Lawrence Mills Davis

Mills Davis at Graph Expo 2001

Mills Davis at Graph Expo 2001

Lawrence Mills Davis (born 1944) is an American business consultant, computer scientist, and entrepreneur. His passion is intelligent computing and its applications. Davis is the founder and managing director of MILLS•DAVIS, a research consultancy based in Washington DC that is known for forward-looking industry research studies, multi-company innovation and market education programs, and new venture and solution strategy consulting. Its mission is to translate high-value research ideas into innovations in computing, communications, business processes, and business models having the potential to impact performance, productivity and return on investment by at least an order of magnitude.

Davis conducts proprietary research and is the author of more than 50 reports, whitepapers, articles, and industry studies, including the groundbreaking Semantic Wave Report. This seminal study examined the technologies and multi-billion dollar market opportunities for solutions built using semantic web, smart data, natural language processing, deep learning, cognitive computing, strong AI, and smart UX building blocks. The report reviewed 270 technology companies, précised 150 case studies, and explored the role of smart technologies in 100+ application categories.

Davis provides research, advisory, and communication services for public and private sector organizations. His passion is intelligent computing and its applications. Mills has made a career of championing innovative ideas and translating them into products, practices, and new businesses. Through engagement in industry studies, new ventures, corporate start-ups, and multi-company development programs, Davis has gained a firm understanding of how intelligent technologies can be harnessed to generate value.

Next Wave Graphic Communication — From 1995 to 2002, Davis focused his consulting practice on next wave graphic communications and strategies for publishers, printers, and media companies to cope with internet-driven business disruptions.

Semantic Wave — From 2002 to 2010, Davis researched, assessed, and reported on business implications of the semantic wave — the paradigm shift from information-centric to meaning-based patterns of computing associated with the semantic web.

AI and Concept Computing — From 2011 to present, Davis has researched and consulted on next stage knowledge technologies, semantic computing, AI, and the internet of everything. The focus has been helping businesses exploit opportunities presented by hyper-networked, smart computing.

The current consulting focus for Davis is cognitive computing, machine learning, smart user experience, and strong AI. The opportunities that Mills is interested in are ones where he can help help create, develop, and grow business that generates new value, pushes performance to a new level, and delivers outstanding user experience.

Career Timeline

This career timeline summarizes Mills Davis industry research publications, multi-company innovation and market development programs, and venture development and solution strategy consulting from 1980 to 2014.

This career timeline summarizes Mills Davis industry research publications, multi-company innovation and market development programs, and venture development and solution strategy consulting from 1980 to 2014.

Early Years

  • College — Davis graduated from Northwestern University in 1966 with a BA in Philosophy.
  • IBM — Davis worked with IBM as a programmer analyst from 1967 to 1970. His first introduction to programming was by plugging wires into tabulating machines and calculator punches. Next came programming with decks of cards and mainframe computers. Then time-share computing, mini-computers and microprocessors.
  • Pre-Med — In 1971, Davis undertook pre-med studies at George Washington University, which he completed in 1972. During this time he also freelanced, developing analytic applications for mutual funds and real-time multi-user applications for law enforcement.
  • BAH — Davis joined the management consulting firm of Booz, Allen & Hamilton in 1973. He viewed a move into consulting as an opportunity to help shape decisions about how computers should be used. Davis developed standards and methodologies for proposal development, software engineering, and system lifecycle management. As a senior associate with Booz Allen’s information technology practice through 1979, he served varied commercial, government and international clients.


In 1980 Davis founded DAVIS INC to focus on development of visual computing and the transformation of graphic communication from analog to digital modes of production.

From 1980 to 1995, Davis consulted with a broad spectrum of companies who were:

  • Inventing and applying digital technologies to typography, information graphics, illustration, animation, design, publishing, print, audiovisual media, and other aspects of visual communication; and
  • Commercializing new software, devices, processes, practices in personal, professional, enterprise, and industrial markets.

Industry Research — Davis conducted proprietary and commissioned industry research and was the principal investigator and author of several studies including:

  • World Computer Graphic Communication (1982) — (for AT&T’s Bell Labs) Part technology assessment and part ethnography of communication this study explored the impact of transitioning telecommunication networks and services from voice and data to rich media spanning global cultures and languages including English, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, and Romance languages.
  • Computer Graphic Networks (1984) — (for Printing Industries of America) An examination of trends in AI, computer graphics, data storage, and networking technologies and a strategic assessment of their business impact on the graphic arts industries and various sectors of the economy.
  • Toward the Electronic Studio (1986) — A groundbreaking study of requirements for integrated tools and graphic environments for authoring, editing, design, illustration, photo-imagery, video, audio, and animation production. This research mapped new digital methods, collaborative workflows, needed skill sets, organizational models, and approaches for managing creative and production personnel in a digital studio.

Multi-company programs — Davis provided advisory services and consultation to both developers and users of new design and visual communications technologies. To stimulate innovation and accelerate market adoption of digital technologies for visual communication, Davis developed and produced conferences, workshops, and multi-company programs. Here are examples:

  • Conferences and Workshops (1987-1989) — Davis organized and chaired this series of forward looking community-driven conferences, workshops, and solution demonstrations, sponsored by the Printing Industries of America and the Graphic Communications Association.
    — Color Connexions featured multi-vendor pilots and demonstrations of (then new) fully networked end-to-end workflows for conventional and digital printing, and Internet content distribution.
    — Expert Communication explored new directions and business models for publishing based on the intersection of artificial intelligence, databases, networks, computer graphics and appliance technologies.
  • High Fidelity Color (1991-1995) — Davis teamed with Donald Carli to organize, fund and direct a five-year, multi-client program to investigate, develop and commercialize technologies and practices for appearance-differentiated color printing. The High Fidelity Color program was supported by 35 manufacturers and 64 printers, trade services, ad agencies, and publishers from North and South America, Europe, and Asia.
    — Collaborative research and development resulted in more than 50 new products for color separation, screening, color management, proofing, and printing. This included digital techniques for extra-trinary color separation and stochastic screening that are now mainstream.
    — Market research activities distributed HiFi Color print samples, and analyzed surveys and questionnaires from nearly 100,000 designers, marketers, and print specifiers.
    — Market education included state-of-the-art exhibits on three continents featuring HiFi Color print samples and educational materials. There were presentations and technical papers at conferences. Davis published articles in more than 75 trade magazines worldwide reaching an estimated 8-million audience exposures. In addition, the HiFi Color program staged technical demonstrations at major trade shows, including a complete creative studio and prepress shop, which created a suite of HiFi Color posters, greeting cards and print samples that were output on sheetfed offset, web, flexographic, and digital color printing devices.
    — Consultation Davis and other members of the HiFi Color Project provided management consulting, training, and technical advisory services to help color specifiers (e.g. ad agencies, advertisers, package goods manufacturers, publishers, designers, etc.), trade services, and printers exploit HiFi Color processes.


In 1995 Mills founded MILLS•DAVIS, his present consultancy, with the mission to help clients translate high-value research ideas into innovations in computing, communications, business processes, and business models having the potential to impact performance, productivity and return on investment by at least an order of magnitude.

MILLS•DAVIS provides research, advisory, development, marketing, and communications services for public and private sector organizations. Davis’ career timeline with Project10X is organized into three periods as follows:

  • Next Wave Graphic Communication
  • Semantic Wave, and
  • Concept Computing

1. Next Wave Graphic Communication — From 1995 to 2002, Davis focused his consulting practice on next wave graphic communications and strategies for publishers, printers, and media companies to cope with internet-driven business disruptions.

  • Workflow Dynamics (1997) — Davis lead a blue-ribbon advisory team and was principal author of a comprehensive study examining the transition from analog, to digital, to net-centric workflows for graphic communication and the impact this has on creative services, publishers, printers, trade services, and the suppliers to these industries.
  • Digital Roadmaps (1997-1999) — Davis directed a 3-year, multi-company program to educate the graphic communication industry about the networked digital future of printing and publishing, and the impact this has on creative, publishing, prepress, and printing businesses. Digital Roadmaps was sponsored by the three largest trade associations in the graphic arts. One goal of the program was to demonstrate advanced net-centric processes for printing, packaging, publishing, and internet content delivery. Another goal was to educate graphic arts businesses to help them prepare for and prosper in the e-business future of print, publishing, and diversified media communications. Research, communications, and educational activities included industry studies; published articles in the world trade press; educational displays and demonstrations at industry trade shows; and executive briefings and seminars reaching more than 2 million companies and individuals worldwide. Here are examples of publications Davis produced for the Digital Roadmaps program:
    7 Digital Roadmaps (1997) — Blueprints for the networked digital future of printing and publishing. These posters depict whole solutions for business, media, technical infrastructure, process architecture, workflows, and standards. The seven roadmaps are: (1) New Business; (2) New Media; (3) New Technology; (4) Network Printing; (5) Digital Advertising; (6) Digital Specialty Printing; and (7) Cross-Media Publishing. These maps charted the way to significant productivity gains as well as new business opportunities.
    — Network Power: The Future of Communications (1998) — Printing, publishing and media communications become networked-businesses. Networked infrastructure drives value. The building blocks are services conducted across networks. Network-powered processes become integrated, digital, and efficient. Content, media production, and e-commerce become seamless activities. One workflow. Many media. Agile communications. Multiple returns on content. This enables greater business performance — as much as 5-10 times greater. How much better? Think 5-10 times as fast, one-fifth the cost, and 5-10 times more efficient.
    Circus of E-Printing (1999) — The future of print is ePrint. ePrint is printing in the digital economy. It’s when you conduct the entire business of printing, “from design through delivery,” as services over networks. This Digital Roadmaps special report tells the story of ePrinting from the standpoint of people employed in these new environments, and how they become super performers. This includes managers, sales teams, consultants, customer service representatives (CSRs), production managers, prepress operators, pressroom and post-press personnel, administrators, and infrastructure (IT) support personnel, and more. The report describes what these people do and how this differs from the way things were. We point out the changes in performance and offer some prescriptives for businesses interested in moving this way.
  • Printcafe (2000–2002) — Davis was one of the founders of a venture that merged together six best-in-class software companies to create the leading supplier of graphic arts enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and internet-based computer integrated manufacturing solutions in North America. Davis directed strategic consulting services for the largest printers and trade services, and served as industry evangelist for the venture.

2. Semantic WaveFrom 2002 to 2010, Davis researched, assessed, and reported on business implications of the semantic wave — the paradigm shift from information-centric to meaning-based patterns of computing associated with the semantic web.

  • Knowledge Foundations (2002-2003) — Davis consulted with Dr. Richard Ballard, founder and chief scientist of Knowledge Foundations, a semantic software engineering tool company that was developing a theory-based semantic operating system to capture the ideas, concepts and thought patterns inherent in books and documents and to reason with this knowledge the way that people do. Davis developed business plans, market research, and go to market strategy for the venture.
  • Next Wave Publishing (2003) — Davis teamed with Mark Walter of the Seybold Publications to author a 3-part monograph that examined the next wave of publishing, the advent of knowledge technologies, and the resulting revolutions in process and content that would disrupt enterprise and commercial publishing business models, processes and product categories.
  • TopQuadrant (2004-2005) — Davis consulted with Ralph Hodgson and his colleagues at TopQuadrant to help the company evolve from being the first semantic web consultancy in the US to a tools and platform company, and a leading semantic data integration company. Davis’ services included industry research; network marketing through associations, professional societies, and special interest groups; media communications; conference tutorials and presentations; and website development. Examples follow of industry research Davis produced in association with TopQuadrant:
    Wonder Web: Ontology Infrastructure for the Semantic Web (2004) — An examination of the evolution and market potential for internet semantic technologies published as part of the European Commission’s Information Society Technologies project 2001-33052.
    Business Value of Semantic Technologies (2005) — A report assessing the benefits of applications built with semantic technologies across industry and government in a wide-range of business situations. Case examples reported significant reductions in labor hours, cycle time, inventory levels, operating cost, development time, and development cost. Also, cases document improvements in quality, service levels, productivity, and return on assets. Strategic benefits cited include substantial revenue growth; reduction in total cost of ownership; accelerated positive return on investment; and mitigated risk.
  • Semantic Insights (2006-2007) — Davis consulted with Chuck Rehberg, chief scientist and CTO of Semantic Insights to develop business plans, market research, user interface designs, go to market strategies, website and cross-media communications for a family of research tools that combined natural language processing, semantic technology, and a patented high-speed rules engine to create a knowledge-intensive automated Semantic Insights Research Assistant (SIRA) capable of quickly “reading” a large amount of documents, finding and extracting the information of interest, and producing a written research report with hyperlinks and bibliography. SIRA technology was applicable as a general tool for student research project as well as domain specific deployments such as healthcare, legal, and financial market intelligence.
  • Visual Knowledge (2006-2007) — Davis consulted with Conor Shankey, founder of Visual Knowledge to develop business plans and market positioning leading to the sale of the company. A key challenge was to communicate the complex, highly innovative concepts underlying the product set clearly and in as non-technical way as possible. The Visual Knowledge technology platform was a “Web 3.0” application development environment and semantic database, capable of inferencing, reasoning and supporting very large scale ontologies. Everything in Visual Knowledge was a semantic agent. Semantic agents were services. They were not algorithms. Their DNA was knowledge about resources, content, media, language, processes, functions and how to communicate with other agents. Like living “lego pieces” semantic agents collaborated with other agents across platform(s) to provide services and capabilities. Visual knowledge technology had applications in multiple vertical industries, gaming, and internet advertising.
  • Semantic Exchange (2007-2008) — Davis organized and directed a unique worldwide industry education and market development program called the Semantic Exchange (SX). Sponsored by 35 semantic technology vendors and service providers, the mission of this industry news, research, and education initiative was to showcase new capabilities and help public and private sector organizations learn about and seize opportunities presented by the semantic web and the next stage of internet evolution.
  • Semantic Community (2008-2013) — Davis and Dr. Brand Niemann co-founded an open community to educate public and private sector organizations, associations, and communities of interest about the practical value of solutions built with mobile devices, cloud computing, and semantic technologies. In addition to hosting a community wiki (, collaborative activities include conferences, workshops, webinars, and pilot tests.
  • Semantic Wave Report and Semantic Wave Executive SummaryDavis researched and authored a ground-breaking 720-page study of semantic technologies and their market impact. This report charts the evolution of the internet from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0, the emergence of semantic technologies for consumer and enterprise applications, and the growth of multi-billion dollar markets for Web 3.0 products and services. It maps opportunities for investors, technology developers, and public and private enterprises. The report examined opportunities for 100+ application categories built using semantic web, smart data, natural language processing, deep learning, cognitive computing, strong AI, and smart UX building blocks. The study reviewed 270 technology companies and précised 150 case studies. Go-to-market for this study included digital and social media, email marketing, conference presentations, webinars, and inbound marketing.
  • Web 3.0 Manifesto: How Semantic Technologies in Products and Services Will Drive Breakthroughs in Capability, User Experience, Performance, and Life Cycle Value (2009) — As a follow-up to the Semantic Wave Report, Davis authored this concise guide for developers of semantic solutions.
  • Executive’s QuickStart Guide to Web 3.0 and the Semantic Web (2010) — Explores technology directions, business implications, and ways to exploit semantic technologies and semantic web enabled opportunities. This report includes a 90-day executive action plan for jumpstarting benefits from semantically enabled information, applications, and processes.

3. Concept ComputingFrom 2011 to present, Davis has researched and consulted on next stage knowledge technologies, concept computing, artificial intelligence, and the internet of everything. His focus has been helping businesses exploit opportunities presented by smart, hyper-networked computing and machine learning.

  • Be Informed (2011-2013) — Davis teamed with Dan Valentino, John Coyne, and Jim Wells to help Be Informed (a Netherlands based software company) establish a North America market presence. The company was seeking to expand from regional, direct sales driven of software services provider into a global, channel-driven software product company. Mills helped found the USA subsidiary and consulted with the executive team that launched USA operations. Davis performed business planning, partner development, consultative sales, competitive positioning, brand messaging, product marketing, industry evangelism, and developed the USA go-to-market program.

    What differentiated a Be Informed enterprise solution was how it separated the knowledge that drives system processing from the underlying IT support systems. Be Informed stored business knowledge and requirements in a knowledgebase as semantic models. These models executed directly to drive services, aid decisions, and deliver system functionality and intelligent behaviors. Every aspect of a Be Informed application was model-driven, self-documenting, and self-explaining. When requirements changed, the knowledge models updated quickly, without having to rebuild databases or compile new program code. Support for open standards ensured flexibility and simplified interfacing with external services and legacy systems.

    BeInformed served customers in government, financial services, healthcare, consumer products, and high technology sectors. The market sweet spot was to transform knowledge-intensive administrative processes such as employee benefits, business permits, patents, and law enforcement. The challenge for the USA subsidiary was to launch partner channel operations in North America. This posed two challenges. First was restructuring operations to deliver products and support via partner channels rather than software services via direct sales. Second was recruiting and supporting partners with the client access in industry segments of interest who could also provide the domain and applications expertise needed to deliver customer solutions.

    Davis lead outbound and inbound marketing including PR, web content, blogging, conventional publications, digital and social media, conference speaking, workshops, Americanized collateral and presentations, and webinars. Also, Davis provided consultative sales support, developed and proposed solution strategies, and architected pilot programs.

  • Knowledge Technologies: The Future of IT (2011) — Davis presented a keynote at SIMposium 2011 that put forth the thesis that a paradigm shift is under way towards knowledge technology as a dimension of next generation information and communications. Knowledge technologies transform IT by separating the “know” from the data, processes, decision-making, user interaction, and infrastructure. so that these solution dimensions become knowledge-driven, semantic, scalable and interpretable both by humans and computers.
  • #ConceptComputing: Bringing Activity/Context Aware Work and Play Spaces into the Mainstream (2012) — Davis gave this keynote presentation at the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence 2012 conference (AAAI 12) in Toronto, Canada. It discusses the vision and principles of “concept computing;” how this paradigm shift impacts different aspects of software functionality and value; and provides examples of how concept computing is being applied successfully to mainstream enterprise class applications.
  • Smart Multi-Services (2012) — Davis developed the solution strategy and pilot concept for a software-as-a-service (SaaS) environment delivering mobile eBenefit self-service question answering, advisory, and assistant services. The smart user interface provides helpful, easy-to-use, one-stop, self-service, mobile eBenefit services leveraging state-of-the-art mobile design for immediacy and ease of use. Self-service question answering enabled users to directly access the right information, at the right time, and in the right context. Advisory services gave users virtual call-center guidance about all the programs, with context-aware help that was always available—only one click away. Virtual assistant services applied dynamic case management to learn, prequalify, apply, and orchestrate all activities required to deliver end-to-end services. Behind the scenes, the multi-services platform captured all the business requirements for different programs and jurisdictions from applicable laws, regulations, policies, standards and stakeholder interviews, and modeled these into an integrated executable knowledge model.
  • Reconciliation as a Service (2013) — Davis prepared a feasibility study and pilot program for a major credit union to transform internal controls, reconciliations and remediations, audit, and compliance of financial transaction processing from origination through financial and regulatory reporting. The solution strategy was to model applicable regulation, policies, and standards as well as extract “as-is” process knowledge using natural language processing, static analysis of source code, and dynamic analysis of the system in use. The resulting knowledge model surfaced business rules and ensured end-to-end traceability and data provenance.
  • Knowledge Science, Concept Computing, and Intelligent Cities (2013) — Davis presented this keynote at Kent State University’s Knowledge Science Center. The thesis is that the mission of knowledge science is transformation; that concept computing is the next paradigm for IT; and that intelligent cities are a destination worthy of the journey.
  • Cyber Protection Marketplace and Cyber Risk Certification Program (2014-2015) — Davis consulted with the founding team of an early stage venture to build a cyber risk marketplace that aligns enterprises, their supply-chain partners, and cyber solution providers in a continuing relationship to better detect threats, strengthen cyber protections across supply networks, mitigate risks through best practices, reduce costs, and certify compliance with applicable laws, regulations, policies, and standards for cyber safety.

    Davis contributed to the conceptualization of the venture and the progressive development of its business plan. He developed of constituency specific positioning, messaging, collateral and proposals, and contributed to the development of multi-company programs and pilots, such as the cyber risk certification program.The cyber risk marketplace embodies innovative approaches, for example:

    • Cyber protection community — When enterprises, supply-chain partners and cyber solution providers join together to create one cyber protection community, then all parties gain increased capacity to address cyber safety concerns by tapping economies of scale.

    • Whole solutions, best practices, and new channels — Cyber safety solutions become tailored for the type of business, size, budget, and cyber risk profile. Elements of whole solutions include cyber risk insurance, cyber security solution upgrades, cyber breach response programs and resources, and cyber professional services.

    • Cyber risk certification — Knowledge-driven tools enable a program of self-assessment and consultation that identifies vulnerabilities, assesses cyber risks, and prioritizes recommendations. This allows an enterprise to target corrective actions where most needed. Also, in aggregate, assessments provide data that enables better matching of cyber safety solutions to enterprise need.

  • Smart Compliance (2014-2015) — Davis consulted with a $1B global IT services provider to help plan, develop, and launch a corporate start-up that would automate enterprise regulatory compliance in the financial services sector. A true start up, the challenge was to develop this venture from an initial conceptualization, to a funded business plan, to semantic/cognitive computing platform, to referenceable pilots, to selected compliance automation solutions, to product launch ready operation.
    Davis consulted to the chief executive in charge of the venture. Mills played a lead role in drafting the venture business plan that lead to board-level funding and recommended technology partners for the software platform. Davis developed the go-to-market program for the start-up spanning its R/D, pre-launch pilots, and product launch-ready stages. He conducted research into market segments, competition, regulators, industry associations, events, media, influencers, and advisors. He played a lead role brand positioning, messaging, website, presentations, and collateral for different stages of the go-to-market.
    The semantic computing platform incorporated innovations. One was semi-automated extraction of rules and domain knowledge from regulations, documents, digital communications, and system artifacts. Cognitive models encoded regulations and knowledge about financial industries, compliance, risk, and business operations. Smart data transformed diverse types and sources of information into a unified data graph and life history. The expert system had task know-how of best practices and ways to accomplish goals. Smart workspaces enabled users to interact with the knowledge base and direct system processes.

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