Thursday, November 10, 2016

IBM Harnesses Watson's Artificial Intelligence to Offer Personal Shopper Service

Following up on the post immediately below, "Amazon May Offer Housekeeping Service to its Prime Members (AMZN)".

From TechCrunch, Nov. 1:

IBM has made another acquisition to beef up its Interactive Experience division specifically to work more closely with Watson — a week after it announced a raft of new features and milestones for its artificial intelligence effort. It has acquired a business called Expert Personal Shopper (XPS), a platform, and bot, that holds conversations with people online to help figure out what they need to buy, and to help them buy it. XPS had originally been built by Fluid, a strategic partner (and investment) of IBM’s.

As with previous IBM acquisitions, the financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed, but Paul Papas, IBM’s global leader for Interactive Experience, told me that it includes XPS’s technology, the talent that built it, and XPS customers.

This is the fifth acquisition IBM has made this year to build out its Interactive Experience division. Others have included, Aperto, and Resource/Ammirati. IBM has also made acquisitions to enhance the Watson dataset, such as its purchase of The Weather Company, a deal thought to be in the region of $2 billion.

XPS was built by Fluid originally to oversee shopping experiences. Two notable examples where it has been used are in a service for Northface and another for 1-800-flowers (you can see how they work by clicking on these company links).

This will potentially give IBM — and its clients — a lever to compete against gigantic e-commerce portals like Amazon, which are able to dominate in many cases because of other convenience factors, but inevitably take away from the pull (and margin) of these brands....MORE