Think big. Be bold. Go epic. Inspire innovation.


Innovation, one idea at a time: A fascinating notion that resonated well at IBM Edge2014 this week.

With IBM EdgeTalks, a session on innovation which I was honored and delighted to host, we set out to inspire our audience. Inspire them to think big. Inspire them to make bold moves. Inspire them to think about how they can transform their organizations by using technology—and IT infrastructure—differently.

We decided to shake things up a bit with EdgeTalks by inviting several amazing speakers who are influencing thinking about food and communities, health and wellness and cybersecurity. These thought leaders and innovators are changing the world around them—one bold idea at a time. You may recognize their names from TED Talks®.

Renegade gardening

First we heard from renegade gardener Ron Finley (@RonFinleyHQ). Ron got cited by the police for planting carrots, and in his outrage gave voice to a movement, transforming, nourishing, educating communities and keeping kids off the street, one urban garden at a time. Ron is now traveling around the globe, meeting with world leaders like President Clinton. Ron urged us all to do “Epic Stuff.” Ron’s passion, leadership and good humor has inspired me, and many in the audience.

“Compost changed my life… It is my disco song.”
—Ron Finley

Turning cheap data into wisdom

Next, John Wilbanks (@Wilbanks) shared a bold idea. What if, John posed, we voluntarily share massive amounts of personal medical data and aggregate it into a pool that can then be analyzed for ground-breaking insight? Could we not transform healthcare? Could we not better tailor medical care to the individual?

“Sharing is the innovation that helps us convert cheap data into wisdom.”
—John Wilbanks

John is already collaborating with IBM and is keen on exploring how he can leverage IBM Watson in his endeavors.

Cybersecurity responsibilities

Peter W. Singer (@PeterWSinger), technology expert and best-selling author, shared insight from his new book Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know. He reinforced that cybersecurity affects all of us—individuals, business and governments—and that people behind the machines matter.

Cybersecurity should not be something only dealt with by the techies. I took away from Peter’s pitch that cybersecurity is tablestakes and that all of us working in technology have a responsibility to enable our clients to deal with security challenges effectively.

“97% of Fortune500 companies admit that they have been hacked. The other 3% have been, too; they are just not willing to admit it.”
—Peter Singer

Sridhar Iyengar, Vice President Security and Privacy at Intel Labs, gave us a technical perspective on cybersecurity issues. He detailed how we need fundamental paradigm shifts to deal with cyber threats by making sure that we provide our clients with solutions where hardware and software work together to deliver trustworthy platforms.

“It is not the volume [of malware], it’s the sophistication that bothers me. That’s really worrisome.”
—Sridhar Iyengar

EdgeTalks generated quite some buzz and engaging conversations on Twitter—just see for yourself. We’ve got the video replay of the whole session—it’s something you’re not going to want to miss.

For over 100 years, IBM has innovated and transformed the technology industry, so I thought it was very fitting that we invited on stage these innovators to inspire us to transform our organizations by leveraging the right technologies. Let’s not forget, we can all do Epic Stuff, not just at work but also for the communities around us.

Tell me how you’re inspired. What is something epic you want to be a part of?

Surjit Chana is Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Vice President of Strategy for IBM Systems and Technology Group (STG) and a member of IBM’s Global Senior Leadership Team. Connect with him on Twitter: @SurjitChana.

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