Can IBM Watson get you off the hook with conference calls?

For many of us conference calls can be the bane of modern working life. Focus can be tricky when you realize after 30 mins you’ve only seen the first 5 slides of a 30-slide presentation. Or there’s that minute you tune out and turn on the kettle or check the football scores, and yes… you’re specifically asked a question in front of a bunch of superiors and a 1-minute aberration appears like an hour of dereliction of duty.

Josh Newlan at Splunk felt the same way. In fact he felt strongly enough he turned to IBM Watson to build an app to address this problem for an internal hackathon.  The app kicks in on hearing his name, alerting him to what he’s missed, with a few other accoutrements thrown in for good measure. His HR department is now thinking of sanctioning the app for use company-wide.

There’s a couple of facets to this story to take into account.

Given that the Watson services he needed are available in the cloud, all Josh needed was a trial account. There was no need for a formal relationship between Splunk and IBM for Josh to build his app. Gone are the days when the IT department can specify what products are services can be used to build which tools. With the rise of the API Economy, the landscape has broadened considerably.

Innovation can now come from anywhere within the organization. It is no longer just the purview of one particular department. We are seeing the rise of the citizen developer. Innovative companies are helping to facilitate these not-so-random acts of development through initiatives like hackathons.

In this era of open innovation, what developers dream, they can build. The companies that can harness this powerful new paradigm will be the ones that win out.


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