It matters not that the gee-whiz machine Watson with its transformative performance on the game show Jeopardy is named not after the original problem solver and sounding board, the fictional Dr. John Watson of Sherlock Holmes fame, but Thomas Watson, the man who built IBM. What does matter is that Watson's performance on the show blew away the sharpest humankind has on tap. Watson appears to merit a label beyond what has heretofore been described as disruptive techonology which include developments such as the Kindle, Open Source, Broadband and the Internet itself. The automaton's game-changing performance, expectedly, has led to promises to tap its potential for industry with IBM announcing a research agreement "to explore, develop and commercialize Watson's advanced analytics capabilities in the health care industry".
IBM's representative last week announced that "a partnership with Nuance Communications where we’re going to be making a commercial offering, based on Watson, available in the next 24 month. research and technology initiative will combine IBM’s Deep Question Answering (QA), Natural Language Processing, and Machine Learning capabilities with Nuance's speech recognition and Clinical Language Understanding (CLU) solutions for the diagnosis and treatment of patients that provide hospitals, physicians and payers access to critical and timely information". As an example of how Nuance's speech recognition and voice authentication capabilities combined with IBM's analytics capability the company suggested that a doctor could "rapidly consider all the related texts, reference materials, prior cases and latest knowledge in journals and medical literature to gain evidence from many more potential sources than previously possible helping him/her to confidently determine the most likely diagnosis and treatment options!" Its implication for better, if not certain, diagnoses and the minimizing if not elimination of liability suits for malpractice will surely transform health-care delivery.
It will be a matter of time before IBM partners with other industries such as airlines and hospitality to seek out near-perfect if not blemishless CRM goals. For instance, speech recognition combined with biometrics could speed passenger embarkation at airports with machines that limit if not eliminate the human element that adds layers of time and money presently. A Watson for airlines could also determine customer preferences for routes, seats, meals and spending patterns maximizing revenue for the carriers while also offering competitive pricing.
For hospitality the possibilities appear limitless. From keyless entry systems to eliminating waits at the front desk during busy times to providing in-room entertainment and energy efficient features that reflect guest choices rather than those imposed by the establishment. Using service and product delivery systems that are unimaginable even by today's hi-tech standard the potentially transforming aspects of Watson will make the industry achieve CRM goals that are simply unachievable today. And as Moore's law would suggest, many of these developments will surely be more affordable than not as development and mass sales brings down unit costs.