May 21, 2013 – IBM’s trivia-show winning supercomputer Watson is getting its first widespread commercial treatment, tackling the marketing and social sentiment aspects of big data.

At its Smarter Commerce event Tuesday in Nashville, IBM unveiled IBM Watson Engagement Advisor, which “greets” and assists customers through Web chat windows or mobile alerts, and parses natural language for customer sentiment and “evidence-based responses to its human users’ needs.” Through what it’s calling an “Ask Watson” feature, users have one-click capabilities to answer customer questions, give feedback or troubleshoot customer problems.  On the back end, IBM stated that the new Watson product relies on the vendor’s analytics functionality and cognitive language modeling to search for interaction answers. IBM Watson Engagement Advisor will be delivered via the cloud or in an as-a-service online chat session, and includes a mobile component.

Operating under IBM’s Smarter Commerce umbrella, the Watson product is in the early testing phase by Royal Bank of Canada, Nielsen, Celcom and ANZ Banking Group, though information on a formal release date and pricing were not divulged.

In February, IBM served up a cloud-based version of Watson for certain health care uses, based on one if its trial implementations, health benefits provider Wellpoint Inc. Big Blue has also donated a full Watson system to long-time education tech partner Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. IBM has put its Watson front and center in its ad campaigns, company announcements and conference appearances since the supercomputer made a championship debut against two human competitors on TV trivia show “Jeopardy!” in early 2011.

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