Wednesday, December 2

Watson's Cognitive Computing Enables Trendspotting and Foresight

I was lucky enough to be a part of an IBM Signature Moment, the launch of Watson Trend App and web hub; the meeting of the world’s most famous super computer and consumer holiday shopping needs. Watson is the “Jeopardy” winning supercomputer that is capable of understanding natural language to reveal insights from massive amounts of unstructured data. This is artificial intelligence, or more exactly called, cognitive computing. Cognitive computing is self-learning and builds upon itself as it gathers more and more data.

Using Watson Trend as a gift guide this holiday season, shoppers will have a new way to understand the reasoning behind “why” certain items become “must haves” during the gift-giving season.

A retailer will also be able to examine Watson Trends to plan what inventory to ship where, whether to stock up and which products are likely to stand the test of time.

For the launch, on November 19, I interviewed Maria Winans, CMO, IBM Commerce, in a #WatsonTrend Twitter chat. She gave the Twitter participants further insights into how Watson will change the way people will benefit from machine learning.

Maria made it clear that unlike standard analytic analysis, through cognitive computing, Watson understands the human language.

“80 percent of data today is unstructured and is not systematically used to benefit consumers, retailers and marketers. With the cognitive and predictive power of Watson Trend, we can unlock the insights hidden in natural language.”
It draws human language data from 10,000+ sources: reviews, social networks, blogs, forums, and ratings and interpret the tens of millions of conversations across the web to create trend scores from 1 to 100.The gift guides will even take the breaking news into account. Unlike other apps or lists that provide a static ranking of “hot” products, Watson Trend reveals how consumers feel about the products they are considering or have purchased.

Shopping for the holidays no longer means spending hours scouring the web reading reviews. With daily updates, Watson trends give a synopsis, shows the numbers (indicating the strength of the trend) and in depth quotes from reviews that get right to the point. (No more reading hundreds of reviews).

As an example, from raw data gathered on the Star Wars BB-8 Droid from Sphero (a trend this holiday season since the movie comes out December 18),
“BB-8 is just the size of an orange, but it can move on its own, recognize and respond to a human voice, and show & record holographic videos. It’s hi-tech, which makes sense as it was developed by the robotics company Sphero. The $150 price tag may be high for a “toy,” but the BB-8 seems able to charm everyone it meets, from long-time collectors to two-year-olds  Much of the conversation driving the trend revolves around the fact that this toy is ever-evolving because its capabilities will update via the app that controls it. Though it takes some savvy to calibrate, it seems as though it is simple and child-friendly to use after setup.”
Also rising in the Star Wars universe is a similar (yet very different) R2-D2 Astromech Interactive Droid. Why is it trending? Watson feels that it has other (maybe better/) reasons to give as a gift:
"Your chance to own R2-D2 as a pet. The classic Star Wars droid is now possible to own—and control! Reviews say the toy walks, spins, and turns its head realistically, and a major "pro" is its easy-to-use remote controller. Less pricey and more kid-appropriate than the new BB-8, R2-D2 is also often declared the perfect gift for the Star Wars fan.” In the review section there are also mentions that the Droid doesn’t work as well on carpeting - a very good tip!
Watson Trend’s “crowdsourcing” is also a great way to select a specific piece of technology. Again, no long blathering reviews. Just the facts, nice and neat, to help you make an educated decision. Watson makes the “smart choices” for you.

This is how cognitive computing will help us, on a day to day basis, going forward. Here's the "signature" video which tells the story with a smile.