Senior Vice President, IBM Cloud and Data Platform
Robert D. Thomas is Senior Vice President of IBM Cloud and Data Platform. He directs IBM’s product design and investment strategy, expert labs, global software product development, marketing and field operations across the company’s vast software portfolio. Major product brands under Rob’s leadership include Watson, Db2, Cognos, QRadar, and Cloud Paks.
Rob was previously the General Manager of IBM Data and Watson AI. Under his leadership, IBM has emerged as a leader in data and AI, spanning databases, data integration and governance, business intelligence, financial planning, data science and AI tools, and AI applications. Since joining IBM’s software unit, Rob has held roles of increasing responsibility and overseen 4 acquisitions by the firm, representing over $2.5 billion in transaction value.
In 1999, he joined IBM in technology and strategy consulting, first in Atlanta and then in New York. In 2004, Rob joined IBM’s high technology business, to build an engineering services organization focused on semiconductor design and software/systems development. At one point, he led the business and manufacturing in Asia Pacific, living in Tokyo, Japan.
In 2007, Rob joined IBM’s software business, focused on data and analytics. He held a variety of roles, leading IBM’s transition from core databases to delivering broader analytical capabilities, investing in open source, and eventually artificial intelligence.
In 2015, John Wiley & Sons published Rob’s first book, titled “Big Data Revolution: What farmers, doctors, and insurance agents can teach us about patterns in big data”. The Financial Times called the book, “interesting as a case study of the philosophical assumptions that underpin the growing obsession with data.” In December 2016, Rob published his second book, “The End of Tech Companies”, educating business leaders on how to navigate digital disruption in every industry. In April 2020, O’Reilly published Rob’s latest book, “The AI Ladder: Accelerate Your Journey to AI.” The book serves as a practical guide for business leaders to discover where they are in their AI journey and learn the steps necessary to successfully scale AI throughout their organization. Today, he writes extensively on his blog robdthomas.com.
Born in Florida, Rob studied economics at Vanderbilt University, earning his BA in Economics. During his MBA from the University of Florida, Rob worked in equity research, learning applied economics, finance, and financial analysis. Rob serves on the board of Domus (Stamford, CT), which assists underprivileged children in Fairfield county. He is an active volunteer at Filling in the Blanks, an organization focused on fighting childhood hunger in local communities. He lives in New Canaan, CT with his wife and three children.