Why Millennials Should Care About IBM

I’m 25 years old, an unapologetic millennial, and I just got an amazing job at IBM in San Francisco. I personally could not be happier, but I was a bit bewildered by some of the reactions that I got when I shared my good news.

When I first began telling people about this new opportunity, they were a little surprised that I didn’t decide to go with a Silicon Valley startup that so many people my age were flocking to. I’ve worked in a start-up environment, and yes while it can be exciting to always be experiencing the brink of new technology, there is far too much uncertainty in the startup world. The possibility that a company could rise and fall within the span of a year is not too enticing to me. IBM has had a foundation in this country for the past 104 years and is not going anywhere anytime soon.

The more important reaction that I received is one from my peers. When telling some of my friends about this opportunity, after the general excitement died down, many of them posed the question, “Well, what does IBM do?”. I realized that to many millennials, IBM is almost irrelevant. Even when I told my peers about Watson, the incredible super computer capable of A.I. that IBM is developing, most of them would say something along the lines of “Oh, isn’t that the computer that beat that one guy in Jeopardy?”. Most write off Watson’s time on Jeopardy as a gimmick or publicity stunt, but in all actuality, Watson is why millennials like me, my peers, and all twentysomethings should care about IBM.

The fact is that IBM is heralding in a new generation of A.I. and cognitive intelligence that will be implemented into everyday life. On October 6 of this year, CEO Ginni Rometty made an announcement that within the next 20 years, IBM will guide us into the “cognitive era” with Watson spearheading the movement; with its technology that processes information in order to advance its own education. Once this technology is implemented, it will affect many areas such as education, finance, medicine, and social media. In fact, this technology is already beginning to materialize in commercial settings.

Westfield Mall in San Francisco recently unveiled their latest project, called BeSpoke, in order to help generate more foot traffic in the mall and to help bridge the marketplace with the digital community, both important tasks in this era of online shopping. With the help of Salesforce and IBM Watson, this has become a reality. An aspect of BeSpoke is the personalization of the shopping experience. By knowing a customer’s online identity through learning their likes and dislikes from their social media profiles, it is then possible for BeSpoke to make shopping recommendations to the consumer. BeSpoke, with the help of IBM Watson, is revolutionizing the shopping experience by both socializing and personalizing it, creating a whole new way to shop.

IBM and Watson are helping to jumpstart the cognitive era of computing. They are helping to demonstrate this with one of their new campaigns, “Outthink”. This campaign involves the commercialization of Watson and its many uses. Some of these uses include, cooking, travel, and medicine, among countless others. Watson was created in order to understand data and learn from it in order to help overcome challenges, and it continues to grow everyday. On IBM’s website, they report that when Watson beat Ken Jennings on Jeopardy in 2011, it did so with one API, or application processing interface, but today it has 28. These APIs are what make Watson learn and are launching Watson and IBM into the cognitive era and the future.

So with all this in mind, I’m so excited to start my job at IBM because I know that they are more than their past and they have a bright future. They are the future of A.I. and I know that they will change the way the world sees computing and technology. And so I pose a question to my fellow millennials, are you ready?