Watson: The road to personalization from Cannes Lions

By | 5 minute read | June 23, 2017

The annual Cannes Lion Festival of Creativity brings together worldwide leaders in the creative communications world.  It’s the foremost event for ad agencies and for globally recognized consumer brands to hear about new ideas on the cutting edge of technology, imagination and virtualization, like Watson.

Rather than the typical summary presentations of strategic direction and top-to-top meetings that are the norm at Cannes, IBM decided to show clients just what Watson can do.  IBM’s presence at Cannes includes IBM iX, which is now firmly positioned among the leaders in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Agencies.  You can also see some of IBM iX’s great work on their YouTube channel.

I’m working with IBM’s Weather Company team at Cannes to wow clients with the capabilities of Watson to personalize their experience with technology.  The Weather Company is now part of the Watson organization. Last year at Cannes Lions, we introduced our customers to Watson Ads — the world’s first consumer-facing cognitive ad format. Consumers and marketers have both responded favorably but we saw an opportunity to further educate our clients on Watson. That is what prompted us to create more of an immersive experience this year.

So, we curated a very targeted client journey that navigates clients through three stages.  First, we’re showing Watson in the World, outlining the multitude of applications and use cases that are emerging.  Secondly, Watson in Your World, which takes a deeper look at how Watson can be highly personalized through digital avatars.  And then finally, Watson and You, that demonstrates personalization based on your specific information.

Everyone sees that the world is buzzing about AI.  We talk a lot about Watson and cognition, but we recognize it’s still very new to many.  Our world and our industries are going through a profound transformation. We are becoming more reliant on automation and now artificial intelligence.  In 45 countries across 20 industries, Watson is helping people make sense of data so they can make better decisions while uncovering new ideas.  More than 500 companies are using Watson to power their business.

Watson in the World

We’re leading with Watson focused use cases that are applied through IoT related engagement.  We start with Local Motors’ Olli, which is an ambitious 3D printed, autonomous, electric mobility shuttle.  Enough buzzwords for you in that sentence?  Local Motors is looking to redefine mobility through Olli and just won a Telematics Update Automotive award for Best Auto Mobility Product/Service.

Riders will communicate with Olli through Watson and can ask questions about how Olli operates, information about local points of interest through Yelp APIs and about weather conditions through IBM’s Weather API.  That base corpus of information will be extended based on how Olli is being applied.  Obvious examples include; college campuses, retirement communities, large corporate campuses, amusement parks and of course, smaller localized communities such as Cannes.

Image 1: Olli

Image 1: Olli

Olli is just an example of what is possible.  A key part of developing differentiating connected products can be seen through IBM’s partnership with Visa which will enable all manners of IoT-enabled devices to transact commerce with their users right at the point of interest.  One can easily imagine buying things through your car or maybe while on a bus, but what about a smart refrigerator?  Or what about devices that you never associated with technology, such as a hotel mirror that we’re working on with Panasonic?  When consumers express an interest in a product, restaurant reservation, show tickets or anything, anywhere, we want to enable connected devices to close the transaction rather than waiting until later and possibly losing the customer.

Watson in Your World

Moving on to Watson in Your World, the capabilities of digital avatars are literally eye-opening!  Previously, real-life animation was the purview of movie effect technology.  That was yesterday.  IBM is working with and incredible start-up called Soul Machines.  One of the founders of Soul Machines is Dr. Mark Sagar who won Oscars for his work on life-like animations in movies such as Avatar and King Kong.

Soul Machines is rapidly replacing robots with emotionally intelligent avatars that can engage in a more humanlike way with consumer.  Their virtual human avatars can be applied to a variety of applications from gaming characters to customer service assistance to potentially even an in-vehicle personal digital assistant in your car.  The possibilities are endless.  IBM is partnering with Soul Machines to embed Watson’s capabilities into human avatars to take it to the next level.  Watson will help to personalized the interactions with “digital humans”

Watson’s capabilities for visual recognition and understanding tone can be combined with the interaction of a human avatar.  Facial features in the avatar can be adjusted through the data cues to empathize with what a person may be discussing.  This can transform the customer experience altogether.

Watson and You

Finally, the last stop is Watson and You.  This is where we get more personal and we can assemble this journey seeing everything that’s possible.  At this point we want to introduce another Watson API called Personality Insights.  This API takes responses for various questions and then deciphers and maps you to a personality profile.  Obvioulsy, the more information you feed it the better, but the demo we’re showing at Cannes is nonetheless impressive.  We’re mapping people into five personality categories through about 7-8 questions.  They get a great set of Toms sunglasses as a prize that’s specifically geared toward your profiled personality!

Image: Watson and You personality insights

Image 2: Watson and You personality insights

Putting it all together

As I’m always thinking about this in the context of automotive customers, I can imagine profiling customers early in the digital or dealership experience.  Then as digital interactions continue with an avatar tuned to the customer’s personality begins to take a lead role in the customer interaction.

The avatar might lead a guided selling process helping the customer configure the vehicle.  The digital interaction with the customer through financing and delivery.  The avatar will also continue to tune itself as it learns more about the customer.  Upon delivery, this avatar should know the customer well and continues as an in-vehicle digital assistant helping them set up their new car to their tastes.  It can stay on to help them with a variety of tasks from the obvious, such as inquiries about additional vehicle capabilities to the subtle, such as keeping drivers safer when they’re emotionally distracted.

Cannes Lions shows us that the world is a canvas.  The Internet of Things coupled with offerings like Watson provide a near limitless toolkit of capabilities to develop new exciting solutions.