6 Questions for Melanie Butcher

6 Questions for Melanie Butcher, IBM Director for UX, Watson Customer Engagement

In town for IBM’s Watson Summit, Melanie took time out of her busy schedule to sit down with D+TC and answer our pressing questions. Here’s how it went down.

 1. What gets you up in the morning?

I really love creating products. I love watching people use the products and knowing that we’re creating something new and hopefully innovative. It’s so weirdly rewarding. People may think it’s a bit of an ordinary passion, but it’s my passion.

2. What are you most excited about in your industry?

I’m not just saying this because I work at IBM, but artificial intelligence (AI) is really interesting. Watching the emergence of AI, because the technology is finally there, watching how we’re going to be applying it within applications is going to be very interesting. It’s such a green field at the moment; it’s just ripe for innovation. I’m excited to watch that space emerge.

3. What’s your favourite piece of technology?

This is probably going to sound so cliché, but I find the smart phone amazing. And the fact that it’s called the phone, yet we use it so little for the phone piece. Watching the evolution of all the pieces come together! If you had asked me if I would lose my phone or my laptop, I’d rather lose my laptop. My phone has become such a piece of me and I think that we’re going to see some pieces of technology emerge like that where it becomes such a natural part of something that we do, that we’ll think “How did we ever get along without it?”. I watch my 12 year-old daughter, who can’t live without her phone… It’s become so pervasive in society that I think we’re going to see more technology emerge like that.

4. What's your favourite quote/proverb/saying/mantra?

I really believe that in order to be successful you need to follow your passion. If we all follow our passion then it really doesn’t feel like work. It’s been everything to me. If ever there was a piece of advice that I wanted to give it’s: follow your passion.

And everyone’s passions will evolve over time. As humans we might become more interested in one thing than another. My passion, some might look at and say, is software. But it’s taken so many twists and turns to get here…

5. Music: what's at the top of your playlist?

It depends on what I’m doing, but I have to say there’s one band I really like a lot: Bonobo. It’s good music for me to get work done, or I do yoga to it or run to.

6. Look into your crystal ball – what do you see?

AI. I think that we’re going to collectively as a species want to evolve, and start to realise that if we want for us to be able to solve some big problems, like being able to take care of each other as the population grows, we’ll need technology in order to be able to do that. And AI is going to help us help each other live in this world and be better people.