IBM THINK 2018 and the Era of Man + Machine

Computing “eras” are a common concept among those who work in or focus on the IT industry. One progression starts with the mainframe era (late 1950s to the present) and the client/server era (1980s to present). However, the notion breaks down a bit in the third era which is variously called the digital, information and Internet era due to the inclusion of divergent ecommerce, cloud computing, mobility, analytics, IoT and other essentially web-enabled processes.

That confusion isn’t especially surprising since the first two eras are associated with specific systems or platforms that fundamentally altered the way enterprises and other organizations operated. In contrast, web-enabled compute processes tend to be squishier in terms of the platforms they require which continue to undergo massive evolutionary changes.

That touches on a key point of IBM’s THINK 2018 last week in Las Vegas. During her keynote, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty and guest commentators described how the company is working with global customers and partners to embrace a “new era of man + machine, an era of and ().”

That’s a fascinating idea, especially given the growing interest and investments in AI, advanced analytics and associated machine and deep learning processes. But are we really at the cusp of a new computing era or was Rometty engaging in mere cheerleading? Plus, if the former is true, how well positioned is IBM to provide its customers and partners the tools and technologies they need to succeed in the era of man + machine?

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NOTE: This column was originally published in the .

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