Meet Your New Sidekick: What Ibm’s Watson Can Do For Your Data

04 Nov 2014


Big Blue’s cognitive computer wasn’t named after the fictional detective’s best friend, but that doesn’t stop it from being one hell of a smart machine. Remember when “Jeopardy!” mega-champs Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter got completely demolished by the thing a few years back? According to TIME, the loss had ever-clever Jennings ripping off a classic “The Simpsons” line as his Final Jeopardy! answer: “I, for one, welcome our new computer overlords.”

Watson, thankfully, isn’t bent on world domination. Instead, IBM is making its cognitive computing prowess available to businesses at large—and here’s why your company needs to care.


In a recent SiliconANGLE article, Marc Altshuller, vice president of product management and business analytics at IBM, says the company’s Watson Analytics service can discover “what’s actually interesting” in your data and then divine actionable insights. The idea here is to leverage cognitive discovery, which is a fancy way of saying that Watson thinks like a human being, only much, much faster. With access to whatever data you provide and a vast store of public knowledge, the analytics platform is able to understand questions phrased in natural language and offer results that are understandable even if you’re not a data scientist.


According to IBM, Watson gets smarter the more you use it. As the machine discovers answers to your questions or combs through your data sets, it’s learning more about you and your decision-making process. The goal here is a kind of ever-evolving relationship that also keeps analytics professionals sane: According to Forrester Research, companies are only analyzing 12 percent of the data they already have, and that says nothing about the gigabytes of new data generated every single day. You need help if you’re going to keep up, let alone get ahead.


So, what’s the bottom line with IBM’s Watson? Speedy analysis and natural language insights are big benefits for businesses of any size, especially as they deal with an increasingly mobile-focused consumer base and workforce (data sets are anything but uniform). Consider designing a mobile app. Sure, you can—and should—hire giants of intellect like those at Chaotic Moon, but before you start paying a world-class design firm, why not take a hard look at your data and see what need your app has to fill, rather than firing blind?

You also need to think long term, and that means getting in on the ground floor. This iteration of Watson is just the beginning for IBM, and you can bet other big names will jump on the cognitive computing bandwagon; already, Google’s DeepMind start-up has found a way to mimic human short-term memory. Before long, lighting-fast big data analysis will be elementary—you’d best cozy up to Watson’s big brain right now.

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