IBM Launches Cognitive Business Solutions Unit

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2015-10-06 Print this article Print
Cognitive business solutions

"Our work with clients across many industries shows that cognitive computing is the path to the next great set of possibilities for business," said Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president of IBM Global Business Services, in a statement. "Clients know they are collecting and analyzing more data than ever before, but 80 percent of all the available data remains out of reach for traditional computing systems. We're scaling expertise to close that gap and help our clients become cognitive banks, retailers, automakers, insurers or healthcare providers."

The IBV research shows that 65 percent of industry CXOs are pursuing some form of business model innovation, but nearly 30 percent feel the quality, accuracy and completeness of the data in their organization is insufficient. Nearly all said they intend to invest in cognitive capabilities. In retail, 60 percent of executives said they do not believe their company is equipped to deliver the level of individual experiences consumers demand, and 95 percent say they will invest in cognitive in the next five years. And in healthcare, the industry forecasts a 13 million person gap in qualified healthcare workers by 2035, and more than half of healthcare industry CXOs report that current constraints on the ability to use all available information limits their confidence about making strategic business decisions. Eighty-four percent of these leaders said they believe cognitive will be a disruptive force in healthcare and 95 percent plan to invest in it over the next five years.

Across all industries, executives surveyed by the IBV cite the scarcity of skills and technical expertise as the primary barriers to cognitive adoption—surpassing concerns about security, privacy or the maturity of the technology.

IBM said its consultants are prepared today to bring clients "get started" offerings and readiness assessments that create low-cost entry points to begin the journey to become cognitive enterprises.

"Before long, we will look back and wonder how we made important decisions or discovered new opportunities without systematically learning from all available data," said Stephen Pratt, global leader, IBM Cognitive Business Solutions. "Over the next decade, this transformation will be very personal for professionals as we embrace learning algorithms to enhance our capacity. For clients, cognitive systems will provide organizations that adopt these powerful tools outperform their peers."

IBM already has been working with customers to help them become cognitive enterprises. For instance, for a major retailer, IBM developed a cognitive solution that analyzes the client's data in the context of information from multiple external sources—including local weather and up-to-the-minute social sentiment—to sense deviations in demand for selected products, make recommendations in areas from replenishment to pricing and dramatically improve demand forecasting.

In another example, the cognitive systems of a leading provider of consumer insurance use Watson natural language capabilities to answer questions and provide advice about the company's products and services to create a more compelling online experience.

IBM also is working with healthcare organizations to apply cognitive computing technology in genomics to advance cancer care by accelerating DNA analysis for personalized treatment options. In financial services, IBM is working with clients to apply cognitive to better manage risk and provide personalized guidance and investment options. And in education, cognitive technology is being used to personalize academic instruction and enhance academic experiences for students and teachers.

IBM's analytics professionals have amassed more than 50,000 engagements for customers. The company has a force of thousands of data and analytics experts across IBM Research, and the company's Analytics and Watson solution units, along with more than 30,000 professionals in IBM's Strategy and Analytics consulting organization.

IBM's new Cognitive Business practice also will draw upon the computational reasoning and learning capabilities of IBM Watson, which represents a $1 billion investment to advance cognitive innovations across industries. IBM will train another 25,000 IBM consultants and practitioners on cognitive computing this fall.

"IBM's continuing expansion of its cognitive business seems like a good move to me," King said. "First, it's a natural outgrowth of the sizable—more than $25 billion—investments the company has made in analytics technologies over the past decade or so. Second, it has made good use of unique IBM technologies and assets—hardware, software, R&D and, with this latest announcement, the company's services organization and offerings."


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