Artificial Intelligence

Watson Summit shows Kiwis that AI is here

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 Mike Smith, Managing Director, IBM New Zealand

On Wednesday I had the great pleasure of welcoming over 500 guests to our first Watson Summit in New Zealand. I say ‘first’ because we’ve had such an amazing response from clients, partners and the wider coMike Smith onstage at Watson Summitmmunity, that we’re already underway planning the next one!

There’s a real buzz in the market about artificial intelligence. AI is fuelling a new technological era where organisations can make a step-change in their operations, their customer experience programmes, and their infrastructure investments by gaining insights from data that they’ve never been able to analyse before – whether it was locked in reports, patient records, websites, images, or audio files. We’re changing that with IBM Watson.

When any new technological change comes along, there is some trepidation as we strive to understand and adapt to it. I believe we’ve come through the time of fear and begun to realise the massive opportunity in AI – the opportunity to create competitive advantage for businesses, and to lift our productivity as a nation. There has been an awakening that AI is not ‘the future’ – it is here, now. It is real.

The fantastic line-up of speakers at Watson Summit demonstrated exactly that. From local clients like Westpac NZ and Watercare, to innovative startups including Soul Machines, 9 Spokes, Rush Digital and Lingmo, as well as NZ health industry partners MoleMap, Pacific Radiology and Dr Lance O’Sullivan. We had several international speakers as well, including the sensational 13 year old IBM Advisor and Champion Tanmay Bakshi, who’s attracted a lot of media attention this week for his significant accomplishments.

Our Innovation Studio gave everyone the chance to get hands-on with several Watson use cases, including:

  • enhancing fan experience and improving the sustainability of Denmark’s Roskilde music festival
  • analysing data from personal weather stations to help improve bee survival rates with The Weather Company
  • improving our ability to prevent, detect and respond to cybersecurity threats using cognitive computing, and
  • interacting with our Watson-powered robot ‘Nao’ – who answered questions and provided instructions for advice-seekers on a range of topics.

If you missed out on the action and want to catch up, the keynotes are available on demand.

I’ll always say that I’m a proud IBMer, and this week afforded a tremendous opportunity for me to share why.

People with Nao in the Innovation Centre

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