Cognitive computing and analytics for smarter mobile applications

Developer Advocate, IBM

Mobile devices continue to explode in utility and popularity. You always have them with you, they provide the most personal computing context, they are always connected and they remind you of what you have scheduled to do next. Traditionally, mobile applications are transaction based by nature: you capture data, you retrieve data and you read and process that information. Then you can act upon the information being provided by the device in your pocket.

Now stop and think for a moment, what if the applications on your device could do more than they already do for you, by bearing some of that responsibility and providing you with just the information that you need? Cognitive computing—an emerging area of computation that can accurately analyze complex and ambiguous information—can deliver on many of these hypothetical what-if scenarios and provide immediate value to enterprises, regardless of industry.

Cognitive computing–based services can provide the capability to understand spoken languages, analyze and process natural language queries, and translate information between spoken languages—for example, English to Japanese. Moreover, these services can extract insights, tone or relationships from mass collections of information, or employ computer vision algorithms for automatically recognizing objects from images—and much more.

Automating complex analysis

These types of processing capabilities can be used to automate complex analysis tasks, offload cognitive processing challenges from end users, empower communication across teams and localities and go even further to flatten the global playing field. IBM Watson Developer Cloud supports many of these scenarios, which can augment and greatly enhance the experience of consuming or distributing information. 

Consider how these capabilities can be integrated into applications. All major mobile platforms have voice-driven interactions at the operating system level. However, these voice-driven interactions aren’t always available for developers to take advantage of at the application or application programming interface (API) layer. Using Watson Developer Cloud services, a developer can add voice-driven interactions to any application. These interactions transcribe the spoken audio file into text that can be acted upon. This text can be parsed alone and used for dictating data entry and analyzing the text for keywords that invoke actions. It can even be paired with the natural language Question and Answer service to query complex corpora of information.

Take a look at another use case. Imagine being part of a global team that spans multiple continents. Members of the team have collected information in English, and you need that information to be immediately available to the team’s counterparts in Europe and Asia. Language translation services can enable a seamless automated workflow that makes this information available to everyone on the team. In the instant that the data is pushed to a server for storage, it can also be translated to other languages, making that information immediately available across the global system. This process can streamline communication and inform and empower the global workforce to operate more effectively.

Adding operational analytics cognitive computing power at one’s fingertips is only half of the equation for building smarter applications. Cognitive computing offers the ability to process data at a high level, but it doesn’t provide insight into how end users are actually using the application, and how it is performing out in the field.

For an enterprise to understand what happens once the application is in end users’ hands, the application has to be built to provide operational analytics. These analytics may provide insight into which features of an application are actively in use, which servers and services are actively being consumed and which platforms and devices are being used to deliver information. In addition, with a quick glance they can shed light on how all systems are responding or reveal other trends within the application data. Operational analytics can provide overall system health at any point in time, thus helping enterprises to focus on application quality and engage in content that provides high value to end users. And the IBM MobileFirst platform helps with the collection and aggregation of operational analytics within the mobile application context.

Together, cognitive computing and analytics can provide insight and information processing services that are impossible to achieve alone. Learn more about IBM analytics. Plus, register for IBM Insight 2015, 26–29 October 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada, and attend the session, “Watson Cognitive Computing and Mobile Apps” to see and experience examples of both IBM Watson cognitive computing services and IBM MobileFirst in native mobile applications.