Cognitive Computing Avoiding the Cloud Confusion

As someone who worked for a datacenter company that also had cloud offerings and as the host of “Cloudtalk” the past 3 years, I believe the last thing any new technology solution or industry buzzword wants to do is fall victim to the same fate cloud computing has experienced during the last 10 years.

Consumer and Enterprise Cloud Confusion

I blame Apple for the consumer confusion around cloud computing. The iCloud used a cloud icon and thanks to Apple Marketing gave the Apple user the illusion that rather than using thumb drives or physical hard drives for your pictures and documents they could be stored in the sky floating above the earth.  Even in the enterprise, the shift to understanding the value of cloud computing and how to migrate to the cloud was filled with more acronyms and buzzwords that would confuse anyone. Not to mention, the entire way cloud computing is purchased by businesses had to migrate from being a real estate play with datacenter to a subscription based model and an IT CIO play with the cloud. Thankfully after over 10 years of confusion I’m confident a mass majority of users and enterprise companies understand that cloud is really about the shifting of responsibility of who manages the technology and where that technology lives. We can all agree it doesn’t live in the sky above us rather in a datacenter somewhere.

Why Cognitive can’t fall victim like the cloud

So what does cloud computing have to do with cognitive computing?  I’ve been working with IBM for 3+ years as a Futurist, speaker, and consultant. I’ve heard technology buzzwords like machine learning, robotics, and artificial intelligence sprinkled in with Watson, Verse, and eCommerce product announcements.  Understanding what each of those technology buzzwords means was easy for me as a geek but being able to visualize and convey the value for my clients and community using IBM products was more difficult.

So when IBM invited me to their most recent event, IBM World of Watson, they conveyed to me that cognitive would be the main focus at this event although it was heavily integrated in the prior two IBM events I had attended. I can honestly say that I’m very excited about cognitive today and have an in-depth understanding of the solution after attending IBM World of Watson. The event spanned 3 days and included my first look at the new T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas where IBM CEO Ginni Rometty gave an amazing keynote.

Cognitive Simplified

When most of us hear the words machine learning or robotics or artificial intelligence we immediately become worried that this is the start of us becoming like the Jetsons or worried all human jobs will be replaced by robots.  Cognitive, simply put in my words is, “the dynamic real-time collaborative learning of device or machine and the human.”  As I stated before, the last thing I want to happen to cognitive is to become the next confusing marketing spun version of cloud computing.

Let me break down how I’ve been explaining cognitive to my clients after getting some hands-on time with executives, management, and developers of cognitive solutions at IBM.

Waze: My cognitive driving partner

I’m addicted to the mapping app Waze which uses crowdsourced data, social networking conversations and cognitive learning to predict and adjust my driving route in real time. The cognitive aspect is 100% apparent for me as I use the app everyday, even on the way to the grocery store, (it’s great for letting you know where cops are too but that part isn’t cognitive!).  Although Waze gives me the most optimal route based on current driving conditions, whenever I use the app and adjust settings by deviating off Waze’s suggested route or stopping for coffee, I am establishing my driving pattern and Waze begins to understand how I prefer to drive. Therefore the routes Waze suggests for me today are not only based on crowdsourced data, time of day, and known accidents or construction but also my specific user habits.  By using the app, I as the human have become smarter at knowing the best driving route and Waze has saved me many hours over the years. Waze is also sharing that smart data and can even use my specifics to provide a better experience for other users as well.

I’m going to be writing and doing some more live videos on cognitive use cases and predictive modeling in the near future. I hope this example helps you better understand the link between both humans and machines getting smarter together and ultimately how you can help all of us avoid cognitive suffering the confusing fate of cloud.

I am a paid contributor to THINK Marketing. Posted here: https://www.ibm.com/think/marketing/cognitive-avoiding-the-cloud-confusion/