Last February, IBM introduced Watson on the Jeopardy! game show. These three shows were re-aired this week in the United States. I wrote a series of blog posts back then:
This last one on how to build your own Watson, Jr. has gotten over 69,000 hits! While several people told me they plan to build their own, I have not heard back from anyone yet, so perhaps it is taking longer than expected.
IBM and Wellpoint announced this week that it will be [putting Watson to work] in healthcare. [Wellpoint] is one of the largest health benefits company in the United States, with over 70 million people served through its affiliate plans and its various subsidiaries. I am one of the development lab advocates for Wellpoint, and have been proud to work with the account team to help Wellpoint achieve their goals.
This marks the first commercial deployment of IBM Watson. This is a joint effort. IBM will develop the base IBM Watson for healthcare platform, and Wellpoint will then develop healthcare-specific solutions to run on this platform. Watson's ability to analyze the meaning and context of human language, and quickly process vast amounts of information to suggest options targeted to a patient's circumstances, can assist decision makers, such as physicians and nurses, in identifying the most likely diagnosis and treatment options for their patients.
Is this going to put doctors out of business? No. Physicians find it challenging to read and understand hundreds or thousands of pages of text, and put this into their practice. IBM Watson, on the other hand, can scan through hundred of millions of pages in just a few seconds to help answer a question or provide recommendations. Together, doctors armed with access to IBM Watson will be able to improve the quality and effectiveness of medical care.
From an insurance point of view, improving the quality of care will help reduce medical mistakes and malpractice lawsuits. This is a win-win for everyone except ambulance-chasing lawyers!
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Can you believe it has been five years since I started blogging?
(If you absolutely abhor the navel-gazing associated with blog
Back in July 2005, IBM decided to merge together two brands, IBM eServer and IBM TotalStorage, into a single all-encompassing "IBM Systems" brand. Thus TotalStorage brand became the "IBM System Storage" product line of the "IBM Systems" brand. The next six months was spent renaming some (not all) of the products. The following January, I was named the Marketing Strategist for this new product line, with the mission to help promote the new naming convention.
We looked at possibly doing a regularly-scheduled podcast, but nobody back then, including myself, were familar with audio editing tools. Instead, we chose a blog. Most blogs at IBM are internal, safely hidden behind the firewall, accessible only to IBM employees. I wanted mine to be different, to be accessible to the public, clients, prospects, IBM Business Partners, and yes, even those working for IBM's various competitors. One thing I like about blogs is that if you have a typo, or make a mistake, you can go back and correct it after it has posted.
Marketing through social media is quite different than traditional marketing techniques. Management was supportive, but legal wanted to review and approval everything I wrote before I posted it onto my blog. Official IBM Press Releases, for example, go through a dozen reviews before they are finally made public. I refused. This kind of review and approval would ruin the blogging process.
Fortunately, this blog was not my first attempt at technical writing. Our legal counsel reviewed my past trip reports from various conferences, and decided to let me blog without review. Occasionally, someone will reivew my blog once already posted, and ask me to make some corrections. It reminds me of my favorite saying used heavily within IBM:
It is easier to get forgiveness than permission.
Despite these delays, we managed to launch this blog in September 2006, just in time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of disk systems. IBM introduced the industry's first commercial disk system on September 13, 1956.
Over the years, this blog has helped sales reps and IBM Business Partners close deals, and address the FUD their prospects heard from competition. I have helped my readers get in touch with the right people within IBM. And, I have "sent the elevator back down", helping other IBMers launch their own blogs, including [Barry Whyte], [Elisabeth Stahl], and [Anthony Vandewerdt].
Today, bloggers have a profound impact on the world. Not everyone has a positive view on this. Bloggers and other users of social media have been seen as whistle-blowers for fraudulent corporations, as activists against corrupt governments and dictators, and as subject matter experts and fact checkers referenced during television and radio newscasts. In a recent movie, one of the major characters was a trouble-making blogger, and another character describes his blogging as nothing more than "graffiti with punctuation."
I want to thank all of my readers for making this the #1 most influential blog on IBM DeveloperWorks in 2011! This blog has been [published in a series of books], Inside System Storage Volume I and Volume II. And yes, before you all ask in the comments below, I am actively working on Volume III.
For a bit of nostalgia, I invite you to read my first 21 blog posts that I posted back in [September 2006].
Last week, US President Barack Obama declared September 2011 as "National Preparedness Month". Here is an excerpt of the press release:
IBM has several webinars to help you prepare for upcoming disasters.
Today, September 8, at 4pm EDT, IBM is hosting a [CloudChat on Business Resilience] will focus on resiliency and continuity in the cloud—a timely topic considering the recent weather events on the East Coast of the U.S. This chat will include Richard Cocchiara, IBM Distinguished Engineer and CTO, IBM Business Continuity and Resiliency Services (@RichCocchiara1) and Patrick Corcoran, Global Business Development, IBM Business Continuity and Resiliency Services (@PatCorcoranIBM).
Don't think you can afford Disaster Recovery planning? Next week, September 13, I will be joined with a few other experts on freeing up much needed funds from your tight IT budget, by being more efficient. The Webinar [Taming Data Growth Made Easy] is part of IBM's "IT Budget Killer" series.
Lastly, on September 21, IBM will have the Webinar [Planning for Disaster Recovery in a Power Environment: Best Practices to Protect Your Data]. This will cover principal lessons learned from disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the World Trade Center, local and regional considerations for Disaster Recovery Planning, planning Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs), and best practices for automation, mirroring and multiple Site Operational Efficiencies. A customer case study from University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) will help reinforce the concepts, with a discussion on how a major hospital ensures Business Continuity via Contingency Planning using IBM Power Systems. The speakers in clude Steve Finnes, World Wide Offering Manager for IBM Power Systems, Vic Peltz, Consulting IT Architect for WW Business Continuance Technical Marketing, and Rick Haverty, Director of IT Infrastructure at University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC).
Hopefully, you will find these webinars useful and informative!
We had our first "Future of IT Storage" Lunch-and-Learn here in Indianapolis, IN. We held it at the [Harry & Izzy's Restaurant], which looks like it has been in business for quite a while, but actually was only started four years ago. It is the sister restaurant for St. Elmo's next door which has been running since 1902, so it maintains a sense of that heritage, but with a bit more casual atmosphere.
I presented [The Future of Storage] that I mentioned in my blog post [Infoboom Webinar]. If you missed it, you can check out the [presentation deck and replay]. We had a lively Q&A throughout the presentation, so I am happy about that.
Please note that in the wake of Hurricane Irene, the [Burlington, MA (Boston Area) event] has been postponed, probably to October or November. We have already notified all the people who signed up, but in case you planned just to show up, I wanted to let you know here in this blog.
Special thanks to Karen Harrison and Kerry Ingram for their help in setting up this event! Also a shout-out to Leanna and Amy, our two waitresses who served us today!
Wrapping up my coverage of the [IBM System Storage Technical University 2011], I attended a few sessions on Friday morning. The last session was Glenn Anderson's "IT Game Changers: the IT Professional's Guide to Becoming a Technology Trailblazer." Glenn used to run the Storage University events, but now is the conference manager for the System z mainframe events.
Glenn organized this talk from lessons from the following books:
Glen suggested that IT professionals should understand the dissatisfaction with IT that is driving companies to switch over to Cloud Computing. IT professionals should adopt a service-oriented approach, realize the full potential of new disruptive technologies, and know when to "jump the curve" to the next generation of technology. For example, IT professionals should lead the movement to Cloud. If you build your own private cloud, or purchase some time for instances on a public cloud, you will be in a better position to be the "trusted advisor" to IT management.
CIOs should encourage IT to be part of the corporate strategy, but may have to fix the broken IT funding model. The IT department should be a "value center" not a "cost center" as it has been traditionally treated. When treated as a "cost center", IT departments only focus on cost reductions, and not looking at ways that the IT department can help drive revenues, improve customer service, or enhance employee productivity. A well-orgnized IT department can be a competitive advantage.
Taking a "service-oriented" approach allows IT and Business Process to come together. Often times, IT and business professionals don't communicate well, and this new service-oriented approach can bridge the gap. Service Oriented Architecture [SOA] can help connect existing legacy applications to the new Cloud Computing environment.
IT budgets should consist of two parts. Strategic funding for new IT projects, and an operational budget for keeping current applications running. Roughly 45 percent of capital investment in USA goes toward IT. Too often, the IT department is focused on itself, on technology and reducing costs, and not enough on aligning IT with business transformation. When IT is used in conjunction with a sound business strategy, their can be significant payoff.
After 550 years, the printing press and printed materials are being pushed from center. While other electronic media like radio and television have been around for a while, the internet and digital publishing are constantly available, and represent a shift from traditional printed materials.
When evaluating new technologies, IT professionals should ask themselves a few questions. Is it easy to use? Does it enable people to connect in new ways? Is it more cost-effective, or tap new sources of revenue? Does it shift power from one player to another? A new intellectual ethic is taking hold. Becoming an IT Game Changer can help stay one step ahead as Cloud Computing and other new IT platforms are adopted.