"Everybody can be an innovator," said Nick Donofrio, executive vice president, innovation and technology, for IBM, "but not everybody can be an inventor, an explorer or a discoverer."
With that conundrum, Donofrio launched his audience on a mind-expanding journey through 21st century technology and culture from transistors to Second Life.
"It is different now than when I did real honest work," Donofrio proclaimed. "I am a real electrical engineer, and at the time I was doing real work for the company, the technology was good enough to be the innovation itself. That's not true anymore."
It is, he said, now more about innovation that really matters. The world economy in the 21st Century is different place, with:
new business designs
"In 1995, I predicted a million enterprises on the Internet, a billion people and a trillion devices interconnected on the Internet. We have the million enterprises, we have more than a billion people, and we're closing in on that trillion number. A trillion is a huge number, and I was a little enthusiastic on that one," Donofrio said.
"It isn't really 'open standards' either," he went on, "but a 'state of openness'-- people are much more willing to collaborate." He talked about IBM, Sony and Toshiba collaborating on the processor design for the Playstation III without even a written intellectual property agreement. "And now we have the technology to take businesses apart and put them together again to meet changing circumstances, even rapidly."
He talked about numerous IBM ventures in global communications-- not businesses but think tanks, brainstorming sessions conducted globally on the Internet with hundreds of thousands of participants. Sure is nice to have the money to do these things, and exciting to do them no doubt.
He also talked about the need for radical changes in the way we educate engineers and technologists. He advocated multidisciplinary education so that technologists in the near future and beyond become more well grounded, globalists. "That's how I want future IBM engineers educated," he said.
By the time Donofrio finished, we were flying pretty far above the field. Fascinating talk from a fascinating man.