All you need is AI…(and a good strategy plan)


John Crocker, Editor, Inside OR

This year’s Analytics Summit in June was concluded with a presentation by Appolo Tankeh and Tom Ward from IBM. Appolo drew inspiration for his talk from Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. Unfortunately, I am not familiar with this work so the reference was somewhat lost on me but I think what Apollo was saying is that anyone can develop AI solutions with the right tools and support.

At IBM, they see AI not so much as ‘artificial intelligence’ as ‘augmented intelligence’. They recognise that it is all-invasive but that it is also the competitive advantage in ‘this age of disruption’. Appolo went on to give us a very brief history of IBM from its origins in the ‘tabulating systems era’ through the ‘programmable systems era’ to what he now describes as the ‘cognitive computing era’. He highlighted four dates: 1967 – ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’; 1997 – Deep Blue beats Kasparov at chess; 2011 – Watson wins ‘Jeopardy!’ and; 2018 – Open Tech, AI and emerging standards. 

There will always be threats to the supply chain and these will need to be monitored and managed. Similarly, we will continue to be disrupted by college dropouts (e.g. authors of malware). It is therefore necessary for any company to invest in R&D to survive. IBM have recently invested some $30m to develop software to mitigate against catastrophes. 

They are also investing in education for youngsters at the rate of 60-100 a year globally. There are simply not enough people with the right skills. I fear I have not done justice to Appolo and Tom’s talk – I found it very hard to take notes and listen at the same time but the whole presentation was recorded and is available to view on our website (as indeed are the other plenary sessions).

All you need is AI…(and a good strategy plan)

Appolo Tankeh and Tom Ward