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IBM Interconnect and Amplify 2nd Keynote

With both IBM Interconnect and IBM Amplify occurring in the same city at the same time, they took time to bring in the big guns for a shared keynote address on the 2nd day of the conference.  It started with a video highlighting our constantly changing world with cloud enabled, digitally connected devices and smart everything.

Ginni Rometty, Chairman and CEO of IBM, started the session.  The cloud is changing business and society. The IBM Cloud is the platform for the next era of business. It’s much more than a new way to do what you used to do.

Quote: The cloud is a way to do things you’ve never done before (Tweet This)

Fact: The cloud is 17% of IBM

This is because of three tenets:

  1. It’s Enterprise Strong
    1. Scalable, secure, hybrid, agile
    2. IBM has 50 cloud data centers around the world
    3. Just added their 20th country in China through a partnership with the Wanda group
    4. Industry ready.  It knows HIIPA, QMS, etc.  IBM is the largest commercial IoT platform
    5. Just released a new set of developer tools to the cloud
    6. Choice and consistency: on prem, private, public, etc are all choices.
      1. This is more than just connecting public and private clouds
    7. Secure: it’s even stronger than on=prem. It’s from the chip to the network, Watson reviewed
    8. Innovations that will continue.  Blockchain and Quantum are coming.
      1. Blockchain: This will do for trusted transactions what the internet will do for information
        1. IBM has been one of 30 supporters of the hyperledger project. It’s open source. It’s the fabric or the rules of the road upon which you can build you foundation.
        2. IBM can do 10000 transaction/second
        3. Have 400 projects going on blockchain. Walmart, finance, Mers Shipping,
        4. Yeserday IBM released v.1 of the hyperledger framework
      2. Quantum
        1. Just released IBM Q, the first commercially available Quantum system.  It operates at 1,00X cooler than outer space.  So it’s on the cloud
  2. Data First
    1. We want to prepare you for what comes next and that’s Cognitive.
    2. It’s these two other pillars that stand upon this enterprise strength cloud
    3. Quote: Data is the worlds next natural resource (Tweet This)
    4. Value is insights not just finding and distributing.  We want to help you get a competitive advantage.  It’s your advantage and not a big knowle
    5. Tenet 1: Data diversity.  Have to have public, private, and bought data
    6. Tenet 2: Controlled access, data locality, data isolation. Your data is your data
  3. Cognitive to the core
    1. This is foundational to the IBM Cloud and IBM. It’s embodied in Watson.
    2. You will want a cloud that has a full range of these cognitive capabilities.
    3. Market to make better decisions is $2 Trillion
    4. If you are cognitive to the core, you have to see, feel, hear, and read.
      1. See: our ability to look at images is better than any other image out there. 95% accuracy with melanoma.  5% of human conversation is lost. 5.5% of Watson
      2. Feel: leaders in motion, patterns, and sensors
      3. Knowledge in industries and domains.
        1. only 20% of info is publicly available
        2. Watson has been trained by experts to understand an industry
        3. 20 of the greatest cancer centers have helped train Watson

Clients and Case Studies


They lead a new category called TMT or Telco, Media, and Technology. IBM is combining strengths with ATT.  Randall Stevenson, Chairman and CEO of ATT.

Question: Start with why animal husbandry

Answer: My dad was a rancher and that’s where I started

Question: Your industry and outs intersects. What is changing in this industry and what you are doing

Answer: What you just described is what’s driving our industry. The key thing is that we are now at a place where ubiquitous and high speed mobile connectivity is in place. Combine that with cloud technology and it makes this access more vital and critical.  Now pushing cloud technology to the core of the ATT network. We are virtualizing all this.  The data and network cloud will be a seamless integration.

Question: Talk about how the industry is changing, especially media

Answer: As you consume media, you do it on these mobile devices. The volumes are growing 40% month over month. Advertising and the nature of the content is changing.  That’s why we are acquiring Time Warner. Think about HBO, CNN, Game of Thrones, WB studio.  We want this curated, formatted, and developed for a mobile environment.

Question: IBM prepared the cloud for all this video

Answer: We used to do this for enterprise customers.  But now, we are scaling at massive cloud for the consumer first

Question: Share with the audience what we are doing together

Answer: We are doing so much. Take the Federal Government for instance.  Security, Watson, etc.  ATT network to IBM cloud is as if it were a private cloud environment.  We cross a wide range of areas. ATT just announced yesterday their ATT IoT powered by Watson.  We are throwing all this data for what purspose?  Having an engine like Watson and how to organize and categorize this data

Question: This idea of future proof, the advantage comes from doing something with it.  People have so far to go. Talk a little bit of how you see industries transforming

Answer: Think about shipping.  They are using blockchain, sensors on containers, Mersk knows everything about those containers.  Think about what Watson will do with that information.  Also, ATT will be working hard towards smart cities.  Using sensors to understand traffic patterns.

Question: One of the big things in China is that we’ve been able to predict the particulates in a square kilometer…. 10 days in advance.  This is the beginning of a very long road.

Answer: We have 30 million connections on IoT.  Connected auto will be huge.

Question: How will the network itself change? How do you prep for volume

Answer: We’ve gone from 2G to 3G, to LTE.  Project Indigo is the “so what”. This is moving to the core of the network. We are virtualizing everything. The idea that you use dedicated hardware for call routing is over. We’ve developed an OS overlay that sits on top of this. Our biggest software project ever is this overlay. With this Watson becomes an application you just bring in.

Question: If you had to give one recommendation on why work with us, what would you say?

Answer: Let me paint a picture. You have devices, sensors, key security standards, etc.  All this is complex.  We provide a secure, scalable, net bonded from a sensor of device.  This is just one picture.

Salesforce and Marc Benioff

Just announced a Salesforce and IBM partnership where Salesforce will embed Watson deep into their cloud.  Can do predictive maintenance, predict weather, etc.

Ginny: Together, IBM and Salesforce share 5,000 clients. Tell everybody what you and I announced.

Marc: Thanks for having me and for supporting Salesforce.  The history of IBM is built on trust. The principles you continue to lead with are great.  I’m excited about the company Bluewolf you bought.  It’s an incredible technology.  He had a huge vision to create a company to get them on the cloud and do it with the right set of values.  That opened a door for IBM and Salesforce.  Salesforce Einstein and IBM Watson coming together to offer some incredible value.

Ginni: you have all this data. IBM has a huge amount of data including the weather company. Tell us about the possibilties

Marc: Last week we had a huge hail storm.  Salesforce manages customer info for the 5 largest insurance companies i the world.  Wouldn’t it be great for them to know that their customers ought to put their car in the garage

Ginni: Now Watson marries with Einstein because Watson knows domains

Marc: Every elevator with a major elevator company has sensors and can now use the Watson analytics to predict failure rates.  CRM can use that data to act on it.

Ginni: I didn’t know how much you can predict on social behavior just seeing what’s happening with an elevator.

Marc: Take American Express, they are doing a lot of great things for small business.  That means that we have another opportunity to provide them with tremendous insight.

Ginni: You do believe the world does become cognitive

Marc: When you look at machine learning, deep learning, etc.; there is an acceleration occurring.  A lot of change is coming.  My greatest surprise is the speed.  I just saw last week where someone put a camera in a grocery store and they were able to identify inventory in real time. This was all done with deep learning technology. I don’t think we understand where we will be in 5 years.

Ginni: We share some values like trust. These technologies will impact trust and jobs but they will solve many more problems. This will drive a new skill set.  On the trust side, IBM put forward a paper on trust and transparency principals. This is man and machine. The purpose is to be in service to mankind. You have to be transparent.  With skills, it’s new collar jobs.

Marc: Thanks for what you are doing with 6 year high schools.  Technology is never good or bad. It’s what you do with it.  All tech companies operate with different sets of values. These 100 high schools and 40,000 kids are adding incredible value to our society. We are in the age of quality.  (noted gender pay, lgbt, etc.) Education is equality. We have to make sure our kids have this tremendous foundation. We need to take a moonshot. We can retrain people. I want to take a 5 million person apprenticeship moonshot

Ginni: this is the year AI has gone mainstream. What do you think the early adopters will do?

Marc: We’ve rolled Einstein out to all of our customers worldwide.  Sales has the ability to have much better prioritized lists on who to call, what to fix.  That will change quickly with commerce and marketing. We will go next to guiding and supporting those professionals. You will be better because of that guidance.

Ginni: It’s man and machine together.

Marc: We are in the fourth industrial revolution.  It’s AI, Crispr and gene drives, etc.

Ginni: It is about all of us together ushering these technologies in correctly.

H&R Block – Bill Cobb President and CEO

With Marc we focused on the value proposition. Our 3rd guest will “punch away” about cognitive at the core. H&R Block now use Watson on the IBM cloud to transform the relationship between man and machine. Bill Cobb is the president and CEO of H&R Block. He adopts new technologies and reshapes his company in how to compete. He is a risk taker. He made the Watson decision and well in advance booked a Super Bowl ad.

Ginni: Let’s start with the Super Bowl ad.

Bill: We were excited about it We developed a concept with them and with the IBM team. Let’s take a look at the Super Bowl ad. This is one of the best examples of two brands coming together.

Ginni: introduce how you met Watson

Bill: Our business is highly seasonal. We do 80% of our business in one quarter.  We didn’t have a great season last year.  We realized that we were observers of what our customers were doing.  I picked up my landline and called Mike Rodin who headed up Watson and explained what I was thinking. I loved the fact of man and machine. The Tax pro needs to remain. Mike got it.  One week later, we were reviewing a possible demo.

Ginni: I know some folks who sent their kids to HR Block and they came back with high praise.

Bill: We now have two monitors.  The tax pro was working but the client wasn’t engaged.  Now they see the larger monitor and can see what’s going on. The client listens and starts to reason and understand . The tax pro types this in free language.  Based on what the client told us, we pull key areas up and start to talk about what they can do with the client. Watson helps the tax pro to identify areas.

Ginni: Watson has been trained in the US Tax code.

Bill: Watson has 600,000 data points. As it does more tax returns, Watson gets better.  We show the client all the potential interactions for that.  Watson organizes it  all and finds the deductions.  The summary shows the before and after with the larger refund.  About 74% receive a refund. HR Block skews higher with about 85%. The average refund is close to $3,000.  At this point, we give the client tax tips.  Watson creates this for them.  It’s not perfect. Watson did tell a 90 year old to start an IRA.  But Watson is learning.

Ginni: What was the reaction to the tax preparer

Bill: That was a concern but I thought it would be exciting.  A couple numbers: 2-3 pts of improvement originally.  (unbranded)  Since it was branded, there was some big improvements that lawyers won’t let him state).  The tax pros can now feel like they are on the cutting edge. Our web traffic has increased. Retail traffic continues to grow.

Ginni: You rolled this out to 11,000 offices so this was quick.

Bill: after the original demo I said we were going to go national.  Our CFO asked where we would pilot this. I said, “The United States:   The best thing is that Watson is learning. We then have an array of options to roll this out to other business units.  At our peak, IBM scales wonderfully

Ginni: you said, that they cloud enterprise strong is important. But with Cognitive you are ahead of the curve and these insights are HR Block.

Bill: we used the 20 million latest returns as part of the learning process.

Ginni: Thank you for trusting us and for sharing.

Royal Bank of Canada and Bruce Ross

Somebody has to build this. 21 million developers in the world. Only a fraction live and develop in the cloud. RBC is hard at work with all elements of IBM Cloud. Bruce Ross is the head of both technology and operations for RBC. RBC is the #1 bank in Canada.

Ginni: Let’s start with banking. How have what your clients want evolved.

Bruce: It’s been a massive change. Just in the past three years, we have clients who want so much more. Easy access to information. They want a completely new business. it’s not just a digital version but a new you. People want a lifestyle experience.  Is it a mortgage or a home?  Think of all the elements of a new home and understanding how RBC plays in that.  My view is that legacy is a massive strength.  You can take all that capability and use it.

Ginni: It is about doing work in a different way

Bruce: yesterday we did marketing to a zip. Today we do marketing to one person. I joke to my boss that we are an IT company with a bank sign on the front door.

Ginni: How did you change the culture?

Bruce: We have an engineering culture. When we get up in the morning, we need to align to a business outcome. 2. Transformation is a way of life. We need to take a leap and not be afraid but be an early deployer.  When you talk about cloud, data, AI, etc. we  are going to provide that functionality to our customers.  We can let our customers come into our tools. 3. We dedicate resources to new and innovative things like Q and blockchain.  We will learn from them and be first. We have to have a top 10 IT shop to be a top 10 bank

Ginni: what have you done for your organization?

Bruce: We have 30 Bluemix applications today. This includes online banking.  We ingested more data into our data lake in the past six months than in the past 20 years. We start with the cloud now.  The battle is not in the IaaS layer. It’s in the PaaS layer. We let IBM focus on integration between cloud types while we focus on extra value.

Ginni: Tell us about the Bluemix garage.

Bruce: it’s a capability where the developer doesn’t have to worry about physical setup. The developer just starts working and using the lego blocks to build an application.  It’s a huge improvement in productivity.  When you try to do continuous integration, you need infrastructure and developer working together.  IBM has helped us with this journey .

Ginni: What advice would you give to people?

Bruce: First, when making a bet, it’s about the level of money and the size of the people you put into it. We put one of our strongest leaders and dedicated a team to this.  2. It’s communication.  We communicate on a day to day basis. We trained 500 developers on Bluemix.  We created a certification program on this. Not everyone will make it. Look at partners differently.

Ginni: How about the business outcomes?

Bruce: We measure outcomes in adoption rates and the speed to delivery.  1.5 weeks ago we were the first to Canada with Siri pay. Mobile is growing so fast that it will pass web in 6-8 months.  We look at speed on how quickly we can get releases out.  We release online banking every two years. Our development teams are massively more productive. Finally, I like to focus on business metrics to ensure we are aligned.

Ginni: Being agile is about doing work differently.  Thank you for being an example of that.

Girls Who Code – Reshma

They set a goal to teach one million girls to code by 2020. Reshma is an attorney, a politician, and one of the first Indian women to run for Congress.

Ginni: This is a topic close to my heart.  How did you get started in this?

Reshma: I ‘m the product of the American dream. I want girls to get a leg up.  in 2010 I decided to run against a a man in congress 18 years.  As part of that, I would walk into schools and see computer labs full of boys  The numbers of CS majors who are girls has decreased since 2005.  In 2012, I setup Girls Who Code and taught my first close. Five years later, we have taught over 40,000 girls in all 50 states.  Note: only 7,000 women graduated in computer science last year.

Reshma: IBM has been a great partner.  100% of the girls who went through IBM’s program plan to major in computer science

Ginni: What have we added to the partnership

Reshma: Girls have been using Watson API’s, Bluemix, etc.  I started this to get women access to economic security but now we are creating a generation of change makers

Ginni: What do you know today that you didn’t know you started?

Reshma: That they can do this. They can use technology to do what they are passionate about.

Ginni: What did they learn?

Reshma: That this isn’t just a boys thing. You can’t be what you cannot see.

Ginny: Let’s introduce three young girls

Reshma: let me introduce Karen, Michelle, and Madison.

Ginni: Please each share a story with what you’ve been doing.

Karen: we were at the summer immersion program and had a Bluemix workshop. We learned how to create an app and use key services. It was pretty complicated at first but it was really interesting and cool.  We decided to build the final project on it.

Michelle: We found it interesting that we had cognitive analysis with data we didn’t have access to before  We then summed all reviews for one store.  We love using Bluemix and Watson

Madison: We went in wanting to learn how to code but it was even better to learn about Watson and to be mentored by women IBM’ers.  We really want to continue as advocates to get young women into STEM.

Ginni: What do you tell your fiends?

Michelle: They think it’s pretty cool.  My friends thought it was cool I had access to it. I told them to just sign up.

Karen: They know we are solving a problem and that’s the important thing

Madison: I had to remind my friends what IBM was.  I think they were thrilled to see that girls were being given opportunities.

Ginni: We are going to give each one of you an internship at IBM this summer.. We are even going to pay you for it.


The cloud has moved way beyond SaaS. Whether you are a new client or a start up, we take this seriously. We run 95% of the worlds largest banks and are entrusted in 90% of the worlds credit card transactions.  We hope to be helping you take that world to the future.

Our view of a platform, the IBM Cloud will have the greatest impact on business and society than what we did in previous eras.  We want to help you with your citizens, patients, customers, etc.  We want to help create a better more just and fair world. We never take your business for granted.

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Michael Porter

Mike Porter leads the Strategic Advisors team for Perficient. He has more than 21 years of experience helping organizations with technology and digital transformation, specifically around solving business problems related to CRM and data.

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