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

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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.

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 .