What is Watson?

From hospitals to kitchens, Watson has clocked in to work and is already taking impressive strides across industries. But to understand the power of Watson, we must first understand cognitive computing and how it enhances, scales, and accelerates human expertise.

How cognition works

Watson is built to mirror the same learning process that we have—through the power of cognition. What drives this process is a common cognitive framework that humans use to inform their decisions: Observe, Interpret, Evaluate, and Decide.

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Unlike other computing systems, Watson takes in data from all sorts of sources, from research reports to Tweets. All the information humans produce for other humans to consume. However, Watson is not bound by volume or memory; Watson can read millions of unstructured documents in seconds.

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Next, Watson interprets data to expose patterns, connections, and insights. Watson pre-processes the information – organizing data that makes working with content more efficient. Now that Watson has ingested the corpus, or collection of information, it needs to be trained by a human expert to learn how to interpret the information.

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Now, Watson is revolutionizing the way we make decisions, become experts and share expertise in different industries. Further, Watson is discovering and offering answers and patterns we hadn’t known existed, faster than any person or group of people ever could.

How expertise works

Like experts in their respective fields, Watson uses this same cognitive framework to achieve mastery over a given subject and develop expertise – all at incredible scale. Through experience and meaningful feedback over time, experts learn a body of knowledge and apply it to make decisions. Whereas conventional computing systems are programmed based on rules and logic and follow a rigid decision tree approach, Watson is different.

Scaling Expertise

Experts are struggling to keep up with an overwhelming sea of information, but Watson can understand that information and bridge gaps in our knowledge, helping us to glean better insights. With Watson, discoveries and advances happen more quickly and decisions are made faster and with more confidence.

What’s more, Watson democratizes enterprise expertise by scaling knowledge, experience, and intuition that once was limited to a select few. In other words, rather than having a single expert or group of experts, Watson ingests that expertise, giving easy access to knowledge to everyone across the enterprise

Watson across Use Cases and Industries

  • Engagement
  • Discovery
  • Decision



Of the hundreds of calls that come into call centers every day, 50% of the questions go unanswered. These negative experiences alienate customers and cause unwanted churn.

Imagine redefining these outcomes and resolving things on your customers’ terms. So how does your best employee perform on any given day? She has the answers to nearly all of the questions she gets, and she knows exactly where to go for others. She’s the one all your customers want to talk to. With Watson Engagement Advisor, every employee is their best employee and every customer experience the best experience.

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Frequently our data and knowledge are isolated, segmented, and fractured – spread across multiple locations, systems, and formats. It’s difficult to surface the right information at the right time to see the patterns in our data. And there’s an overwhelming amount of it.

With Watson Discovery Advisor, we’re working with a number of pioneering organizations that are using Watson to fast-track life-saving research, create connections in cold cases, spark creativity, and uncover new insights at an unparalleled pace. Seconds, not days. Weeks, not decades.

In the medical research world, it’s essential to stay current. But Watson uncovers insights you need, searching millions of available sources in seconds, so you can speed up your time to trial and focus on bringing the next breakthrough to market.

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It’s a challenge to stay abreast of the latest research, therapies, and clinical trials, and not to mention rapidly evolving industry standards.

Watson for Oncology encapsulates the clinical expertise of Memorial Sloan Kettering, delves into the latest medical literature, and extracts key information from each patient’s health record to offer tailored, evidence based treatment options at the point of care along with supporting evidence at the clinician’s fingertips - helping oncologists achieve better outcomes.

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Cognitive Services Today

Through the IBM Watson Developer Cloud, developers can now access and build with a collection of cognitive APIs and SDKs that allow apps to learn, reason, and consider context.

Featured services include:

Personality Insights

Enable deeper understanding of people's personality characteristics, needs, and values

Concept Insights

Explore information based on the concepts behind input, rather than limiting investigation to findings

Tradeoff Analytics

Help users make better choices to best meet multiple conflicting goals

Machine Translation

Translate text from one language to another

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