IBM Sends Watson to Wall Street

IBM LogoIBM plans to put “Jeopardy!” champ computer Watson to work on Wall Street, calling financial services the “next big one for us.” More specifically, Watson will work for Citigroup, the third-largest U.S. lender, where it will process financial, economic and client data to personalize digital banking.

IBM plans to deliver Watson’s services through the cloud and reap a portion of the revenue and savings it delivers. Watson already works for other, unnamed companies on Wall street, though IBM’s Manoj Saxena says the company isn’t selling them software, but “outcomes.”

A computer that can make banking more personal? Bloomberg quotes Stephen Baker, author of books “The Numerati” and “Final Jeopardy,” a Watson biography, as saying:

It can go through newspaper articles, documents, SEC filings, and try to make some sense out of them, put them into a context banks are interested in, like risk.

And Michael Versace, head of risk research at International Data Corp.’s Financial Insights, says:

Apparently Citi gets it – analytics is the new core in competitive banking. The ability to efficiently and effectively exploit big data, advanced modeling, text analytics, in memory and real-time decisions across channels and operations will distinguish those that thrive in uncertain and uneven markets, from those that fumble.

Since its big victory on “Jeopardy!”, Watson has been employed in health care. IBM’s Craig Rhinehart told Lora Bentley, my colleague at IT Business Edge, about how the computer’s skills at natural language processing are employed there:

Health care is one of those industries where there is so much natural language communication – clinical research, doctors’ notes, treatment outcomes … And really, until this natural language capability came along, you couldn’t do anything with them. All of the information kept piling up, but the real insight into it was trapped. What our customers are doing is using the technology as a way to go through all that information and begin to unlock business insight.

In adapting Watson, IBM looks for people with industry-specific knowledge to tweak it to run within that space. IBM is looking at a range of other potential uses, including telecommunications and perhaps even call centers.

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