Cognitive: Collaboration of the Future

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“Technology is the literalization of human imagination.” At the IBM Connect conference in Orlando this year, Jason Silva used this phrase to kick start the event focused on social business and the engaged workforce. Over the course of three days, clients, thought leaders, and technology experts gathered in rooms to learn how this statement is coming true across industries and professions to create a better workforce, one that is socially connected and sharing, and also learning from itself to make better processes for tomorrow

However well intentioned our effort are to be more connected and agile, I believe we are living in a time of collaborative overload. Time spent on collaborative business activities has ballooned by 50% of the last 10 years, according to Jeff Schick, the General Manager of IBM’s Social Business portfolio. In the new era of cognitive computing, we will have technology that helps us sort through this clutter and enables us to work better.

This new way to work with cognitive computing and social business is like having a personal assistant. Systems like Watson can become expert advisors given enough input and time to learn your business. It can also analyze the tone of your email to make sure that you’re not giving off the wrong impression. With more and more input, cognitive systems will even be able to prioritize your calendar based on the attendees and the topics discussed to ensure that you’re always engaged on the most important tasks in your day.

Using cognitive social technologies, humans will have even more freedom to become experts ourselves. Email, in all its ubiquitous glory, has become such a commoditized and expected form of communication that we take for granted how we expect it to work. There are better systems available than sorting by most recent to ensure that we stay on task. Cognitive computing will help us further by keeping us on task, freeing up our day to concentrate on key initiatives, and automatically locating and curating the content that we need to collaborate with our teams.

Eventually, these cognitive technologies will become as ubiquitous as email. They will take actions based on heuristics and machine learning without having to be told in advance what to do—five years ago that thought would have seemed impossible. The possibilities for freedom to think and act are endless, and we’re only now scratching the surface of what that will look like five years from today.