How IBM is Making Watson Available to Manage User Devices

One recent study pointed out that half (49 percent) of information workers use at least three devices for work on a weekly basis. Enterprises are finding out that more control is needed in this area.


LAS VEGAS--IBM doesn't appear to be letting that smarty pants Watson take a day off. Every time you look up, Big Blue has a new use case assignment for its prized cloud-based analytics franchise.

This time IBM is deploying Watson as a new cognitive-computing assistant to help IT professionals manage and protect networks of smartphones, tablets, laptops, IoT devices and other endpoints.

The MaaS360 Advisor, introduced March 20 at IBM Interconnect 2017, uses machine learning to analyze devices on the network and recommend policies, patches and customized best practices to better manage and protect them. MaaS360's unified endpoint management (UEM) platform is now available through the IBM Cloud.

The number of devices floating around out there and being used for business, personal use and a combination of both is spiraling out of control, researchers say. One recent study pointed out that half (49 percent) of information workers use at least three devices for work on a weekly basis.

Most Workers Use Multiple Devices

How many mobile devices do you use on a weekly basis? Probably more than you realize. In the enterprise IT world, control is required--internally and possibly compliance-wise--over numbers like these.

Device management and security control is finally beginning to trend, according to new research by Forrester Research. According to the recently released Mobile Vision 2020 study, the adoption of a centralized management approach delivered via UEM solutions will increase from a mere 15 percent of organizations today to 54 percent three years from now.

IBM said it is currently training Watson on concepts such as device enrollment, identity management and regulatory compliance to further refine the relevancy of insights it can bring.

The analytics service can correlate security resources, including data from the IBM X-Force Exchange on active threats such as zero-day vulnerabilities and malware to help protect devices from these threats, IBM said.

Alongside these cognitive features is Watson's ability to manage a wide variety of endpoints, including IoT devices and their device gateways, which provide access to data for IoT devices. Using these services, IT managers can set policies on what IoT data can be accessed by devices within their organization for greater security.

IBM MaaS360 already supports many IoT-based devices and will continue expanding its capabilities in 2017, the company said.

IBM MaaS360 Looking at Unified Endpoint Management

This isn't ready for prime time yet, but IBM is also researching how Watson's capabilities to understand and reason from natural language instruction could change the nature of endpoint management.  

For example, one project would let administrators ask Watson-based MaaS360 Advisor conversational questions about their enterprise environment such as, "Show new Android tablets," or "Show devices eligible for Windows 10 upgrade." Using device analytics, actionable threat intelligence and proactive recommendations, administrators potentially will have a cognitive assistant to automate the process of managing and securing an organization's network of devices.

IBM wasn't clear on when this feature would become available, but it is expected at some point in 2017.

MaaS360 UEM supports multiple platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows and macOS/OS X.  Migrations from Windows 7 to Windows 10 will benefit with the ability to manage both Windows 7 and Windows 10 endpoints from a single console, IBM said.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...