A Great Simian or just a Monkey

john kelly

cognitive business

Future of Cognitive Business

The Cognitive Era is here. According to studies by 2018 50% of us will regulary interact with cognitive systems and the total market value for cognitive by 2019 is estimated to $12.5B. So how will this world of cognitive business look?

Cognitive is still a new word and for an explanation I have alredy written several posts on the topic, but in the “What is Cognitive” the word and meaning is described pretty digested.

Lets start with a glimpse of how it will be. It is mainly about 4 things:

  1. Collaboration between humans and computers.
  2. It is about cumputers learning, reason and understanding what it sees, hears and reads.
  3. It is about having real-time access to all needed information and never miss or forget that information.
  4. It is about making the right decisions faster, based on the right information.


The case illustrated in the video can easily be applied to other areas as well. Think product development and research, think sales meetings, thing building a business case for a client.

Most of these cognitive solutions are available today

So what are you waiting for, lets start to build this for your company.

Wait, you do not believe me when I say it can be done today? Well do take a look at the below video and watch it in a none cartoonish, but very real life environment. Say hello to CELIA!

I would say that the two videos above are the main reason I am so absorbed by IBM Watson and Cognitive Business. I will start a serie of posts on use cases similar or different from above, but how cognitive business will change the business world we live in today. We are truly in a shift in terms of eras of computing. It might sound like a buzzword or marketing, but regardless of the word or name, the shift is hear and it is happening, computers do learn, think, reason and understand. They can also communicate (written or verbal) in an efficient and understandable way to each one of us, in our language.

The language is probably one of the main areas that is needed to be upgraded for cognitive business to fully bloom. Most services support many languages, but only english is covered by all services and for Watson to be able to communicate with us in our language and understand what we are saying, he needs to now many more languages. Recently wrote a post on what languages Watson supports presented on a per service level for the interested.

And just for the record, I do not believe that AI, Cognitive or Watson himself, will replace humans.

Watson Ecosystem partners important to succeed

According to IBM and IDC 90% of the innovation will come from partners. In Watsons case this is the Watson Ecosystem.

What do the researchers say about the future of cognitive?

There is one guy that has a certain glory and glow to him when he presents cognitive. He also has the knowledge and the background to do it with authority. Do listen to Dr John Kelly, Senior Vice President Solutions Portfolio and Reaserch at IBM, talking about the Future of Cognitive.

The top photo is taken at Utö in the Stockholm archepelago. Thought the gate could symbolize that we now are entering the future

ibm watson iot internet of things

Watson Internet of Things launch

IBM is certainly focusing a lot on IBM Watson, now with 4 locations around the world and more coming. If I remember correct it was almost 20 years ago a new division was created within IBM and now they are launching quite a few, all within Watson.

  • Watson Headquarters – 51 Astor Place, Manhattan, New York
  • Watson Commerce – San Fransisco
  • Watson Health – Cambridge, Massachussets
  • Watson IoT – Munich

General Manager for the new Watson IoT will be Harriet Green. I will leave you with the fanstastic John Kelly with his keynote and launch speach today. It summorizes and describes it all very well. To finish off I do recommend the other videos on the IBM Watson Internet of Things launch site as well.

All information and all videos from the launch event can be found on the IBM Watson Internet of Things site.

ibm cognitive

Cognitive, what is cognitive?

Cognitive, what does it mean? The word usually used this is cognition and according to wikipedia Cognition means the following:

Cognition is the set of all mental abilities and processes related to knowledge, attention, memory and working memory, judgment and evaluation, reasoning and “computation”, problem solving and decision making, comprehension and production of language, etc. Human cognition is conscious and unconscious, concrete or abstract, as well as intuitive (like knowledge of a language) and conceptual (like a model of a language). Cognitive processes use existing knowledge and generate new knowledge.

In conclusion, we are finally entering the era of thinking and awareness (which is the original latin meaning of the word), even for computers.

Cognitive Process

A cognitive process can be divided into 4 steps

  1. Observe (learn)
  2. Interpret (hypothesis)
  3. Evaluate (reason)
  4. Decide (action, present confidence and probability etc)

Research to dive deeper into cognitive

Cognitive is not only a marketing term for selling Watson, it is actually something researchers have worked on for a very long time, this since quite a few IBM researchers work on how the brain works. In the context of this post it naturally gets really intersting when computers and software starts to adopt cognitive functionality. .

According to Arvin Krishna, Senior Vice President of IBM Research, a cognitive technology needs to:

  1. Learn at scale
  2. Reason with purpose
  3. Interact with humans naturally
  4. Has an objective (this bullet was actually not said by Arvin but by Dr John Kelly in a talk at Cognitive Collaquium NY recently)

This is crisp and easy to understand (even though understanding how the hell they got the software to work like that is another thing).

IBM have always been very generous about posting their research online. It can be tricky to find, but it is out there. In terms of cognitive it has its own section on the IBM Research site. So either start on the IBM Research Cognitive Computing section or at the IBM Research homepage. There is droves of info to read up on and hours of video to watch.

Cognitive lingo

Cognitive analytics
A set of technologies and processes that analyze data for the purposes of learning, contextualization, and making recommendations.

Cognitive business
An IBM strategy that builds on digital business and digital intelligence with systems that can understand, reason, and learn to leverage data to create deeper engagement and personalization, enhanced expertise, and cognitive products, services, operations, and processes.

Cognitive computing
A category of technologies that uses natural language processing and machine learning to enable people and machines to interact more naturally to extend and magnify human expertise and cognition.

Cognitive environment
An infrastructure that uses specialized software agents and devices that act as one shared integrated resource, enabling fast and efficient human-computer collaboration.

Cognitive system
A category of technologies that uses natural language processing and machine learning to enable people and machines to interact more naturally to extend and magnify human expertise and cognition. Watson is an example of a cognitive system.

This is also the second time I borrow a top picture from IBM, this one from their campaign-site “Outthink” that is out there to enlighten us about Cognitive. It is a typical campaign including a darn cool commercial with Bob Dylan talking to Watson..

watson unstructured data

Will Watson replace humans?

This is frequent topic. I’ll keep it short. No, Watson was not developed to replace humans. The opposite, one of the reasons was to empower humans, and actually the other way around as well, let humans empower the computers.

Today Watson will help us make better decision, this by learning, reason and communicate in natural language (text and speech). Watson will make us better, not replace us.

But what was is the problem that Watson was set out to solve when it all started?

This is what Dr John Kelly said about that time in history.

We set out to solve the simple problem of massive unstructured data.

We did not set out to replicate the human brain or map the brain or a form of artificial intelligence that replicates what humans do.

The project that today has become Watson started in August 2007 and was then called BlueJay. The IBM Researchers had realized that the amount of unstrucured data was increasing with an ever before seen volume and speed. The systems at that time (and most systems today) did simply not handle that amount and kind of data. Data was not only text, it was images and sound etc. None of this could be read by computers.

Today the analyzing of unstructured data is an underlaying core part of what Watson is. It is also probably the most desired and valuable selling point. Just imagine all the data in your office that just lays there and is never utilized by computers to empower us and our business. Today 80% of all data produced is unstrucutred, and Watson can handle it.

For some more on the background and purpose of Watson, I recommend this talk by Dr John Kelly, held at Cognitive Era Colloquium in November 2015.


Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén