Watson & Twitter: A Marriage Made in Tech-Heaven?
In a successful marriage, each partner complements the other. Recently, the hi-tech world was abuzz with the news that Watson, IBM’s AI supercomputer, was hooking up with the social media darling Twitter. Some see the pair as a match made in cyber-heaven, which will benefit marketers and small to medium-sized businesses. But is the much ballyhooed Watson & Twitter partnership destined for bliss or disillusionment?
A Little About Watson
First, a little background on the groom: Watson is an artificial intelligence system that processes information more like a human than a traditional computer. According to IBM, Watson represents a new generation of computing, one that combines a natural language interface, hypothesis generation and evaluation, and trial and error learning. In other words, you can tell Watson what you want in plain language, and he’ll learn from experience to anticipate your needs. Now, if only most husbands could manage this as well!
Watson also does something that few husbands can do; he gets smarter (sorry guys). In fact, Watson can sift through enormous amounts of data, discern meaningful patterns and make hunches or predictions based on the information he’s analyzed.
In theory, marrying Watson’s analytic brainpower to Twitter’s information-rich chatter will help businesses identify trends, gain insight into consumer behavior and anticipate customer needs faster and more precisely than ever.
Expectations are high for Watson, but can he live up to them? Already, Watson has trounced human competitors on the game show Jeopardy! And healthcare providers are using Watson’s services as part of their clinical decision support systems. For instance, companies like Wellpoint employ Watson to crunch through medical data and patient records and come up with a menu of treatment options medical providers can choose from.
5 Ways Watson Will Change Technology for Business
Like many husbands today, Watson’s actual earnings have yet to live to his potential. As an article in the Wall Street Journal notes, Big Blue is struggling to turn Watson into the billion dollar juggernaut they anticipate. Nevertheless, many observers believe Watson will be a game-changing technology for business. Here are 5 reasons why:
- Natural Language Interface: Users talk and interact with Watson in everyday language.
- Cloud Based Service: Because Watson is a cloud-based technology, many small and medium-sized business will be able to afford and utilize his services
- Calculating ROI: Watson represents a simpler and more intuitive approach to calculating RIO than Excel
- Real-Time Monitoring: Using Watson to monitor platforms like Twitter could bridge the gap between customer service and marketing. For example, Watson’s ability to sift through vast amounts of Twitter gossip could help companies identify and respond to customer service issues in virtually real-time.
- Connecting Data into Insights: Essentially, Watson’s ability to intelligently manage and mine vast troves of information can help transform data into insight. Watson’s predictive analytic capabilities should allow companies to plan better, market smarter, and budget more wisely.
Watson & Twitter: What Might The Marriage Bring?
What kind of fruit will the Watson & Twitter relationship bear? At first blush, the union appears to have something for everyone. IBM’s Watson will be able to draw from Twitter’s rich trove of data, leveraging that information as part of the services it offers to other businesses. For companies, Watson’s ability to discover trends and discern consumer sentiment by sifting through Twitter feeds represents a potential quantum leap in the ways organizations gain insight about their customers.
Twitter also stands to move up from marrying Watson. The company has long struggled to monetize its data; IBM can help Twitter leverage that information. Are products in the offing? In Dom Nicastro’s article for CMS Wire entitled “IBM or Twitter: Who Needed the Deal More?”, analyst Tony Baer indicates that the two organizations are working on a joint application centered on the customer experience. In all likelihood, the Watson-Twitter merger is an early sign of a future trend: the integration of enterprise systems and social engagement platforms.
The Watson & Twitter nuptials have a lot of people understandably excited. In theory, pairing of these two platforms should result in something that is more than the sum of their respective parts. Time will tell if this technology coupling transforms business. But for now, I can see why many tech-savvy commentators are swooning.
Bottom-line: Pairing cloud-based analytic systems (like Watson) with social channels (e.g. Twitter) helps level the playing field for small and medium-sized businesses. Put simply, the fusion of AI and social platforms gives the small guy the same tools usually reserved for the bigger players.
Curatti Takeaway: We are entering an era of hybrid solutions. AI systems like Watson are being used to enhance human decision-making. In terms of how it will affect each of our lives – in business and leisure – this is a major leap forward and a big step along a path long since taken for granted in science fiction.
The full ramifications for business is be being mulled over around the world as you read this, and I’m not about to make any specific predictions right now. All I can say is that the landscape has just made a major shift and the time is not far off, when affordable AI will be as indispensable a part of business as your laptop and mobile phone are today.
And just in case you’ve ever wondered how Watson does what it does, this video is most illuminating:
Images: Sachin Teng on http://fortune.com/2013/09/19/ibms-massive-bet-on-watson/
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