In today’s smartphone-enabled, post-PC era, computing giant IBM is hedging its bets on Watson, the cognitive computing program best known for winning Jeopardy!. Marketing News spoke with Marcus Hearne, worldwide marketing director forWatson Analytics, about the program’s amped up predictive analytics capabilities and its effects on today’s data-driven marketing landscape.
Watson, owned by Armonk, N.Y.-based International Business Machines Corp.—better known as IBM—is perhaps the most famous computer program in the world. In January 2011, Watson competed against two contestants on one episode of the TV game show Jeopardy!—and won. It may seem like a computer could easily beat two mere humans in a trivia game, but to win Jeopardy!, Watson had to do more than look up answers to questions: It had to understand and use English to win the game. After much reengineering, the team at IBM had honed the program’s language skills enough to allow it to understand what Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek was saying, and to answer his questions in understandable speech.
Since then, the team at IBM has been working to put Watson’s data- and language-processing skills to broader use. Enter Watson Analytics, a cognitive software programdesigned specifically for marketing analytics. Cognitive, or predictive, programs are gaining momentum in the business world as marketers struggle to keep up with an ever-increasing amount of data, and they need programs to help analyze that information and enable them to act on the resulting insights.