THE BLOG
02/25/2014 09:31 am ET Updated Apr 27, 2014

Cloud Computing Is Here: Observations from IBM Pulse 2014

I had the pleasure of attending IBM Pulse yesterday in Las Vegas. Nearly 10,000 customers partners, IBM employees, and media members arrived at the MGM Grand to learn about the most recent advances in cloud computing, Big Data, and a host of other subjects.

As with all technology conferences, it was quite a bit to take in. There's no shortage of smart cookies and interesting exhibits. Here are a few of my personal highlights:
  • Sandy Carter, General Manager, IBM Ecosystems and Social Business Evangelism, gave an interesting talk about what to expect in 2014 from the Internet of Things and social media, two subjects usually not far from my mind. The former is a arriving at a particularly fast clip. Sensors embedded in roads and bridges are going to allow for quicker travel and more efficient infrastructure repair. With respect to social media, imagine being able to see if your parents and friends will "like" a dress you're thinking about buying-before you buy it. 
  • Watson was a major presence. Now that it has conquered Jeopardy!, IBM plans to apply natural language processing to fields like healthcare. This could be a game-changer.
  • Scott Groenendal, Program Director, Big Data & Analytics and I talked about data visualization, the subject of my next book. IBM's latest version of SPSS is pretty neat. It concurrently accesses a number of different algorithms, allowing technical end users to act as de facto statisticians. The ultimate goals: better and faster data discovery, and better business decisions.
  • Jacob Braun of WakaDigital and I talked about organizations' efforts to embrace cloud computing. It turns out that one size rarely fits all, and there's a great deal of dispersion among different types of organizations and types of data. Even within a healthcare organization, for instance, patient records are treated differently than other types of enterprise data. It's not uncommon for a CXO to dip his/her toe in the water before jumping right in.

For me, though, the highlight will be tomorrow. Vince Gilligan and Anna Gunn of Breaking Bad will be talking about how social media helped turn the show into a cult phenomenon. With any luck, I might get to meet the two. As you'll see below, I'm a bit of a fan.