Artificial Intelligence Flexes Its Muscle at IBM Amplify

IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence-based computer took center stage at IBM’s Amplify conference March 20-22. Watson, which employs forms of AI such as natural language processing, has been generating a steady stream of PR for demonstrating the power of AI, such as the time when Watson beat a team of humans in Jeopardy.

At Amplify, IBM showcased how businesses can improve their operations with Watson. For example:

  • U.S. women’s clothing retailer Charlotte Russe applied Watson to more accurately predict spikes in product demand during the holiday shopping season, analyze whether the retailer could handle the uptick in demand, and then improve capacity to plan for the anticipated growth. As a result, Charlotte Russe successfully managed the peak-volume holiday shopping season without any performance problems.
  • Independent bicycle retailer Performance Bicycle is using Watson to better understand customer behavior on its website, which is especially crucial because its customers typically research products online before going to a store. The retailer uses this information to help its sales force become more effective in its brick-and-mortar locations. Watson can analyze which website assets are being used with more accuracy and speed than people can. For instance, Watson discovered that customers of particular mountain bikes were watching videos that the sale team had been overlooking, including content that features desert riding. Watson helps the sales team more effectively anticipate and respond to the interests and needs of its customers before they walk into the store.

Saul’s take: smart technology is no longer a futuristic concept, and IBM Amplify is just the tip of the iceberg. AI can be an essential catalysts to improve a business (as the IBM Watson examples show) and transform it, so long as a business combines the technology with effective experience design and well-formulated processes for product development.

“Watson is on an incredible roll. It has now been adopted by nearly every industry and every professional discipline. This year alone at least 1 billion people will be touched in some way by Watson.”

Harriet Green, IBM General Manager: Watson Internet of Things, Customer Engagement and Education

At Moonshot, we recommend that our clients get started with AI by taking a workshop and roadmap approach in which the business can assess its near-term and long-term business problems, identify ways AI can address them, spell out a road map for applying AI, and pick a pilot project where a business can validate AI’s value. IBM has demonstrated is that employing AI need not be a complicated, gut-wrenching process. AI can solve specific real-world problems and deliver benefits. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the power of AI.

Saul Delage

Saul Delage

VP Growth

Bitnami