Change Management in the Cognitive Era

We are pioneers in an era of transformation. Computing as we know it is changing radically and rapidly. Until recently, programming was still the basis of any human-machine interaction. It was necessary so that technology would know what to do and when to do it. Cognitive solutions like IBM Watson have the capability to understand natural language and to develop intelligence that resembles the way people think, decide and learn. Based on learning algorithms, cognitive technology is enable to make recommendations that become more precise after each interaction. Cognitive computing enables people to create a new kind of value based on insights locked away in huge volumes of structured and unstructured data.

But what does this all mean for the user of this technology? Technology that can outperform humans on a growing number of tasks, can prove tireless and can also learn?

As most inventions that influence the lives and jobs of people, it can trigger controversial reactions: some will see it a blessing and opportunity to make their lives easier, while others will feel threatened not knowing whether their job will become obsolete of fundamentally change.

Since cognitive technology changes our way of working, it is essential to acknowledge that it will have an impact on both the organization and its people. This is why change management is crucial to the success rate of a cognitive implementation.

Based on IBM’s experience with Watson projects, we have outlined these four important focus areas for Change Management:

change management for watson

1. Understand Watson

Before starting a Watson implementation, it is crucial that the organization has a shared understanding of how cognitive computing fits in with the company strategy. At this point some important questions need to be answered. What processes will be enabled by Watson? Which departments will be in scope and which type of functions can benefit from Watson?

2. Teach Watson

In the early stages of Watson implementation, a team of SMEs needs to be assembled to teach Watson. Here it is very important to select the right team of experts as this team will have a vital influence on the quality of Watson’s advice.

Watson becomes an expert much in the same way as a human does. Nobody is born an expert. Most people become experts by studying a topic and practicing their skills for many years. In terms of cognitive computing, experts play an important role as teacher to train the system to understand the collection of information for a certain domain.

change management for watson

3. Adopt Watson

A successful implementation means that Watson is accepted and used by the end user. This is not just a technical challenge, but a transformational one that requires people to change their mindset and work differently.

Consider the example of a banking employee who gives financial advice to clients. He or she might be afraid that Watson can give this advice to clients directly in the future and this fear might lead to counteracting Watson by giving the wrong feedback.

In order for the cognitive implementation to be a success, the adoption rate within the organization needs to be increased to the highest level.

4. Improve Watson

A cognitive system learns through its interactions with the users. The users’ input can influence the quality of Watson both positively and negatively. At this stage it is important to implement quality controls and to have the right incentive in place for the end users to utilize the solution properly.

Learn more about Change Management for Watson here.

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