Innovation Week @ Markham 2018

 

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Thank you, Mayor Frank Scarpitti, for celebrating women inventors and innovations as a part of Innovation Week in the Town of Markham, 2018.  It was my honor to have my invention achievements highlighted as a part of the celebration! It was also a joy to celebrate the victory of the Markham Women Hockey team, the Markham Thunder, who won eight games in a roll!

Mayor Scarpitti’s interview asked me two questions:

Q1: What is a Master Inventor in IBM?

J: Master inventor is a designation within IBM to recognize individuals who have a large portfolio of inventions with measurable impact. It also recognizes inventors as leaders and mentors to grow the inventor communities.

Q2: What is the latest innovation project you are working on?

J: My latest innovation is home grown in Canada, totally birthed and created in the Town of Markham. I am the innovator of CogniBOT, with a team of the brightest minds from IBM Canada Lab here in Markham.

ChatBOTs talk. ChatBOTs provide users AI experience from the collection of technologies related to speech and  Natural Language Processing. But it is always better to THINK before one TALKS. CogniBOTs provide the thinking framework that is missing in today’s ChatBOTs.

While voice-enabled shopping is not new, CogniBOTs take it to a new level of AI experience. For example, when a mother adds a salad dressing to a digital shopping cart, the mother’s cogniBOTs “knows” she has a child that has nut allergy problems, so her cogniBOTs immediately checks on the ingredients of the newly added item, resulting in a warning message, in voice or in text, recommending the mother that she has to remove that item from her shopping cart because that item has nut allergens.

Mayer Scarpitti: “It’s always good for politicians to think before we talk. Thank you, Joanna!”

That wrapped up the interview.

Innovation Week @ Markham 2018

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These “She Matters Lines”! #SheMatterLines

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It is known that women in tech is a minority. One common challenge that women in tech often faces is the hostile communication style of their male colleagues. This includes being talked over to the extent that you lost your voice and your presence; or being ignored completely when you hold people accountable; or being belittled or have your point being stolen by others as if it was theirs.

Some did that intentionally, a combat from the feeling of being taken-over by women. Some did that as a response to their hurt-ego, feeling threatened. Most did that unintentionally, unaware of the effect of their style of communication on the woman counterpart. Regardless of the reason, out of basic respect for each and every individual, no woman should tolerate such bad behavior. While one may feel victimized, unseen, unheard and unwanted, it is so important to wake up to the fact that only you get to decide who you are and what is the limit of your potential. It is empowering to know that no one has permission to define you without your agreement. Staying in this victim mindset does no one any good as it only diminishes you and your full potential while enables the bad behavior to continue.

So how should women respond when thrown in such a situation? Know that these bad manner reflects on the lack of character of the person speaking and has nothing to do with you or your ability. Stop the natural reaction of self-doubts and wanting to hide. Instead, Invest in yourself in knowing your worth so you can carry yourself in confidence. Establish a space to give grace. You respond but refuse to react. Under no circumstance do you allow yourself to degrade your civility because of what others did.

This collection of “She Matters lines”, when said in a manner that is calm and collected and respectful, can be very powerful. I have to admit that it does not come naturally. Rehearse, practice, rehearse and practice and rehearse again before such situation comes up; not just for self-defense, but to build skill to help other women, and to cultivate a more positive working culture based on respect.

These “SHE-MATTERS LINES”:

Please will you respond to my question.” “Why you didn’t bother to respond to my question?” “Reclaiming my time.”  the House Financial Services Committee hearing July 2017    Maxine Waters, Congress Women, July 2017

Please do not interrupt me.Response to Google Anti Diversity Memo  Susan Wojcicki, CEO of Google unit YouTube, August 2017

Do the women get to talk around here?”   White House Dinner Sept 2017 Nancy Pelosi,  the Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, September 14, 2017

What are some of the “She Matters Lines” that you use and find effective?

Please share in the comments!

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Live RESPECT, You Flourish. Abandon it, You Crumble.

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Photo Credit: J. Ng May, 2015 Conceptual Art. Lenbachhaus Museum, Munich, Germany.

One Sat morning I went to Starbucks to get my grande bold. The old lady in front of me looked a little queer. She ordered two tall pikes and paid with a Starbucks gift card. After several attempts, the server said, “Sorry Mam. The card did not work. Do you have any other method of payment?” After fumbling through her purse and all her pockets, embarrassed, she shook her head as if she just wanted to disappear. All eyes were on her. Before anyone had an opportunity to respond, another server took out two tall pikes, nicely put on a paper tray, with a big gentle smile, he looked this old lady in the eyes and said, “It’s on the house. My pleasure to serve you.” The lady was surprised but delighted. As she added milk to her coffees, her hands were shaking uncontrollably, likely due to some chronic problems. The hot coffee spilled on her hands causing burns, making a mess & a big scene. One server immediately came, attending to her burns, making sure she was OK. The other server went to pour two new cups of tall pike. Knowing her hands were not steady, he asked her politely if he could put in the cream for her, attending to details asking 2% milk or cream and how much she wanted, if she wanted sugar. The lady’s shame was turned into joy, enjoying the moment to be treated like a queen. Asked if she needed anything else, she answered no. The two servers walked her to the door, then came back to clean up the floor. I couldn’t help but to go up to the two servers and thank them for their good service and kind heart.

One might argue that coffee is different from a seat on a plane. But there is so much United Air can learn from how Starbucks treats non-paying, troublesome customers, so United Air can treat their paying customers with more respect.

To illustrate the gravity of the United Air’s narcissistic business practices, someone came up with the following restaurant analogy. Can you imagine that you went to a restaurant to eat. You sat down. Ordered your food and actually paid for it. With the food you ordered and paid for placed in front of you, the owner of the restaurant came out and told you his employee needed to eat before taking his next shift and asked you to get out of your seat so his employee can eat your plate that you paid for. You refused. You were upset.  You insisted to eat the plate of food you paid for. The owner sent in two security guards, assaulted you, then threw you out of the restaurant. As ridiculous as it sounds, that is exactly what United Air did: bullying and cheating their customer, when they assaulted a customer who has fully paid his fare and had boarded the plane, then got dragged off the plane just because the airline’s employees needed that seat that was rightfully the customer’s.

When the company is obsessed by greed for profit, they lose sight of customers. Customers become their inconvenience.  Such abandonment of respect creates a very toxic culture for the company that will eventually crumble the company.

The contrast between Starbucks and United Air is far too profound and significant. Good company culture always starts with the top.

#CompanyCultureThatMatters

#LiveRespect

A Cognitive IoT Definition for Business Transformation

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Cognitive IoT: How would you define it? For what purpose?

A Summary:

Internet of Things (IoT) augments human perceptions with connected and shared data from physical devices through the Internet. Recent IoT evolution applies cognitive computing into IoT data for the purpose of making devices intelligent. This article provides a definition of Cognitive IoT that furthers the IoT evolution: firstly by applying cognitive computing beyond IoT data in context with data from enterprise, social and the web, for the purpose of augmented intelligence; and secondly by introducing closing the loop in machine intelligence with machine-generated responses, for the purpose of personal cognitive assistance. By putting a highly flexible and engaging human-machine collaboration layer in the hands of enterprise users, these progressions can bring forth business transformation in scale.

If you want to read the full paper, please follow this link:

A Cognitive Definition for Business Transformation

Pushing Innovations to a New Level

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I have recently started a new chapter at IBM. I am now an innovator for IBM Chief Innovation Office for Cloud and Internet of Things, working on innovations for enterprises’ digital end to end transformations in cloud, internet of things, cognitive computing, Big Data analytics and others.

I will miss the wonderful CAS Research community. I have learned so much from this wonderful team of researchers and innovators. It has been my honour to serve and contribute as I was privileged to be appointed as the Head of Research for IBM Canada CAS, from 2008 till 2015, wrapping up this chapter by celebrating CASCON’s 25th anniversary together.

On the other hand, I cannot hide my excitement of working as a part of this disruptive team of innovators to lead in innovations and in strategies that will bring digital transformations that can open new revenue streams for our enterprise customers.

Wrapping up, my reflection on my previous role can be found in this paper here:

A Sustainable Industrial Research Model that Stands the Test of Time

“Experience-based Analytics” — an invited lecture at Carleton University, School of Computer Science, Institute for Data Science, October 21st, 2015

“Experience-based Analytics” — an invited lecture at Carleton University, School of Computer Science, Institute for Data Science, October 21st, 2015

It is my honour to be invited as a guest speaker at Carleton University School of Computer Science. I am especially delighted to be the first speaker of the Data Science Series for the newly form institute of Data Science … Continue reading

Communicating Innovations Effectively

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Like all other inventors, I often get pre-occupied with the technical engineering and architectural details of the solution of a problem. These details sometimes would eventually be evolved into an invention, captured as a patent filed and/or a publication being published. Once these technological details have been thought through over and over again, they form a  crystal clear mental picture in my head. Knowing that this may never have been done before, it drives an euphoric thrill in me. Because these details become so obvious to me, it locks me into a mental state that I want to share it with anyone who cares to listen, especially those who have the capacity to help to further its adoption, as if everyone should be able to grasp it easily.

It took me a while to be awaken to the most deadly blind spot of all inventors: when I get myself to such a mental state of clarity of any invented solution and appreciate of its coolness and its novelty, a common mistake of all inventors, myself included, is to become locked-in our own chains of thoughts and lost the perspective of seeing it from the outside. As a result, inventors communicate our innovations in a manner that others, who are not trained in the field and/or have not gone through the thinking process, could not possibly relate or understand, let alone appreciate the coolness of its advancement.

Effective communication of our inventions is critical for technology adoption.

I  think most inventors can relate to this hurdle.

This four minutes TED talk on “Talk Nerdy To Me” by Melissa Marshall addresses how to get out of that inventors’ locked state and to communicate our innovation effectively. It helps me a lot. Hope this helps other innovators as well.

TASKING: A New Software Engineering Frontier for Accessible Control

What Car Engineering Teaches Software Engineers about Accessible Control Car engineers design and develop cars that do not require their users to acquire car-engineering skills to operate. Otherwise, there would be no car for general public. Car engineers provide accessible controls (such as … Continue reading

Clarity in Execution is Key in Driving Innovation

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Women In Business Markham Event at IBM Canada Software Lab, 8200 Warden Markham site, December 3rd 2014.

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I capture my Lightning Talk at the Markham December 3rd, 2014 event of Women Cultivating Innovation for Business Success in this blog entry.

Henry Ford once said, “Innovation without execution is hallucination.”

I confess that I can’t stop “hallucinating” in that sense all day long. When I first took on this job as the Head of Research for CAS, IBM Canada Software Lab, my calendar was filled with back to back meetings. I met with many distinguished academics, researchers and technologists. We talked about innovations in various technology areas. Many brain storming ideas had great potential. I was greatly energized with my head filled with innovative ideas that had I switched my schedule to a twenty four hours work day, it wouldn’t have been enough to process them all.

How can great ideas in people’s heads be transposed into external reality that leads to business success?

The key to execute innovative ideas into business success is CLARITY. 

I highlight in particular the clarity in definition of success and the clarity in definition of relationships within the innovation Eco-system. The benefits are priceless. Such clarity:

  • Establishes shared goals
  • Establishes common understanding of roles and rules of engagement
  • Provides path for participation 
  • Motivates contributions

from all parties within the innovation Eco-system.

Clarity in Definition of Success

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Academics and researchers value citations of publications. But to the bottom line of IBM’s software business, publications, while important, by itself alone is not enough to justify the return on research investment. We cannot possibly rest just by publishing how to make cars academically while people are traveling by horses, until people are actually given cars to drive. Innovation has to hit home run by bringing positive transformations in real life.

On the other hand, products built without harvesting research outcome may not be as solidly grounded on validated assumptions, with proven technology established through methodical approaches.

Leading an organization of applied research for commercialization, we clearly define success as measured in the four-P languages of innovation  namely, by patents, publications, prototypes and productization.

Clarity in Definition of Relationship

There are many parties and many people we work with within the Eco system of innovation. Clearly defining the relationship is key to a productive and mutually beneficial partnership. Examples of Key relationships in my world of technology innovation include (but not limited to):

  • Research Partners:
    • Are they partners from whom I consume their research outcome?
    • Are they partners whom I share my research agenda with as an invitation to new research areas?
    • Are they partners as co-innovator?
  • Customers
    • Are they sources of problem statements validation?
    • Are they early adopters of technology in proof of architecture, to provide feedback?
    • Are they purchasers of our technology?
  • Industrial partners
    • Are they competitors?
    • Are they collaborators?
    • Are they co-researhcers and/or co-innovators?
  • Business investors
    • Are they funding sources (e.g. venture capitalists)?
    • Are they business partners to take the technology to market (e.g. marketing and sales etc..)
  • Public communities
    • Are they advocates and influence-rs?
    • Are they crowd-sourcing? validating?

One partner can be in multiple relationships or change relationship from one type to another at different point in time.

Clarity in definition of success and definition of relationship accelerates efficiency and provides focus in innovation execution, greatly facilitating the transposing of great ideas internal to people’s heads into external transformed reality that brings positive impact and benefits.