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IBM opens up Watson to run on anything, anywhere
Wed, 13th Feb 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

IBM today announced that it will be opening up Watson to enable wide-scale deployment and industry transformation.

Big Blue has made Watson portable across any cloud with the goal to empower businesses to prevent vendor lock-in and start deploying AI wherever their data resides.

"Businesses have largely been limited to experimenting with AI in siloes due to the limitations caused by cloud provider lock-in of their data," says IBM Data and AI general manager Rob Thomas.

"With most large organisations storing data across hybrid cloud environments, they need the freedom and choice to apply AI to their data wherever it is stored. By breaking open that siloed infrastructure we can help businesses accelerate their transformation through AI."

IBM asserts Watson is designed to help organisations put AI to work to improve the performance of business, with a clear set of applications, development tools, machine learning models, and management services it can help in mining data, predicting outcomes, and automating time- and resource-sensitive processes.

According to IBM, with these tools in place, organisations can:

  • Run IBM Watson services, including Watson Assistant and Watson OpenScale, on any cloud: Through their integration with IBM Cloud Private for Data (ICP for Data), Watson and Watson OpenScale can now be run any environment – on premises, or on any private, public or hybrid-multicloud – enabling businesses to apply AI to data wherever it is hosted. Businesses will be able to infuse AI into their apps, regardless of where they reside. This means businesses can now leave data in secure or preferred environments and take Watson to that data.

  • Deploy AI software that automates business processes for improved efficiencies and performance: New AI digital automation software is designed to enable clients to discover patterns in their business processes and then create AI-embedded programs to automate certain workflows.

IBM quotes an MIT Sloan report, that reveals while the vast majority of enterprises agree that driving AI is a strategic opportunity,  81 percent still do not understand what data is required for AI or how to access it. Furthermore, a recent Gartner study found that ‘data and analytics continue to struggle with the complexity, time to integration and cost implications of their data integration projects, thereby inflating their schedules and delivery costs with multiple cycles of revised project scope.'

It's these opportunities that IBM is looking to help fuel with the opening of its IBM Watson service.

Qatar Development Bank has collaborated with IBM to establish the IBM Innovation Hub Doha. One of the key technologies that the Hub will deploy is IBM Cloud Private for Data.

"The exciting thing about IBM Cloud Private for Data is how quickly we will be able to drive new innovations in FinTech and SportsTech using the microservices within the platform," says Qatar Development Bank CEO Abdulaziz Al Khalifa.

"What makes it especially attractive is that it enables us to develop and deploy new models quickly that brings the tools to the data, rather than the other way around."

ICP for Data is IBM's open, cloud-native information architecture for AI that comes integrated with advanced data science, data engineering and application-building capabilities, and is designed to help companies uncover previously unobtainable insights from their data.

At the heart of today's announcements is a series of new Watson microservices built for ICP for Data that are based on open source technologies and easily scalable across cloud environments. Based on the open source Kubernetes technology, these new Watson microservices can be run on IBM Cloud, and other public, hybrid or multi-cloud environments.

The microservices are based on the following software solutions:

  • Watson OpenScale: IBM's open AI platform for managing multiple instances of AI, no matter where they were developed – including the ability to explain how AI decisions are being made in real time, for greater transparency and compliance.
  • Watson Assistant: IBM's AI tool for building conversational interfaces into applications and devices. More advanced than a traditional chatbot, Watson Assistant intelligently determines when to search for a result, when to ask the user for clarification, and when to offload the user to a human for personal assistance. In addition, the Watson Assistant Discovery Extension enables organisations to unlock hidden insights in unstructured data and documents.

The new Watson services join Watson Studio and Watson Machine learning, among other services, which are currently available on ICP for Data. Later this year, IBM will bring additional Watson services to ICP for Data, including Watson Knowledge Studio and Watson Natural Language Understanding.