About 30 or so years ago, I recall an ad campaign with that “Not just data. Reality” tag line. The message was that technology could make sense of all the mountains of numbers crashing on executive shoulders.
That ad theme may have been ahead of its time.
Today’s speech by IBM CEO Sam Palmisano (http://www.ibm.com/ibm/ideasfromibm/us/smartplanet/20081106/sjp_speech.shtml) paints a dramatic portrait of a possible future where our technology does more than stretch our reach and “always on” ties to the world. Technology can now put us in touch with what all of that data “means” in ways that can put companies, institutions, governments – and people – back in charge of the world where we work, serve and socialize.
And Palmisano said the tools to do it are both available and affordable.
That’s one of the most exciting bits of news I’ve heard in many years.
Soon, there will be a billion transistors for every living person on the planet. Sensors are being embedded in billions of cars, appliances, cameras, roadways, pipelines, phones and just about any other product you can name – and many of them can communicate. And now there are super computers and advanced analytics able to turn the mountains of data into intelligence – something that we can understand and do something about.
As Palmisano said, the whole interrelated set of systems is on the verge of getting “smarter”.
What’s needed to make the vision a reality? Political will. Executive leadership. Business investment. Awareness not only of what is, but what can be.
Will it happen? I think it’s more likely now than ever.
None of us have to be told that financial markets are a mess. Or that we have an energy problem. Or that millions of people go to sleep hungry. That’s one reason our governments are talking to each other and even working together. Bold new policies are being tried.
The idea of a truly smarter world is a fresh idea, and right now it looks to me as though fresh ideas have a shot.
Especially when those ideas grow out of solid experience, a history of innovation, and access to tools we could only dream about when I started out in this business.
That’s why I was so excited to hear Palmisano’s message.
What about you? What do you think will be needed to make this smarter world a reality?
It’s a great time for ideas.I can’t wait to hear yours.
This post was filed by Larry Phipps, a greater IBMer
and editor of The Greater IBM Connection.