General Manager, Data and Artificial Intelligence, IBM
Robert D. Thomas is the general manager of IBM Data and Artificial Intelligence. He directs IBM’s product investment strategy, sales and marketing, expert labs, and global software product development. With a portfolio of over 1,000 products, IBM has emerged as a leader in data and AI, spanning databases, data integration and governance, business intelligence, planning, data science and AI tools, and AI applications. Major product brands under Rob’s leadership include Watson, DB2, Netezza, Cognos, SPSS, and InfoSphere. Since joining IBM’s software unit, Rob has held roles of increasing responsibility, including business development, product engineering, sales and marketing, and general management. He’s overseen four acquisitions by the firm representing over $2.5 billion in transaction value. At IBM, he’s worked in technology and strategy consulting, first in Atlanta and then in New York; founded IBM’s practice to advise companies moving onto the internet, where he executed and advised on strategy and operations at a variety of companies including Motorola, AXA, and Sanmina; joined IBM’s high-technology business to build an engineering services organization focused on semiconductor design, embedded software, and systems development; led the business and manufacturing operations in Asia Pacific, living in Tokyo, Japan; joined IBM’s software business, focused on data and analytics, holding a variety of roles, leading IBM’s transition from core databases to delivering broader analytical capabilities and eventually artificial intelligence. Rob’s first book Big Data Revolution: What Farmers, Doctors, and Insurance Agents Can Teach Us About Patterns in Big Data (Wiley) was published in 2015. The Financial Times called the book, “interesting as a case study of the philosophical assumptions that underpin the growing obsession with data.” His second book, The End of Tech Companies was published in 2016, educating business leaders on how to navigate digital disruption in every industry. Today, he writes extensively on his blog Robdthomas.com. Rob serves on the board of Domus (Stamford, CT), which assists underprivileged children in Fairfield county. He lives in New Canaan, Connecticut, with his wife and three children. He was born in Florida and trained in economics at Vanderbilt University, earning his BA in economics. During his MBA from the University of Florida, he worked in equity research, learning applied economics, finance, and financial analysis.
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