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January, 9th 2014

IBM_Watson_AvatarToday, IBM announced a major new initiative aimed at accelerating progress in the era of cognitive computing. Three years after IBM Watson’s stunning victory on the TV quiz show Jeopardy!, we have created a new business unit, IBM Watson Group, to be headquartered in New York City’s Silicon Alley. The organization is unique within IBM– integrating research, software, systems design, services and industry expertise. The goal is to be nimble and easy for business partners to deal with.  Follow the live blog here. Tweets at #IBMWatson.

9:55 a.m. IBM CEO Ginni Rometty

We see a major shift in computing. This is as big as the shifts we lead in the history of computing. In the1960s, with the mainframe; in the 1980s, with the IBM PC; in the 1990s, with IBM global services. Today is another major step forward for us and our clients.

This is the third era of computing, the cognitive era. By design, computer will learn and get smarter over time and help us make better judgments.

To unleash the insights from Big Data, you need this new era. In my view Watson is just in time.

You’ll interact with data in a new way—natural languages. It understands the implications of your questions, and, in the future, it will engage with you in a dialogue.

We started with the Jeopardy contest on TV, but now we’re going about transforming industries and professions.

We decided to transform some of the world’s most difficult problems first—we started with healthcare and cancer. We’re working with some of the top healthcare organizations in the world on reshaping healthcare.

We want entrepreneurs and developers to use our Watson Developer Cloud to develop their own solutions. Already 750 companies have said they want to participate.

We don’t form a business unit very often. When we do it’s to make our company, our clients, our partners accelerate progress. It’s not just about business—it’s about advances that make a big difference to all of society.

10:05  a.m. IBM SVP Michael Rhodin

The formation of a new group is a big deal, and it’s a journey. This started with a grand challenge. How smart can a computer be? Fortunately, it worked out. Watson won on Jeopardy!

We’re now going from the original 27 researchers to the few hundred people who worked on commercializing the technology, and now we’re going to 2000 people.

What you knew Watson as was merely the top of the iceberg. We’ll have waves of new technology rapidly coming into the market.

Michael Rhodin, IBM

Michael Rhodin, IBM

What is Watson? At it’s a core it’s a system that understands natural language. It reads. The more it reads, the smarter it gets. When you ask it questions, it gets smarter.  That’s how we humans learn.

Think of Watson as an engine in a cognitive system. It’s the beginning state. As we move forward, we add capabilities. Watson gets smarter still.

It is learning how experts think so it can give them the insights they need. It’s learning to see—visual capabilities.

We’re growing, so we need a bigger house. Location matters. In the center of New York’s East Village—Silicon Alley—is a brand new icon building. This will be our home, where our people and our partners work together to create the future.

We’re going to share Watson with the world.


10:25 a.m. Watson in Cancer Care

Craig Thompson, CEO, Memorial Sloan-Kettering

This provides a cognitive approach to solve complex problems. Our two research teams came together two years ago to train Watson. We have developed a partner for the healthcare professional in making the best and most informed decision about treatment for a patient and their family.

Watson taps into a vast amount of information. It brings it together. It provides a prioritized list of what are the best possible choices. It works in partnership, as a collaborator, with healthcare professionals.

Dr Jose Baselga, physician-in-chief, MSKCC

In the old days, we had a simple process for oncology decision making. There was little information and there were limited number of treatments. Four of them. Today, the field has changed dramatically. There’s a sea of data we have to deal with. There are thousands of articles coming out every day. We have electronic medical records. We have an imaging revolution. It’s all complex and hard to understand. Today we have 80 therapies, and we have 800 more in the works. With genetic information, our knowledge will explode again.

Today, at MSKCC, we’re sequencing the genes in tumors of thousands of patients.

The traditional process isn’t working anymore. This where Watson comes into play. Watson is our colleague, or partner. It’s the source of data and intregration.

Patients are more active participants today, and Watson takes this into account.

We have trained Watson and now it’s self improving on a continuous basis.

We believe strongly that this is the way healthcare will be delivered.


10:35 am Training Watson to Help Physicians

Dr. Tom Graham, chief innovation officer, Cleveland Clinic

This isn’t man versus machine. Medicine is a team sport. This is something, a capability,  that  we can work with. Healthcare is the natural application for Watson technology.

When we started working with IBM, the Watson team wanted to understand how doctors think–the human element. Our physicians wanted to be able to interrogate the data.

We essentially took Watson to medical school. It’s a virtuous cycle, The physician learning from Watson and Watson learning from the physician.

Our medical students have worked closely with Watson as a learning partner. Simulation is a major advance in medical education. Now we have a cognitive simulation center.

We live in a world of probabilistic answers, not deterministic—so we need this kind of tool to help us navigate through it.

IBM is our partner in converting knowledge into the wisdom we need to improve healthcare.


10:55 a.m. Bringing Watson To the Market

Michael Rhodin, SVP, IBM

We see repeating patterns of needs in business. And once you see repeating patterns, you can build products that can address problems and opportunities for businesses. We call them cognitive solutions across the enterprise.

One of our first products is IBM Watson Engagement Advisor.

Scott McKinley, EVP Innovation, Nielsen

(on video)

We measure everything that consumers watch, and now we’re watching everything people buy.

Our clients are advertisers, marketers and the media.

Watson is a tremendous opportunity. We have decades of structured data. We need better access to it. On the unstructured side we have fire hoses of data coming from Facebook and Twitter. We need tools to help people understand this data in near real time. We think Watson provides the opportunity for us. Marketers can paw through data in real time and draw actionable insights.

Rhodin: Another need that people and organizations have is the ability to find the white space, discovering new things. So our second major enterprise solution is IBM Watson Discovery Advisor.

Jay Katzen, Elsevier

Jay Katzen, Elsevier

Jay Katzen, president, Clinical Solutions, Elsevier

We think a partnership with IBM can help solve some of the big problems in our business—providing information to clinicians. We provide physicians tools to practice evidence-based medicine.

Physicians have limited time between patients. They don’t have the time and ability to find out what they need to know. The leading cause of death in the US is preventable medical errors. About 400,000 people die per year. That’s preventable.

We have gathered a tremendous amount of information for our physicians. But it’s not taking into account everything they need to make better decisions. We need to speed up the path to a relevant answer. Watson can help us do this. Watson can save lives.


11:15 a.m. Delivering the Cognitive Experience to the Mass Market

Mike Rhodin, SVP, IBM

We’re building an ecosystem of partners to use our platform to take Watson to the mass consumer market. After we announced the ecosystem a few months ago, more than 700 companies raised their hands and said they wanted to work with us. Now it’s more than 800.

Kent Deverell, CEO, Fluid Inc.

We’re leveraging Watson to transform the digital retailing experience.

We use strategy, technology and design to turn experience into the decision to buy.  Today 60% of all US retail purchases are influenced by digital experiences.

We think consumers want real advice, but it’s not available online. 80% of consumers say they want advice online.

Technology can help change the equation. Making sense of shopping for consumers is the next big thing. We need to move from keyword searches to conversations—and getting great advice.

The great sales associate is personal, knowledgeable, and interactive. We need technology that can recreate that experience for the consumer. It’s the best of both worlds—the convenience and vast information of ecommerce combined with the personalization and interaction of the physical retail experience.

We created an app with Watson. It’s a simple interface that engages in a dialogue with the consumer. Watson asks questions. The consumer gives details of what they want. It’s natural responsive and personal. It’s intelligent intuitive and limitless. Three years from now we hope you’ll all be shopping this way.

Mike Rhodin: We’ve invited Terry Jones, founder of Travelocity and Kayak to talk about how Watson could transform travel.

Terry Jones

Terry Jones

Terry Jones, co-founder of Travelocity and Kayak

Leisure travel is fun, but arranging travel is no fun. Technology made it easier to make a reservation. When travel went online, we were able to shop for the best prices and most convenient flights. We could do comparison shopping. We connected people with mobile. It is still more difficult than it should be.

Something is missing. It’s expert advice. You can get reviews on the web, but not advice. Here’s a secret. Me. The guy who revolutionized travel arranging. I use travel agents. I treasure their advice.

Online, everything has to fit in a box. Why can’t my search for a great trip be as simple as a conversation? With Watson, it can be. With Watson and its ability to have a conversation with you, we can move travel outside the box.

We an turn data into advice and turn travel into the kind of conversations we have, and maybe, just maybe, we can revolutionize travel once again.


11:30 a.m. Driving New Market Value

Jeanne Sullivan, Starvest Partners

I believe that Watson could help us deal with one of the biggest problems we have: Joblesslessness. Watson could help people search for and find jobs.

I can see a use for Watson in helping in the insurance business—helping people find policies that are right for them.

watson jeanneSullivanI’m happy to see IBM planning some incubation in your new headquarters in New York City. We have been involved in incubators in New York. We see companies enter as projects and leave as companies with solutions. Incubators can be big job creators.

I’d love to see IBM and Watson get involved the new Cornell tech center in New York. Have a West Coast-East Coast bake off. Which is better?

I think we should aim high. I think Watson should be applied to taking on world hunger. Why not? It’s taking on cancer.

It can take on jobs and hunger.

I also think Watson can be applied to the Smarter Planet agenda—helping to make the world work better.


11:40 a.m. Watson: Through the Looking Glass

Guru Banavar, IBM Research

As a computer science researcher, this is an inspiring day for me. Many of the things we have been working on for decades have become mainstream.

Now, we are going to be accelerating all of these innovations to the IBM Watson Group, and we’ll be expanding. Almost one third of IBM Research will be focusing on cognitive computing.

A few examples of the kinds of things we’re doing:

Guru Banavar

Guru Banavar

–We’re giving Watson the power to see. It can learn from a large quantity of images and video. It’s not just bout understanding the meta data. It’s understanding the content and learning from the content.

–We’re improving Watson’s ability to conduct natural dialogues with people.  

–We’re improving Watson’s ability to discover new knowledge.  This can be applied to drug development, materials engineering and other domains. We can come up with new combinations that might never have been considered before. It’s a brainstorming technique.

–We’ll be opening up the platform for the broader community to build new applications we call “cogs.” We need those human innovators to work with cognitive systems to build all sorts of applications.  We especially encourage the millennial generation—people who can image brand new ways of using cognitive systems to make our lives much better.


11:45 a.m. Michael Rhodin, SVP, IBM

We’re really excited to work with all of you on making the world a better place.

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June 10, 2016
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June 10, 2016
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Great blog.

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Quite impressive.

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Watson can help us do this. Watson can save lives.

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Posted by: Louie Donovan
January 14, 2014
11:00 am

Hello, this is amazing !
I am a project Manager and I see that IBM Watson solution could be also used for Project Management for internal and external projects.
It could help to validate a project business case, to validate the project management system, to identify stake holders, to plan,to define and monitor costs,to identify issues,risks, dependencies. It could be used to improve teaching project management!

Posted by: Lancellotti Maurizio
January 13, 2014
6:17 pm

Why not configure and deploy Watson to support our own z mainframe, P systems, and all our products and services! (instead of time consuming training and hundreds of Redbooks and manuals) It will become extremely efficient for our professionals to respond to our customers, our cost of doing business will plummet, profits will skyrocket, and the stock price will multiply!

Posted by: Nara Kamath
January 13, 2014
5:46 pm

What’s on?


This is going to be a game changer in many walks of Human and Machine!

Would be awesome to work on a project.

A proud IBM’er!

Posted by: Chandra S. Venkataraman
January 13, 2014
7:17 am

Real great news! I remember, in the 90s, IBM had in its SW portfolio, what we called the Artificial Intelligence : a kind of “motor” that learns and get fed as it runs… but it rapidely disappeared from our portfolio. I’m so happy to see that this is somehow back again!
Now, it looks to me that – conceptually and regardless the new technologies that didn’t exist at that time (cloud, ….)- Watson solutions are based on Artificial Intelligence. Am I right? If not, what is the key difference?


Posted by: Lete Catherine
January 13, 2014
4:51 am

Great work and very exiting informations on Watson. Do we as IBMers will get access to it?

Posted by: Ralph Goepel
January 12, 2014
8:03 am

I saw a news item this morning on detecting cognitive diseases such as ADHD using gaming technology on iPAD, etc.

Whereas mobile apps can provide initial diagnosis, a more in-depth diagnosis and prognosis can be accurately derived only from an in-depth analysis that would require the intelligence, processing power and data capacity of Watson. It is like a initial lab tests and then detailed tests and analysis at advanced hospitals. This will add value and bring maximum benefits to the patients and the caregivers in shortest time.

Posted by: Nara Kamath
January 10, 2014
6:30 pm

Nice work, Steve – congrats to the Watson and launch teams.

Posted by: Kurt Miller
January 10, 2014
6:29 pm

Nice work, Steve – and congrats to the Watson and launch teams!

Posted by: Kurt Miller
January 10, 2014
1:32 pm

This is fascinating, and the possibilities seem endless…I’d like to start with a proposal to develop an application to allow cross-language searching and translation for large international organizations. My problem is that I’m an individual, not a company. The system is based on work I did for McKinsey Co. It combines the cross-language search capability of Autonomy – which I think the Watson could replicate- and the machine translation capabilities of SDL. The core idea is to automate the process as much as possible and reduce the need for human translation as much as possible, all based on statistical linguistics. I can provide further information, and am willing to work as a consultant.

Posted by: Thomas Hasler
January 10, 2014
12:33 pm

AMAZING – looking forward to its applications in consumer products and 5 senses cognitive innovation… The end of the R&D era as we know it.

Posted by: Gwladys HALL
January 10, 2014
12:31 pm

What an amazing bet from Ginni! Well done… the computing era has become reality – top-class flagship building in NYC.
Watson was most certainly helping the decision making process on this very interesting calculated bet!
Particularly exited about Watson applications in Consumer Product Goods – food, beverage and personal/home care and how cognitive computing can help in product innovation, consumers tasting/smelling/feeling/touching flavours-ingredients-recipes..
The end of traditional R&D – the end of an era!… Thank you Ginni. Again, inspiring.

Posted by: Gwladys HALL
January 10, 2014
11:46 am

Is there anyway the employees have an opportunity to explore Watson? Could I use some services of Watson Cloud? Please let me know.

Posted by: Ravi Kulkarni
January 10, 2014
11:15 am

Having just watched the replay of the announcement yesterday, I am *genuinely* excited by the amazing work that has been done by the IBM Watson team, and of course, the partners who have shared their visions of how Watson can be put to use.

All I need to do now is get my hands on Watson, and see how we can use this tech to the benefit of the Energy & Utilities industry here in the UK.

Great work guys, and well done again!

Posted by: Kev Thomas
January 10, 2014
10:06 am

As Sascha wrote before me. Keep in mind the repercussions such technology might have in wrong hands. Not everything has to be aimed at profit. IBM has unique chance to continue being an altruistic organization just as well as a leading tech innovator.

P.S. I admin this is a daydream I have. But let us dream our dreams :)

Posted by: Johnny Pasho
January 10, 2014
10:04 am

don´t get me wrong – I´m absolutely excited about the things I saw already in 2011 and especially yesterday !!! Great job !!!!

Posted by: Sascha Johannes
January 10, 2014
9:59 am

Watson is surely great and exciting, BUT….

..we also and always have to keep in mind the ethical responsibility we have with such a huge and powerful technology. For me, it seems to be a little bit like gene research. On the one hand an absolutely powerful and helpful science, but on the other hand, if in the wrong hands, it could be one of the most dangerous and unethical things on this planet. So please don´t lose our IBM philosophy. (don´t sell it to NSA and don´t use it just to make the rich people even richer and the poor even poorer.

Posted by: Sascha Johannes
January 10, 2014
9:36 am

After seeing the You Tube video on the announcement of the Watson Group – one word comes to mind to sum it all up: “Wow”.

Posted by: John Short
January 10, 2014
9:24 am

This gives us corporate identity with a very positive image and will increase to be proud to be an IBM´er. Remember me about former time.

Posted by: Sebastian Nobis
January 10, 2014
9:05 am

Thanks for the provided information and new spirit, i will share the news within my team. Winfried

Posted by: Winfried Elsel
January 10, 2014
7:12 am

Congrats WATSON GROUP! I am interested to work with WATSON. Can anyone help me to become a collegue for WATSON?!

Posted by: Babu Ramraj
January 10, 2014
7:07 am

This is indeed history in the making, and one I’m proud to be part of.

Thank you and Well done to the IBM Watson team – all the best with taking this forward to transform people’s live in all areas.

Posted by: Gwen
January 10, 2014
7:05 am

This is history in the making … I am proud to be part of this historic event.
Well done IBM Watson Team. All the best with taking this forward to change people’s lives.

Posted by: Gwen
January 10, 2014
5:48 am

Congratulations to IBM Watson Group!! Thank you , I so Proud to be part of this company.

Posted by: Fatima
January 10, 2014
3:44 am

Mike this is a momentous & defining initiative, and an amazing accolade to IBM’s tireless researchers, its collaborators, leadership visoion, investment ability and I believe will re-define IBM’s leadership and that of its partners, in setting a new way to commercialise research and its eco system, across the spectrum of commerce and aspects that impact ordinary interchange in every day life. Best wishes. Sanjay

Posted by: Sanjay K Saxena
January 9, 2014
11:03 pm

Congratulations to IBM Watson Group! Wishing many more success to us! Good & exciting way to start 2014…

Posted by: Anitha Rao
January 9, 2014
5:37 pm

nice summary for Today´s announcement, i am glad to see different use cases on multiple industries… I can not wait to see Watson in action in the field.

Posted by: Manuel Avalos
January 9, 2014
12:02 pm

This is a real great news. We are excited to hear news coming from this.

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