Over the past decade, along with the rise of big data and analytics, we’ve seen tremendous growth in the use of the cloud, mobile, social media and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Individually, these technologies usher a company into the digital age, but more and more they are table stakes. Real competitive value comes by taking advantage of these digital capabilities with the power of cognitive computing.
Cognitive systems, such as IBM Watson, understand the world by interaction, reason by generating recommendations and hypotheses, and learn from experts and from data. In fact, cognitive systems never stop learning.
They interact with humans better than other machines because cognitive systems don’t rely solely on data which is structured, such as a client’s transaction history or geolocation.
Cognitive computing unlocks the growing volume of unstructured data, including everything we encode in language — from textbooks and formulas, to literature and conversation — plus all that’s captured in sight, sound and motion.
Recommended by IBM
For example, if a customer contacts a call center, a cognitive system adds insight about the caller’s nuance of tone, sentiments, emotional state and personal relationships. This is important when you consider that, by 2018, half of all consumers will regularly interact with services based on cognitive computing.
Cognitive computing is already at work helping to re-imagine everything from banking to retail to healthcare. Here are five fundamentals to go deep on to help your company become a cognitive business:
1) Develop a cognitive strategy. Decide which products, services, processes and operations should be infused with cognition. Determine what data your organization needs and pick the experts to train the cognitive system. The goal is to scale expertise.
At Nordstrom, the retailer estimates that its top sales associates perform eight times better than average sales people.What if all your professionals were as good as your best?
2) Create a foundation of data and analytics. Collect and curate the data most useful to your organization. This data could include data that the organization owns – such as sales figures or customer complaint logs — or data outside of the business, say tweets or news. Pandora uses more than 450 musical attributes to personalize its service for music lovers.
3) Use cloud services designed for your industry. The building blocks for cognitive products and services are Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and industry data sets. IBM Watson Health Cloud brings together clinical, research and social data from diverse health sources, creating a secure, cloud-based data sharing hub.
Hospitals, insurance partners and medical researchers can create new connections between previously siloed healthcare data sets. By creating an agile development culture, the healthcare industry can drive better, faster, and less expensive treatments.
4) Make your IT systems fine-tuned for cognitive workloads. Combine private, public and hybrid clouds with existing systems, distributed devices and IoT instrumentation. This combination creates an IT infrastructure to serve as a backbone for your organization to operate as a cognitive business. By 2017, there will be one billion connected devices in smart homes, including appliances, smoke detectors and cameras.
5) Build in security for a cognitive era. The goal should be to secure every transaction, piece of data and interaction as cognitive systems make their way into cars, buildings, roadways and business processes. Secure systems ensure trust in the entire system and ultimately, the organization’s brand image.
In the past, professionals made decisions based upon experience and historical data. Now cognitive capabilities enable business leaders to make strategic decisions based upon data, structured and unstructured, which are changing in real-time.
Companies can tap the discovery capabilities of cognitive systems to mine deeper insights from vast amounts of data. They can uncover patterns and opportunities that would be virtually impossible to see or find through traditional research methods.
Industries will be able to place “big bets” on complex financial management, drug development, materials science and much more. Building on these five fundamental pathways to cognitive business — and driving them deeper into your enterprise — is the surest way to grow in the digital age.