IBM Watson Accelerates Global Expansion

Armonk, NY (Oct. 31, 2014) – IBM is announcing significant milestones fueling adoption of Watson and cognitive computing cloud capabilities on a global scale. Watson is a groundbreaking platform that represents a new era of computing based on its ability to interact in natural language, process vast amounts of Big Data to uncover patterns and insights, and learn from each interaction.

According to technology research firm Gartner, Inc., smart machines will be the most disruptive change ever brought about by information technology, making people more effective and empowering them to “do the impossible.”

IBM is advancing Watson technology around the world, announcing:

  • Watson client engagements across six continents and more than 25 countries, including South Africa, Australia, the U.K., Thailand, Canada and the U.S.;
  • Watson is learning Spanish through a new partnership with Spain’s CaixaBank;
  • The first wave of Watson Ecosystem Partners debuting new, in-market Watson-powered apps in industries such as travel, retail, IT services, healthcare and the non-profit sector;
  • The opening of IBM’s global Watson headquarters in New York City’s Silicon Alley, and five new Watson Client Experience Centers around the world.

“Watson is bringing forward a new era of computing, enabling organizations around the globe to launch new businesses, redefine markets and transform industries,” said Mike Rhodin, Senior Vice President, IBM Watson Group. “Watson is fueling a new market and ecosystem of clients, partners, developers, venture capitalists, universities and students. The next great innovations will come from people who are able to make connections that others don’t see and Watson is making possible.”

Clients Around the World Adopt Watson

Watson is gaining momentum as clients adopt cognitive technologies to transform how they interact with their customers. Since forming the IBM Watson Group in January of this year, Watson has been gaining momentum as new clients continue to implement Watson around the world:

  • ANZ Global Wealth (Australia) – In the next few weeks, ANZ will be unveiling the new Watson Engagement Advisor Tool in its Sydney ‘Grow’ center and will also launch it more broadly to more than 400 financial planners. By opening up the Watson tool to the external environment, ANZ will be able to observe the types of questions coming from both customers and financial advisors in order to continue enhancing Watson’s capabilities and insights. ANZ’s goal for Watson is to enable its financial advice team to deliver an improved advice process – making it shorter and more efficient for the customer to receive a statement of financial advice, from weeks to just one session. The initial work of Watson is in the area of insurance and protection, and it will soon be expanded to cover the full wealth strategy including superannuation and investments.
  • Bumrungrad International Hospital (Thailand) – Bumrungrad plans to use Watson to improve the quality of cancer care at its medical center in Bangkok and case evaluation at referral offices in 16 countries on four continents. In a five-year commitment, Bumrungrad will use IBM Watson for Oncology, developed with Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK), one of the world’s leading cancer centers. The innovative system will help Bumrungrad doctors plan the most effective treatments for cancer patients based on each patient’s profile, medical evidence, published research, and the extensive clinical expertise of MSK. Watson will analyze vast quantities of this information and present a summary of findings relevant to each patient case, including treatment options based on National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines. Headquartered in Bangkok, Bumrungrad is the largest private hospital in Southeast Asia and one of the world’s most popular medical destinations. Nearly half of its 1.1 million patients annually are from 190 countries.
  • CaixaBank (Spain) – CaixaBank and IBM are teaming up to develop a cognitive system built on Watson to understand Spanish. With the aim of providing best in class customer service, CaixaBank is a pioneer in the banking industry, including the world’s first deployment of IBM PCs at bank branches, the creation of the world’s first contactless ATM and the first app store for financial applications launched by a bank. This announcement is another milestone for CaixaBank, as the first organization worldwide working with IBM to teach Spanish to Watson. This agreement has been developed under a collaboration framework between the Digital Innovation Center of CaixaBank and IBM.
  • Deakin University (Australia) – In a world first, Deakin University will tap the power of Watson to develop an online student engagement advisor. The student advisor application will deliver 24/7 instant online access via the web and mobile devices for the university’s 50,000 students. Ultimately, the advisor will also assist future students and staff working with students on everything from the simplest questions to tailored, personalized responses. Over the coming months, Watson will consume thousands of pages of Deakin’s unstructured data contained in documents, presentations, brochures and online to ensure users receive consistent, high quality responses to the thousands of queries. The questions received will represent a broad range of topics, such as: “What do I need to enroll?” “What social activities are available at Deakin?” “Where do I find the biology building?” “What are the computing requirements for my course?” Over time, students who ask Watson a question can expect tailored information, personalized advice and information based on their individual profiles.
  • Metropolitan Health (South Africa) – In the first commercial application of Watson on the African continent, Metropolitan Health is using Watson to transform customer health advisory services for its three million customers. Metropolitan Health will provide personalized, outcome-based health and wellness services to citizens across South Africa. Using IBM’s Watson Engagement Advisor, the cognitive computing technology will help Metropolitan Health’s client care agents analyze the typically large volumes of complex unstructured and structured data, including product information and member profiles, so they can identify connections between customers’ needs and the growing volume of health and lifestyle knowledge. Watson helps these agents weigh various options available to members, enabling more effective decision-making and driving better health outcomes.

Partners and Start Ups Debut Watson-Powered Apps

With this announcement, IBM Ecosystem Partners are unveiling new, powered-by-Watson apps that aim to transform the way businesses interact with each other and with consumers – from better managing health and enriching the customer experience, to enabling new research and education.

For example, entrepreneur Terry Jones, the founder of Travelocity and founding chairman of, is launching WayBlazer (US), a new travel company powered by Watson. WayBlazer uses the cognitive intellect of Watson to engage, learn, and advise users through a visual and natural language interface to create the best travel experience. The Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau is using a prototype version of the new WayBlazer app to improve convention bookings, increase hotel bookings and provide additional revenue streams from partner and affiliate marketing opportunities.

Watson is transforming healthcare, non-profits, retail and veterinary care:

  • Red Ant (London, UK) offers a retail sales trainer mobile app that lets store employees easily identify individual customers’ buying preferences by analyzing demographics, purchase history and wish lists, as well as product information, local pricing, customer reviews and tech specs. It uses voice or text input to enable a natural question-and-answer interaction against the wealth of information available within a retail business, including product information, copybooks, manuals, customer reviews, and more.
  • Reflexis (Dedham, MA) takes insights from Watson and provides prioritized real-time alerts and tasks with best practice actions to corporate, regional and store managers – based on local events, social media, and other influences on demand – to provide the best possible customer experience.
  • Sellpoints (Emeryville, CA) understands the relationships between consumer questions and products. For example, when a shopper searches for a product using natural language, Sellpoints’ Natural Selection app returns product results sorted by relevance to that unique individual.
  • Findability Sciences (Waltham, MA) changes the way “good” is done by bringing a Watson app to the non-profit sector to enable funders and donors to ask questions using natural language and receive answers instantaneously. This enables funders to make smarter investing decisions and better work to maximize existing investments to deliver the most impact.
  • LifeLearn (Guelph, Canada) is helping veterinarians provide better care for pets by empowering doctors with its mobile app, which crowdsources data using simple Q&A to identify better treatment options.
  • GenieMD (Pleasanton, CA) is a mobile platform that empowers patients to ask questions regarding health conditions and medications, using conversational, natural language. Watson understands and can learn from the questions and answers, and provides sources of health information to patients.
  • Welltok (Denver, CO) built the CaféWell Concierge app, which processes massive volumes of health data and content to dialogue with consumers and provide dynamic, personalized guidance to optimize their health.
  • @Point of Care (Livingston, NJ) is a physician-facing mobile app that is successfully using Watson’s cognitive computing technology to understand questions posed in natural language and find relevant clinical information within resource libraries quickly and with a high degree of accuracy.
  • SparkCognition (Austin, TX) the first cognitive security company, is deploying Watson to assist them in thinking like a security expert so they can discover potential threats that may not even yet exist, by making queries into an organization’s Big Data.
  • CHIPS Technology Group (Syosset, NY) is developing a Watson-powered solution that can process an extensive collection of disparate IT resources, such as articles, white papers and manuals to gain insights and deliver the right tech support response to end users on the first try.

Read more on these partners’ stories here.

IBM Watson Global Headquarters Opens for Business in Silicon Alley

IBM is also announcing that the Watson Group’s global headquarters, at 51 Astor Place in New York City’s Silicon Alley, is open for business. The Watson headquarters will serve as a home base for more than 600 IBM Watson employees, just part of the more than 2,000 IBMers dedicated to Watson worldwide. In addition to a sizeable employee presence, IBM is opening its doors to area developers and entrepreneurs, hosting industry workshops, seminars and networking opportunities to build enthusiasm and awareness among the New York City start up community.

For entrepreneurs and start ups, the Watson Group’s Silicon Alley headquarters will provide technology, tools and talent to create and launch new products and businesses based on Watson’s cloud-delivered cognitive intelligence. IBM will lead its cognitive computing innovation from the new global headquarters, collaborating with its five new Watson client experience centers around the world.

An interactive client experience lab will serve as a place for IBM clients to experience Watson and learn how they can help transform their businesses. In addition, the headquarters will host a design lab for continuously enhancing the user experience for cognitive applications and services used by IBM clients and partners. Workshops and seminars on topics such as development skills, as well as networking opportunities, will allow the community to experience firsthand how to bring new innovations to market. These events will also build upon IBM’s academic partnerships to prepare university students for careers in cognitive computing, Big Data and analytics. This includes Watson-inspired business and technical challenges, new curricula, faculty grants and internships.

The New York tech industry continues to add jobs at a rapid pace, generating four times more jobs than any other industry from 2009-2013. IBM is committed to building on that momentum by partnering with local colleges and universities to equip students with the skills they’ll need to blaze their own trails in the cognitive computing marketplace. This fall, students at New York University are among the first nationally to take advantage of a cognitive computing curriculum, while City University of New York (CUNY) students are participating in a semester-long Watson Case Competition, working to develop new applications based on Watson technology.

As clients adopt Watson globally, the need to have skills focused on cognitive computing to meet local client and partner needs is critical. IBM is announcing the opening of the first five Watson Client Experience Centers, co-located with IBM Research and Design teams, to provide the support and skills needed to fully adopt the Watson cognitive platform. The initial new centers will be located in Dublin, London, Melbourne, Sao Paulo and Singapore.

IBM Watson: Pioneering a New Era of Computing

IBM Watson represents a new era of computing in which apps and systems interact with human users more naturally, augment our knowledge with Big Data (US) insights, and learn to improve how they assist us.

Fueled by innovation from a mission to transform industries and professions, Watson is uniquely positioned at the forefront of the new era of computing, evidenced by an unmatched demonstration of what cognitive systems can bring to transform decision-making. IBM is delivering a range of cloud-based products and services to clients in industries such as banking, healthcare, insurance, retail and education.

In January, 2014, IBM launched the IBM Watson Group, a new business unit dedicated to developing and commercializing cloud-delivered cognitive advisors. The move signifies a strategic shift by IBM to deliver a new class of software, services and apps that think, improve by learning, and discover insights from massive amounts of Big Data.

IBM is investing $1 billion into the Watson Group, focusing on development and research and bringing cloud-delivered cognitive applications and services to market. This includes $100 million available for venture investments to support IBM’s ecosystem of start-ups and businesses building cognitive apps made with Watson.

For more information on IBM Watson, visit

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Source: IBM