Your Call Is Very Important to Us What Watson means for the future of customer service
If you watch the TV quiz show Jeopardy!, you probably saw a computer named Watson go where no machine has gone before: winning a recent match against Jeopardy! champions.
IBM’s Watson is something new: a computing system that analyzes human language and provides specific answers to complex questions at rapid speeds. On Jeopardy!, Watson time and again correctly answered the kind of subtle, difficult questions that the quiz show is famous for. An example, from a Jeopardy! category called Literary Character APB:
Host Alex Trebek: Wanted for a 12-year crime spree of eating King Hrothgar’s warriors; Officer Beowulf has been assigned to the case.
Watson: Who is Grendel? [the correct answer]
Watson represents a tremendous breakthrough in the ability of computers to understand natural language that humans use to capture and communicate knowledge as opposed to specially designed or encoded language just for computers. It can evaluate the equivalent of hundreds of millions of pages of material–books, reports, articles, and so on–in three seconds or less. It is not stymied by intricate wordplay. In the above example, modern crime lingo was used to pose a question about a literary classic (Beowulf) from 1,000 years ago. Watson was unphased.
Think of the potential uses of this amazing technology. Watson could serve as the foundation of a digital medical assistant, helping doctors diagnose diseases and make treatment recommendations in real time. It could give bankers the ability to get answers quickly to incredibly difficult questions about strategic decisions and market changes.
Carolyn Heller Baird (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the global CRM research leader for IBM’s Institute for Business Value.