Makovsky kicked off its 2018 Salon Series with Jon Iwata, former Chief Brand Officer at IBM and Executive in Residence at the Yale School of Management. Iwata, recently inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame, met with biopharmaceutical communicators to provide his perspective on how artificial intelligence is transforming marketing and communications in healthcare, as well as every other industry.

Makovsky founder and CEO Ken Makovsky, and Health Practice Lead Penny Mitchell set the stage for why communicators should be familiar with AI and how it is already impacting their functions.

In his engaging presentation, “A New Era of Man & Machine: Communicating in the Age of AI,” Iwata considered the “phenomenon of data,” and how data is growing, not only in volume, but in variety. Indeed, we are in the midst of a veritable data explosion.

Iwata traced the history of technological discovery from the first microprocessor in 1971, through the development of the Internet in 1995 and on to the current day focus on data and artificial intelligence. In less than 50 years, our entire world, indeed the very way we think and communicate, has been upended. Iwata’s projection is that by 2020, we will be overwhelmed by the quantity and quality of available data.

For example, consider the data now available to help understand consumer buying behavior:

  • 13 loyalty program memberships per customer
  • 90 percent of smartphone users keep geo-location services on
  • 82 percent of shoppers use their phone to check prices while shopping in a physical location
  • 230,000,000 social media posts are created every hour across platforms
  • Hyperlocal weather forecasts for over 2.2 billion locations are created every 15 minutes
  • 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations


Closer to our healthcare space, consider the variety of data that bear on health and wellness:

  • The price of gene sequencing has dropped from $100M in 2001 to $1,000 in 2014
  • 102,000,000 wearables shipped in 2016, growing to 411,000,000 in 2020
  • Fitbit has collected over 5.4 billion nights of sleep
  • There are more than 300 smartphone apps for diabetes management
  • On average, 600 million imaging studies are performed each year in the U.S.
  • At home DNA testing can produce over 700,000 pieces of data per sample


Iwata further shared his insights on the societal and ethical implications of artificial intelligence and how technology is reshaping companies and institutions. Consider these:

  • The University of North Carolina harnessed the power of IBM’s Watson to accelerate the pace of research, speeding discovery and innovation, and eliminating experimental failures early.
  • Cybersecurity analysts are identifying over one million security incidents per second, and generating 10 times more actionable insights.
  • Woodside Energy is providing employees with greater access to data, saving time and reducing costs as a result of speed of response.
  • Toyota engaged Watson to deploy a custom and dynamic advertising experience for millions of customers, driving six times longer engagement than with traditional media ads.
  • Autodesk is now able to respond to customer inquiries almost twice as fast as was previously possible.
  • H&R Block can now use 60 years of tax return data to markedly increase their in-store client satisfaction.

Of course, Iwata showcased Watson’s moment in the spotlight on the television game show Jeopardy. But that was barely the start of its applications.

Attendees agreed that the implications for healthcare communicators are staggering. Everyone pondered the “big” questions: Will machines take over human functioning and responsibilities? Or will they serve to “free up” people to be more strategic and creative and less task oriented. With such high stakes, Iwata emphasized the need to establish a set of policies and principles for guiding how data are collected, aggregated, accessed and protected.

For more insights on how the role of the 21st Century CCO is evolving, read this research report that Iwata contributed to for the Arthur W. Page Society.

Makovsky’s next Salon will feature Harry Glorikian, co-author of the best-selling book, “Moneyball Medicine: Thriving in the New Data-Driven Healthcare Market.” For additional information, contact Penny Mitchell at 



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