NYT – IBM Bets Big on Watson


The New York Times – Research firm IDC predicts the AI market will grow from $8 billion dollars this year to $47 billion by 2020. And IBM is betting its future on this. IBM has invested billions of dollars into its supercomputer Watson which uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing software to answer questions, analyze data and deliver insights. Most people first heard of Watson when it eviscerated its human competitors on “Jeopardy!” in 2011. But winning a game show doesn’t support a billion-dollar company. IBM needs Watson to be profitable.

Calling Dr. Watson

One industry of focus is healthcare. IBM began buying companies who had vast amount of medical data to essentially “teach” Watson how to be a medical expert. At the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Watson recommended the same treatment for cancer patients as the center’s highly trained oncologists 99% of the time. And in 30% of cases, Watson found a treatment option its human counterparts had missed. These investments are beginning to pay off. Starting Monday, the company is partnering with Quest Diagnostics to offer its gene sequencing and Watson diagnostic analysis to oncologists as a cloud service.

These partnerships reveal IBM’s radically different business strategy for its AI technology. Unlike Google, Microsoft and Apple, IBM is not focused on the consumer. Instead it wants to create a wide network of corporate partners and software developers that use Watson technology to improve their respective industries. IDC predicts that by 2020, 60% of all AI applications used will be run by four companies: Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft. IBM is betting big that Watson will lead the pack. LINK