Observations and Highlights From IBM Think 2018

The energy was electric at the IBM Think Conference last week. With more than 30,000 attendees, everything felt larger than life — big crowds, big companies, big networks and big ambitions. For Reveille, it was an opportunity to meet with customers, potential customers, and partners while soaking up the atmosphere of tech’s version of March Madness! It was invigorating to be in the company of so many people and other organizations who are looking to push the boundaries of emerging technologies.

The Shortlist and Observations

Much was presented and discussed on the forward-looking topics that appear to be moving beyond the drawing boards and into field deployments. As a technology lover, that’s perhaps the most exciting part — getting a pulse on which trends are moving to the forefront! Here’s the shortlist of the big ideas that are incubating and what’s being paid attention to right now:

  • AI and big data everywhere
  • Cloud, and the hybrid cloud era
  • Security and resiliency
  • The Blockchain
  • GDPR
  • Encryption everywhere
  • Preparing for 5G
  • Quantum Computing

An interesting stat was shared said, “90% of the world’s data has been produced in the last two years” — the sheer volume of that is absolutely mind boggling! It definitely makes a case for organizations to push for prioritizing their content services strategy. As data and content and the management of it all become increasingly important, everything is interconnected with many of the themes raised at the conference like security, the move to a hybrid cloud environment, and heightened compliance requests from regulations like the GDPR.

The Highlights and Bold Predictions From Keynote Sessions

With all of the great talks and sessions, it’s tall order to try to distill so much good information into just a few highlights, but here are some interesting ideas and bold predictions to chew on:

1. The future of quantum computing is closer than we think

“In five years, quantum computing will be used extensively by new categories of professionals and developers to solve problems once considered unsolvable” — that’s a bold prediction, but the thought that quantum computing will soon become mainstream was brought up in Arvind Krishna’s keynote. He and his colleagues envision a not-so-distant future when quantum computing moves beyond the lab to helping us solve complex business challenges that range from simulating the complex interactions of atoms and molecules to optimizing supply chains.

2. Blockchain will make its mark on business

It’s hard to follow the news these days and not get caught up in the rollercoaster ride of cryptocurrencies and the blockchain, but the mood at Think was one of optimism, imagining the possibilities for a more transparent, secure and connected way to do business.

David Katz, Founder and CEO of The Plastic Bank, described a future where blockchain technology could be part of the solution of stopping the flow of plastic into our oceans. Frank Yiannas of Walmart discussed creating more visibility in the supply chain that puts dinner on the table, not only to create more consumer confidence, but to unlock opportunities for safer, affordable options and more sustainability in food supply chain practices. Finally, Wesam Lootah, CEO of Smart Dubai Government Establishment talked through a structured plan for gaining cooperation for blockchain initiatives on a path to taking Dubai completely digital – quickly.

3. AI is set to disrupt healthcare

Here’s another mind boggling stat to share — “The average person generates enough health data to fill 300 million books in their lifetime” — which is why Tanmay Bakshi’s keynote focused on the potential to harness that data, along with AI, to advance the current research. It’s not about AI replacing humans, but working alongside them to run safer clinical trials for drugs, to leverage data and deep learning to help those with special needs, to use AI to support use cases in the field of mental health, and so much more.

All told, it was an inspiring event to imagine the possibilities and think through the implications emerging tech will have on content services and the business landscape in general.

Until next year at IBM Think 2019…Hope to see you in San Francisco!