The era of cognitive computing is here. The biggest proof came during the recent IBM World of Watson conference. More than 17,000 people came together to learn about how cognitive computing is being used—today—in organizations across the world. In a nutshell, cognitive computing enables people and organizations to collectively understand. It helps people do their jobs better.
Two of our clients, Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance and Cardinal Health told their stories of how they use cognitive computing for customer analytics in three different presentations (Cardinal Health presented in two different sessions). Both of these businesses use cognitive in different ways to determine what to market to who, using data and insights, instead of guessing and assumptions. Like almost of all of the sessions I attended, these presentations were given to packed rooms.
As I wandered the floor of the conference, I was able to check out some of the cutting-edge technologies leveraging cognitive. We’ll start to see these in large-scale commercial use in the next few quarters. One that resonated particularly well with attendees was an example of how to use Watson technology to drive customer interactions. In this live demo in the expo center, we were able to see how Watson drove a conversation with a customer, asking the customer what they needed, what type of flowers the person receiving them liked, what they wanted to spend, and then giving them a few options to choose from. This conversation was one just like a customer would have with a live representative, but it was with technology. Yes, that thought could immediately send people to think that cognitive computing and technologies like Watson will eliminate jobs. Possibly. But in this demo, it was an online shopping example. The opportunity is that cognitive computing will enable organizations to put people in more significant roles, with technology taking care of tasks that can be automated.
The most noteworthy event signaling the role cognitive computing is taking in today and tomorrow’s world came during IBM CEO Ginni Rometty’s keynote address. As a 2016 Champion of Analytics, I was able to sit in special reserved floor seating for this presentation. This was the first time Ginni spoke at World of Watson, and her presentation showed us what a life with Watson looked like. Her topic—AI—was not artificial intelligence, but augmented intelligence. How can we, using IBM Watson technology, augment human knowledge workers with cognitive insight to make better decisions? To perform their jobs better? Ginni made the case for why IBM is the only company that is and can put augmented intelligence in a business context effectively and accurately. And that’s where cognitive computing is today, and where it is going tomorrow.