IBM Master Inventor Series
“The role of IBM Master Inventor is both an honor and an important responsibility reserved for leading inventors in our company whose talents, insights and contributions are not only exemplary, but critical for IBM’s continued leadership and growth in Intellectual Property.”
Inspiration in the things that frustrate
By John Moore
I am John Moore and I am an IBM Master Inventor. Last year I helped 15 first time inventors get their first patent filed with the Patent Office. I receive such a buzz out of helping these first time inventors see how easy and rewarding the process is.
Although IBM owns all the patents that I have, my name is tied to 72 that have been issued by the Patent Office to IBM, I have more than 150 now that have been filed with the U.S. Patent Office. And I have 33 in some form of development right now with various invention circles that I am part of.
Where do my ideas come from?
My inspiration comes from things that I think should be done differently or could be done differently, things I feel could be improved on and things that frustrate me. They come from my observations while I am at work, from challenges that projects I’m working on present to me, solutions that I come up with that are novel, as well as being observant in my every day life. For example, when I lived in Danbury, Connecticut and made the commute to Somers every day, I’d call my wife on the way home from the cell phone. And as soon as I hit that New York/Connecticut border my cell phone would drop. And I could count down the seconds to my wife – “Honey, the phone will drop in five, four, three, two, one”…and then the line would go dead.
Well, I started looking around to see if there was a patent that says if a call terminates (prematurely) immediately call the person back as soon as your phone has coverage again without you having to look down and dial the number or use the speed dial.
That’s where one of my early patents came from – simply an annoyance on my commute home every day.
My first invention?
My first invention came when I was helping organizations respond to potential threats to their operations.
It was in the early to middle 2000s and world-wide, viruses were taking down entire enterprise networks. I had a team of people that I would assemble via an online chat tool to help me respond to these threats (as well as many others). I would have to add each person one by one to the group chat, so that I could communicate with them.
I wanted a system that would monitor a chat transcript for me and when I put in a set of code words, something like exclamation point; virus attack exclamation points, so it would act as a set of triggers. The system would go and look at distribution lists that I created for instant messaging and automatically invite all of those participants immediately to a group chat and make it so they did not have to even accept it. They were just automatically put into the group chat. That was my first patent.
What invention am I most proud of?
It has to be one of my earliest ones. In the early days of using chat to interact with a helpdesk, I observed a frustration that begat opportunity. On one occasion I was chatting with a helpdesk agent via the chat tool and found out she was managing 5 active chat sessions. Turns out one of the people she was working with was not very happy and causing significant response delays in getting back to me. That’s when lightening struck. I came up with an idea to do what I call load balancing across the agents based on sentiment.
For instance, if you were interacting with five people but everybody was saying I love your product, it’s so awesome, you guys are amazing, the service is great, I want to order more, well you know what? You could probably handle more conversations than someone who’s dealing with two people who are telling you your product is poor, they want their money back, or they want to talk to a manager, because emotionally it is far more draining and you have to really be laser focused on that person’s needs This Invention monitors the language in those chat conversations and rates them based on the difficulty of the conversation. And if the conversation is really, really bad, the next person who comes into the chat queue does not get assigned to that person. It gets assigned to somebody who has a lighter emotional queue.
How do I set aside time to concentrate on all these ideas that are floating around in my head?
I found giving myself a regular time slot each week to use for ‘creative time’. I sit and think about how I could make improvements to the project or work I was doing. I begin my day at 5 a.m. when nobody else is going to bother me and I work on my thinking and my patent write ups. Other times I schedule group think time with fellow inventors and we all bring an idea or concept to talk about which usually lends to discovering a better way to do things.
What advice would I give to a budding inventor?
For me I would say number one, question everything. Look for those little things that just bother you and see if you can come up with a better way to do it – to make your life better as a result of the patent.
John Moore is a Senior Technical Staff Member at IBM.
The IBM Master Inventor series is a collection of articles that describes an IBM Master inventor, the many ways IBM supports these inventors, the motivation behind their inventions and patents and also advice and guidance for buddy inventors who may be looking at IBM for their careers. Stay tuned as we bring to you the experiences of these unique talents at IBM.
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