Services Science, Engineering and Management Conference, at IBM Palisades, October 6-7

This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker's presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, posted on the Coevolving Innovations web site by David Ing.

Irving Wladawsky-Berger, IBM Vice President, Technical Strategy and Innovation, "At the Threshold of a 21st Century Revolution"

Last week, was a speaker at MIT on Complex Systems Engineering

Also worked on Complex Systems last week, for NSF

  • Bill Rouse will summarize
  • Consensus that what is most interesting about complex systems now, is that they incorporated the market-facing aspects and the social aspects (i.e. people)

Can't have services without people

  • Different lenses on the same problem?
  • Comfortable that when you design an airplane, you can see and touch it
  • When you talk about something that you can't see, who cares what the reality is?  What matters is its behaviour, how it performs.
  • e.g. wave and particle duality: when you get through the angst that there's no reality, life goes on and it's okay
  • We're dealing with designing and architecting these incredibly complicated things that don't exist in the same way that cars and airplanes and chips exist.
  • Can have an attack of anxiety or get over it.
  • Sometimes a complex systems approach is the right approach, and sometimes a people approach is right, but it's important that they're all lenses on the same general thing, i.e. how do we understand market-facing complex systems that involve people.
  • They're dynamic, unpredictable.
  • Some of these things you'll automate, the rest you'll provide better tools for the people to make better decisions.
  • We're not after automating the people out of the equation; you can't automate the clients out of the equation.
  • May want to have people working with an automated part, or with humans.
  • In restaurants, menus don't have variance.
  • In markets, opportunities are in the variances.

At the end of the day, we want to figure out how to better design, build, operate, manage and evolve these market-facing, people-oriented systems that have heretofore have existed fine, but have been working in ad hoc ways.

  • Design is at the root of what we want to do.
  • In people-oriented, market-facing system, you're never complete.  It has to adapt to market conditions.
  • Most people don't like their ERP systems, which were designed 15 years ago when the biggest thing was relational databases and mainframes ruled the world.
  • They took a rigid approach to the business processes they automated.
  • They told people: you want ERP, we'll automate you.
  • Today, we're in a different environment:  what parts should we automate, what should be flexible, what should evolve?

One related area to complex systems and services, where I'm interested

  • If you're going to design something, you need a model in your head.
  • What's the model of businesses, and business models and innovation?
  • Answer is going to come from the world of gaming and massive multiplayer online games, where people are creating worlds.
  • Creating sim-business or sim-Almaden or sim-Harrod's.
  • The link to the interfaces is critical.
  • There's not point in doing any of this work, if human beings can't use them.
  • Exciting that new tools are ways of visualizing complex things.
  • There are existence proofs, question is how you bring them in
  • If you're going to design businesses, how do you design them.
  • There are experts that design hospitals, bridges, planes.
  • Incredible opportunities, but incredible challenges.
  • What's appealing about challenges: if going to design a very good hospital, going to your room and thinking about hospitals, we are being liberated so that our applications can look and feel more like the real world.
  • Since the real world is to satisfy humans, the virtual worlds can have a lot of richness
  • Need to educate and research people who can go out and model businesses in a systematic way that we haven't done before.
  • This was done 35 years in manufacturing.
  • Universities sent people to the plant floor.
  • Now, the opportunities to do this in the rest of the world

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2006/10/06 18:35 Irving Wladawsky-Berger, "At the Threshold of a 21st Century Revolution"