At CES 2019, TechRepublic Senior Writer Teena Maddox spoke to IBM Watson GM of business applications Inhi Cho Suh about how IBM Watson is helping marketing, supply chain, and commerce by using AI. The following is an edited transcript of the interview.
We're seeing Watson applied all around the world. Across 45 countries, in 20 different industries, and probably some of the more popular areas where we're applying AI, and specifically Watson, is to help professionals in their roles. So think about AI for the professional. "You're the marketer... you're wanting to understand who well your campaign is executed, or your supply chain leader has a procurement or head of inbound risk and thinking through weather disruption as one of the factors." Or let's say you're a commerce expert and for the holiday seasons recently you've been thinking pricing optimizations, promotion, placement, as well as order optimization for delivery of gifts over the Christmas holidays as an example. These are different examples that we have across multiple industries that clients are applying AI.
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One of the key trends in AI that we're seeing is that we're actually moving from what I would consider a very narrow AI category to what we call broad AI, and it's different than general AI. The notion that general AI is actually quite multi decades away; broad AI is the ability to apply multiple tasks in a domain context. So what that means is today, if you're a call center agent for a retail bank or for a consumer company, you may want to have contextualized information around your products, your customer purchase history, right when that customer calls you. Maybe they're calling you because they have a challenge with an order that hasn't been delivered or a product issue or serviceability issue.
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Now imagine having a virtual agent that actually compliments and augments your capability to see a full contextual view of that purchase history for that client to understand what's the best way to resolve that situation. So that would be a really good example of this next generation of what we're seeing as much more broad AI and here at CES, we're excited because we're showcasing IBM Project Debater and Speech by Crowd, which is essentially sort of this next generation that allows reasoning, interaction, and learning. So being able to synthesize a point of view based on the crowd inputs on debates, and then articulating it verbally, out loud, a synthesis of the key thoughts in terms of what are the strongest arguments to have. So you have to be able to coalesce an argument, you'd have to understand and reason why certain points are gonna be stronger, but this is sort of the next generation that I see in AI.
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Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including People, W and Women's Wear Daily.