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Yesterday, October 7, IBM Think Forum was held at Palace Hotel in Tokyo. As  in the last year, I had an honor of moderating one of the panel discussions at the Forum.  After the opening remarks by Martin Jetter, General Manager, IBM Japan Ltd., key note speech entitled Leadership in the Era of Smart was given by Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President & CEO of IBM Corporation.  Her talk was very inspiring and exciting, as she talked about how data becomes natural resources and almost infinite, unlike other natural resources.

The first panel discussion entitled “Competitive advantage and leadership in the  era of Smart” followed her speech, where Mr. Kazuhiro Tsuga, President of Panasonic Corporation, Mr. Kengo Sakurada, CEO of NKSJ Holdings joined Ginni.  Professor Hiro Takeuchi  of Harvard Business School moderated the panel.

Erich Clementi, Senior Vice President, Global Technology Service, IBM Corporation  gave the  key note entitled “Generating High Value with Advanced Technology.”  His talk was followed by the panel discussion I moderated.  Panelists Ms. Makiko Yamada,  Deputy Director-General for IT Strategy at Commerce& Information Policy Bureau of METI and Mr. Yasuhisa Arai, Senior Managing Officer & Director, Chief Officer of Motorsports of Honda R & D Co., Ltd. joined Erich.

Compared with the panel last year I moderated (more on leadership in the era of smart), the topic was more technology related and thus tougher.  I was not quite sure how much our message  got conveyed to the participants, but I myself learned a lot about  Data Analytics in the past few months as I am intrigued and fascinated by almost infinite potential of what we can do with data & analytics! So it was an exciting opportunity for me.

Martin closed the Forum by tracing the evolution starting from “Product is the King” era,  “Service is the King” era  and now we are into the “Information is the King” era.  (I fully agree!) The Forum finished with amazing combination of GAGAKU(oldest Japanese music) by Hideki Togi and sand artist,  Kseniya Simonova from Ukraine.

In addition to the talk and panel discussions, I enjoyed the  demonstration of Watson 2.0 and Smart city in Kyoto, as well as Security demonstration, among others.   At reception afterwards,  I met with more people.

One thing I noticed now is absence of tweet and photo shots.  (At the conferences/forums I go these days–mainly with younger generation and/or international audience,  many people tweet and shoot using smart phone! during the talk)  Probably the rule  was set  that no tweet or photo at the Think Forum.  I just recalled that at CMO+CIO Forum by IBM last year, we used tablets to access presentation and there were many tweets!, so probably it was more reflective of the audience!(I will find out, as it makes the atmosphere very different…)

I believe the summary article and video will be available for the Think Forum, soon. So stay tuned.

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  • Comments (1)

    • Eugene Ho
    • October 23rd, 2013

    The advancement of technology has created and eliminated millions of jobs over the decades. Recently, I think the newer technology along with the lower energy cost (especially in the U.S.) have created some of the most advanced, efficient and automated factories that require far less manual labors and less experienced/entry level engineers to run the daily operations and maintenances. Many years ago, for non-engineering sector, employers didn’t mind hiring the inexperienced and newly undergraduates and spent heavily to train them on the job. Today, it has become extremely difficult to enter a respected and successful company without some sort of internship experience or connections. Going to college does not mean you are qualified for a good entry-level job anymore. What we learn in schools nowadays, do not prepared and taught us the necessary skills and knowledge for today’s competitive job market. I personally think it is because (to some extent) the efficiency of most of the relatively “human energy” intensive works (data entry, massive paper work, computations, record keeping, mailing, calling, etc) have been greatly enhanced by the help of computers. Therefore, the newly grads today with no valuable working experiences essentially have nothing left to do productively on day one (probably besides collecting trash in the office, making tea/coffee, or the occasionally give people massages). Ultimately, a skill gap exists in today’s workplace and employers are reluctant to invest in employees because of the high turnover rate associates with this generation.

    Let’s say IBM successfully commercialized Watson and find great range of applications for it at a reasonable price and stability. I can imagine people working in call centers, document processing, and all sorts of sedentary jobs will probably lose their jobs sooner or later…

    As a senior, I have been constantly thinking what am I really learning in school?? And I am scared. haha

    Thanks for sharing your experience at the IBM conference!

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