IBM Watson becomes an AI assistant for the enterprise

Watson Assistant will help business users access data by voice or text, and integrate customers' IBM connections.

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Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • IBM launched Watson Assistant, an AI agent designed for enterprises to access data via voice or text.
  • IBM's Watson assistant can help business users access data and plan travel.

On Tuesday, IBM launched Watson Assistant, an artificial intelligence (AI) agent designed for enterprises to access data via voice or text.

Due to its ability to continually learn a user's preferences, Watson Assistant will be able to provide proactive, personalized experiences, according to a press release. Business users can interact with the assistant through natural conversation, and pick up wherever the chat left off, no matter the location, the release noted.

If desired, Watson Assistant can also securely share a user's data with, for example, their car or favorite hotel or coffee shop. The assistant will also allow for connections with the rest of the IBM ecosystem, allowing brands to better gather data and understand the individual preferences of their customers, the release said.

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"This is the future of consumer AI," the release said. "Watson Assistant will help bridge the information and data sharing gap between people and things."

HARMAN, Munich Airport, Motel One, Chameleon Technology, Kaon, AirWire, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Autodesk have already signed on to adopt Watson Assistant.

Watson Assistant will join a growing market of digital agents specialized for the enterprise. Amazon's Alexa for Business aims to give business users an improved interface for connecting to meetings, calendars, tasks, and company data. Google Assistant allows users to perform a certain set of tasks in a row when they give a specific command. Microsoft's Cortana also includes a number of enterprise features, such as Office 365 integration, though it has been losing out to Alexa and Google Assistant in terms of enterprise adoption, according to our sister site ZDNet.

Since IBM Watson is already integrated into so many other applications across industries, enterprises may be more willing to trust its assistant version than others.

Enterprise users will also be able to use Watson Assistant for business travel. For example, if a flight is delayed, the assistant will automatically alert your hotel or car rental company, according to the release. Once a flight lands, Watson Assistant can automatically check you into your hotel, and pre-program your destination into your rental car. It can also signal your arrival to the hotel, updating the room with preferences for music, temperature, and lighting, according to the release.

Watson Assistant will also be available for auto. For example, if you are in your car on the way home from work and need to stop at the grocery store, but aren't sure what to make for dinner, Watson Assistant can engage in a conversation with you, asking what ingredients you have at home, and making recipe suggestions and a shopping list.

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Image: IBM