IBM’s Watson Boosts Customer Engagement

IBM proved to the world that it was able to overcome a grand challenge when, in 2011, its speech-enabled Watson supercomputer summarily trounced several champions on the TV game show Jeopardy! Watson's victory demonstrated that computers could quickly process a vast amount of natural language content with a high degree of certainty.

Not surprisingly, businesses took notice and in May 2013, when IBM unveiled its Watson Engagement Advisor for customer interactions, five early adopters came on board. Among them were ANZ Banking Group and consumer research and ratings firm Nielsen, both of which signed on to explore how the IBM Watson Engagement Advisor could help enhance service to their customers.

A key tool of the Watson Engagement Advisor is Ask Watson, which lets customers speak directly to the technology through instant message, text message, email, Web chat, or a dedicated app on their mobile phones. IBM's Watson Engagement Advisor provides answers to questions that would otherwise have been fielded by a human operator.

At Nielsen, the Watson app will help advise those responsible for buying ads based on its ratings, letting them ask questions about how the company compiles its results or advising them on how to best spend their advertising dollars. The company also plans to apply the Watson technology to improve measurement of ad effectiveness and media planning.

For ANZ, Watson will be used to help customers with insurance plans, telling them where they might have too much coverage or not enough, based on an analysis of their policies. It also will be helping investment counselors tailor their offerings based on specific customer needs.

The other early adopters were Malaysian telecommunications provider Celcom, Royal Bank of Canada, and IT services provider IHS.

Analysts have also been impressed with Watson. Because Watson can listen and respond to a series of questions -- including follow-up questions...

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