IBM Watson unveils the largest and most diverse platform for cognitive computing in San Francisco

September 25, 2015 § Leave a comment


At this week’s event, IBM Watson unveiled the largest and most diverse platform for cognitive computing in San Francisco. I have included some of the highlights below for your review.    

Largest Platform of Cognitive Computing Technologies

In 20 months, the Watson platform has evolved from one API and a limited set of application-specific deep Q&A capabilities to 28 APIs powered by more than 50 technologies. 

New Office in San Francisco

The new San Francisco location, on 505 Howard Street, opens in 2016 and expands our presence in the Golden State. It features:

  • IBM Watson Experience Center – an interactive lab for clients, partners and start-ups
  • New headquarters for IBM’s Commerce business, including the Commerce ThinkLab where Watson researchers, developers and designers work with partners like Facebook to help design highly personalized and timely experiences
  • IBM Spark Technology Center – hub for data science community to collaborate with designers to help accelerate the usability of the open source computing framework and development of smart business apps
  • IBM Design Studio – teams of designers, engineers and coders design next generation of IBM products
  • IBM Global Business Services – teams focused on design and development for MobileFirst for iOS enterprise apps working in partnership with Apple
  • New headquarters for IBM’s Cloud Ecosystem – focused on fostering collaboration with entrepreneurs, business partners, developers, start-ups and academics to fuel a new ecosystem of cloud apps
New and Expanded Capabilities on the Watson Developer Cloud

Language + Speech: Dramatic advances in services that enable people to interact with cognitive applications on their terms through natural language and speech.

  • IBM Watson Natural Language Classifier enables developers to build products and applications that understand intent and meaning, finding answers for users even when questions are asked in varying ways.
  • IBM Watson Dialog makes app interactions more natural by creating conversations tailored to the individual style a person uses to answer a question.
  • IBM Watson Retrieve & Rank improves QA information retrieval using machine learning to detect “signals” in data and help users uncover even the most hard to find information.


  • IBM Watson Visual Insights service for the first time allows developers to build apps that reveal insights from social media images and video. Available initially as an experimental service, this API applies reasoning to the content of images to deliver deeper insights, assess trends and patterns, and get a more comprehensive view of what users are communicating to get the ‘big picture.’
  • Developer Tools bring customization and learning capabilities to APIs and significantly speeds the time and expertise required to write Watson code.
Developers Join the Cognitive Movement

As the platform and developer community expands, so too have the commercial implications.  More than 350 start-ups and businesses in the Watson Ecosystem program are now building off the platform to create new apps, businesses and services. More than 77,000 developers globally are piloting, testing and deploying new business ideas.

IBM Watson Ecosystem Partners in Market

We have reached a new milestone as 100 Watson partners have now introduced cognitive enabled apps, products and services into the market. 

The app economy is in full swing and projected to grow to $143 billion in 2016 with applications catering to every conceivable interest and industry. IDC predicts that by 2018, half of all consumers will interact with services based on cognitive computing on a regular basis.

Embracing Shadow IT and Disruptive “as a Service” Technologies

September 25, 2015 § Leave a comment

In a great article posted here, author Mike Foden, makes a point about the “waves of change” facing the IT industry. Just as how Amazon disrupted the brick and mortar booksellers and music stores, and Google and Apple changed the face of mobile, as a service technologies are poised to disrupt traditional IT as we know it.

as-a-Service functionality

Key features associated with as-a-Service technologies

I believe this will be true not only for IT vendors (see Mike’s article for more information about this), but those who manage internal IT teams as well. Why should an internal customer face delayed infrastructure provisioning times or the politics associated with procuring software licenses when they can swipe a credit card and have access to the latest software and support? This practice of bypassing internal IT teams to get access to the needed tools is known as Shadow IT and it is typically associated with using software as a service (SaaS) technologies . It should be noted that there are often Shadow IT users running infrastructure as a service (IaaS) without approval, but it is becoming increasingly common with lines of businesses who no longer have to rely on traditional IT for procurement, deployment, or even support as using a SaaS often means these elements are managed by the external vendors.

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Internet of Medical Devices (IoMD)

September 24, 2015 § Leave a comment


Tens of millions of Americans live with medical devices implanted in their bodies today. Currently, the advances in medical technology and growth of the Baby Boomer population in America (26% of the total U.S. population) requires systems like the (UDI) initiative to improve patient safety, modernize device post market surveillance, and facilitate medical device innovation. That said, the FDA is establishing a unique device identification system to adequately identify medical devices through their distribution and use. When the new system is fully implemented, the labels on devices will include a unique device identifier (UDI) in human and machine readable form. The (UDI) system will be phased in over several years starting with (all) Life-sustaining and Life-supporting devices, regardless of device class in 2015 and concluding with Class I Medical Devices in 2020.

The goal is to improve the identification of medical devices by making it possible to rapidly and definitively identify a device and some key attributes that affect its safe and effective use. This will facilitate more accurate reporting of adverse events (AEs) by making it easier to pinpoint the device at issue in any submitted report.

The FDA, Healthcare Providers, and Medical Device Manufacturers may then more rapidly and precisely extract useful information from adverse event reports and thereby gain a better understanding of the underlying problems and improve the ability to take immediate and better focused corrective action. 

Examples of Class III devices that currently require a pre-market notification include implantable pacemakers, pulse generators, HIV diagnostic tests, automated external defibrillators, and endosseous implants.

Examples of Class II devices include acupuncture needles, powered wheelchairs, infusion pumps and surgical drapes.

Finally, Class I devices, subject to the least regulatory control include products like elastic bandages, examination gloves, and hand-held surgical instruments.

Moving forward, the emergence of the Internet of Medical Devices (IoMD) will improve the ability of the industry and it’s patients to have better insight into the products enabling and impacting their daily lives.   

Docker – A New Frontier

September 23, 2015 § Leave a comment

We have finally reached the point where large organizations are beginning to shift to Docker as its foundational virtual deployment technology. I am sure this has been happening much faster than I have realized but it is now reaching the customers I spend time with. Customers who have years invested in hypervisor-based solutions to provide their virtual environments are now looking very hard at moving to Docker.

I don’t think anyone can argue that the Docker concepts are very simple. It takes no time at all to setup and create a local Docker environment and begin to play with the technology. Put the technology into a developer’s hands and it quickly becomes a favorite. However, truly creating a Docker infrastructure for an enterprise takes some additional tooling to help manage and control the environment. Managing the Docker infrastructure as well as managing entities up the stack such as coordinating containers that represent applications are needs being filled by various projects out there. The landscape is pretty immature but sooner or later one or more of these will emerge, get merged with other efforts, or embraced by large players. This environment is the wild-wild-west right now and there are many many solutions out there trying to stand out. Here is a laundry list of solutions, some just getting started and others that have been in the over for awhile. Check out the Open Container mind map ( to get an idea of the breadth of the Docker ecosystem.

  1. Openstack  – the Openstack ecosystem is now embracing Docker
  2. Shipper
  3. DockerUI
  4. Maestro
  5. MaestroNG
  6. Decking.IO
  7. Shipyard
  8. Crane
  9. Clocker
  10. Kubernetes
  11. Mesos
  12. StackEngine
  13. Rancher
  14. DockerCompose
  15. DockerSwarm
  16. Kontena

Reducing Concussion Injury with the Internet of Things

September 23, 2015 § Leave a comment

Football Helmet 2

A concussion is defined as a complex pathophysiological process that affects the brain, typically induced by trauma to the brain. Today, it’s estimated that 50% to 75% of all sports-related concussions are “missed.” The exciting news is sensor technology embedded in helmets now has the ability to track and measure the impact and severity of head injuries. While the long term effects of multiple concussions are currently being studied by researchers around the globe, the Internet of Things (IoT) can start helping to reduce the estimated 1.6 million to 3.8 million concussions that occur in sports like football, basketball, baseball, ice hockey and soccer each year.

Football is the most common sport with concussion risk for males (75% chance for concussion) and Soccer represents the most common sport with concussion risk for females (50% chance for concussion). Sensor and Helmet manufacturers are quick to point out that their products don’t diagnose concussions or any other injury. They however say, their devices and helmets  do give coaches and trainers additional criteria that can help in determining whether a player should come out of a game or seek immediate medical attention. This represents a positive first step as fewer than 10% of sports related concussions involve a loss of consciousness (e.g, blacking out, seeing stars, etc.). It estimated that 5-10% of all athletes will experience a concussion in any given sports season with 78% of concussions occurring during games (as opposed to practice). With over 1,093,234 young men playing high school football in 2015 and countless young women and men playing soccer, ice hockey, baseball, and basketball it’s clear these cloud technologies represent a tremendous improvement in player safety.   

Connected Health, Fitness, and Safety Platforms

September 18, 2015 § 1 Comment

images.jpg. watson

Over the past several months, IBM has made several exciting announcements related to the formation of Watson Health. I recently had the opportunity to attend events in Boston and New York City focused on Healthcare, Life Sciences, and Cognitive Computing in the era of Big Data and Cloud Computing. It’s interesting to think about the potential The Internet of Everything presents to IBM, Customers, Partners, and most importantly (You) living in the ever-increasingly connected world. The future of how we enable, engage, and evolve as individuals at the gym, home, work, schools, stores, walk-in clinics, and hospitals are virtually unlimited. In the last couple of weeks, I have been performing due diligence on several companies specifically related to their activities in the emerging IoT/IoE and Cloud categories. It’s extremely interesting to look at how all of these companies are moving and investing aggressively to acquire and obtain a closer relationship with consumers. In most instances, this has been in the form of applications, either acquired or in development. The industries include sports clothing and accessories, multinational medical devices, pharmaceutical, consumer packaged goods, specialized healthcare and life science distribution, and retail including pharmacy and walk-in clinics.

One of the most fascinating companies currently has 120 million users. These users logged 100 million unique workout entries in January of 2015 alone, making it poised to transform the consumer, athlete, and digital team sport categories globally. Even more interesting, the company is still in the early stages of implementing sensor based technologies into their product portfolio. Looking into the future, it’s safe to say these numbers will only get bigger as more global consumers, athletes, teams, conferences, and athletic associations engage the company for personalized services for performance, safety, and consumerism endeavors.

From consumer enabled to patient enabled we see the same trends emerging in the healthcare, medical device, pharmaceutical, and insurance industries. Several of these companies are pioneering new forms of real-time patient engagement services. Moving forward, we are going to see more and more offerings focused on aging in place as one-third of American households are home to one or more residents 60 years of age or older. During the due diligence process, I come across several inventive companies. Sid Lee is a creative services firm helping clients by transforming the consumer experience. I have included several of their UI/UX images as they illustrate a view into the potential for the Connected Office, Home, Health, Fitness, and Safety platforms of the immediate future.
Sid Lee_5

Sid Lee_2

Sid Lee_3
IBM is poised to enable all of these platforms and more with our IaaS, PaaS, Watson Cognitive Computing, Consulting, and Services globally. I look forward to exploring these topics further in future blog posts. RH

Value of open source

September 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

Darrell Schrag and I had the opportunity to present the “Open by Design” topic at today’s North America Cloud Sales workshop. We were given the stock starting point slides and then made it into our own. It got me thinking about what is it with open source? When I was first introduced to open source ~15 years ago, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. That is, my thinking was based on having done lots of software development in-house and I questioned how I could get value out of “freeware” with generally no support. That may not have been an accurate frame of reference back then, but it’s certainly not accurate today.

One of the key advantages of open source today is the volume of developers making valued contributions. Examples of this scale include 3300+ developers contributing to OpenStack and 2200+ developers contributing to Cloud Foundry. There’s no way any 1 company can expose this scale of developers to an asset. It’s also interesting to note that these contributors are generally very passionate and knowledgeable about what they’re contributing so they’re generally more engaged than a typical in-house application developer and this combination of scale and passion can’t be beat.

Another advantage is the speed and quality enabled by open source. Rather than requiring developers to create from scratch, they’re able to reuse or at least begin from a solid starting point to get their efforts rolling. The open source software has a community of developers fixing and enhancing it so the developer also has the added bonus of quality that’s pre-built into the open source software.

It’s worth noting that not all open source software is the same. I’ve found these advantages with the open source software IBM is using, with this software being enterprise-ready and having a large community of active contributors. Because not all open source is the same, developers need to explore what’s out there but there are may examples of this enterprise-ready software.

Back in the day I would have said “you get what you pay for” and would have thought negatively about open source because it was “free” and didn’t provide support. But in today’s world, the “free” cost comes with a community of developers continually extending, improving, and innovating so it’s a very positive view today.

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