Cognitive Business – What does the Immediate Future of IoT look like?

Artificial Intelligence is a terms that gets thrown around a lot these days, and it tends to bring with it an apocalyptic sense of doom. Tthe machines are going to rise up and take over the first chance they get.

Today in Taipei I attended the IBM Global Electronics Forum 2016 where they don’t talk about AI, it’s all about Cognitive Business. Over the course of the day I learned that the machines have no time to rise up and become our overlords, they are too busy making our business smarter.

IBM Outthink - Cognitive Business with Watson

Let’s start off with what does cognitive refer to?

Cognitive Systems is a category of technologies that uses natural language processing and machine learning to enable people and machines to interact more naturally to extend and magnify human expertise and cognition. IBM

If your first though is, I can already talk to Google or Siri and ask questions and get some pretty on point responses. I agree, but the next time you’re talking to your phone why don’t you ask it to show you photos of anything but cats. I guarantee you all you’re going to get are photos of cats. We’re about to enter into a new era where we’re going to work along side machines to achieve new levels of productivity.

The Internet is entering all of our things and the impending impact is real, 25 Billion installed IoT device & $3.6 Trillion to be made by 2020. The thing is 70% of IoT won’t be of much value to consumer, my fridge using a camera to monitor my milk levels and messaging me when I need to pick up more, is interesting for about 15 minutes. The value is in business optimizing, streamlining and wielding new information from various types of sensors. The irony is that businesses are the slowest to adopt and change.

Companies like Apple, Nokia & Blackberry competed on how to provide an experience,of the three it’s easy to see who won.  If we look at today’s race the competition is around cognitive leadership. Who is going to create the smartest systems and deploy them creating an ecosystem (notice I said deploy, making it is one thing, getting it out there is quite another).

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Tracey Tsai a VP at Gartner spoke on Entering the Era of Digital Business, she warned that leveraging IoT in the immediate future means that you’re going to have to take smaller orders. This emerging ecosystem is highly fragmented and taking small orders of 3000 hardly seems worth the effort. However, looking to 2018 these smaller orders are going to add up to today’s volumes from the larger manufacturers. If you say no to smaller volumes now, you might find yourself orderless in the future. Business are going to have to change the way the manufacture to evolve with the market.

A little gem that I would be remiss in not passing along are Gartner’s Top 10 predictions for 2016, they put them out towards the end of last year, but it’s the first time I’d seen them so I thought I’d share.

1. By 2018, 20% of all business content will be authored by machines
2. By 2018, 6 Billion connected things will be requesting support
3. By 2020, autonomous software agents outside of human control will participate in 5% of all economic transactions
4. By 2018, more than 3 Million workers globally will be supervised by a “robot boss”
5. By year end 2018, 20% of all smart buildings will have suffered from digital vandalism
6. By 2018, 50% of the fastest growing companies will have fewer employees than instances of smart machines.
7. By year end 2018, customers digital assistants will recognize individuals by face and voice across channels and partners
8. By 2018, 2 Million employees will be required to wear health and fitness tracking devices as a condition of employment
9. By 2020, smart agents will facilitate 40% of mobile interactions, and the post app era will begin to dominate
10. Through 2020 95% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault

These predictions paint a picture where robots and humans are truly standing side by side.

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In the world today, more people have typed on glass than they have on a real keyboard. With the tide effectively turned it’s hard to imagine that we’re already approaching a new era where the dominance of the glass screen could even be called into question.

We have been working towards people becoming more computer literate but it seems that the computers are finally people literate.

The design beyond the screen is a broad and transformative concept, it encompasses changes in the relationships between humans and machines and between machines and other machines. Good design beyond the screen makes interaction more fluid and elevates both people and machines to do their best work. This means creating a solid infrastructure.

This was my first IBM event and what struck me most about the conversation was that they asked the audience to bring them their problems, there was no talk of packaged end to end solutions. Perhaps I’ve been attending a few too many of these types of events recently but everyone is always asking me to drink their kool-aid. Of course IBM feels their solution is the right one, but talking to several attendees they all confirmed that they were there because IBM was serving up customized solutions for their specific problems.

This is likely why Watson is getting such good press these days. “Ross” has just been hired at a lawfirm, fighting the Zika virus on it’s spare time and editing a magazine is not out of reach.

There is a lot of doomsday talk about AI but with fewer young people entering into the market, this generation of problem solvers will need to solve new types of problems and  big questions and Watson can enable a speedier response. I think if we can push Hollywood aside and look at just how much we can get done working alongside robots, we’d see that it’s merely arrogance that assumes that everyone wants what we have.