IBM Research Priorities

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 09-09-2010
Watson, now maybe the world's most well-known supercomputer (with its own New York Times Magazine profile to prove it), is half hidden behind a black curtain and stationed in the mock "Jeopardy" studio that IBM has built inside its massive T.J. Watson Research Facility here.

During a recent visit there, IBM engineers could be seen tweaking Watson, which, though based on some of the same technology as the company's other Blue Gene supercomputers, utilizes natural-language capabilities. Although Big Blue is still testing Watson against "live" Jeopardy contestants, the supercomputer is expected to appear on the real game show sometime later this year.

But, what is really driving a small but growing part of IBM's research these days is analytics, which is essentially a discipline that uses mathematics and data to arrive at the most optimal decision. For years, IBM research and math departments have played a key role in the company's research; now the company tapped these scientists and researchers to be part of its massive Global Services Division. IBM's approach to IT services is somewhat different from that of other companies. It is able to tap into its own massive research division and incorporate in-house scientific research, such as analytics, into a business division such as Global Services.

These days, however, IBM researchers spend a good deal of time working on issues related to health care. With this year's passage of major health reform from the federal government, Chalapathy Neti, associate director and global leader of Healthcare Transformation at IBM Research, has been looking at ways to determine, among other things, how health care organizations can meet new requirements for EMRs (electronic medical records) and rules related to "meaningful use." This is important because, in order for health care providers to tap into federal money, they must demonstrate meaningful use of EMRs under federal guidelines.

For more, read the eWeek article IBM Research Division Tackles Analytics, IT Services, Health Care.