I recently had a memorable experience that was one of the most moving of my working life; like a dream come true. After several intense months of work and planning, we were able to bring together in one wonderful and unique place the tourism experience and thorough client knowledge of the Centres of Art, Culture and Tourism (CACT) of Lanzarote, which are almost 50 years old, leading cloud technology from a global leader, IBM, with over 100 years and five teams of developers and designers with enormous talent and a desire to surprise the audience.
Challenge achieved with IBM Watson
This combination can only be a good recipe for a tourist destination competing internationally, which always strive for excellence and innovation. And instead of doing it in a dedicated, the challenge was posed on the stage at the Jameos del Agua Auditorium, where we have an excellent WiFi connection, thanks to Telefónica who provided us with a dedicated radio link to be able to use IBM technology in the cloud.
As director of technology and innovation at IBM Spain, Elisa Martin Garijo, said in opening the challenge, the digital transformation affects us all, including the tourism industry. It also affects IBM, which has gone from selling hardware to selling innovative solutions in the form of systems consulting and high value-added software. In recent months, we have seen how all technology companies are looking for talent and innovative apps in areas like tourism, education, and health. Along these lines, these companies have opened up their platforms to the ecosystem, making it possible for any developer to access galleries and repositories of ready-written code to be able to use it flexibly and without the cost from the cloud, in order to be able to develop their own applications, without having to reinvent the wheel.
The added value of IBM Watson and Bluemix is what very intuitively and simply adds the cognitive and natural language capabilities to mobile appls. This allows us to create a conversation between the mobile app and the user. In other words, cognitive technology and natural language (or artificial intelligence) allow the CACT’s mobile app, or the mobile app of any other tourist company, (be it a restaurant, hotel, car, sports centre, or clothing store) to start a conversation with a potential customer with infinite possibilities in terms of the worries, knowledge, experience, needs, and preferences of our potential customer, never intrusively. A conversation that ends when one of the two parties chooses to do so, or that may otherwise be extended, without any pre-set limits.
We invest in the user experience
Improving the experience of visitors to the CACT with the mobile app that has cognitive capabilities and natural language is the challenge we set out to attract the best developers in an open innovation process. Cognitive application that will be available to the more than 2.5 million customers who visit the CACT, a wonderful work conceptualized by our famous maestro César Manrique.
It was also a dream to see how you can innovate in the public procurement process through open innovation initiatives. We are faced with a pioneering and disruptive, yet brave, exercise of CACT. The call for applications from development companies arises from a global vocation without barriers to entry for entrepreneurs or SMEs that had no experience with the administration or with IBM technology. Equally important, the process is open to the tourism sector and companies, which could see first hand the solutions proposed by each of the finalists in a closing session in the Jameos auditorium.
On top of everything else, the conditions were posted on a purpose-created website, consisting of both internal and external experts, including the chief technology officer of IBM Spain. It was spread through both the CACT communication channels, and the IBM Watson, IBM Cloud, IBM Smarter Cities channels, among others, in both Spanish and English. Thanks to these international channels, submissions arrived from companies based in India or New York, with no knowledge of Spanish. We wanted to attract the best developers, regardless of where they are based, while placing the island as a disruptive experience in tourism internationally.
A memorable work space: Jameos del Agua
The chance to work in a Jameo is a dream come true. We have been locked away for three days to connect the tourist experience of the CACT team with the technological and human capabilities of developers and designers with extraordinary motivation, all nationally and internationally supported by IBM experts. Silence reigned during the creative and development process. At times we listened to background music made by the maestro Ildefonso Aguilar and at other times, our attention was drawn to the conversation of the tourists who entered the auditorium fascinated to see the teams working. One tourist even dedicated us a song from afar. It was an enriching experience in a unique setting, an idyllic place to create and innovate.[columns] [span8]
Not exactly a garage in Silicon Valley. I’d pick the Jameos del Agua Auditorium. A dream come true, combining the elements that I believe in and stand up for, such as transparency, participation, openness, disruptive innovation, the beauty of combining art and nature, and global vision.
¡Congratulations to the CACT![/span4][/columns]