I have recently attended IBM World of Watson, which was a week full of learning, insights and fun. The week was packed of topnotch speakers, thought provoking researches and roving robots.  There were great number of sessions for the 18,000+ attendees. I mainly attended sessions related to Watson Analytics and Cognos Analytics. I also tried on some cool innovations like analyzing data in a virtual reality environment, interacting with the Watson-powered Pepper robot and taking selfie with the Cognitive Dress by IBM and Marchesa.

Some other highlights were Watson’s ability to predict, the convergence of AI, cognitive computing and IoT. It was like seeing the future building right in front of me.

Keynotes: Cognitive Computing is Here

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The most memorable session was the keynote from Thomas Friedman. During his keynote, Friedman asserted that we are seeing rapid acceleration in three different areas that are all affecting one another: the market, the mother nature and Moore’s law. He also noted that these three accelerations are reshaping the world in five aspects of our lives: the workplace, ethics, community, politics and geopolitics. Several partnerships were showcased during this session; the one stood out to me was with Udacity. IBM and Udacity are teaming up to bring artificial intelligence education to everyone. This again highlighted IBM’s commitment to education and empowerment to citizen analysts.

“If you want to be a lifetime employee, you have to be a lifetime learner.” – Thomas Friedman.

I highly recommend checking out his new book: Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Acceleration.

The high point of the conference was when Ginni Rometty, The Chairman, President, and CEO of IBM, took the stage and painted the vision IBM has for Watson. While we have already seen some great innovations and accomplishments from Watson, there are plenty more to get excited about. To illustrate how Watson can help in different industries, Ginni brought some people to the stage to talk about how Watson has helped and integrated in all facets of life. These partnerships included GM’s Onstar, Teacher Assistant for schools around the country, and chronic diseases treatment for healthcare. Rometty also emphasized on augmenting human capabilities rather than autonomous applications.

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One trend worth noting was the cognitive capabilities of Watson and its integration with IoT. The idea that a device is able to engage in dialogue, solving problems and learn and adapt was impressive. However, much of the demonstrated capabilities were still at the beta stage, and nowhere near the intuitiveness many had hoped. I am confident that in the near future, the vision that Ginni Rometty has for Watson will come closer to reality.

Sessions: Bring Data Science to the Masses

Most of my breakout sessions were on Watson Analytics and Cognos Analytics. There were some exciting new features and what’s in the lab.
Both tools are great for getting actionable insights without dealing with data sources, analytics software or data scientists. We all know that data-driven insights can improve business, but companies are spending much of their effort (80%) outside of actual data analysis and deriving insights that will help improve the business.

Much of audience wanted more self-service analytics dashboard instead of traditional build and show. Watson Analytics and Cognos Analytics are paving the way to become The Analytics Tool for the masses. Watson Analytics’ ability to process natural language, built-in predictive analytics and rapid insights make this a powerful data discovery tool for everyone in the organization.

A big announcement at IBMWOW was the integration of weather data from the weather company and map geo data. The potential for this kind of geo integration is big.

Overall we see that IBM is betting big on Watson and it will certainly help to accelerate the development and innovations in the technology. I am excited to see everything IBM has envisioned for Watson becoming a reality.

Disclosures

I was engaged by IBM to attend World of Watson and they asked me to write about my experience at the conference.