That headline may exaggerate a bit, but the message from IBM Amplify a couple weeks ago in Las Vegas was all Watson all the time.
Watson is being infused into all of IBM’s marketing, commerce and supply chain products. The company Apple once smashed as the place that turns humans into machines is now in the business of turning machines into something like humans, and they’re getting pretty good at it.
I’m writing this a bit removed from the show, so I have the time to see what stuck with me … And yeah, Wayne Brady’s freestyle marketing rap is high on that list:
But beyond that, what stands out to me now is that you can have Watson act as your personal assistant, and you can talk to it. And if Watson doesn’t understand the word you use, it — he? let’s go with he — he will stop you, say the word he doesn’t recognize, and ask you to define it.
So if Watson isn’t going to be your next CMO, he really might be your next marketing assistant.
(I’m also curious how much you can train Watson to curse like a Biker’s parrot, but IBM failed release his profanity coefficients.)
The emphasis on Watson makes sense because this is something IBM has that its competitors really don’t. Last year, Salesforce rolled out Einstein. Last week, I wrote about how Adobe rolled out Sensei. But my understanding is that those are both collections of recommendation engines that learn, not quite the same as true artificial intelligence.
Watson, on the other hand, has been out-thinking humans since 2011 when it won Jeopardy. And IBM feels it can help you out-think your competition too.
“Watson is on an incredible roll,” said Harriet Green, IBM general manager, Watson Internet of Things, commerce and education. “It has now been adopted by nearly every industry and every professional discipline. This year alone, at least 1 billion people will be touched in some way by Watson.”
Talking about the recently announced partnership with Salesforce, Green also said, “You know you’re doing something right when even your competitors are turning to you for your technology.”
It is fair to say that wherever machine-learning is going, Watson looks closest to that today and everyone else looks like they’re trying to catch up. But does that translate into better marketing for IBM users? That’s the big question.
Watson promises to enable what IBM is calling “The Cognitive Era.” This is IBM’s vision for an era of marketing where thinking machines help marketers create unique customer experiences based on what those customers are doing, thinking and feeling in real-time and at the largest scale. The system uses the Watson AI to “understand, reason and learn.”
For example, Watson will identify problems and anomalies in your audience segmentation. And he will do that automatically and suggest fixes, without the marketer even having to initiate the process.
Mindy Grossman, CEO of HSN (formerly Home Shopping Network), said they are counting on Watson to use data and help identify the right new customers, opportunities, at scale.
So, I’ve seen the vision …
Now the only question is: Can IBM bring this home to marketers in a way you can use?
If they can, we’ll be well on our way to augmenting our teams with, essentially, the world’s first artificial marketers.