IBM Looks to Build Systems of Satisfaction Based on Watson

Michael Vizard

IBM wants to bring cognitive computing in the form of the IBM Watson supercomputer to Smarter Commerce.

At the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit 2013 conference, IBM today launched the IBM Watson Engagement Advisor, an analytics application that optimizes customer support within a call center.

According to Manoj Saxena, general manager of IBM Watson Solutions, as a cognitive system, IBM Watson keeps track of all the interactions with a customer, which it can then use to answer natural language queries that are either spoken or delivered as a piece of text and then make additional suggestions about the next logical course of action. Companies have the option of either using Watson to assist the internal call center representative or build a self-service application that is actually customer facing.

Rather than merely building systems of engagement, IBM is making the case for using cognitive systems to build “systems of satisfaction” under the theory that a satisfied customer is more likely to buy additional goods and services.

Saxena says that while IBM has been applying Watson to solve complex problems in, for example, the health care sector, the technology is now available on a single Power p750 server that is 24 percent faster than the system IBM used to best “Jeopardy!” champions two years ago.

As a result, Saxena says that this particular Watson application can be stood up within six weeks on premise or in the cloud, with a return on that investment occurring within six months.

Saxena says the Watson server coupled with IBM Engagement Advisor represents the coming of “Watson for Everyone.”

At some point soon, the bar for delivering customer service is about to be raised. That creates a lot of thorny issues for organizations that largely tend to view customer service as a cost to be minimized. Eventually, the customer service organization will become more responsible for upselling and cross-selling customers, which in turn will change the way not only the sales process is managed, but the role marketing plays within the organization as whole.

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