Category Archives: Watson

IBM launches interactive ads on Watson

Robotic hand, accessing on laptop, the virtual world of information. Concept of artificial intelligence and replacement of humans by machines.IBM has announced the launch of Watson Ads to harness the AI potential of its cognitive computing platform and create interactive ads, personalized to individual customers. The first offerings of the initiative will be made available through The Weather Company sub-brand.

Personalized advertising has proved to be big business in recent months as brands aim to move away from the blanket marketing approach, as towards a proposition where one-to-one communications are the norm. IBM believe Watson’s ability to understand and comprehend natural language will enable advertisers to interact with customers on a more personal level, and also on a wide scale.

“The dawn of cognitive advertising is truly a watershed moment. Now as part of IBM, we have even more tools and technologies at our disposal to inspire innovations within advertising, artificial intelligence and storytelling,” said Domenic Venuto, GM of Consumer products at The Weather Company. “This is a huge opportunity to expose consumers to all of the surprising and delightful experiences that Watson has in store for them – and to make advertising a truly valuable interaction for both our fans and our marketing partners, which is always our goal.”

IBM claim the new proposition will aide advertiser in numerous ways including a better understanding of brand perception and customer favourability, helping customers make a more informed decision, improve overall experience, optimize creative and advertising strategies, as well as helping marketers use data more effectively.

As part of the initiative, the team will also create the Watson Ads Council, a collection of marketers from various verticals, who will act as a sounding board for the latest innovations leveraging Watson Ads and cognitive advancements in advertising.

“Transforming ourselves and industries is part of The Weather Company DNA,” said Jeremy Steinberg, Global Head of Sales at The Weather Company. “We’ve embraced big data and leveraged it to improve every aspect of our business, from forecast accuracy to ad targeting. Now we’ve set our sights on cognition. We believe human interaction is the new ‘search,’ and that cognitive advertising is the next frontier in marketing – and we’re leading the charge to make it a reality.”

Watson Ads will launch first exclusively across The Weather Company properties, but this is expected to have broad implications for other marketing channels, including out of home, television, connected cars and social media platforms.

IBM teams up with SK C&C to teach Watson learns Korean

Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul, South Korea.SK C&C has continued Korea’s efforts to increase the usage and adoption of cloud computing within the region, announcing a new strategic alliance with IBM focused on the Watson cognitive computing platform.

As part of the agreement, IBM will train Watson to understand and comprehend Korean, and South Korea-based developers will create a number of localized API’s and services to increase adoption rates of such advanced cloud computing technologies in the region. Korean will be Watson’s eighth language, lining up with English, French, Italian, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Japanese, and Arabic.

“Watson remains at the forefront of cognitive computing: advanced systems that learn at scale, understand with meaning, reason with purpose and interact with humans in natural ways,” said David Kenny, GM for IBM Watson. “The South Korean marketplace is moving quickly to embrace the disruptive opportunities from next generation technology.

“Our strategic alliance with SK Holdings C&C will put cognitive services in the hands of more businesses and developers, allowing them to apply Watson within their organizations to help transform entire industries and professions.”

Korea has been making positive strides in recent months to increase the adoption rate of cloud computing within the country, announcing a number of initiatives in March. Adoption rates are reported to be as low as 6.4% within the country currently, which could be perceived as low considering the number of tech companies which has grown out of Korea, though the government is planning to increase this to 13% over the next twelve months. Over the same period, the government also plans to increase the number of Korean cloud companies from 353 to 500.

While this announcement focused on cloud computing as a broader technology set, the government also announced plans to invest 100 billion won (approximately $87.2 million) to foster the development of supercomputers. The Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning said it would invest 10 billion won annually for the next 10 years to boost the growth of artificial intelligence, big data, the Internet-of-Things technologies and other emerging industries through supercomputers. The ambition is to create a supercomputer with a data-processing speed of 1 petaflop (PF) in five years, eventually reaching 30 PF by 2025.

As part of the partnership between IBM and SK C&C, the telco will run Watson and Bluemix from its Pangyo Cloud Centre, to foster the growth of cognitive computing and artificial intelligence. More specifically SK C&C is hoping the introduction of the technologies will improve mobile device experience, as well as consumers’ call centre interactions. SK C&C will also become IBM’s preferred distributor for cognitive solutions in South Korea.

“This alliance highlights SK’s dedication to growing our artificial intelligence-based data services business, strengthening our Ai leadership position, as well as spurring innovation and Ai adoption across Korea,” said Park Jung-ho, CEO of SK Holdings C&C.

The partnership between IBM and SK C&C is one of a number of examples of IBM’s efforts to broaden the appeal to the international audience. SK C&C will assist in developing Watson’s advanced conversational capabilities in Korean, in the same way SoftBank is aiding for Japanese, Mubadala for Arabic and GBM in South America. Each of these companies, including SK C&C, are developing local communities of developers to build, explore and create new applications in their native languages. Korean language Watson services are expected to become available early next year.

IBM unveils plans for Watson supercomputer to lead the cognitive era

Toward Digital EncryptionIBM CEO Ginni Rometty used the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to showcase a range of new partnership projects that will help supercomputer Watson usher in the ‘Cognitive Era’.

Among the new advances promised are health and fitness programmes, robotic apps for banking retail and hospitality, intelligent home appliances and computers that understand and adapt to human behaviour.

Under Armour and IBM have jointly developed a new cognitive coach that gives athletes evidence-based advice on health and fitness-related issues, Rometty revealed. The system combines IBM Watson’s technology with data from the 160 million members of Under Armour’s Connected Fitness community.

Meanwhile Watson is being used by Medtronic to bring its analytics powers to diabetes management. A joint effort by both companies means that hypoglycemic events can be predicted three hours in advance and neutralise deadly health events.

The cloud has infused Watson into Softbank Robotics’ ‘empathetic’ robot Pepper, boosting its thought processing powers so it can understand and answer questions. This, argued Rometty, could be applied to businesses such as banking, retail and hospitality.

Rometty said IBM and SoftBank Robotics will tap into data and knowledge across the IoT so Watson-powered Pepper robots can make sense of the hidden meaning in social media, video, images and text. This, Rometty said, brings in a new era in computing where systems understand the world in the way that humans do: through senses, learning and experience.

Appliance maker Whirlpool is being hooked into the Watson IoT cloud to create new cognitive products and services, such as an oven that can learn about its user’s eating habits, health issues and food preferences. IBM demonstrated Whirlpool’s Jen-Air oven equipped with the Chef Watson cooking app.

The developments mark a new cognitive era of computing, where IT works around humans, a reversal of the standard practise, according to IBM. “As the first system of the cognitive era, Watson infuses a kind of thinking ability into digital applications, products and systems,” said John Kelly, senior VP of IBM Research and Solutions Portfolio.

A Watson software development kit (SDK) is available to give developers the chance to tailor the interaction experience. IBM will give clients access to Watson APIs and various pre-packaged applications designed to address a variety of personal and professional needs.

Cloud is growing up: from cost saving to competitive advantage

Analytics1The last decade witnessed one of, if not the most transformational waves of technological change ever to break on the shores of IT – cloud computing. Companies vied to position as the key holders to the cloud universe, and customers too, competed for the honor of being first to market in terms of their use and migration to the various cloud models.

The first phase of cloud was characterised by migration of business to the cloud.  This phase is still happening, with many companies of all shapes and sizes at varying stages along the migration path.

The initial catalyst for cloud adoption was, broadly speaking, cost and efficiency based. Amidst times of global economic fluctuations and downturn during the ‘mid-noughties’ the cloud model of IT promised considerable IT efficiencies and thus, cost savings. For the early migrators however, cloud has moved beyond simple cost efficiencies to the next phase of maturity: competitive advantage.

IDC reported earlier in the year that 80% of cloud applications in the future will be data-intensive; therefore, industry know-how and data are the true benefits of the cloud.

The brokerage of valuable data, (be it a clients’ own proprietary information about inventory or customer behavior, or wider industry data), and the delivery of this critical information as a service is where the competitive advantage can be truly found – it’s almost now a case of ‘Innovation as a Service’.

The changing modus operandi of cloud has largely been driven by the increasing, types, variety and volumes of streams of data businesses now require to stay competitive, and now the roll out of cognitive and analytics capabilities within cloud environments are as important to achieving business goals and competitive advantage, as the actual cloud structure itself.

There’s almost no better example of this, than the symbiotic relationship between and its use of the cloud.  For a company like the need to extract maximum value from global weather data, was paramount to producing accurate forecasting pictures, but also by using advanced analytics, the management of its data globally.

Through IoT deployments and cloud computing collects data from more than 100,000 weather sensors, aircraft and drones, millions of Smartphones, buildings and even moving vehicles. The forecasting system itself ingests and processes data from thousands of sources, resulting in approximately 2.2 billion unique forecast points worldwide, geared to deliver over 26 billion forecasts a day.

By integrating real-time weather insights, has been able to improve operational performance and decision-making. However, by shifting its (hugely data-intensive), services to the cloud and integrating it with advance analytics, it was not only able to deliver billions of highly accurate forecasts, it was also able to derive added value from this previously unavailable resource, and creating new value ad services and revenue streams.

Another great example is Shop Direct: as one of the UK’s largest online retailers, delivering more than 48 million products a year and welcoming over a million daily visitors across a variety of online and mobile platforms, the move to a hybrid cloud model increased flexibility and meant it was able to more quickly respond to changes in demand as it continues to grow.

With a number of digital department stores including £800m flagship brand,, the cloud underpins the a variety of analytics, mobile, social and security offerings that enable Shop Direct to improve its customers’ online shopping experience while empowering its workforce to collaborate more easily too.

Smart use of cloud has allowed Shop Direct to continue building a preeminent position in the digital and mobile world, and it has been able to innovate and be being better prepared to tackle challenges such as high site traffic around the Black Friday and the Christmas period.

In the non-conformist, shifting and disruptive landscape of today’s businesses, innovation is the only surety of maintaining a preeminent position and setting a company apart from its competitors – as such, the place of the cloud as the market place for this innovation is insured.

Developments in big data, analytics and IoT highlight the pivotal importance of cloud environments as enablers of innovation, while cognitive capabilities like Watson (in conjunction with analytics engines), add informed intelligence to business processes, applications and customer touch points along every step of the business journey.

While many companies recognise that migration to the cloud is now a necessity, it is more important to be aware that the true, long-term business value can only be derived from what you actually operate in the cloud, and this is the true challenge for businesses and their IT departments as we look towards 2016 and beyond.

Written by Sebastian Krause, VP IBM Cloud Europe

IBM aims to take Watson IoT to the next level with new global HQ

HighLight Munich Business TowersUS IT giant IBM has made a major statement of intent towards IoT by opening a global HQ dedicated to its Watson Internet of Things offering in Germany, reports

Watson is IBM’s cognitive computing unit, designed to use machine learning and natural language processing to analyse unstructured data. At the core of IoT will be the ability to collect vast amounts of data from billions of different sources and make sense of it. IBM is betting that positioning itself as one of the companies best able to help with that process is the way forward.

The Watson IoT HQ in Munich (pictured) will apparently employ 1,000 IBM developers, consultants, researchers and designers all exploring at the intersection of cognitive computing and IoT. IBM sees Europe as the hub of global IoT development and this HQ is its most extensive European investment in over 20 years.

“The Internet of Things will soon be the largest single source of data on the planet, yet almost 90 percent of that data is never acted upon,” said Harriet Green, GM of Watson IoT and Education. “With its unique abilities to sense, reason and learn, Watson opens the door for enterprises, governments and individuals to finally harness this real-time data, compare it with historical data sets and deep reservoirs of accumulated knowledge, and then find unexpected correlations that generate new insights to benefit business and society alike.”

One early Watson IoT partner is the smart building arm of Siemens. “By bringing asset management and analytics together with a deep technical understanding of how buildings perform, Siemens will make customers’ building operations more reliable, cost-optimized and sustainable,” said Matthias Rebellius, CEO of Siemens Building Technologies. “We are excited to stretch the envelope of what is possible in optimizing building performance by combining the asset management and database technologies from IBM’s Watson IoT business unit with our market leading building automation domain know-how.”

IoT is perhaps the defining technological trend for the next decade, encompassing every part of the ICT spectrum. IBM is right to say that all these embedded sensors and smart devices are pointless unless we use all the data they will generate to make useful decisions. In many ways this is the natural evolution of Big Data and it will be no less challenging to demonstrate ROI on IoT.

IBM to buy The Weather Company and make it elementary to Watson

IBM The Weather Company PhotoIBM has entered an agreement to buy The Weather Company’s B2B, mobile and cloud-based web properties, in a bid to extend its Internet of Things range.

The acquired assets include WSI,, Weather Underground and The Weather Company brand. The Weather Channel will not be part of the acquisition but it will license weather forecast data and analytics from IBM under a long-term contract.

IBM says the combination of technology and expertise from the two companies will be foundation for the new Watson IoT Unit and Watson IoT Cloud platform as part of its $3 billion investment strategy in this sector.

The Weather Company’s cloud data system runs the fourth most-used mobile app daily in the United States and handles 26 billion inquiries a day.

On closing the deal, IBM will acquire The Weather Company’s product and technology assets that include meteorological data science experts, precision forecasting and a cloud platform that ingests, processes, analyses and distributes petabyte sized data sets instantly. The Weather Company’s models analyse data from three billion weather forecast reference points, more than 40 million smartphones and 50,000 airplane flights per day, allowing it to offer a broad range of data-driven products and services to 5000 clients in the media, aviation, energy, insurance and government industries.

The Weather Company’s mobile and web properties serves 82 million unique monthly visitors. IBM said it plans to develop The Weather Company’s digital advertising platform and skills, commercialising weather information through data-driven advertising with additional ad-sponsored consumer and business solutions.

“The next wave of improved forecasting will come from the intersection of atmospheric science, computer science and analytics,” said Weather Company CEO David Kenny. “Upon closing of this deal, The Weather Company will continue to be able to help improve the precision of weather forecasts and deepen IBM’s Watson IoT capabilities.”

IBM augments Watson with new cognitive business consulting arm

WatsonEnterprise tech giant IBM has announced the creation of IBM Cognitive Business Solutions, a consulting practice designed to help businesses get into the cognitive computing game.

IBM continues to invest heavily in its Watson cognitive computing operation, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to better deal with unstructured data. This consulting business will have access to over 2,000 consultants across a wide range of industries.

“Our work with clients across many industries shows that cognitive computing is the path to the next great set of possibilities for business,” said Bridget van Kralingen, SVP of IBM Global Business Services.

“Clients know they are collecting and analyzing more data than ever before, but 80 percent of all the available data — images, voice, literature, chemical formulas, social expressions — remains out of reach for traditional computing systems. We’re scaling expertise to close that gap and help our clients become cognitive banks, retailers, automakers, insurers or healthcare providers.”

“Before long, we will look back and wonder how we made important decisions or discovered new opportunities without systematically learning from all available data,” said Stephen Pratt, global leader, IBM Cognitive Business Solutions. “Over the next decade, this transformation will be very personal for professionals as we embrace learning algorithms to enhance our capacity. For clients, cognitive systems will provide organizations that adopt these powerful tools outperform their peers.”

Speaking at a Gartner symposium IBM CEO indicated the cognitive business is a cornerstone of IBM’s overall strategy. IBM says it has already invested over a billion dollars on Watson and intends to train another 25,000 IBM consultants and practitioners on cognitive computing before the end of this year.

IBM opens San Francisco office for Watson developer cloud

IBMIBM has opened a new office in San Francisco to channel further growth in its supercomputing business as it claims 77,000 developers across the world are using its Watson Developer Cloud to pilot, test and deploy new business ideas.

The San Francisco office will open in 2016 to give local start ups access to Watson technology for their software projects. The facility will include resources dedicated to IBM’s new Spark processing technology as the vendor seeks to get Spark users interested in Watson, it said. IBM claims 100 companies have released software services based on Watson.

With a reported $100 million of venture capital fund earmarked for startups looking to build products on Watson, IBM now plans to offer its nascent partners technical support and consultancy on business plans, in addition to market making initiatives that include introductions to potential customers.

In September IBM opened a new Watson Health business centre in the Boston area to target the health sector and pharmaceutical industry. The new cloud initiative comes in the wake of reports of declining revenues in 13 consecutive quarters, while the app economy is ‘in full swing’, as IBM described it, with industry revenue projected to grow to $143 billion in 2016, according to analyst IDC. By 2018 half of all consumers will interact with services based on cognitive computing on a regular basis, according to the analyst.

IBM also announced a new expanded portfolio of application programming interfaces into Watson, bring the net total to 50. IBM’s cloud development partners have created systems for query support for card payments, customer support Q&As for financial services, live event media aggregation ‘as a service’ social marketing and apps for the entertainment and marketing industries. Early investment partners include WayBlazer, Sellpoints, Welltok, Pathway Genomics, Modernizing Medicine and Fluid.

In the UK, IBM has created three new Watson partners 50wise, Volume and SocialBro, which have created cloud apps for financial services, sales training and online marketing.

IBM bolsters Watson Healthcare capabilities with $1bn Merge acquisition

IBM is bolstering its Watson Health Cloud with the Merge acquisition

IBM is bolstering its Watson Health Cloud with the Merge acquisition

IBM announced its intention to acquire Merge Healthcare, a medical imaging and processing platform provider, which it plans to integrate with Watson. The company said the move would bolster the cognitive computing cloud’s clinical and medical capabilities.

Merge claims its technology is used at more than 7,500 US healthcare sites and many of the world’s largest clinical research institutes and pharmaceutical firms to manage and process medical images.

IBM said it plans to integrate Merge’s medical image handling technologies with the Watson Health Cloud. The company said the move would enable it to extend Watson’s analytics to medical images and create a consolidated platform to store, analyse and suggest treatments based on them, as well as cross-reference the images against a growing trove of lab results, electronic health records, clinical studies and other healthcare-related research and data.

“As a proven leader in delivering healthcare solutions for over 20 years, Merge is a tremendous addition to the Watson Health platform.  Healthcare will be one of IBM’s biggest growth areas over the next 10 years, which is why  we are making a major investment to drive industry transformation and to facilitate a higher quality of care,” said John Kelly, senior vice president, IBM Research and Solutions Portfolio.

“Watson’s powerful cognitive and analytic capabilities, coupled with those from Merge and our other major strategic acquisitions, position IBM to partner with healthcare providers, research institutions, biomedical companies, insurers and other organizations committed to changing the very nature of health and healthcare in the 21st century. Giving Watson ‘eyes’ on medical images unlocks entirely new possibilities for the industry.”

“Medical images are some of the most complicated data sets imaginable, and there is perhaps no more important area in which researchers can apply machine learning and cognitive computing.  That’s the real promise of cognitive computing and its artificial intelligence components – helping to make us healthier and to improve the quality of our lives,” he added.

IBM sees huge potential for its Watson service in healthcare, and has moved to back that belief with a flurry of acquisitions and partnerships.

Earlier this year it bought Phytel, which provides cloud-based software that helps healthcare providers and care teams coordinate activities across medical facilities by automating certain aspects of patient care, and acquired Explorys, a provider of cognitive cloud-based analytics that provides insights for care facilities derived from datasets derived from numerous and diverse financial, operational and medical record systems.

It also announced a partnership with Apple that is seeing IBM offer its Watson Health Cloud platform as a storage and analytics service for HealthKit data aggregated from iOS devices, and open the platform up for health and fitness app developers as well as medical researchers.

IBM, Mubadala joint venture to bring Watson cloud to MENA

IBM is bringing Watson to the Middle East

IBM is bringing Watson to the Middle East

IBM is teaming up with Abu Dhabi-based investment firm Mubadala Development Company to create a joint venture based in Abu Dhabi that will deliver IBM’s cloud-based Watson service to customers in the Middle East and Northern Afirca (MENA) region.

The companies will set up the joint venture through Mubadala’s subsidiary, Injazat, which will be the sole provider of the Watson platform in the region.

The companies said the move will help create an ecosystem of MENA-based partners, software vendors and startups developing new solutions based on the cognitive compute platform.

“Bringing IBM Watson to the region represents the latest major milestone in the global adoption of cognitive computing,” said Mounir Barakat, executive director of ICT at Aerospace & Engineering Services, Mubadala.

“It also signals Mubadala’s commitment to bringing new technologies and spurring economic growth in the Middle East, another step towards developing the UAE as a hub for the region’s ICT sector,” Barakat said.

Mike Rhodin, senior vice president of IBM Watson said Mubadala’s knowledge of the local corporate ecosystem will help the company expand its cognitive compute cloud service in the region.

IBM has enjoyed some Watson wins in financial services, healthcare and the utilities sectors, but the company has been fairly quiet on how much the division rakes in; over the past year the company made strides to expand the platform in the US, Africa and Japan, and recently made a number of strategic acquisitions in software automation in order to boost Watson’s appeal in customer engagement and health services.