30 Jun How IBM’s Watson Can Improve Your Business
Hostworks’ Chief Technology Officer and keen nephologist Greg Koen talks about a few ways that IBM’s Watson can revolutionise your business with cognitive computing.
Cognitive computing is one of the most important (but not broadly understood) new technologies in computing today. The term describes the use of computers to understand information in a similar way to how a human brain does – through ‘cognition’, or thinking. Of course, computers do not actually think – they model the way that humans think by using massive processing power to simulate the processes of human thought, which is why IBM’s Watson is so unique. Computers don’t get tired, bored or distracted by stray thoughts so they remain focussed in a way that humans rarely can.
What is Watson?
Currently the world leader in cognitive computing, IBM describes Watson (named after the company’s founder Thomas J. Watson) as, “a technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data.”
The key here is “unstructured data” – text and images and the many forms of digital information that are not contained in the neat tables of spreadsheets and databases. Most of the world’s information – all this big data floating around – is unstructured and traditional computing has focussed on building and analysing only structured data.
Basically, there’s a whole lot of information out there that is not actually being understood (and capitalised on). However, cognitive computing systems like Watson are changing this.
The power of Watson in today’s context
To understand how it works and the sorts of applications made possible by the technology, consider a system recently built by Hostworks utilising the power of Watson.
One of the ways we supported the Tour Down Under race was how we used Watson to analyse the unstructured text on social media websites of people engaging with and talking about the event. We could easily see which topics were trending, comments at different stages of the race, riders and sponsors. We could even analyse what people were saying about the tour villag and feed that back to the organisers so the best could be made of the facilities.
We also did a ‘sentiment analysis’ of keywords and topics from social media well before, during and after the event. Using Watson, we were able to do a deep analysis of what was being said about the sponsors, the event and competitors and used that to help them fine tune their messaging almost instantaneously.
Another recent example was when we were dealing with a membership based organisation that was planning to do a major survey of its members to help target its services more effectively. By using Watson to analyse social media, we found they had totally missed two of the biggest issues that their members were most concerned about.
We’ve also harnessed the power of Watson internally to help us better relate to our customers and business partners. It helps us see what people are saying – and not saying – about us and the people we do business with.
It’s no longer just about hashtags
Hashtags are still a common way to encourage a following and keep track of what is being said about a particular topic or event. With an incredibly powerful tool like IBM’s Watson, businesses can also scrape text from websites, blogs and virtually any form of content and do very detailed content analysis of virtually any topic. Any type of freeform text can be analysed – the applications of which are only limited by your imagination.
Cognitive computing may still be relatively new to the market but think about what it might do for your business.
Contact us to discuss how Hostworks can help your business to unlock the power of insight through analytics.
Hostworks Chief Technology Officer Greg Koen has over three-decades of industry experience. From high transaction banking systems to critical broadcast solutions.