage alongside some of the world’s top leaders.


This morning, we shared huge news across our social media: our AI is now available to any cloud platform. That’s right – in our next chapter towards creating AI that is more open and accessible than ever before, businesses can now take #WatsonAnywhere – straight to where your data lives.

Read the story via the Think blog: https://ibm.co/2RVUw8A