The cognition blitz at World of Watson 2016

Big Data Evangelist, IBM

The common thread running through most of the announcements at IBM Insight at World of Watson 2016 was, not surprisingly, IBM Watson. IBM is embedding Watson’s cognitive capabilities throughout its solution portfolio.

Cognition galore

Several more key announcements emerged from IBM Insight at World of Watson 2016.

Advanced cognitive platform

As discussed in a blog early in the week of 24 October 2016, IBM announced the general availability of IBM Watson Data Platform (WDP), an advanced, open source–based, cloud data and analytics platform that helps simplify and automate data-driven business innovation. WDP offers a single, cloud-based development platform for team data science that integrates all data for cognitively powered decision making.

In addition, it provides a self-service, task-oriented environment for teams of data scientists, data engineers and other professionals to collaboratively develop, iterate and deploy sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI), cognitive computing, machine learning and other advanced analytics. Related announcements, also discussed in that previous blog, are the expansion of WDP Plan, the general availability of IBM Data Science Experience (DSX), the closed beta of IBM Watson Machine Learning Service and the expansion of WDP’s open partner ecosystem.

Cognitive video streaming analytics

IBM also announced new cloud services that apply cognitive capabilities to cloud video technology for helping uncover new data and insights that can increase audience engagement. These new IBM cloud-based services help clients to deliver more personalized and audience-targeted viewing experiences by providing deep understanding of video content and audience preferences. They use cognitive technology to automatically mine and analyze the complex data in video so companies can better understand and deliver the content consumers want. Several new services leverage innovations from IBM research and development (R&D) labs and cloud video platform capabilities of Clearleap and Ustream.

Live event analysis

This capability combines Watson application programming interfaces (APIs) with IBM Cloud Video streaming video solutions to track near-real-time audience reaction of live events by analyzing social media feeds. IT combines the Watson Speech to Text and AlchemyLanguage APIs with IBM Cloud Video technology to track consumer feedback while an event is occurring. It processes natural language in streaming videos and concurrently analyzes social media feeds to provide word-by-word analysis of audience sentiment to a live event. Now in the demonstration phase with clients, companies can use this service to gauge and adjust to audience reaction before a speaker has even left the stage. scene detection

This feature uses cognitive technology to automatically segment videos into meaningful scenes to make finding and delivering targeted content more efficient. A new pilot project from IBM Research understands semantics and patterns in language and images and can identify higher-level concepts, such as when a show or movie changes topics. It can be used to automatically segment videos into meaningful chapters, instead of potential arbitrary breaks in action. A leading content provider is already piloting this service to help improve categorization of videos, indexing of specific chapters and searches for relevant content. It enables rich metadata services that can be used to help create highly-specific content pairings for viewers down to the segment, increasing engagement and time spent.

Audience insights

IBM announced plans to integrate its cognitive technologies with the IBM Cloud Video platform to provide deep insights on audience preferences and sentiment. The goal is to provide media and entertainment clients with detail into consumer viewing habits, such as other shows or networks watched, devices used for viewing and other interests for specific audiences. This approach is expected to involve integration of IBM Cloud Video solutions with the IBM Media Insights Platform, which is a cognitive solution.

It uses Watson APIs to help identify audience preferences, including what they are watching and saying through social media. To this end, IBM is adding its Media Insights Platform to IBM Cloud Video’s existing Catalog and Subscriber Manager and Logistics Manager products. The new service, planned for release later this year, is expected to analyze viewing behaviors and social media streams to identify complex patterns that can be used to help improve content pairings and find new viewers interested in existing content. Within this service, Media Insights Platform can use several Watson Speech to Text, AlchemyLanguage, Tone Analyzer, and Personality Insights APIs.

The family of cognitive professional applications

IBM introduced several new categories of Watson-powered cognitive solutions for professionals, which join previously announced professional solutions including Watson Financial Services, Watson Regulatory Compliance Solutions and Watson Education.

IBM Watson Marketing

This new category of cognitive solutions addresses the needs of marketing professionals. It helps marketers identify and target the right audiences based on customer behaviors and quickly create well-suited combinations of campaign assets to drive conversion and build brand loyalty. IBM Watson Customer Experience Analytics taps into a variety of behavioral data—for example, shopping patterns, buying trends and so on—to understand which customers are the right target for a campaign. IBM Watson Content Hub uses cognitive capabilities to understand and learn about the data in a company’s content management system. It trains itself to understand what has been stored and then recognize it, and it automatically tags content including images, videos and documents based on millions of previous examples. In addition, it enables marketers and merchandisers to quickly select the right content based on the needs of the campaign regardless of the channel they are using.

IBM Watson Commerce  

This new IBM Watson Commerce category of cognitive solutions addresses the needs of e-commerce professionals. IBM Watson Order Optimizer helps to fulfill orders across all channels. It learns over time, and it studies patterns from past orders and current market trends to make recommendations on everything from network capacity to shipping costs and times.

IBM Watson Supply Chain

The IBM Watson Supply Chain category of cognitive solutions addresses the needs of supply chain professionals. IBM Watson Supply Chain Insights continuously learns about a company’s normal supply chain patterns by analyzing and spotting trends in the data from multiple systems including trade partners. The solution then alerts practitioners to potential disruptions, provides insights into estimated time delays and financial costs of the issue, and recommends specific experts who can gather in a virtual workroom to quickly solve the problem.

IBM Watson Talent and IBM Watson Work

The IBM Watson Talent and IBM Watson Work category of cognitive solutions addresses the needs of human resources (HR) professionals. IBM Watson Talent offerings can bring greater efficiency and effectiveness to the recruitment, learning and talent functions to help drive improvements in the delivery of HR services. IBM Watson Workspace learns how an individual works with, interacts with and consolidates multiple work conversations from various communications channels into a single space. And IBM Watson Work Services provides a set of cognitive APIs for action identification, moment identification and summarization that developers can access through the offering’s website. It infuses cognitive capabilities into existing work products and applications, existing third-party applications and new applications under development.

Cognitive-learning partner initiative

IBM and Pearson announced a new global education alliance that is intended to make Watson’s cognitive capabilities available to millions of college students and professors. Embedding IBM cognitive capabilities into the Pearson courseware and other digital learning products can give students a more immersive learning experience in their college courses. And it offers an easy way to get help and insights when needed, all through asking questions in natural language.

IBM and Pearson are innovating with Watson APIs, education-specific diagnostics and remediation capabilities. Watson can spot patterns in students’ performance on exercises and generate insights to help instructors personalize the education for students to achieve desired outcomes. Instructors can gain insights about how well students are learning, allowing them to better manage the entire course and flag students who need additional help. Serving as a digital resource, Watson can assess students’ responses to guide them with hints, feedback and explanations and help them identify common misconceptions. It works with students at their pace to help them master the topic.

In another scenario, Watson is expected to be able to search through an expanded set of education resources to retrieve relevant information to answer the students’ questions. Through conversation and the use of natural language, Watson-based adaptive learning can help students gain a better understanding of the subject material.

Cognitive conversational brand-engagement enabler

IBM introduced Watson Virtual Agent, a cognitive chat bot that allows businesses to simply build and deploy real-time conversational agents into consumer-facing applications for delivering intelligent, proactive responses to customer queries. Watson Virtual Agent enables users to easily and quickly build and train engagement bots from the cloud, harnessing the power of cognitive technologies. And it helps accelerate users’ ability to deploy bots through the inclusion of pre-trained, cross-industry content that requires minimal configuration.

The bot’s conversational capabilities allow users to build solutions that can be easily deployed across platforms—whether on social media; Short Message Service (SMS); a mobile app; embedded within a website or even in other form factors, such as robotics. Watson Virtual Agent is offered as a cloud-based service, which enables ongoing enhancements to content and capabilities. It is available on the IBM Marketplace and through the Watson Developer Cloud on the IBM Bluemix platform.

Cognitive mobility

IBM also announced that MobileFirst for iOS apps can now be integrated with a broad set of Watson-based conversational and cognitive capabilities. Watson APIs can be embedded in IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps and custom-built IBM iOS apps. With Watson-enabled speech interaction, for example, professionals can now control IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps with their voice, providing easy access to deep insights that help improve the performance of their work.

IBM Natural Language Processing, Watson Conversation and other Watson APIs have been optimized to work with the new iOS 10 speech framework. The combination of Watson, iOS and IBM services allows the apps to support conversational interaction, bringing deep insight to end users so they can make more informed decisions. By offering a simple, hands-free solution, apps are more convenient and even easier to use. Watson services are delivered through IBM Cloud; current and forthcoming cognitive capabilities can be easily integrated into IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps, even if a client has already rolled out the apps to its workforce.

Cognitive social chat-bot service

The Weather Channel, an IBM Business, launched a bot for Facebook Messenger that is powered by IBM Watson. The bot is expected to learn Facebook user preferences to provide personalized weather conditions, forecasts, news content and more. The Weather Channel bot offers a way to view and share personalized weather-related news content, current conditions, forecasts, severe weather notifications and other relevant weather information.

With the launch of the new bot for Messenger, The Weather Channel brings an entirely new customizable weather experience to users. Leveraging IBM Watson Natural Language Classifier and AlchemyLanguage APIs, over time, the bot is expected to learn a users’ preferences to deliver weather-related content specific to their individual interests. Using Watson’s natural language and machine learning capabilities as it engages with users, the bot can make recommendations, provide predictions and have conversations to offer a more personalized experience. Bot features include current conditions and hourly forecasts, daily forecasts and five-day outlooks, extended forecast information, severe weather alerts, customizable notifications and content recommendations. Available in 39 languages, the bot is easily accessible to Facebook and Messenger users through The Weather Channel Facebook fan page, as well as the Messenger app.

Many avenues to cognition

Stay tuned for more announcements from the conference, and start your cognitive journey with IBM WDP.