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5/31/2013
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IBM Appoints First Federal Chief Innovation Officer

Dr. Jane Snowdon hails from IBM Research, where she led global outlook for the company's 12 labs.

Jane Snowdon
Jane Snowdon

IBM has a new chief innovation officer at its U.S. federal business unit. Dr. Jane Snowdon, a 17-year veteran of IBM Research, was appointed to the newly created position to develop strategies for government clients in emerging areas including big data, cloud computing and mobile.

Snowdon most recently worked on the IBM Research team, where she led the global outlook for the company's 12 labs. In an interview with InformationWeek Government, Snowdon shared four megatrends she has observed during her time at the research labs.

1. Data Explosion.

There's been an exponential growth of users, transactions, computations, and structured and unstructured data. "With the explosion of data, being able to deal with petabytes and terabytes is extremely important," said Snowdon. "We want to continue investing in this area."

This growth is making data much more complex to manage, which leads to the second trend.

2. Advanced Analytics.

To deal with increasing complexity, advanced analytics are needed and, in fact, are becoming more mainstream. The trend is also creating a need for algorithms that discover hidden patterns, as more users demand interactivity and visualization.

IBM Smarter Cities Challenge: 10 Towns Raise Tech IQs
IBM Smarter Cities Challenge: 10 Towns Raise Tech IQs
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)

"Seventy percent of what's streaming over the Web today is multimedia. The key is being able to combine technologies and information that's contained in video, and deploy it on multiple devices that can visualize it," said Snowdon, citing diagnostic data as an example.

Analytics will be an area of focus for Snowdon in her new job, particularly fraud prevention assistance for agencies, as fraud in government is a massive problem.

3. Increased Pace.

The third megatrend deals with the fast pace of information. Because of the cloud, there is more open data and there are disruptive new models for its consumption.

4. Contextual Overload.

The trend of contextual overload creates an opportunity for companies to provide personalized services based on user preferences and even location, said Snowdon.

Snowdon said she plans to bring her extensive background in strategy, modeling, analytics and consulting to the government sector. Coming up with new citizen services that the government can provide is one area of opportunity. "The cloud is really the common platform that allows the sharing of government's wealth of data, so for instance, this would involve a cloud computing solution built on open standards," she said.

Among Snowdon's most notable work is developing strategies and driving research efforts worldwide to create solutions for smarter buildings. As part of its Smarter City initiative, IBM is working with the General Services Administration (GSA) to install smart building technology in 50 of the federal government's highest energy-consuming buildings.

These influential and accomplished government IT leaders are finding ways to be cost efficient and still innovate. Also in the new, all-digital Government CIO 25 special issue of InformationWeek Government: Video surveillance isn't just about networked cameras anymore. New technology provides analytics, automation, facial recognition, real-time alerts and situational-awareness capabilities. (Free registration required.)

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