IBM CEO Ginni Rometty hosted a panel with top Watson solution providers to discuss partner experiences with the Watson platform. As an IBM Watson Beacon Award winner, a Watson Talent Partner, and a multi-year IBM Analytics Partner of Year, Perficient was invited to participate in the panel. Christine Livingston, our Watson Practice Director, represented the Perficient team.
Ginni Rometty: Tell me a little bit about why you chose Watson and what clients are looking for.
Christine Livingston: We’ve seen the conversation recently shift. Initially Perficient would suggest that customers look at Watson and cognitive technologies, and customers would respond hesitantly, saying they’re not sure. They thought it looked cool, but they didn’t know how to apply the technology to their business. We’ve now seen that landscape change. Now customers are coming to the conversation saying, “I want cognitive. I need to understand this technology and how I can use it in my business.”
We’ve evaluated the cognitive landscape and there are very few true competitors to Watson. When we look at the breadth and depth of the capabilities, Watson is by far the leading technology in that space. Watson is where we’re seeing the maturity of cognitive.
Ginni: When did you see that switch in clients?
Christine: It’s happened recently – over the past year. As people become more familiar with cognitive and realize they’re already interacting with the technology, it helps with the comfort level in allowing cognitive to handle decisioning and intelligent thinking. They’re seeing the capabilities of cognitive in customer facing applications like Facebook, which uses a neural network when you upload a picture to suggest tagging recommendations.
Ginni: Could you talk about your relationship with IBM and some of the benefits that you see from that relationship?
Christine: We have alliances across all the major IBM software platforms and business groups. That includes analytics, content management, cloud, DevOps, and many others – we cover almost the entire IBM portfolio. Something that we’ve seen as a strength is the ability to help existing IBM customers that are using platforms like Cognos or FileNet move onto the next step in innovation. Solutions like content management and analytics are still important, so it’s a matter of augmenting rather than replacing existing systems that are heavily used throughout the organization. We’re not here to say, “cognitive is the new thing and we’re here to replace those solutions.” We’re looking to extend those applications into the cognitive space.
Ginni: Have you found patterns for solution areas that link more easily than others?
Christine: It depends on the organization you’re talking to. If I’m talking to a company that’s done analytics, they’ve probably already covered their structured data. But what are they doing with unstructured data like images, video, notes, and content? Organizations tend to focus on their area of expertise – analytics will focus on structured data and data warehousing; content management will focus on documents and metadata. It’s important to understand the part that’s new to their group.
Ginni: You’ve mentioned you’re speaking to new customers. What percentage do you think are people in roles that you didn’t talk to before?
Christine: We have strong industry practices, so we have a lot of business executive relationships. What we’ve seen more than talking to new customers is that it’s a different conversation that typically transcends multiple corporate initiatives. We’ve seen situations where analytics has a set of goals and digital has a set of goals, and Watson can help connect those different initiatives. It’s been more about bringing all of these different pillars together and these executives together to think about the bigger picture.
If your organization is evaluating cognitive or would like to find out more about Watson, check out our upcoming webinar, Demystifying IBM Watson: Uncover the Power of Cognitive Solutions.