When most people think about artificial intelligence (AI), some of the first things that come to mind are likely robot butlers and self-driving vehicles. But, AI carries its own implications for the future of business as well.
Watson, the AI-powered computing system from IBM, could be one of the systems that leads the charge in bringing tools such as machine learning, automated reasoning, and natural language processing to the forefront of the business world.
In addition to working on the big, transformative stuff, and allowing companies to purchase Watson capabilities, there is the Watson Ecosystem — a community of entrepreneurs, businesses, accelerators, and incubators working on innovating with the capabilities of Watson.
Lauri Saft is the director of the Watson Ecosystem. She said the community is targeting "companies that want to build cognitive applications or businesses or expand their current portfolio with some of the technology."
From the early days of the Watson business unit, Saft said, they thought they wouldn't be able to find all the good business uses internally. So, they opened up the APIs and gave access to companies in a plethora of industries to tease out the possibilities.
The Ecosystem ramped up quickly in healthcare, but now counts hundreds of partners in different industries across 17 countries. So far, there are upwards of 25 APIs that Ecosystem partners can use in their business, Saft said.
Here are five companies that are working with IBM Watson to improve their business offering.
After its early success in healthcare, Watson proved that it could be useful in veterinary medicine as well. Veterinarians often must treat a variety of species which each require a specific knowledge base for effective treatment. LifeLearn has partnered with IBM Watson to create Sofie, a tool to help Veterinarians diagnose and treat patients.
James Carroll, the president and CEO of LifeLearn describes Sofie as "a treatment support application that provides veterinarians with the ability to derive evidence-based hypothesis with natural language inquiries to challenging medical situations, supporting their skills and training and ultimately leading to the best possible patient care."
One of the first adopters of Sofie was the Aberdeen Veterinary Clinic in Aberdeen, Maryland. Veterinarians simply use an "Ask Sofie" tab to ask complex questions to help narrow down what might be ailing the patient.
ENGEO, founded in 1971, is a firm that provides services such as environmental engineering and geotechnical engineering. The company has offices in New Zealand and California.
To assist engineers in the field, ENGEO built its GoFetchCode app with Watson capabilities to help answer tough questions and bring information when it is needed. The app is especially useful in times such as after a natural disaster, when expertise around infrastructure is vital. GoFetchCode uses the cognitive capabilities of Watson and answers natural language questions for users.
IBM Watson's first investment, Welltok, is also the Ecosystem's first partner in consumer health. Welltok built the CaféWell Health Optimization Platform which provides incentives for consumers to take care of their health.
"Welltok partners with IBM Watson to add cognitive computing capabilities to the platform and create CaféWell Concierge, which gets to know users and provide even more relevant and personalized guidance," said Jeff Cohen, Welltok's co-founder and Vice President of Functional Architecture.
User can ask questions in regular language, and get intelligent responses on health issues and fitness. Cohen said they also use Watson to process large amounts of customer data as well. Moving forward, Welltok plans to leverage additional IBM Watson resources such as concept expansion and relationship extraction to provide deeper insight to users.
Talkspace is a global online platform that allows users to chat with a licensed therapist confidentially and anonymously. To improve its service, Talkspace is using IBM Watson to better match users with therapists in their network using a self-learning system that seeks to better understand the traits of individual users.
The integration relies on Watson's Personality Insights API. After analyzing text, the tool helps better understand personality, social characteristics, thinking style, and emotional stress of the patient. Using these insights, it can help match the patient to the best therapist for his or her situation.
To complement its already large database of musical facts, Decibel Music Systems is using IBM Watson to better collect and organize more qualitative data on musical influence and popular opinion. It collects these data points and trends to power its MusicGeek app, which helps users discover new music.
"Many times these inputs are in unstructured data such as blogs and articles. Watson helps us work with data sources that would otherwise be very difficult to include as evidence for recommending music to our customers," said Decibel CEO Evan Stein.
Think your business could do cool things with Watson? You can apply to be a part of the Watson Ecosystem here.
- IBM Watson: A shining example of how to take big data to the next level
- IBM Watson: The inside story of how the Jeopardy-winning supercomputer was born, and what it wants to do next
- IBM Watson's impressive healthcare analytics capabilities continue to evolve
- 10 things you need to know about artificial intelligence
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.