IBM Banking on Cloud, Cognitive Computing in Transformation Effort

IBM has been racking up cloud wins of late, also tapping into its cognitive, IoT and mobile expertise to land new business.

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Still in the midst of a transformation effort, IBM has been on a spree—closing deals and launching projects around what company officials are calling its "strategic imperatives," which they say are key to its turnaround.

In the last few weeks, IBM has closed deals involving IBM Cloud, Watson and cognitive computing, the Internet of things (IoT), mobile and more. From partnering with eye health company Bausch + Lomb on a mobile solution for cataract surgeons to using IBM's Watson cognitive computing technology to help design a "cognitive dress" worn at the Met Gala earlier this week, IBM has been on a tear.

IBM is not going down without a fight. The software, systems and services giant is battling to transform itself under tough circumstances. Despite experiencing its 16th straight quarter of revenue decline, Big Blue remains steadfast in its effort to transform itself around a set of strategic imperatives that include cloud, analytics, mobile, security and more.

"IBM's transition to higher-value strategic imperatives, i.e., cloud, analytics, mobility, social and security (CAMSS) progressed in the first quarter, as the company continues to shed its traditional IT services baggage in favor of industry-focused, consulting-driven cognitive solutions," Jennifer Hamel, senior analyst at Technology Business Research, said in a report.

On May 5, IBM announced a collaboration with Bausch + Lomb to develop an iPhone and iPad app for surgeons who perform cataract surgery. The app will help surgeons by delivering patient information and clinical insights as well as intraocular lens (IOL) options.

IBM said cataracts affect more than 22 million Americans and that number is expected to rise to 30 million by 2020. A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that leads to a decrease in vision. The National Eye Institute estimates that about half the people in the United States have had cataracts by the age of 80. In cataract surgery, the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens, an IOL.

Rather than having to rely on paper-based patient data while in the operating room, the new app from IBM and Baush + Lomb will enable surgeons to access patient data and plan their surgical procedures, including IOL selection, on digital devices or display screens on walls in the operating room during surgery.

Big Blue's MobileFirst for iOS team, part of IBM Global Business Services, will design and develop this custom app for Bausch + Lomb. IBM said Bausch + Lomb's longer-term vision is to optimize the app to collect data over time to create a cognitive app that applies machine learning and predictive analytics to deliver real-time insights to surgeons.

"Bausch + Lomb has identified a significant need in the ophthalmic community and the new app we will create will equip ophthalmologists with the data they need at their fingertips to help them make better, more informed decisions for their patients," Mahmoud Nagshineh, general manager of IBM's Apple partnership, said in a statement.

On Monday, IBM and high-end womenswear brand Marchesa unveiled a cognitive dress worn by super-model Karolina Kurkova at the Met Gala in New York City.

In a blog post on the collaboration, Ann Rubin, IBM vice president of Branded Content and Global Creative, said the dress' cognitive creation relies on a mix of Watson APIs, cognitive tools from IBM Research, solutions from Watson developer partner Inno360 and the creative vision from the Marchesa design team.

IBM's Watson helped choose not only the design, but the color and fabric of the dress.

"Marchesa first selected five key human emotions—joy, passion, excitement, encouragement and curiosity—that they wanted the dress to convey," Rubin said. "IBM Research then fed this data into the cognitive color design tool, a groundbreaking project out of IBM Research-Yorktown that understands the psychological effects of colors, the interrelationships between emotions, and image aesthetics."

Moreover, the cognitive connection of the dress went beyond simply producing the finished product, but also in analyzing the public reception of the dress.

Using Watson Tone Analyzer, the dress tapped into social sentiment from Twitter users on the cognitive dress, extracting context around the tone of their messages. The dress, embedded with LED lights, changed colors in real-time as the public conversations around the Met Gala unfolded online.