IBM has used its World of Watson Conference in Las Vegas to detail how the artificial intelligence (AI) and analytical platform will power IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps, chatbots and a range of other applications.
MobileFirst for iOS applications are a joint-project with Apple and has seen more than one hundred industry-specific pieces of software released. These will now be enhanced by Watson’s conversational and cognitive capabilities.
Flight attendants for example can use the Passenger + app enhanced with Watson in order to obtain better understanding of a traveller’s personality (i.e. what snacks/beverage they like, seating preferences etc).
Another example is financial advisors using Trusted Advice with Watson deep learning tech to gain highly targeted search and trend analysis of market history and events to optimise client investment recommendations.To make all this possible, IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps, coupled with custom-built iOS apps from IBM, can now be embedded with a variety of Watson APIs to fit a client’s unique criteria. Watson-enabled speech interaction also allows workers to control IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps using nothing more than their voice.
IBM says that this enables apps to be more convenient and easier to use, as well as providing a hands-free solution.
“Apple and IBM set out more than two years ago to help define the enterprise mobility market, ensuring that professionals could finally enjoy at work the same experience they’d come to expect as consumers,” said Mahmoud Naghshineh, general manager, Apple partnership, IBM.
“We are taking that to a whole new level by combining the power of Watson with the new speech framework of iOS 10. The combinations and possibilities are virtually endless.”
IBM was not content with just that development for Watson however. It has also introduced Watson Virtual Agent, a cognitive conversational technology that allows businesses to build and deploy conversational agents.
The idea comes as agents, or “bots” are being increasingly used by businesses to improve customer engagement. With Watson Virtual Agent, customers including startups and small businesses right through to enterprise level, can build and train engagement bots from the cloud.
IBM revealed that firms such as Staples and Autodesk are already embracing sophisticated full-blown virtual agents, that rely on deep natural language processing capabilities in order to assist consumers.
The IBM method avoids the need for highly skilled developers to create complex customised systems for the client. Instead Watson Virtual Agent helps firms quickly deploy bots thanks to pre-trained cross-industry content. This means there is minimal configuration, and the bot deployment process is much more simplified.
“Our platform continues to evolve as we tap IBM’s science and research capabilities to enhance our services,” added David Kenny, general manager, IBM Watson. “IBM is advancing the technologies on the platform in the area of conversation, all with a mission of helping brands transform their customer experience, empowering users to create solutions that deepen engagement and facilitate stronger, more positive interactions.”
IBM pointed to The Weather Company, which used its system to create a bot for Facebook Messenger that serves up personalised weather content.
Other announcements from IBM at its World of Watson Conference new Watson-powered cognitive services for its Cloud Video technology.This comes as digital video emerges as a booming area for content, but Big Blue feels that its solution here will help businesses unlock data-rich insights for video content and audiences. IBM said its new services can help deliver differentiated, personalised viewing experiences for consumers.
Another development sees the IBM Watson Data Platform help companies gain more valuable insights from their data. It said that the platform delivers the “world’s fastest data ingestion engine and cognitive-powered decision-making to data professionals, allowing them to collaborate in the IBM Cloud, with the services they prefer.”
IBM has also teamed up with learning specialist Pearson for a new global education alliance intended to make Watson’s cognitive capabilities available to millions of college students and professors.