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IBM ConnectED 2015: The Cognitive Boardroom powered by IBM Watson

Imagine sitting in a conference room discussing potential targets for a merger or acquisition. You say to the staff, “Let’s find the top 10 companies in the robotics space that have annual revenue between 20 and 50 million dollars.” This is where our M&A search will start. The staff goes off and researches data and pulls together a list by the end of the week. Then you say, “Tell me which ones have high revenue per employee.” Off the staff goes to find that information. And so on. Obviously the research effort for this is fairly intense.

Now, imagine you are sitting in the same conference room but are connected to a Cognitive Processing Cognitive Environmentsystem like IBM Watson. You say, “Watson, show me the top 10 companies in the robotics space that have annual revenue between 20 and 50 million dollars.” Immediately (or really quickly) Watson responds with a display of those companies on the large wall of screens. You ask the follow on question and Watson delivers the answer in seconds. You ask Watson to suggest a suitable merger candidate from the list and Watson performs an deep analysis and ranks the targets.

IBM Research is working on this concept of a Cognitive Boardroom where you interact in real time with the very powerful Watson Cognitive Environment. At IBM Connect, Dan Gruen from IBM Research talked about the research they are doing into “The Future of Cognitive Environments for Strategic Decisions.”

Dan described a board room filled with devices that allow humans to interact with the digital world in a seamless fashion. There are screens, audio and video equipment, and most importantly access to IBM Watson. Humans can interact with each other, but when they want some help, Watson can jump in as described in the merger scenario above.

Above is a video where IBM describes the Cognitive Environment. IBM is building a society of Cognitive Agents which are intelligent software agents that have autonomy, social ability to interact with other agents and humans, reactive in that they can perceive changes in their environment and respond, and pro-active where they can take initiative. Here are some examples of Cogs that Dan mentioned:

  • Human Interface Cogs –  understand speech, gestures, dialogs
  • Risk Cogs – provide support for principled suggestions about investment strategies
  • Decision Cogs – compares and contrast choices
  • Analytics and Simulation Cogs – embed analytics and simulation capabilities
  • Model Cogs – discover information about datasets and help build models of new external factors.

These cogs then combine to provide the overall cognitive environment experience.

I found this to be fascinating research. IBM is looking for companies to participate in this research too. If you are interested, you can look into this more at

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Mark Polly

Mark Polly is Perficient's Chief Strategist for Customer Experience Platforms. He works to create great customer, partner, and employee experiences. Mark specializes in web content management, portal, search, CRM, marketing automation, customer service, collaboration, social networks, and more.

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