IBM forms Watson Group business unit

Comments Off January 9, 2014 at 6:12 pm

IBM Corp. this week established the IBM Watson Group, a new business unit dedicated to the development and commercialization of cloud-delivered cognitive innovations.

The company will invest more than US$1 billion into it, focusing on development and research and bringing cloud-delivered cognitive applications and services to market. This will include US$100 million available for venture investments to support IBM’s recently launched ecosystem of start-ups and businesses that are building a new class of cognitive apps powered by Watson, in the IBM Watson Developers Cloud. 

According to technology research firm Gartner, Inc., smart machines will be the most disruptive change ever brought about by information technology, and can make people more effective, empowering them to do “the impossible.”  

The IBM Watson Group will have a new headquarters at 51 Astor Place in New York City’s “Silicon Alley” technology hub, “leveraging the talents of approximately 2,000 professionals, whose goal is to design, develop and accelerate the adoption of Watson cognitive technologies that transform industries and professions.”

The new group will tap subject matter experts from IBM’s Research, Services, Software and Systems divisions, as well as industry experts who will identify markets that cognitive computing can disrupt and evolve, such as healthcare, financial services, retail, travel and telecommunications.

“IBM has transformed Watson from a quiz-show winner, into a commercial cognitive computing breakthrough that is helping businesses engage customers, healthcare organizations personalize patient care, and entrepreneurs build businesses,” said Michael Rhodin, senior vice president of, IBM Watson Group. “

Nearly three years after its triumph on the television quiz show Jeopardy!, IBM has advanced Watson from a game playing innovation into a commercial technology, a release stated: “Now delivered from the cloud and able to power new consumer and enterprise apps, Watson is 24 times faster, smarter with a 2,400 percent improvement in performance, and 90%smaller – IBM has shrunk Watson from the size of a master bedroom to three stacked pizza boxes.”

Named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, IBM Watson was developed in IBM’s Research labs. Using natural language processing and analytics, Watson processes information akin to how people think, representing a major shift in an organization’s ability to quickly analyze, understand and respond to Big Data.

In November, IBM announced it would make Watson available as a development platform in the cloud, enabling software application providers to build a new generation of apps infused with cognitive computing intelligence.