IBM teams up with the University of Rochester to put the IBM Watson technology to the test in a competition among the school’s MBA students.
The University of Rochester Simon
School of Business and IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced winners of the first
Watson academic case competition.
The competition is a way to develop
new ideas for harnessing IBM Watson technology to solve societal and business
challenges while helping students advance technology and business skills for
jobs of the future. It also is part of a series of competitions for students
studying a variety of academic concentrations.
Watson, named after IBM founder
Thomas J. Watson, was built by a team of scientists to accomplish a grand
a computing system that rivals a humans ability to
answer questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence.
The Watson technology represents a new class of cognitive systems
that can quickly sift through large volumes of big data, and apply advanced
analytics to improve decision making across a variety of use cases and
IBM said 25 MBA students with
concentrations ranging from marketing and business consulting to finance and
entrepreneurship competed in teams submitting seven proposals outlining how
Watson's technology could be applied to solve complex challenges in the
transportation, energy, retail and public sector industries.
Three winning ideas were selected by
a panel of judges made up of faculty, regional business leaders and IBM
executives. Team evaluations were based on the ability of the students to
clearly articulate the business case, including market research, tactical
planning and feasibility while exhibiting an understanding of how to harness
big data for strategic outcomes.
The winning case studies included a
crisis-management capability to better allocate resources during disasters, a
mining application to improve the effectiveness of natural gas, petroleum and
other natural resources exploration, and streamlining the customs process for
airports to reduce wait times.
First place went to Managing Data
in the Eye of a Storm, which showed how IBM's Watson technology could be put
to work combining weather-related data and the latest census numbers to help
organizations better prepare for a crisis administration and allocate resources
accordingly. The first place student team concluded that Watson's ability to
look at unstructured and structured information could more accurately identify
weather patterns and help improve response times.
Second place went to a project
called, Mining for Insights, Literally, which recommended that the Watson
technology could help energy companies improve the understanding of
environmental impacts, and regulatory and safety information to reduce accidents
while avoiding the over-exploration of natural resources. This team relied on
Watson's cognitive-reasoning capabilities to deliver precise and accurate
results to optimize exploration efforts.
Third place went to Unpacking Big
Data Improves Travel Experience. About 1 million people travel into the United
States every day, and during the summer this number peaks, resulting in long
lines, congestion delays and aggravated travelers. This team devised an
approach using Watson's technology to quickly analyze massive amounts of
unstructured information in order to enhance security, reduce wait times and
improve the travel experience in airports while taking the guesswork out of the
The Simon School is deeply
appreciative of the opportunity to partner together with IBM in the big data
area, and sees great opportunity for building further impact in scholarship and
teaching through such an initiative in fields as diverse as finance, marketing,
consulting, operations and health care management," said Mark Zupan, dean
of the University of Rochester, Simon Graduate School of Business, in a