IBM Invests in WayBlazer, Sellpoints to Advance Watson Ecosystem

 
 
By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2015-05-19 Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
IBM big data

As part of its $100 million commitment to advance Watson, IBM invested in WayBlazer and Sellpoints, as Welltok acquires Predilytics.

IBM announced two new investments in WayBlazer and Sellpoints to expand the ecosystem for its Watson cognitive computing technology.

The investment is part of IBM’s $100 million pledge to invest in businesses that use Watson to drive new applications. In this case, the investments will help to advance online Watson-based travel and shopping apps developed by WayBlazer and Sellpoints respectively. IBM recently invested in two other companies offering Watson-powered apps – Modernizing Medicine and Pathway Genomics. IBM also invested in Welltok, a provider of health optimization solutions. The financial terms of IBM’s investments were not disclosed.

“IBM is committed to helping our partners accelerate the development and delivery of Watson- enabled apps into markets where we see endless opportunities for cognitive computing to transform entire industries,” said Stephen Gold, vice president of IBM Watson, in a statement. Gold added that WayBlazer and Sellpoints are sound examples of how cognitive computing technology can be used to help organizations redefine customer engagement and drive deeper, meaningful and relevant consumer experiences.

WayBlazer, a travel services company uses IBM’s Watson technology to help users plan, personalize and purchase travel. WayBlazer’s Watson-based Discovery Engine uses Watson to ingest massive amounts of data, and link places, offers, and preferences with social, cultural and economic data to come up with recommendations tailored to each consumer. Terry Jones, founder of Travelocity and founding chairman of Kayak, also founded WayBlazer. The IBM investment is part of a $5 million Series A funding round for WayBlazer.

On average, consumers explore 20 or more websites to research destinations, flights, hotels, and activities, while weighing personal preferences and insights from social networks, online review sites and more, IBM said. WayBlazer is using Watson to advance its position as an online travel advisor. Felix Laboy, CEO of WayBlazer said Watson is helping the company transform the way travelers seek advice.

Sellpoints offers Natural Selection, a Watson-based app that helps users to better understand individual shopper preferences and intent. The app allows users to ask questions in natural language and provides personalized offers in response. For example, when a shopper searches for a product by typing “My second grader needs help learning math basics,” the app returns product results sorted by relevance, IBM said. IBM's investment is part of a $7.5 million Series C funding round for Sellpoints.

On average, consumers explore 20 or more websites to research destinations, flights, hotels, and activities, while weighing personal preferences and insights from social networks, online review sites and more, IBM said. WayBlazer is using Watson to advance its position as an online travel advisor. Felix Laboy, CEO of WayBlazer said Watson is helping the company transform the way travelers seek advice.

“From our first involvement in the Watson Ecosystem last year, to this new investment milestone, there’s a bright future ahead for us to redefine the online shopping experience,” said Brian O’Keefe, CEO of Sellpoints, in a statement. “With the natural language and cognitive computing capabilities of Watson, we’re able to deliver a more personalized, relevant and enjoyable experience, and drive a much deeper level of engagement with customers.”

In related IBM Watson news, Welltok announced its acquisition of healthcare predictive analytics company, Predilytics. IBM invested in Welltok last year. This acquisition adds another layer of consumer intelligence and analytics capabilities to Welltok’s CaféWell Health Optimization Platform. Financial terms of the deal were not released.

Predilytics uses machine learning to segment consumers based on risk and receptivity and is creating an analytics-driven consumer enterprise platform that identifies which consumers to target and engages them with relevant health improvement resources and incentives.

“For too long, healthcare analytics has been focused on what the patient is doing, rather than the consumer,” said Jeff Margolis, chairman and CEO of Welltok, in a statement. “The data is largely clinical, retroactive and inadequate to understand the needs of consumers.” He added that Predilytics strives to understand consumers and gain insights on behavior and preferences before they engage with the healthcare system.

Predilytics has curated and analyzed data for 250 million consumers, Welltok said. It uses more than 1,600 variables from consumer, healthcare and proprietary data resources to provide healthcare analytics.

“Predilytics has advanced health analytics by understanding consumer intent and interest,” said Chris Coloian, CEO and president of Predilytics, in a statement. “And, now with CaféWell, we can close that loop to activate consumers. Also, since the platform obtains immediate feedback on engagement, we can use that data to further personalize the experience and guide the consumer.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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