Lightning Lab Electric (LLE)  has gained the support of companies that value innovation and have cross-sector interests. Today, we connected with Ben Teague from IBM to speak about supporting Lightning Lab Electric. Teague is a New Zealand Client Engagement Leader at IBM, one of the world’s leading technology and innovation companies.

IBM is known around the world for its hardware and software solutions, but their expertise goes beyond this, with a focus on innovation to help New Zealand organisations compete on a global scale. IBM’s strategic experience with ‘Cognitive Business’ (or Artificial Intelligence – AI) means they can deliver insights to growth sectors such as Cloud, Big Data and Analytics – along with Social Business and Security – to name but a few.

Drawing some parallels to Lighting Lab’s values – supporting, improving and growing NZ communities – IBM’s support of LLE reflects their view of innovation as “the lifeblood of successful companies and economies, and a key driver of productivity and growth. Ultimately these startups will bring prosperity to New Zealand by solving our biggest challenges, attracting global investment and creating the jobs of tomorrow.”

IBM is no stranger to innovative solutions, since the launch of Watson – IBM’s AI system which enables information processing ‘to augment human intelligence and decision-making’ – they lead the way globally and are breaking innovation records, such as obtaining over 8,000 US patents in 2016 alone.

IBM watson
Photo by Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

In the energy sector, IBM has partnered with companies like Western Australia’s Woodside Energy to harness the instinctual know-how of their best employees and create a cognitive business to augment and share employee knowledge. Other client-focused solutions range from artificial intelligence to cloud and cybersecurity, but that’s not all, IBM is also transforming internally:

  • IBM Watson Build leveraged in-house expertise, tools and guidance to tap into “a wealth of creativity” from people inside the company to help solve some of their daily challenges.
  • DevOps is helping to optimise the time spent addressing customer feedback as well as the continuous delivery, deployment and monitoring of applications. DevOps promotes cross-departmental collaborations between business, development and IT operations.

IBM is also committed to open source platforms and communities for developers everywhere to create new digital tools and services.

Similar to the ventures participating in LLE, IBM focuses on how data can be used for delivery aspects of the sector – particularly in predictive maintenance, an area highlighted previously by Thahirah Jalal from Unison – and how the application of artificial intelligence could be applied to the front line customer service experience. IBM sees working with the LLE programme as an “opportunity to demonstrate their deep industry expertise.” Potential applications in relation to the energy sector are explored in more detail here.

What did LLE learn from IBM?

James, Programme Manager, said it was great to have an IBM technical specialist visit LLE to talk about the various tools in the Bluemix platform and their capabilities He learned how diverse and complex the Bluemix tools are, and how intentional IBM is about what data they feed their AI and deep learning tools. James commented, “I always enjoy learning more about AI and what it is capable of, and after a visit from IBM I confirmed just how much more there is to know”.

emhTrade’s Stu took away two key aspects from speaking with IBM; firstly, that IBM’s Bluemix system seems like it could provide support for virtually any aspect of a business. Secondly, how clear it is that AI is shaping aspects of the industry from both the consumer and supply side:

  • ad-tech (to customise offers)
  • customised help
  • bill and spending optimisation
  • back to the supply chain, with network fault detection and optimisation for generator efficiency modelling

Interested in future Lightning Lab programmes, keep up to date with our newsletter here.

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