My first time attending a large, corporate-owned conference — IBM’s Insight 2015 — was quite different from what I expected. First impression? “Wow, I am underdressed.”Of course, it was in Las Vegas, but what I quickly learned was that this conference — IBM’s main conference of the year — attracted tons of their sales reps, VPs and senior-level execs to wine and dine their largest clients. This extended into the keynote presentations, as they were shallow on details and deep on production and building hype around new or upcoming products.

The conferences I’ve been fortunate to attend over the years have been focused on specific topic areas with subject matter experts who dove into nuanced aspects of a given subject. Don’t get me wrong, this conference offered that in certain aspects, but given the vast number of sessions and topics covered, I really had to work at making sure I was in the right presentations. This meant focusing my time on smaller breakout sessions and shorter development-focused meetings.

The theme of the conference was the emergence of an “insight economy.” This idea has been trending recently on many popular business and marketing blogs. The insight economy is the next iteration of the information economy, where business insights are discovered through big-data analysis. According to IBM, the drivers of this new economy will be advanced analytics, cognitive computing and the Internet of Things.

Analytics isn’t a new concept at Intouch; however, what was on display at the IBM conference was a few steps beyond what we currently offer our clients. The driving factor behind advances in this area is the ability to cost-effectively use big data. Yeah, yeah … “big data.” We’ve heard much about using big data, but solutions to efficiently leverage it in our business have been lagging.

Interestingly enough, there were a couple of presentations that took aim at the Seattle data-visualization company Tableau Software, suggesting that IBM’s Watson Analytics interface and reporting options provide a better solution than Tableau. Watson is IBM’s cognitive computing platform that facilitates analysis of very large data sets. The idea presented is that by combining the power of cloud-based analytics and Watson, we can break through the cost-time barrier and offer ways for anyone to start taking advantage of vast amounts of data quickly.

The second area of advancement worth noting was the integration of Watson across IBM’s product offerings. Based on statistical analysis and machine-learning techniques, Watson can quickly find relationships between data points that, if done manually, would be too time-consuming and expensive. One exciting announcement regarding Watson was that they are now making this computing power available to everyone through services on IBM’s cloud-based, app-development platform, Bluemix.

Image source:

In its 2014 press release announcing new cloud development offerings, Robert LeBlanc, IBM’s senior vice president of software and cloud solutions, said, “IBM is ushering in a bold new era of innovation.” At Intouch, we are excited to think about how we can integrate these ideas into our work for clients. If you’re interested in learning more, we would love to talk with you.