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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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

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.

Inspiration Often Comes Unexpectedly

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Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy. Picture credit: Tripadvisor.co.uk

I visited Florence, Italy in the summer of 2008 and dedicated four to five hours touring the Uffizi Gallery, looking at famous paintings. I particularly paid attention to the paintings of Madonna by artists over several centuries. I had an observation that I found shocking. I wrote about it in the preface of the book, “The Smart Internet” (2010).

“It dawned on me that what would have been thought of as an obvious advancement to art from flat imagery of Madonna by Pietro Lorenzetti, 1340, to a realistic 3D imagery of Madonna by Raphael, 1505, actually took two centuries! Studying the progression of these images of Madonna inspired me to imagine the obvious advancement that the twenty-year old internet needed.”

Many seemingly silly questions popped into mind:

  • Why should I be happy when I ask a question to a search engine, instead of giving me an answer, it gives me a list of links that I have to crawl through myself, hoping that the answer is buried somewhere that the links point to?
  • Why can’t I task over the web the same way I browse?
  • Why the silos of the web can’t be bridged for agile, useful integration, in the way each web users want it?
  • Why we expose the web architectural artifacts to our web users and how come they don’t seem to mind?
  • And a whole lot more ….

A few years later, opportunities allow me to pursue for answers to only a few of these questions. The path since has been risky, adventurous and fulfilling!

This planted the seed for the work of web tasking #webtasking .