Second day at Insight 2014 and the opening keynote is about transforming your industry. Mike Rhodin kicked things off by discussing how people think – by observing, interpreting what we see based on our experience and biases, and then we decide what we are going to do. But there is a limit to how well we can do this, he says, in the face of large amounts of data. Analytic capabilities that can extract insight or knowledge from the huge volume of data available are now essential. Yet doing this requires an understanding of the industrial and role context in which the data is to be consumed – and this, of course, is the set up for Watson.
Cognitive computing he says allows us to scale and maximize the value of our human expertise, supporting our expertise by mitigating bias, see new patterns and broadening our experience base. Watson, he says, can also democratize the knowledge involved.
Watson is cognitive because:
- It operates in natural language, interacting with us naturally
- It makes multiple evidence-based recommendations with supporting information and probabilities
- It’s not limited by memory, style of information or storage
IBM announced a set of new Watson applications based on specific roles and industries:
- IBM Watson for Oncology
- IBM Watson for Wealth Management
- Chef Watson
Each comes with pre-ingested information and established links as well as the core Watson engine and interfaces designed for the specific roles involved. IBM plans to deliver more of these over time and to work with partners also to do so.
A cool demo of the Watson Oncology solution followed, bringing up ranked treatment plans based on the research into cancer treatments and a patient’s medical records. Rhodin went on to talk about how the Watson technology has been extended into Watson Discovery Advisor. A demo followed showing how Watson Discovery Advisor can be used to navigate both internal structured data as well as external unstructured data. It can do entity extraction from text, visualize the relationships across both structured and unstructured text etc. All this in a highly interactive investigative environment. Finally the team demonstrated Chef Watson and its support for food creativity.
Terry Jones, one of the founders of both Travelocity and Kayak, joined Mike on stage. Terry talked about the changes in the travel industry, ending with challenges like the ones faced by companies that “know” customers preferences but can’t really do anything with them because these preferences are buried in unstructured data. Yet advice for travel bookings still comes mostly from friends – there’s lots of useful data on the web but turning this into advice is hard. Watson, he says, is a way to deliver a travel assistant that would be able to help with booking trips, handling problems in trips and helping with real advice. This would consume structured data from the travel engines, social data like reviews and using Watson to provide real answers to travel questions along with the kind of supporting insights that will make a trip work. Wayblazer is his planned product – cognitive search, cognitive advise and cognitive commerce.
Rhodin identified three key things for the expansion of Watson:
- APIs, to allow Watson services to be easily integrated
- Content, to make it easy to provide the content teams need to jump start an application
- Skills, with an large scale education roll out to provide a base of training graduates
The release of support for Watson on Bluemix and the integration of Watson into Watson Analytics, for instance, is resulting he says in an increasing array of Watson-based enterprise applications. Other new products from the Watson apps to Watson Discovery Advisor and Watson Content Curator are further extending its reach. Watson is being integrated into various IBM products and Rhodin expects more and more of these. It’s been a busy 10 months since the Watson group was founded….