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What does cognitive mean to today’s professional?

Harriet Green, General Manager IBM Watson Internet of Things, Cognitive Engagement and Education underlined the benefits that cognitive computing brings professionals. By providing the right information at right time to make productive decisions. We’re all overwhlmed with so much information and it’s hard to seapatea signal from noise, insight from hindsight. This is what Watson is designed for. Watson can process vast amounts of unstructured data; provide individual advice and extend a professional’s reach in three ways:

Dedicated analyst

Watson serves as a dedicated analyst, processing all types of data and rather than reflecting that data, Watson applies reason. Watson learns what the data means and suggests specific courses of action to help in decision making support.

Personal assistant

Watson automates routine actions, alerting professionals to new opportunities, making it easier to access the information professionals need to succeed. Because Watson learns over time, it beings to understand professionals’ personal style, tailors actions to their immediate and future needs and frees them up to focus on higher value work.

Trusted advisor

Watson has no hidden agenda, no expectation management and doesn’t play politics. Watson even provides a degree of confidence in his suggestions.

This is not one szie fits all – this is  professional tailoring by industry.

Harriet provided some ‘real world’ examples:

  • Medical professional – diagnosis based on genomic level knowledge of a patient to develop personalised treatments
  • HR professional – reviewing candidates’ personality insights from resumes, social media profiles and assessing cultural fit
  • Supply chain professional – solve problems before the arise – anticipate stock shortages and weather disruption impacts.

What is cognitive computing doing for retail?

A panel joined Harriet to discuss how cognitive computing is helping their industry to deliver exceptional customer experiences.

A retail group joins harriet green on stage

The retail group take the stage

Technology and a culture of innovation

1-800-Flower’s Chris McCann, VP Project Management Office, explained that leading businesses need to adapt to changes in technology, foster a culture of innovation that leads to reinvention, and follow the new waves, different waves, embracing ideas like conversational commerce. From traditional stores to on-line and now seeing a new phase driven by data, analytics and. Chris mentioned that consumers want to have real conversations in a self-serve environment – and that needs cognitive computing.

The company has implemented GWYN (Gift When Yoo Need) – a cognitive enabled concierge that creates a personalised experiences for customers. It enables the company to deliver smiles to all the important people in their customers’ lives.

GYWN is brand-agnostic providing contact centre agents information on all the items the brand can offer – and on products outside the company, putting knowledge at employee’s fingertips. It helps marketers understand why a customer is buying and can offer thoughtful advertising.

How do you provide pesonalised services on-line at scale? Another level emerges – through the customer contact centre employees. Cognitive computing allows 1-800-Flowers to be a trusted advisor in customers’ gifting equation. Moving marketers to embrace the technology and GWYN’s learning capability – and transforming the company into one that moves beyond a retailer to every customers’ trusted gift advisor. Making everyone able to act on their thoughtfulness.

Thoughtful in-store experiences to on-line

Luxottica, the eyeglass brand with familiar names such as Ray-Ban, Sunglass Hut and Lenscrafters’ Maureen Klosterman, VP eCommerce, Digital and CRM, talked about moving a thoughtful in-store experience on-line. Like many professional retailers, the end of year holiday period is both extremely busy, and commercially critical. The company also balances retail with healthcare integrating consumers appointment requests with eye-care professional’s calendars. As an example of scale, Lenscrafters will manage 1 million eye examination appointments this year. Getting a great fit on a pair of glasses is important for customers too – at home through Virtual Try On and Home Try On are key to the customer experience.

The company is working on a cognitive fashion stylist, including Georgio Armani, Tiffany among others and insight from runway shows to give customers a tool and contact centre employees more detail. They have a relationship with StatSocial that deepens insight through data mining Watson Personality Insights to understand  customers in more depth. Emails and websites have personalised content and ‘next best action’ insights.

Delivery fulfills the brand promise

A great customer experience is important, but following through with delivery fulfills that brand promise. Angie Brown, Senior Director, Home Depot talked about customers’ ability to order on-line but choose how they’d like to have that order fulfilled. Customers could buy in any channel and have it delivered in any channel, That could be home delivery, collect-in-store. Home Depot’s goal is to create a seamless customer experience – as a competitive advantage. You can’t do that without absolute clarity on your stock position. And you can’t do that without data. This is where Home Depot started in 2012. They’re now rolling out the ability to see stock in stores and deliver to home from store inventory. The platform provides an impressive $27bn of commerce for Home Depot.

Home Depot is moving business to Sterling Order Management. The special order business has just moved onto the platform along with the .com platform. Silos are dissipating. The company has great visibility on customers and their experiences. Cognitive delivers greater insights that build a great customer experience. It’s know the whole household for customers. For pro customers, it’s about time and project management and knowing how to fit with a professionals time frames. Lowest cost routing is now a good possibility for Home Depot using cognitive capabilities.


Watch sessions like this live. Sign up for World of Watson 2016 on IBMGo.


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What does this mean for the professional marketer?

Melanie Butcher, responsible for user experience for IBM’s Cognitive Engagement products joined Harriet on stage to demonstrate the ‘behind the scenes’ activities that bring the cognitive customer experience to life.

melanie and watson join harriet green on stage

Melanie Butcher and Watson join Harriet on the stage

Melanie worked through an example of a campaign for bicycles, accessories and apparel for people who cycle to work. She interacted with Watson in natural language to select audience segments along with images and layouts that would be the most persuasive given the audience’s preferences. Melanie was able to preview different versions of the ad based on prevailing weather conditions for the recipient and ask Watson to create a ‘dynamic content rule’ that places ads based on local weather conditions.

The demonstration highlighted four key points:

  1. The ability to interact using natural language
  2. Analysis of images (an example of unstructured data) and adding tags based on an understand of what the images were
  3. An understanding of the campaign goals and selection of images most likely to achieve that outcome
  4. Didn’t just replay data but made a suggestions which resulted in a rules based placement of the advertisement using contextual data

Enlighten, Clairvoyant, Progress

Harriet was then joined on stage by a client, a business partner and an IBM employee:

Vitaly Tsivin, Sr. Vice President of Business Intelligence, AMC Networks

Scott Byrnes, VP Marketing, Transvoyant

Obed Louissaint, VP, HR, IBM Watson, Cognitive Solutions and Research

An industry panel joins harriet green on stage

An industry panel joins Harriet on stage

AMC Networks shows ‘The Walking Dead’, consistently topping the list of the most valuable advertising space. Vitaly explained that AMC are a large consumer of their own advertising inventory – using 1/6 of their inventory. Advertising is something that is key to the company’s success. The key indicators being reach, frequency and CPM. Frequency is trickiest one. AMC know that reach, keeping CPM reasonably low and achieving best frequency distribution.

A cognitive understanding of the data ensures that AMC Networks increase efficiency by reducing under and over serving. Marketers can re-allocate inventory smartly. It’s something that AMC are now considering extending to their advertising partners. AMC Networks refer to this as ‘the bridge’ from Business Intelligence to Business Insights to Business Impact. Immediate access to data visualisations has swung the balance of time in favour of data research from data manipulation. Watson can increase effectiveness 10-fold. Exploring dark data is now something that can be considered.

Watson delivers – literally with supply chain

Supply chain management real time visibility – insights on disruptions. Foreign suppliers, customs, many variables and many trading partners. EDI is currently the status updates de-facto. Over 1tr events are processed each day along with the external variables like weather, congestion, customer sentiment and customs. Cognitive computing is helping to identify when previous issues were resolved, what resolved them, and who was involved. This moves towards predictive solving.

 A marketing group of professionals joins harriet green on stageA set of supply chain and HR professionals take to the stage

Turning to the HR profession, cognitive provides 3 ways to help:

  1. helping employees to be more productive through better user experience of technology
  2. shifting massive amounts of data to insights
  3. moving from big personas to decision support at the individual level – next best decision at the personal level.

We like to drink our own champagne – IBM is using Watson to identify the best place for an applicant to work using sentiment analysis and personality insights to find the best role within the organistion. Watson helps making better pay decisions – placing awards where skills are most necessary. Also, to understand where engagement is high, and low – and what’s causing that. Performance management is an example of a large scale change, moving from an annual cycle to an agile approach that allows for more frequent inputs.

Empowering education tools for the teaching professional

Dr. Marilyn Denison, Asst. Superintendent Coppell School District, a public school system outside of Dallas, Texas with a reputation for excellence.

Marilyn Denison joins Harriet Green on stage

Dr. Marilyn Denison joins Harriet Green on stage

Coppell wanted to engage with Watson as they strive to improve student outcomes using leading edge technology to enhance teaching and learning to. Worked with IBM to build the Watson Element App, the first Mobile First for iOS app for education.

Coppell’s teachers were directly involved in the design of the app to make sure it was a natural extension of their day-to-day teaching activities – and continue to be involved. Looking to eliminate the pain-points in professional teachers’ experience.

Dr. Marilyn then demonstrated the app. It shows a complete picture of the student from results to attendance. Using an example of one of Harriet’s interests, ‘yoga’, the app is personalised to sports, changing the interface and allowing other teachers to know the students preferences. The app highlights all areas of the students education allowing the teacher to asses over the whole students curriculum and highlights moments to evaluate, praise and offer additional assistance if needed.

This is a great way for interacting with students. But the app is useful as teachers work their way around the studying students. It can keep records of a student’s academic performance demo shows. The app has given teachers students’ information at their fingertips and their performance, aptitude, learning styles, hobbies and interests.

The information is provided by student data records from the district, and also teacher input. The app has a spotlight to highlight students that need some teacher interaction. Any updates are known by all teachers who can respond accordingly.

What next? Currently this is a pilot in 4 schools and it’s hoped to expand this to all schools in the coming year. IBM has also committed to grow the app, continuing to work with Coppell and the districts teachers and students.

Watson goes to the movies

Could a cognitive application create a movie trailer? If you’ve seen the trailer for the AI horror thriller ‘Morgan’, you’ll know it can. Watson watched the movie and using facial recognition, analysed all of the emotions, worked out the percentages and built a trailer of excerpts that represented the movies composition. It looked into the scenes to find those that were most moving in order to compile a trailer of the salient moments. And a compelling one at that!

Harriet concluded by inviting the attendees to experience Watson firsthand throughout the World of Watson experience.


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Chris McCann, VP Project Management Office, 1-800-Flowers
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Maureen Klosterman, VP eCommerce, Digital and CRM, Luxottica
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Angela Brown profile picture
Angie Brown, Senior Director, Home Depot
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Melanie Butcher profile picture
Melanie Butcher, User Experience Director, IBM
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Vitaly Tsivin profile picture

Vitaly Tsivin, AMC Networks

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scott byrnes profile picture

Scott Byrnes, VP Marketing, Transvoyant

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Obed Louissaint profile picture

Obed Louissaint, VP, HR, IBM Watson, Cognitive Solutions and Research

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Dr. Marilyn Denison, Coppell ISD

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Harriet Green profile picture

Harriet Green, IBM

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