More and more industries are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to enhance their businesses like never before; at the forefront of that effort is IBM’s Watson supercomputer. Find out how IBM Watson products are transforming these 10 industries: Manufacturing, supply chain, human resources, customer service, marketing, advertising, building management, medicine, automotive, and agriculture.

SEE: Artificial intelligence: Trends, obstacles, and potential wins (Tech Pro Research)


Manufacturing can be inefficient (even when machines do some of the labor), as well as dangerous for assembly line workers. IBM Industry 4.0 uses Watson AI and IoT in a threefold method to make the manufacturing process easier and safer.

According to the IBM Watson site, by adding IoT sensors to manufacturing equipment, Watson reads and analyzes how machines are operating, resulting in up to 47% less downtime. Through the use of IBM Watson cognitive processes and operation, defect rates can be reduced by up to 48%, improving product yield. The smarter resource and optimization function improves efficiency in the areas of energy consumption and worker output, resulting in up to 50% reduction in costs.

By streaming collected data and using the IBM Watson IoT platform, manufacturers can create easy-to-read dashboards for their business, produce models of predictive failure, and interface directly with IBM Watson to determine the best solutions to issues.

Supply chain

Managing an entire supply chain is tough–supply chain managers have to contend with numerous uncontrollable factors (e.g., weather, delivery delays, and unstable suppliers) that can create issues for an entire company. While efficiency is key in supply chain management, there is only so much information that can be processed at any given time. That’s where AI can help.

With IBM Watson Supply Chain and Watson Supply Chain Insights, supply chain managers’ job is simplified. The technology creates a transparency in the supply chain, allowing managers to see disruptions (or potential disruptions) as they happen in real time and then collaborate with experts, using the Resolution Room function to figure out the best solution for the issue. By utilizing Watson’s Supply Chain Insights, data retrieval times can be reduced by 75%, and inventory and freight costs could be reduced significantly.

SEE: IBM launches pretrained Watson packs for industries (ZDNet)

Human resources

Reviewing hundreds of resumes a day is a herculean task for anyone–crucial facts can be missed due to the amount of information that needs to be processed for each resume. But with IBM Watson Recruitment, current hiring processes may become more streamlined.

Not only does the Watson Recruitment tool analyze resumes and create a score for candidates, it also factors in the company’s top-performing employees and offers a side-by-side comparison metric based on that information. Hiring managers are able to make more informed decisions based on statistical facts, removing the possibility of bias in the hiring process.

Using Watson Recruitment in tandem with the IBM Watson Career Coach has the potential to increase retention rates and enhance employees’ skill sets.

Customer service

Watson Discovery for Salesforce is designed to revolutionize customer service. By collating and analyzing a company’s data from various sources, as well as taking into account documented previous customer cases and issues, IBM Watson creates a cloud-based data source that is easily accessible to customer service representatives. Touted as more than a search engine, but rather an “insight engine,” IBM Watson offers answers to questions; the answers are customized to each business, making for more enriching and efficient interactions with customers.


With IBM Watson Marketing Solutions, it is easier than ever for businesses to have a lasting impact on their customer base. The marketing tools include IBM Watson Marketing Insights, which allows marketers to tap into omnichannel marketing as well as understand and predict how a customer behaves when shopping on their website. The software also gives recommendations for target audiences, which may lead to more effective marketing campaigns.


IBM Watson Advertising utilizes several “dynamic creative” tools (e.g., weather, time of day, location, consumer behavior) to deliver personalized ads to customers. For instance, by teaming up with digital marketing leader Jivox to incorporate WEATHERfx and JOURNEYfx technology into advertisements, IBM Watson Advertising creates a one-of-a-kind experience for consumers.With WEATHERfx, ads can change based on the weather in real-time, enabling businesses to direct the best product to the consumer. JOURNEYfx, a location targeting platform, is also used to help businesses discover and reach out to their primary audience; this helps advertisers know who to hone in on, as well as the optimal time to reach them. In addition, it allows advertisers to receive feedback about consumer behavior so they can tailor their ads even more effectively.

SEE: Harnessing IoT in the enterprise (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

Building management

IBM IoT Building Insights can be used in all types of buildings to analyze how the buildings are operating. For instance, if elevators or escalators in a particular building are malfunctioning, Building Insights technology will notify management in real time so the issue can be fixed as soon as possible.

This innovation reduces maintenance costs, improves safety for people inside the buildings, increases sustainability by identifying energy waste, and optimizes the functionality of the building overall. It also means that buildings can be designed, constructed, and managed more efficiently.


Medical professionals are always looking for the most cutting-edge technology to help them advance their efforts, and IBM Watson Health has an abundance of applications for that very purpose. (One of the earliest uses for IBM Watson was in the medical field). IBM Watson Health analyzes data and cross-references it with previous cases and studies, partners with Quest Diagnostics to sequence the human genome, helps veterans with cancer, and much more.

IBM Watson is shaping the future of medicine in a real way, and it can be a useful resource for doctors, researchers, and patients. However, this doesn’t mean IBM Watson is infallible or will replace physicians anytime soon.

SEE: Photos: 20 products you didn’t know were built with IBM Watson (TechRepublic)


IBM Watson IoT has numerous applications in the auto industry, including the IBM Watson Assistant for Automotive digital assistant, aiding the engineering of safer, smarter vehicles, and reporting vehicle issues in real time. Golden State Foods has equipped a fleet of 2,000+ trucks with the technology. Sensors on the trucks send information back to the Watson IoT Platform, which analyzes and reports the data so that vehicle issues are addressed as quickly as possible, resulting in a more efficient delivery process.


The Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture combines IoT, analytics, predictive insights, knowledge from industry experts, and IBM research to create an electronic field record that is specific to each farm. This data set includes up-to-date weather (using IBM’s The Weather Company), satellite images, soil readings, IoT-enabled equipment evaluation, and crop health analysis. The potential benefits of this information could be improved crop protection, greater crop yields, higher-quality crops, and greater profitability.

SEE: The Future of Food (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature)

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Catch up on the latest tech innovations that are changing the world, including IoT, 5G, the latest about phones, security, smart cities, AI, robotics, and more. Delivered Tuesdays and Fridays