Five steps to becoming a cognitive business

While speaking with IBM cognitive business clients over the past year, I’ve started to see some trends. Some of our clients have eagerly embraced cognitive computing, some are just starting their cognitive journeys, and others are curious how to begin. In all cases, it starts with critically looking at your business. Here are the key steps clients from across industries are using to begin their cognitive journeys.

  1. Identify a problem to solve that will lead to critical breakthroughs, including opportunities for disruption and blurring the lines among business category segments. Cognitive business is ideally suited to solve challenges with large amounts of unstructured data, challenges that seem to require additional experts with specific skills and expertise, and challenges with shifting customer expectations, just to name a few.
  2. Gain complete access to data, including company data, external information and data not yet available, such as visual elements from images and video. Cognitive computing unlocks the potential in all data, including the 88 percent of dark data.
  3. Cast a vision using a clear use case, secure executive support and then plan for adoption and deployment.
  4. Evaluate IT infrastructure to assess if it’s ready for the cognitive era. Cognitive computing can only produce results when your data foundation is rock solid.
  5. Champion a new culture by preparing people for new ways of collaborating with technology. Programmable computing responds to requests and makes determinations, analyzing data according to predefined parameters. Cognitive systems interact with your team, naturally interpret data and learn from each interaction to propose new solutions.

Finding your cognitive path forward

You can start small and grow into cognitive capabilities. Paths forward include

  • Building a cognitive application or infusing cognition into an existing application. For example, The North Face is applying natural language to their online shopping experience to further enhance their customer experience.
  • Infusing cognition into a workflow or business application, or using a SaaS service that includes cognitive capabilities to transform your function or business process. One such cognitive case study comes from our work with AMC Networks, which is applying cognitive insights to better understand viewer behavior and preferences.
  • Building a cognitive system and an advisor to transform your business and industry. For instance, ROSS Intelligence is transforming the law practice by applying IBM Watson to speed research and make legal counsel more accessible.

Identifying what’s next

So, now it’s time to think about how you might start the cognitive journey at your business. What are the first steps you might take to begin the journey?

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