With health care as the first major vertical market IBM has taken its Watson question-answering technology to, Big Blue has now entered into an agreement with Citigroup to explore the use of Watson in financial services, particularly the banking industry.
On March 5, Citigroup announced it had entered into an agreement with IBM to explore possible uses for IBM Watson. Under the agreement, Citi will examine the use of deep content analysis and evidence-based learning capabilities found in IBM Watson to help advance customer interactions, and improve and simplify the banking experience.
Citi is working to be the leading digital bank, providing customers with the latest technology to enhance and facilitate service. Citi will evaluate ways that IBM Watson technologies can help analyze customer needs and process vast amounts of up-to-the-minute financial, economic, product and client data, the company said.
From Watson's inception and victory on the TV quiz show Jeopardy!, it became apparent that it would be a transformational technology, particularly in data-intensive industries such as health care and financial services. Its ability to answer questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence holds huge potential to improve decision-making across a variety of industries.
Citibank customers have come to expect the highest level of service in an integrated, timely fashion, whether delivered by phone, ATM, live chat, online or in person in a branch, Citigroup officials said in a press release on the agreement. The bank continuously explores new ways to ensure it is lending responsibly and acting in the best interest of customers.
"At Citi, we are constantly developing new, innovative ways to better serve our customers' financial needs," said Don Callahan, Citi's chief administrative officer and chief operations & technology officer, in a statement. "We are working to rethink and redesign the various ways in which our customers interact with money. We will collaborate with IBM to explore how we can use the Watson technology to provide our customers with new, secure services designed around their increasingly digital and mobile lives."
"IBM continues to advance Watson in information intensive industries, enabling organizations to quickly gain valuable insights from vast amounts of data that can speed decision making and improve how companies serve their customers," said Mike Rhodin, senior vice president of IBM Software Solutions, in a statement. "The collaboration between IBM and Citi will explore how applying Watson in the consumer financial market could help empower financial professionals to make better business decisions and represents a significant step in delivering on the promise of personalized banking in the 21st century."
Meanwhile, in a March 6 speech at the CeBIT 2012 conference in Hannover, Germany, Rhodin said, "IBM is ready to go to work on Wall Street. Watson can help retail bankers personalize purchases for consumers." He added, "Watson has the ability to transform an industry under intense pressure."
Citi will assess ways to use a first-of-a-kind customer interaction solution combined with Watson's deep-content analytics, natural language processing, decision support and evidence-based learning to continue to advance digital banking, the company said.
Watson's ability to analyze the meaning and context of human language and quickly process vast amounts of information to suggest options targeted to a consumer's individual circumstances can help accelerate and assist decision-makers in identifying opportunities, evaluating risks and exploring alternative actions that are best suited for their clients.
Celebrating its 200th anniversary this year, Citi has a long history of working with IBM on key innovations to advance the use of information technology in the financial services industry. In 1954, the two companies announced the first use of an "electronic brain" that reduced the time required for a cost-benefit analysis from 1,000 man-hours to nine and a half minutes. Today, the companies are continuing those efforts, Citigroup officials said.