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IBM logoInnovation is one of those words that is a bit hard to internalize. Merriam-Webster says innovation is the introduction of something new or a new idea, method, or device. That would be a narrow definition — perhaps even obsolete. Innovation is much more than invention or introducing new technology. Some would say that innovation is more of a state of mind. An attitude. One thing is for sure: innovation is happening more quickly, it is more open and more collaborative.
All three of these factors — speed, openness, and collaboration — are caused by or driven by the Internet. Speed for sure. A new idea emerging in a country we never heard of can be globally recognized in minutes. The openness factor is really about standards. The Internet is not the first thing to be built on standards but it is arguably the most significant. As one travels around the world you can find cars with the steering wheel on different sides, railroad systems of different track sizes, and electrical and telephone connectors of every size and shape. The Internet, on the other hand, works exactly the same way at every corner of the Earth. Collaboration is one of the many applications of the Internet, enabling people in different time zones to share workloads and ideas. The old model of tightly controlled intellectual property is falling by the wayside to the new model of innovation.
To better understand what the new model of innovation may mean for business and society, IBM convened the Global Innovation Outlook (GIO). . The concept was that IBM would open up its legendary technical and business trend analysis processes to outsiders and collaborate with them to gain insight to then share with everybody. Over the course of 10 meetings in 24 days on 3 continents, more than 100 leaders from business, academia, government, and other organizations joined with IBM’s top researchers and consultants to examine three areas that affect the key aspects of society that are ripe for innovation: the future of healthcare, the relationship between government and its citizens, and the intersection of work and life.
The findings from these discussions were released on November 16, 2004 at a major event at Rockefeller University in New York City. I felt quite fortunate to attend. It was very nice to see many former colleagues from IBM, the media, consulting firms, companies, and universities that I have worked with over the years. The meeting was kicked off by Nick Donofrio, Senior Vice President for Technology and Manufacturing at IBM. Nick spearheads many important issues at IBM, including IBM Research, and engages actively in science, technology, and governments around the world. The keynote address, "The Changing Nature of Innovation" was given by Sam Palmisano, Chairman and CEO of IBM. This was followed by a summary of the GIO findings described by Ginni Rometty, Managing Partner for IBM Business Consulting Services.
The remainder of the day included three excellent panel discussions. The full story shows the subjects, moderator and participants on the panels. The GIO conference did not attempt to provide all the answers or offer solutions to major issues raised in the three areas. The conference certainly placed IBM in a very good light and showed off the company’s unique combination of world-class technology leadership and deep expertise in business and industry. The deep relationships IBM has with a broad range of clients, governments, universities and other ecosystem members around the world resulted in a really top-notch set of participants. The value of the conference will come from the continuing and expanded dialogue which will wrestle with the questions, implications and even contradictions inherent in the topics discussed. There is no doubt that the collaborations coming out of this will make the world a better place.
You can download the Global Innovation Outlook paper here.

Panel Discussion: The Changing Nature of Innovation in Healthcare
Moderated by Dr. Paul Horn, SVP, IBM Research
Dr. Raphael H. Levey, Founder and Chairman, Global Medical Forum
Dr. Edward D. Miller, Dean and CEO, Johns Hopkins Medicine
Noël Obourn, President, National Account Segment, CIGNA HealthCare
Dr. Jem Rashbass, Director, Clinical & Biomedical Computing Unit, Cambridge University
Sangita Reddy, Executive Director, Apollo Hospitals
Dr. Jonathan White, VP, Strategy & Business Development, Pfizer Global Pharmaceuticals
Panel Discussion: The Changing Nature of Innovation in Government
Moderated by Mike Daniels, General Manager, IBM Americas
Carole Brookins, US Executive Director, The World Bank Group
Grant Kearney, CEO, The InnovationXchange Network
Ann Mettler, Executive Director, The Lisbon Council
Lt. Gen. Carl O’Berry, USAF (Ret.), VP, Strategic Architecture, Integrated Defense Systems, The Boeing Company
Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, USAF (Ret.) President, The Scowcroft Group
Panel Discussion: The Changing Nature of Innovation in Work & Life
Moderated by Dr. Irving Wladawsky-Berger, VP, Technology, Strategy & Innovation, IBM
Dr. George Campbell, President, The Cooper Union
Dr. Nancy Cantor, President and Chancellor, Syracuse University
Shaygan Kheradpir, CIO, Verizon
Thomas W. Malone, Patrick J. McGovern Professor of Management, MIT Sloan School of Management
Thomas G. Tsao, Co-founder and Partner, Gobi Partners