Cognitive computing enables the digital transformation of society and business by learning and interacting naturally with people, extending - not replacing - what humans can do. A key differentiator of this cognitive era will be the use of unstructured data in the form of images, conversations, and free form text to create insights at a scale never seen before. Data which was previously "invisible to computers" will now be used by systems to understand, reason and learn, providing a new field for innovation and meaningful assistance to users.
"Cognitive computing is so fascinating - if you look at what's going on in deep learning and machine learning today, it has accelerated dramatically over the past couple of years thanks to the discovery of data scientists. Massive parallel operations and the time took to train a machine and recognise objects previously took years and months, but now it's down to just weeks and days," said Ma. "And when you think of applications like self-driving cars, it's not just about recognising that there's a car in front of you. It's about recognising that the car is a police car - and beyond that, identifying that the car has its lights on."
To fully utilise cognitive computing, enterprises will need to eliminate functional silos, making data across the enterprise available for machines to interact with and learn from. A foundation can be built by holistically looking at the value intelligent capabilities provide and planning the correct strategy.
4. Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT is touted as the "biggest market" among all the innovation accelerators, said Ma. The market is valued at US$650 billion today, but it is expected to grow to US$1.7 trillion by 2020. Additionally, by 2020, there will be more than 250,000 unique IoT applications - half of them may not visible, but they serve critical functions, he added.
Ma went on to share an example of Nest Labs - a firm bought out by Google in 2014, which develops products to bring IoT into homes with its signature smart thermostats. The thermostat is designed to automatically adjust the temperature of a home based on the owner's preferences, and whether anyone is at home. It also allows the owner to control the temperature remotely over the Internet.
However, there have been many complaints about the recent failure of the Nest smart thermostats. There was a glitch in the Internet-connected controller, causing the thermostat to fail and home temperatures to plunge in the middle of winter. The company has admitted that a software update had gone wrong, forcing the thermostat's batteries to drain and rendering it incapable of controlling temperature.
With the advent of a smart mobile environment, vendors must not overlook such potential bugs as it may pose a challenge and backfire, advised Ma.
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