IBM taking a seriously big interest in Africa [Tech4Africa]

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There are four key trends that are currently disrupting technology around the world says Tom Rosamilia, IBM’s head of global strategy.

According to Rosamilia, cognitive computing, data, workload optimised systems and nano devices are shaping the future of technology, and they present particular challenges and opportunities.

“Computing has changed significantly — before the 1960s, all computers did was counting and tabulating,” says Rosamilia.

He explains that the era of computing has changed significantly since then. With programmable systems, we are in the era of cognitive computing — systems that can think and learn.

Using IBM’s Waston, the company’s cognitive system, Rosamilia argues that systems like this will change how companies operate.

“Learning through interactions, they deliver evidence based responses driving better outcomes.”

He also talks about the rise of data and challenges posed by big data, in a world where enterprise data is not the only data.

“There are different kinds of data now such as unstructured data that come through from social media messages and VoIP. Data is growing,” he says.

Rosamilia points to out the four Vs which make up the dimensions of growing data which he believes should be mined: volume, velocity, variety and veracity (uncertainty).

The tech giant also seems to think that there’s massive opportunity in Africa. Everyone wants a piece of the continent and it seems that’s especially true of IBM: the company currently operates in more than 20 African countries and it is expanding its footprint.

IBM says it “is making a significant investment in Africa, the world’s fastest growing region, ramping up its profile on the continent as part of its focus on emerging markets.”

Speaking at Tech4Africa, a two-day event that presents a global perspective to the African technology context, Rosamilia says that IBM’s new Africa lab (the lab part of the global research network) will help drive innovation on the continent.

He says that the lab, which is based in Kenya, “will focus on next generation innovation — that will develop human and natural resources.” It will “explore opportunities of e-governance as well as coming with with smart solutions for city problems such as traffic.”

“People are desperate to tap Africa’s growing middle class, working age population and IBM does business in Africa for the world,” he adds.

The company wants to foster an innovation ecosystem in Africa. It is currently partnering with different groups such as customers, venture capitalists, students and entrepreneurs.

IBM has already launched the African version of its global entrepreneurs programme to help fuel this innovation ecosystem — SmartCamp.

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