In its next phase to develop and commercialize Watson, IBM announced yesterday that it had formed the Watson Group, a new IBM business unit dedicated to accelerating Watson's adoption and growth. IBM announced last November it would soon be making its cloud-based Watson technology available to global software developers who could leverage Watson's unique features to build next generation applications.
When IBM made their announcement in November 2013, it opened the door to proposals from applicants on ideas for new applications that could utilize Watson's unique capabilities. According to IBM, there are currently over 760 applicants who have ideas for building new cognitive applications and three early adopters are expected to release applications in 2014.
IBM is investing more than $1 billion into the newly formed Watson Group and IBM will make an estimated $100 million available for venture investments in talented entrepreneurial startups for smart applications that use Watson. The Watson Group will be based in New York and have about 2,000 professionals who will also be working to bring Watson and its capabilities into mainstream use.
Since Watson appeared on Jeopardy in February 2011, IBM has been putting Watson to work in various areas, most notably healthcare, a market segment that has huge amounts of raw data that Watson could churn through, and IBM has been using the interval to fine-tune Watson's capabilities. According to IBM, working has done Watson some good since it is now 24 times faster and its performance has improved by 2,400 percent. It is also significantly smaller going from "the size of a master bedroom to three stacked pizza boxes." IBM plans to make Watson available as a Software as a Service (SaaS) application and will be moving Watson to SoftLayer, IBM's recently acquired cloud infrastructure provider.
With the announcement of the Watson Group, IBM is also announcing three new services related to Watson's cognitive capabilities:
- Watson's Discovery Advisor will help researchers make connections and relationships in data content;
- Watson Analytics will provide visual depictions of interpreted data by using a natural language interface without the user having to go through analytics training;
- Watson Explorer will provide organizations a common framework to develop ways to share data analytics from big data across the business.
One example of IBM Watson's use will be DBS Bank's planned rollout of Watson's Engagement Advisor during the second half of 2014. The collaboration between IBM and DBS Bank will include business consulting, data analytics, hardware, and other IBM resources. Initially, DBS will be using the project and IBM Watson to more quickly analyze and make sense of the massive amount of financial and customer data their managers need to work with in order to provide better advice, and an improved customer service experience, to the bank's customers. If it proves itself, DBS will likely deploy the technology to other areas of its business in the future.
The Watson Group will be providing a diverse portfolio of services, development, and training intended to commercialize Watson for use in purely IBM engagements as well as continuing to build an ecosystem of startups and academic partnerships to move Watson into new markets and the development of new, not yet thought of, applications that think.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bill Oliver has worked in IT as a techie, trainer, manager, and in business roles supporting IT for 20+ years. For the past 12 years his focus has been on the business side of IT Contracts, Software Licensing, and all things related to IT Purchasing.