IBM IOD 2012: Firms urged to think big to reap even bigger rewards

IBM IOD 2012 logo

Innovation and related achievement is no longer limited by technology, but instead imagination and the ability to think big.

That was the key message coming from the opening keynote of IBM's Information on Demand (IOD) conference today in Las Vegas.

Big ideas, big opportunities, a big future. Where those who think big will win.

"You've got to get moving, you've got to think big and you've got to move now," Robert Le Blanc, senior vice president, middleware, at IBM's software group, told the 12,000-plus assembled delegates at the annual data and business analytics conference.

Le Blanc cited IBM's CEO research which questioned leaders on their key concerns and focus areas. In 2004, he said, technology was languishing at the bottom in a list of the top six priorities. Fast-forward to 2012 and it is now number one.

"Data has gone to the forefront. Think of speed 90 per cent of you are now adopting cloud computing. There's over a billion smartphones and will be 1.2 billion mobile employees by 2014. There are 2.7 zetabytes. I don't know what we're going to do when we run out of zetabytes we'll come up with something new but it is growing and is growing fast," he said.

"The job all of us have as technologists and business leaders is going to change dramatically along with it. In fact, when we talk to the CIOs and ask what is driving that innovation and market growth for your business, number one is Big Data and analytics. Everyone understands that it's those who can really get insights into their business and customer needs are those ones who will have a business that takes them to the front."

And, unlike with other technology waves, the challenges and opportunities on offer are the same, regardless of location or sector, according to Le Blanc.

"We really are embarking on a new era of computing. And it is going to create unbelievable new business opportunities for all of us. But it is

also going to present us with a set of IT challenges and set of opportunities," he said, before highlighting the importance for businesses to gett to grips with the three vs' - volume, velocity and variety in order to succeed in this new world.

The conference's opening host, self-confessed technology lover, filmmaker and futurist, Jason Silva, echoed the event's theme of thinking big.

"We have the tools, all we have to do is imagine what could be and we can re-invent the present," Silva said, before referencing the concept of a digital nervous system that senses things, allowing companies to make use of data and analytics to pre-empt rather than react to events, whether that be crime, shopping, medical matters and more.

"We can transform the world around us... It boggles the mind just to contemplate. These are big opportunities to transform businesses and industries and the world we live in. This, my friends, is an upgrade."

He talked about a recent Stanford University study on awe, which likened being awestruck to the download and consumption of data.

"As we move into this big future, it's going to ignite the awestruck in all of us," he added.

"Big ideas, big opportunities, a big future. Where those who think big will win."

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.