November 30, 2015 | Written by: mrzimmerman
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Welcome to the age of cognitive computing, where intelligent machines simulate human brain capabilities to help solve society’s most vexing problems.
Early adopters in government and other industries are already realizing significant value from the innovative technology. Cognitive systems are helping governments navigate complex operations and foster better engagement with constituents.
The technology’s potential to transform government is enormous.
According to the IBM Institute for Business Value’s new study, government leaders are poised to invest in cognitive capabilities to improve services for their citizens. For government leaders familiar with cognitive computing, our study found:
- 87 percent believe the technology will play a disruptive role in their organizations,
- 83 percent believe it will have a critical impact on their future, and
- 100 percent intend to invest in cognitive capabilities.
While the digital age has provided governments with massive amounts of data, organizations still struggle to unlock the full value of all of that data.
Cognitive systems can build knowledge, understand natural language and provide confidence-weighted responses. And these systems can quickly identify new patterns and insights.
Governments can learn from pioneering organizations that have identified three sets of recommendations.
1) Find the right opportunity: Cognitive solutions are well suited to a defined set of challenges. Early planning helps ensure the greatest return on investment.
Does the challenge involve a process or function that currently takes government employees lots of time to accomplish? Cognitive solutions could help seek timely answers and insights from information sources, such as social cases, tax records and economic reports.
Is there a need for users to interact with the system in natural language? Citizens calling from mobile devices may be seeking advice and assistance in addressing a complex policy question. Cognitive systems use natural language capabilities to gauge the nuances of conversation and react appropriately.
Establish a cognitive computing vision and roadmap with executive-level support.
Be realistic: Consider using a phased rollout because the benefits of cognitive computing systems are evolutionary. They improve and can lead to increasing value over time.
2) Prepare the foundation for a successful cognitive computing solution by focusing on several steps.
Invest in human talent: Cognitive solutions are “trained,” not programmed. They “learn” with interactions, results and new pieces of information, which helps organizations to scale expertise. Often referred to as supervised learning, this labor-intensive training process requires the commitment of human subject matter experts (SMEs).
Cognitive systems are only as good as their data. Invest adequate time in selecting data to be included in the project, which might include structured (such as tax records) and unstructured (such as social case documents) data from multiple databases.
New data can be tapped from new sources, such as social media, economic reports and weather updates. Digitize the records — both historical and new documents.
3) Manage the change: Compared to traditional programmable systems, cognitive systems are revolutionary.
Because cognitive computing is new and not completely understood, government leaders should actively participate in defining the cognitive vision and roadmap and informing elected officials, government employees, citizens and businesses.
Despite enthusiasm for cognitive computing, governments should realize there is often a steep learning curve because cognitive systems are fundamentally very different than the traditional programmable systems used for decades.
Cognitive systems are probabilistic (where several possible outcomes exist, with assigned probabilities) and not deterministic (where every input has fixed outcomes). While accuracy rates will improve as a system learns over time, the rate will never reach 100 percent.
Even so, cognitive computing will provide the capability for technology to advance more rapidly than at any other time in human history.
David Zaharchuk is the Global Industry Research Leader for the IBM Institute for Business Value.Sandipan Sarkar, Ph.D., is Cognitive Computing Leader for the IBM Institute for Business Value.
To learn more about the new era of business, visit ibm.com/outthink