Marie’s shortlist for the #Connect2014 Innovation Lab

There’s lots going on during IBM Connect and I know its always tough to decide where to spend your time, however the Innovation Lab is a place that you should definitely get on your agenda. It’s where researchers and innovators across IBM showcase their work. Most of the demonstrations are fairly late stage research with many already deployed inside IBM and therefore give you a good perspective of what’s hot in social research. All of the demos will unquestionably impress, however in this blog post I’m calling out just a few demos to put at the top of your list. They are all analytics in focus and are built by some really smart researchers that I’ve been fortunate enough to work with over the years. I’ve included the official demo abstracts and added my personal comments in blue. You can see the full list of demos in the Innovation Lab Handout. It’s going to be THE place to hang out :-)

Engagement Analytics; Increase Social Adoption & Business ROI (Shiri Kremer-Davidson)
The trend towards a more open, transparent, and collaborative business environment is changing how people interact across the enterprise and beyond. Social and collaboration platforms are supporting this trend and generating large volumes of data about the business (who interacts with whom, when, and in what context). However little of this data is being actively leveraged in order to generate insights that allow the business to work smarter and faster, and to drive a new class of analytics-driven decision making. This demo shows an extensible environment that consumes enterprise network data to generate KPIs that measure an individual’s impact with the goal of improving organizational effectiveness. It also empowers individuals by leading them to use the enterprise social network in an effective manner and to optimize their own engagement strategies and approaches.
Comment: The reason I am recommending this project is because its mine ;-) Although I also happen to believe its a very interesting project not least of all because its a deep partnership spanning research, development, and CIO Office, which makes it a multi-faceted research project addressing both strategic and operational objectives. Across external social media I frequently hear people pit CMO against CIO and make derogatory statements about the lack of CIO innovation. Well I can promise you that this is most definitely NOT the case in IBM, where I’ve found the CIO to be a great innovation partner. This project demonstrates how a large enterprise network can be used to generate a breadth of insights; from the individual to the organization and everything in between. You’ll also get to chat with some very smart chaps; with Shiri Kremer-Davidson who is one of our lead researchers in reputation analysis and David Robinson who is overall solution architect and expert on all things graph, analytics, and bigdata. I will also be hanging around the lab for anyone interested in catching up.

Our Expertise: The Social Business Innovation Sprint (Kate Ehrlich)
For the past year, IBM Research has been engaged in an innovative partnership with Global Business Services and Software Group to provide a unique perspective into a client’s strategic social business problems which we call “Social Business Innovation” or “Sprints”. A distinctive feature of these sprints is the application of visualization and analytics tools from research to real client data resulting in deeper insights into employee engagement, learning, talent management and customer acquisition. We will show a typical sprint and demo some of the insights and use cases we have already completed with major global companies in retail, banking, chemicals, manufacturing and a conglomerate in Canada, China, Germany, Japan, India, and the UK.
Comment: For any customer attending #Connect2014 who is planning to innovate around Social in 2014 I would strongly recommend learning more about the innovation “Sprints”. They are short, snappy, agile, and highly innovative research engagements that are focused on shaking up the status quo and getting transformative business results with a quick turnaround. Plus if you are interested in Social Network Analytics, Kate Ehrlich is one of the most knowledgeable folks IBM has in this space. She is a total gem and someone you definitely want to talk with. She has a strong academic and research background, paired with hands-on practical customer experience.

Talent Planning Analytics: Predicting the Skill Needs in a Dynamic Marketplace (Aleksandra (Saska) Mojsilovic)
Understanding the market demand and client needs ahead of time and translating them into the right skills is critical to business success. Do we have the right skills to support our projects and service delivery? How can we most effectively support our internal business processes and back office operations? Is are sales-force aligned with our clients? Do our sellers have the right skills and expertise to sell our products? In this session we will demonstrate several predictive
analytics capabilities to support a range of tactical and strategic talent planning needs of an organization.
Comment: Over the last year I’ve had the pleasure of working with Saska Mojsilovic and her colleagues from the Business Analytics & Mathematical Science (BAMS) department and have been hugely impressed. Saska is a really smart lady with a deep and applied understanding of the application of predictive analytics in solving a wide range of talent management challanges. If you are interested in predictive analytics, or perhaps a bit of a sceptic, then definitely catch up with Saska as I can guarantee you will find any conversation hugely valuable.

Talent Retention Analytics: Using Predictive Analytic Insights to Improve Employee Engagement (Shubir Kapoor)
As difficult as it has become to locate top performers, keeping them on board is proving to be an even greater worry for organizations. How can we proactively identify which employees are at high risk of leaving ? Can we determine the characteristics of these employees to better understand the reason for attrition? How can we integrate the predictive results with Compensation, Learning, Succession Planning and Performance management systems such that decisions are made with surgical precision in order to improve employee engagement and retain the best and brightest ensuring compensation is competitive and top performers know there is a career path available to them? It all starts with understanding the patterns that are hidden in the data.
Comment: I’ve been a fan of this project for some time and wrote a post about it earlier this year (Laying down an analytics framework for Employee Retention), and considering how difficult it is to find and retain good staff these days, I expect the topic will be interesting to many of you. I would also recommend this demo for those folks that want to talk technology and architecture as well as analytics algorithms since Shubir Kapoor is both researcher and architect with a deep understanding of the challenges in building and deploying highly scalable bigdata analytics solutions. He is definitely someone you architect types will enjoy talking with.

Who Is The Most Suitable Expert For Me? (Inbal Ronen)
Expertise location is a major task performed in enterprises. In this demo we will present expertise location and advanced features over IBM Connections and other skill related sources in the enterprise. In additional to topic based expertise location, we will show how to identify similar experts when the returned expert is unreachable or busy. Similarity is based on similar expertise, such as similar skills, similar social activity, e.g. participating in the same blog, being member in the same communities etc. and person attribute similarity, such as similar job title, same country or organization. For each recommended similar expert we will show evidence of why the person is identified as similar in the context of the expertise topic. We will also show additional features that facilitate expertise search.
Comment: A few years ago I had the pleasure of building a people recommendation system with Inbal Ronen and her colleagues at the Haifa Research Lab; a team that know their social network analytics like no other lab and have been leaders in this space since before social was fashionable. They are also the folks that built SaND, which contributes social search & recommendation capabilities to IBM Connections, and are building the reputation and engagement analysis algorithms mentioned above. They also have a very progressive view to how they deliver analytics results to end-users, with a focus on transparency and not obfuscation; putting the gathering and presentation of evidence at the heart of their solution. Why is this so important? Prove it! The Importance of Evidence, a blog post I wrote on the topic a couple of years ago.

Blue Serendipity: Leveraging Context for Opportunity Discovery (Monu Kedia)
Blue Serendipity discovers high-value linkages between IBMers, IBM customers, and IBM partners using context from various data sources. Such linkage can be used to generate new sales and relationship opportunities. In 2013 Blue Serendipity was deployed at IBM’s Information On Demand (IOD) 2013 conference. Blue Serendipity offered recommendations about which attendees of IOD, 2013 shared common interests, industry focus and/or geography, and let us explore the relationships between attendees and the activities they are attending at the conference, such as technical sessions and executive meetings. The system also helped us track the social media buzz of the event. Ask us how Blue Serendipity can help you in your event/conference!
Comment: I have are a couple of reasons why I personally like this project; firstly “its all about the graph” and looks to maximize the value of people interactions in really practical ways and secondly it touches on one of my pet peeves about conferences or social networking events; Rethinking Conferences; leverage the digital to maximize the physical.

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4 Comments to “Marie’s shortlist for the #Connect2014 Innovation Lab”

  1. Thank you for sharing this Marie. I will definetly come by to check out your Engagement Analytics Project. We are currently piloting something similar at a very large Connections customer. We Combine quantitative and qualitative data, based on semantic Analysis, to build social KPIs to measure the benefit and business contribution of the Plattform. Looking Forward to an Exchange with you.

    • That’s really interesting Fabian. Do you have any links to your project? Maybe there are some nice things we can do together to further maximize the value of Connections. My background is in the semantic web space and I’ve historically done lots of work in that area, specifically as it relates to content analytics. My project is more focused on the network structure and less on the content analytics (at this point) so I expect there could be some interesting synergies between our respective projects. If you want to connect with me on LinkedIn, maybe we can schedule some time to talk at Connect. It will be a really busy week and I find if I don’t schedule something, it doesn’t happen :-)

      • I think it is a great idea to connect on LinkedIn and schedule a Meeting during Connect especially since we seem to adress different aspects of Engagement Analytics. Unfortunately i cannot share any links here but I can give you an overview of what we do in Person at Orlando then.

      • That sounds good. I look forward to it. It’s going to be a fun event :–)

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