AI for Business is at a Tipping Point

March 20, 2018

AI is a rich spectrum of technologies that are ready for application in a variety of industries. The technology is where value lies—and increasingly it is what determines their competitive advantage.

To this end, IBM is introducing a set of key services and solutions that will make it easier for any business or developer to build the next generation of AI-powered applications.

Building on IBM’s existing partnership with Apple, the two companies have announced that they will combine their AI and machine learning technologies to make it easier for developers to build secure, AI-powered solutions. The aim is to allow developers to build apps that continuously learn and adapt. That is, the more a user interacts with the app, the more powerful and accurate it becomes.

Likewise, a new Deep Learning Service within IBM's Watson Studio now lets developers run hundreds of deep learning training models at once. Access to such technology was—until now—particularly cost-prohibitive for developers.

"The new feature is offered via the cloud as-a-service with customers only having to pay for the resources they use. For newcomers, this level of flexibility significantly reduces barriers to entry," says Ruchir Puri, Chief Architect at IBM Watson as well as an IBM Fellow.

IBM is contributing the core of Watson Studio’s Deep Learning Service as an open source project called Fabric for Deep Learning. This will enable developers and data scientists to work together on furthering the democratization of deep learning.

As today’s advanced AI technology gets better at knowing and engaging people at a very personal level, it becomes deeply entrenched in our everyday lives and can inform our every decision. Ultimately, the application of AI is making individuals more efficient not just at work, but everywhere.

This is the case for Watson Assistant, a newly revealed enterprise AI assistant that helps businesses enhance brand loyalty and transform their customer experiences by delivering proactive and personalized services while ensuring data privacy. It can be accessed via voice or text interaction, depending on the needs of the business and how consumers wish to interact with it.

From hotel chains, to car manufacturers and travel agencies—brands can now turn the vast swaths of data they own into powerful apps for customers. This empowers them to know their customer's individual preferences.

Harman, a global leader in connected car technology, has integrated several Watson Assistant use cases into a premium "digital cockpit" concept onboard a Maserati GranCabrio concept vehicle. The goal being to demonstrate how the user experience in vehicles, an AI-based interactive dashboard, will be personalized to drivers and passengers.

Equipped with this unique capability, Watson Assistant can identify a fuel pump relay, immediately alert the driver and then schedule a service visit by cross referencing the driver's calendar with the preferred dealership.

“The consumer revolution has created empowered consumers who expect personalized services. AI can empower brands to offer truly personalized experiences,” says Stephen Surhigh, Vice President, Automotive Cloud Services at Harman.  

In the same manner, AirWire, has used Watson Assistant to build “Jarvis,” a plug-and-play driver advisor. While many people cannot afford new cars that come with navigation guidance, connected home capabilities and vehicle maintenance tracking, Jarvis brings transportation AI to the masses by providing all of this in an easy to use device.

The launch of IBM Watson Data Kits is also slated to accelerate the adoption of AI. Watson Data kits will provide companies across industries with pre-enriched, machine readable, industry-specific data that enables them to quickly scale AI across their business.

This is an important achievement. Data scientists spend roughly 79% of their time collecting, organizing and mining data to glean actionable insights.

Take a hotel chain for example, gathering data such as the location of restaurants, menu items and prices for cities where they have properties was labor intensive. Now, with at Watson Data kit, they can have this type of information integrated into their applications quickly creating engaging consumer experiences faster and easier than before.

“Big data is fueling the cognitive era. However, businesses need the right data to truly drive innovation,” says Kristen Lauria, General Manager of Watson Media and Content.

Rules of the road for our century’s most important asset

AI is poised to become a transformative force not only for business, but society at large. AI is already key to serving consumers, providing better healthcare, running more efficient supply chains, delivering government services, education and public safety.

AI holds the potential to generate business value, growth and societal progress. But only if we can trust that the new technologies that we usher into the world are done so responsibly.

And herein lies IBM’s most important point of distinction—being a responsible steward. In 2017, IBM has put its beliefs into action by issuing the principles for AI and for Data Responsibility.

In it, IBM is clear on the need for transparency. IBM ensures that wherever its cognitive technology is used, it is transparent about how it was trained and clear about who owns its data and insights.

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