Here at IBM Connect 2013, IBM is taking great pains to get across two big ideas. First, that culture drives business. Culture and people are the real strategic value in a business. Because of this, IBM is providing a number of solutions that help to build and harness the human capital of a business and unlock that value. This is a key reason that they acquired Kenexa and continue to help customers to implement social collaboration in their organizations. The value of human capital extends to customers. Engaging customers as people and understanding and appreciating their culture are important factors in driving growth and IBM stands poised to assist.
The second big idea is analytics. Data drives business. Gathering and analyzing data from all sources and, more importantly, getting assistance in understanding what the data means is a major factor in business success. With technology like Watson, analytics can provide insight (IBM’s word) into your business and course of action.
Both of these themes seem to be in opposition. On the one hand, people are the most important part of your business and nurturing them is the most important action. On the other hand, analytics is the most important activity in understanding your business. Which is it - people or data?
Of course, both are important and interrelated. Data enables the actions of people. Data is not the decision but helps people to make the decision. You still need smart and motivated people to act on the data, to make the decision that no computer, not even Watson, can make. The parts have to come together for there to be much value in any of it.
Remember, Watson – whether Sherlock Holmes’ Watson, Alexander Graham Bell’s Watson, or the computer Watson– is an assistant. Companies can listen to what it says but it’s the people that are the final arbitrators of what is right to do.