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IBM evolves Watson to create intelligent enterprise assistant

Conversational experiences
Announced at IBM’s annual Think conference yesterday, Watson Assistant is positioned as a way for enterprises to develop new conversational interfaces. The company’s specifically targeting experiences that improve brand loyalty and facilitate direct consumer connections.
Watson Assistant is powered by the IBM Cloud. It includes built-in proactive capabilities, allowing it to surface information that’s likely to be relevant at the current time. The conversation engine provides “natural and life-like” responses to queries, while including personalised insights sourced from existing business intelligence. Data is shared between skills and integrated information repositories.
IBM will allow enterprises to customise Watson Assistant to their needs. It can be tailored to individual industries by using workload-specific extensions that add additional functions. IBM said automotive brands may include Watson as a voice assistant in their vehicles, while hotels could use it to assist guests in their rooms. Businesses are free to build upon the assistant’s skills by integrating other Watson capabilities, including Speech to Text and Text to Speech.
“Truly knows you”
According to IBM, Watson is the first “truly intelligent” AI assistant that can adapt to your requirements. Applications running on Watson can share data through the IBM Cloud so information follows you throughout your day. Businesses can acquire information about you based on your use of applications created by other enterprises. Watson learns from every interaction, building a detailed profile of your routines and interests.
“Watson Assistant isn’t just designed for a single location such as your home. And, it doesn’t just respond to a person’s commands and provide generic information that’s publicly available,” said IBM. “It can be accessed via voice or text interaction and gets to know a person more through each and every interaction, gaining greater insight into who they are, what makes them happy and more.”

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Users will have control of their personal information. IBM said the data sharing will require users to grant permission first. However, it remains to be seen how many people will actually use the functionality. Uptake of digital assistance is still low and IBM faces competition from brands such as Google and Apple. Businesses will need to convince users that they need their applications if the platform is to succeed.
IBM’s already acquired several major partners who are preparing to start doing just that. Airwire, HARMAN, Munich Airport and The Royal Bank of Scotland are all trialling Watson integrations designed to “engage” customers. While the data sharing layer isn’t yet going to see widespread use, IBM’s laying the groundwork for an all-encompassing future assistance and analytics platform.

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