At a recent luncheon in New York City to discuss IBM's Smart Computing strategy, IBM Vice President and CIO Jeanette Horan said IBM is doing several things to enable its staff to make better use of unstructured data, and one of them is to use the company's Watson technology. Watson is the computer system IBM designed that won a "Jeopardy!" challenge against some of the game show s biggest winners. IBM calls Watson a workload-optimized system designed for complex analytics, made possible by integrating massively parallel Power7 processors and IBM's DeepQA question answering software. Watson applies advanced natural language processing, information retrieval, knowledge representation and reasoning, and machine learning technologies to answering questions.
"We're looking at a project to do an internal Watson to look at all the information our salespeople need and to take all of that information and build a source of information for our people," Horan said.
Horan noted that IBM has been able to bring together multiple sources of information, such as customer information, market information, pricing and more. "We need to understand how to bring all this information together and to get rid of all the rows and columns and be able to use unstructured data," she said. "We want to have our salespeople ask an unstructured question and get an answer. You have to continue to evolve your body of knowledge."
IBM officials have said the first business application of the company's Watson technology will come in the health care field, where Watson could serve as a physician's assistant or as part of evidence-based or collaborative medicine solutions. IBM also identified other potential business applications for Watson, including technical support for help desks, call centers and the like; enterprise knowledge management and business intelligence solutions; and government solutions for improved information sharing and security.