Saturday, November 5, 2016

Artificial Intelligence: "IBM World of Watson - IBM's bets its future on Watson"

This is just a personal bookmark for now; I'll probably be referring back to this post over the next couple months.
From Constellation Research, Oct. 26:
We had the opportunity to attend the IBM World of Watson event, still going on in Las Vegas October23rd till 27th 2016. It is the first-time IBM brings all together under the Watson umbrella, and with keynote at a different venue (T-Mobile Arena vs MGM Garden Arena) tough to compare attendance with previous IBM events, so going with the 17k IBM shared. {Yes there was an intimate Watson ‘event’ with 1000 attendees a year ago – but not the same in my book like a large-scale conference as this one.)

So, look at my musings on the event here: (if the video doesn’t show up, check here)

Want to read on? 
Here you go: Always tough to pick the takeaways – but here are my Top 3:

Watson or bust – Not only does Watson get its own event, it also is the first-time CEO Ginni Rometty makes it to a Las Vegas event (that I am attending, ok) and the marketing spend in show floor, sponsors signage etc. seems to eclipse all the many events that started with an “I” in Las Vegas. The show floor itself takes most of the large space up in the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, and that with minimal partner presence (Box, Cisco and 2 more I think). So, Watson for everything, of course IoT, of course industries, sports, The Weather Company, personal development etc. – every possible use case for AI was on the show floor.

Bye Bye SoftLayer (in marketing) – IBM shared that it is consolidating its cloud brands with SoftLayer getting de-emphasized in favor of BlueMix going forward. Of course, all SoftLayer capabilities will remain preserved and continued. No surprise, the acquirer brand wins usually, and simplification is always a good true north. The message for developers is certainly attractive and simple – as it is all BlueMix. For enterprises with a differentiated IaaS and PaaS strategy the branding can be confusing, as enterprises may want / need the one and not the other. But with all things marketing – you never know – so we will be watching, how well this works for IBM.

Watson for Video – In many ways video is the new medium, as people read less, listen more but want visual stimulation, need to stay on top of large amounts of video, and watching video / TV is becoming an interactive experience. IBM has acquired video assets (Ustream and Clearleap), as they are also key to drive load to cloud infrastructure, the newly labelled BlueMix infrastructure now. And video is an area where Watson can make a difference, as pattern, picture, face recognition is well understood and mastered in Watson. Finding pictures, scenes in video is very powerful, as the next deluge – after the digital picture one – is from video. And the approach can be productized relatively easily, with little customization required, so a good showcase and revenue opportunity for IBM. 

Analyst Tidbits:

  • The Assistants are coming – It’s good to see IBM providing more packaged offerings, always tricky in the AI area, but good to see progress being made with a series of Watson powered “Virtual Assistants”, the most notable for customer service. It was good to see frameworks for creating bot / chat applications. Check out my colleague Alan Lepofsky's coverage on this soon here.
  • Big partnerships – As usual IBM attracts partnerships with large corporation around its technology, of course here Watson. A partnership with GM brings Watson into OnStar for cross-selling, presence etc. A partnership with Pearson brings Watson into education. A partnership with Slack will bring Watson to IT professional with Assistants and open the popular chat platform for Watson and developers....