PORTLAND, Ore. — IBM ponied up $1 billion to start a new business unit to develop and champion its Watson cognitive computing technology. Called the IBM Watson Group, the new effort will develop and deliver cloud-based cognitive computing software, services, and apps derived from its Watson artificial intelligence. About $100 million of its billion dollar budget will be available as venture capital to support developers of Watson-based cognitive apps that leverage its Watson Developer Cloud.
Watson was originally developed to prove that cognitive computing could rival human experts by winning at the TV game show Jeopardy. Since then Watson's technology has been applied to medical diagnoses and financial services delivery. The new IBM Watson Group, housed in New York City's “Silicon Alley” district, will direct the efforts of about 2,000 professionals toward expanding Watson's applications into new markets in retail, travel, telecommunications, and beyond.
IBM Watson Group's headquarters will be at 51 Astor Place in New York City’s "Silicon Alley" technology hub.
The IBM Watson Group will be led by IBM senior vice president Michael Rhodin from IBM's Software Solutions Group, who is gung-ho on his new endeavor.
“Watson is one of the most significant innovations in IBM's 100 year history, and one that we want to share with the world," said Rhodin in a statement.
Demonstrating a Watson cloud service is IBM SVP Mike Rhodin who will lead the IBM Watson Group in New York's Silicon Alley.
The new Watson-based apps will run on Softlayer, a cloud-based platform that IBM recently acquired.
IBM also announced three new Watson-based services: IBM's Watson Analytics, which uses visualizations driven by a natural language interface to uncover trends in big data; the IBM Watson Discovery Advisor, which aims to simplify and improve research efforts in the pharmaceutical and publishing industries; and the IBM Watson Explorer, which provides a data-driven dashboard and development framework for displaying contextual views of big data.
IBM also claimed that it had downsized Watson from a cluster of 90 servers to just three single-height rack slots, while simultaneously boosting speed 24-fold.
— R. Colin Johnson, Advanced Technology Editor, EE Times