Tag: IBM

Blockchain is an emerging technology that has the potential to create a paradigm shift in the way we think about financial transactions. It has the ability to record transactions via a shared ledger and can be applied across many industries and currencies. The first major application of blockchain was Bitcoin, an unregulated cryptocurrency that was very resource intensive to mine. But business applications for blockchain will likely differ in several key areas.

At The Boeing Center’s 9th annual Industry Conference in October, Ed Corno, Client Technology Leader at IBM, gave a presentation on blockchain from the IBM perspective. He claimed that the technology’s business applications will focus on identity over anonymity, selective endorsement over proof of work, and assets over cryptocurrency.

Ed Corno, Client Technology Leader at IBM

Corno defines the four key tenets of a shared, replicated, permissioned ledger (as characterized by blockchain’s business applications) are consensus, provenance, immutability, and finality. This shared ledger would serve as the one record of all transactions across the business network, and participants would be able to see only relevant transactions.

According to Corno, the requirements of blockchain for business are the aforementioned shared ledger, a smart contract embedded into the transaction database, the privacy to ensure that transactions are secure and verifiable, and trust between all participants.

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Artificial intelligence used to be the stuff of science fiction.

Today, an IBM supercomputer named Watson is actually learning how to think, analyze unstructured data, translate, and react to natural language.

Zoe Hillenmeyer, BFA ’09, MBA ’13, says, “cognitive computing” is the term IBM prefers for this new era of intelligent technology. She is IBM’s innovation and design lead for Watson’s Cross Industry Value Team. In Hillenmeyer’s words, “We’re a tiger team of solution-focused technology geeks, with an eye to the future and the possibilities for cognitive computing to drastically transform complexity into context and confusion into well-informed decisions.”

Ironically, Hillenmeyer would be the first to admit that she is not your typical technology geek. She grew up in rural Indiana, where barely half of her senior class graduated from high school and she was one of a few to go out of state for college. After arriving at WashU, she discovered her passion for art and pursued a degree in sculpture. Hillenmeyer worked for a startup in India and an auction house in Boston, and organized cultural festivals before returning to St. Louis and Olin’s MBA program. She sums up her insatiable curiosity to learn as “a relentless pursuit of the unknown.”

“Zoe is a force of nature,” Joe Fox says of the energetic innovator who never passes up the chance to question the status quo. Fox, associate dean of graduate programs at Olin, remembers how Hillenmeyer hit the ground running as a first-year MBA. As a class leader, she revived the Olin Women in Business (OWIB) organization, improved recruitment tactics for women applicants, and strengthened Olin’s ties to national organizations like the Forté Foundation and the National Association of Women MBAs (NAWMBA).

TUESDAY, OCT. 6, 2015 - Washington University alumna Zoe Hillenmeyer, a graduate of Olin Business School, gives a presentation Tuesday to Prosper - new group supporting women entrepreneurs. Zoe works at IBM with "Watson" on artificial intelligence. The talk was given at T-Rex, 911 Washington Avenue in St. Louis. ©Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.

At IBM, Hillenmeyer’s innovative approach to problem solving, data visualization, and collaboration on consulting projects has propelled her to Big Blue’s much-talked-about new business unit: Watson. Since winning Jeopardy! in 2011, Watson has evolved. The computer is able to interpret big data by identifying patterns, connections, and insights. Then it organizes the content into smaller chunks for humans to digest, interpret, discover solutions, and make decisions. Now Watson is its own business unit, strategy, and talent organization.

“My role in particular is to infuse our team with core design principles, innovation best practices, and a momentum that embraces and exudes positive change,” explains Hillenmeyer. Her team is part of the Watson Group based in IBM’s new global headquarters in New York City’s Silicon Alley, although Hillenmeyer is based in Seattle. The Watson Group has more than 2,000 employees globally. Hillenmeyer’s team works on projects from transit to nuclear decommissioning. The only limit to the scope of their work is impact: “it has to be important, solving real and salient needs of society or business. It has to transform, dramatically, the ways of today,” Hillenmeyer said.

Hillenmeyer’s office is equipped with Play-Doh, paints, sketch pads, white boards, markers of many colors, and a drill press.

The sculptor-turned-IBMer refuses to abandon those tactile tools while working in this new era of cognitive computing. She insists they help facilitate novel approaches to idea generation, problem solving, and process reinvention: “We collaborate. We innovate. We team. We break things, and fix ’em. We brainstorm and fail, and make beautiful things exist. It’s a great job.”

This article originally appeared in OlinBusiness magazine.

Photos by Jerry Naunheim Jr.

Harnessing the power of big data is a must-have skill for today’s tech-driven marketplace. In response to the growing need for anayltics-savvy managers, Olin is launching a new Master of Science in Customer Analytics degree program in partnership with IBM.  The graduate program is designed to arm managers with the technical and strategic tools for 21st century business.

“The MSCA program will train students to become analytics-driven business managers,” said Seethu Seetharaman, PhD, the Patrick W. McGinnis Professor of Marketing and director of the program. “Graduates will be well equipped to successfully participate in the emerging business era of big data. The program is ideal for applicants whose undergraduate training is in a technical field who want to build on their abilities and develop the skills to manage strategic business issues using advanced analytical methods.”

From the IBM Academic Initiative site.

From the IBM Academic Initiative site.

Olin’s partnership with IBM is through the company’s Academic Initiative, which includes a large network of IBM and higher education professionals to help advance curriculum in areas including Big Data and Analytics, Cloud Computing, Security and Social Business.

Students will benefit from the collaboration with IBM on special projects and learning to use IBM software to conduct analysis. Washington University computer science and political science professors will also participate in the program along with a schedule of guest speakers from the business community.

“Our graduates will be able to seek job opportunities with any organization that has embraced the value of big data, including companies marketing the world’s most respected and recognizable brands,” Seetharaman said. “Additional opportunities exist at consultant companies with a heavy reliance on customer analytics. Organizations across the board will be searching for applicants trained in social media analytics.”

The MSCA program holds a STEM designation. A STEM program is one that is based in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math. Under regulations established by the Department of Homeland Security, international students in this program are eligible to apply for a 2-month off campus work experience called Optional Practical Training (OPT). Students that graduate from a STEM degree can apply for a 17-month extension of OPT.

The program can be completed in a 10 or 18-month format, including foundations coursework in August. Rolling admissions is in effect for domestic students. Due to visa processing time, the international student application deadline is now closed.  Prospective students should visit the website or contact Nikki Lemley, Associate Director of Specialized Masters Programs Admissions, via email MSCAInfo@wustl.edu.

Image: Façade study for IBM Manufacturing and Administrative Center, Rochester, Minnesota, 1956-58. Published in: Eero Saarinen: buildings from the Balthazar Korab archive / edited by David G. De Long and C. Ford Peatross, 2008. Library of Congress.