Bob Lord

Senior Vice President, Cognitive Applications, IBM

Full biography

Bob Lord is one of the world’s leading authorities on the use of data and emerging technologies to transform how brands engage with their customers.

Bob currently serves as Senior Vice President, Cognitive Applications at IBM. He was appointed in 2016 by Chairman, President and CEO Ginni Rometty as the company’s first Chief Digital Officer, with a mission to change how IBM innovation is delivered and consumed by the world’s leading organizations. Today, Bob continues this charge and oversees IBM Watson cognitive solutions.

In pursuit of this goal, Bob has rebuilt IBM’s digital platforms to make it easier for clients and partners to access and deploy IBM technologies, while strengthening ties with the VC-backed startup community to ensure a steady stream of new innovation. His focus on breaking down silos, agile ways of working and instilling a startup mentality in the 107 year-old company have transformed how IBM engages with clients.

At the center of this work is a commitment to the developers and data scientists of the open source community. Bob oversees IBM’s leadership and participation in dozens of open source communities, contribution and donation of open source code, and overall industry advocacy.

In 2018 Bob launched Call for Code, a major initiative to give developers and data scientists ubiquitous access to IBM tools and technologies as a means to solve global, societal challenges. IBM has used technologies like Watson, blockchain and IoT to solve some of the most pressing issues in healthcare, financial services and government. Now in collaboration with the United Nations, the American Red Cross and the Clinton Foundation, IBM is helping the world’s 23 million developers use those same technologies to address one of society’s most pressing concerns: the growing human devastation caused by natural disasters. In the inaugural year of Call for Code, over one hundred thousand developers worked in teams to find immediate technological solutions to aid in disaster preparedness and relief, with the winning solution being rolled out in 2019.

Prior to IBM, Bob served as President of AOL, leading the company through its evolution into a leading, global advertising platform. He also served as CEO of Razorfish, a pioneering digital transformation consultancy helping companies such as Ford, Pfizer, Conde Nast, Mercedes-Benz and Cisco redefine their brands for the digital age. He captured his experiences at Razorfish in a book he co-authored, entitled: Converge: Transforming Businesses at the Intersection of Marketing and Technology.

Bob’s experience and passion has made him an active member of the TED community and a member of the board for both Williams-Sonoma and Screenvision Media.

He started his career as an engineer, graduating from Syracuse University with a BS in Industrial Engineering, before going on to graduate with an MBA from Harvard University.

He shares his passion for discovery with his wife and three children, with competitive participation in a number of outdoor activities and sports.