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IBM Launches Consulting Practice Dedicated to Cognitive Business

Specialists in analytics and data science help clients leverage data to improve their businesses

Published: Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - 11:24

(IBM: Armonk, NY) -- IBM has launched the industry’s first consulting organization dedicated to helping clients realize the transformative value of cognitive business.

IBM Cognitive Business Solutions extends the exclusive cognitive leadership of IBM Watson and the company’s established market leadership in business analytics. The new practice draws on the expertise of more than 2,000 consulting professionals spanning machine learning, advanced analytics, and data science and development, supported by industry and change management specialists to accelerate client journeys to cognitive business.

Cognitive represents an entirely new model of computing that includes a range of technology innovations in analytics, natural language processing, and machine learning. Industry analyst firm IDC predicts that by 2018, half of all consumers will interact regularly with services based on cognitive computing.

“Our work with clients across many industries shows that cognitive computing is the path to the next great set of possibilities for business,” says Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president of IBM Global Business Services. “Clients know they are collecting and analyzing more data than ever before, but 80 percent of all the available data—images, voice, literature, chemical formulas, social expressions—remains out of reach for traditional computing systems. We’re scaling expertise to close that gap and help our clients become cognitive banks, retailers, automakers, insurers, or healthcare providers.”

A survey of more than 5,000 C-suite executives, to be released this fall by IBM’s Institute for Business Value (IBV), finds that executives from the highest-performing companies place significantly greater priority on cognitive capabilities than peers in market-following enterprises. Industry-specific IBV research shows that:
• Insurance: 65 percent of industry CXOs are pursuing some form of business model innovation, but nearly 30 percent feel the quality, accuracy, and completeness of the data in their organization is insufficient. Nearly all said they intend to invest in cognitive capabilities.
• Retail: 60 percent of retail executives do not believe their company is equipped to deliver the level of individual experiences consumers demand, and 95 percent say they will invest in cognitive in the next five years.
• Healthcare: The industry forecasts a 13 million person gap in qualified healthcare workers by 2035, and more than half of healthcare industry CXOs report that current constraints on the ability to use all available information limits their confidence about making strategic business decisions. Eighty-four percent of these leaders believe cognitive will be a disruptive force in healthcare, and 95 percent plan to invest in it over the next five years.

Across all industries, executives surveyed by the IBV cite the scarcity of skills and technical expertise as the primary barriers to cognitive adoption—surpassing concerns about security, privacy, or the maturity of the technology.

IBM consultants are prepared today to bring clients “get started” offerings and readiness assessments that create low-cost entry points to begin the journey to become cognitive enterprises.

“Before long, we will look back and wonder how we made important decisions or discovered new opportunities without systematically learning from all available data,” says Stephen Pratt, global leader at IBM Cognitive Business Solutions. “Over the next decade, this transformation will be very personal for professionals as we embrace learning algorithms to enhance our capacity. For clients, cognitive systems will allow organizations that adopt these powerful tools outperform their peers.”

Examples of clients working with IBM to become cognitive enterprises:
• For a major retailer, IBM developed a cognitive solution that analyzes the client's data in the context of information from multiple external sources—including local weather and up-to-the-minute social sentiment—to sense deviations in demand for selected products, make recommendations in areas from replenishment to pricing, and dramatically improve demand forecasting.
• The cognitive systems of a leading provider of consumer insurance use Watson natural language capabilities to answer questions and provide advice about the company’s products and services to create a more compelling online experience.
• IBM is working with healthcare organizations to apply the technology in genomics to advance cancer care by accelerating DNA analysis for personalized treatment options.
• In financial services, IBM is working with clients to apply cognitive to better manage risk and provide personalized guidance and investment options.
• In education, cognitive technology is being used to personalize academic instruction and enhance academic experiences for students and teachers.

IBM brings clients the collective experience amassed over more than 50,000 analytics engagements and the expertise of the world's largest data science workforce, including thousands of experts across IBM Research, and the company’s Analytics and Watson solution units, along with more than 30,000 professionals worldwide in the industry’s foremost strategy and analytics consulting organization.

The new practice will also draw upon the exclusive computational reasoning and learning capabilities of IBM Watson, which represents a $1 billion investment to advance cognitive innovations across industries. IBM will train another 25,000 IBM consultants and practitioners on cognitive computing this fall.

During the past year, IBM has forged strategic partnerships with Apple, Twitter, The Weather Channel, and Facebook, all aimed at unlocking new data sources to the advantage of clients worldwide.


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IBM develops, provides, and supports IT systems, software solutions (e.g., asset management, cloud computing, business process management), and offers many services for business (e.g., analytics, strategy, commerce consulting), IT (e.g., data center, cloud, integrated communications), outsourcing (e.g., for IT infrastructure, application management), and consulting alliances, project financing, IT services financing, and more. IBM creates solutions to find business partners, developer resources, and global alliances.