Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

Advancing the search for dry cleaners and figuring out which questions to ask


Our last blogging program session was with a host of IBM executives, and there were some very insightful comments that stood out for me from the discussion:

Jeff Jonas brought up an area I certainly hope we as IBM will be talking more about - location (or in IBM's parlance, "geospatial data.")  The example he gave as to how incorporating geospatial data will be a game changer revolved around searching for a store or service:  "Search won't just tell you the best dry cleaners or the closest dry cleaners, it's going to tell you the best dry cleaners that's on your route, consistent with traffic patterns for the time of day you usually drive by."  Don Campbell and Bernie Spang highlighted the capabilities we and partners have in this space, such as Cognos 10 which allows you to run queries from a mobile device that factor in your specific location, or capabilities that come integrated as part of the new Informix edition.)

Ken Bisconti put into plain language the experience many people have when transitioning from home to the office: "We have an incredible array of tools and advancements in consumer space that we use at home, and then we get into work, and it's lame."  He described the advancements coming to enterprise applications, many of which are available now, if still in relative infancy.  IBM Case Manager is one example, combining collaboration, analytics, transaction processing, and other capabilities, presented to the end user in a Web 2.0 experience built on widget components.

Bernie Spang followed up on a reference to the Watson Jeopardy-playing computer system IBM is building (which was also highlighted by Brenda Dietrich in the Day 3 General Session) by highlighting an extension of the nature of the game show.  "Remember that Jeopardy asks you the answer.  In a business setting, a lot of times we know the answer, and need help figuring out what questions to ask about it."

Erick Brethenoux shared an example of the unexpected insight that can come when you use analytics to dig into your information.  He described how IBM had worked with an insurance agency that was surprised to discover a set of young drivers with unusually low risk of accidents or claims.  When they dug into the details, it turned out that they were were all owners of sports cars, and collectible sports cars, at that.  Because they didn't drive recklessly, didn't park the cars on the street, etc., the agency was able to create a new product to target that specific market segment.  That one new product alone paid for the analytics software many times over.