HomeThe Cognitive Enterprise

Accelerating enterprise cognitive reinvention


Reinventing business from the ground up with cognitive capabilities

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Creating a functional cognitive roadmap

Executives worldwide have embraced the concepts of artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive computing. Many are already applying these and other intelligent technologies to dramatically improve capability and productivity of their businesses while redefining the ways they engage with customers, partners and others. However, they need a way to prioritize their digital intelligence investments, as cognitive computing presents virtually endless possibilities across business processes and functions. Leveraging insights from more than 6,000 senior executives across industries and regions, this study provides a clear roadmap toward full adoption of cognitive computing – function by function, across the enterprise.

Digital disruption and the cognitive era are driving organizations to reimagine the limits and boundaries delineating traditional industries and sectors. Cognitive computing and AI augment human capabilities and help generate insights for organizations to act and respond to changing market dynamics.

More than ever, organizations need to relentlessly reinvent themselves by assessing their competitive positions within evolving ecosystems, exploring new agile ways of working and addressing a basic question facing leaders: How can my organization shape the next wave of disruption rather than brace itself to be disrupted?

An emerging answer to this question is based on looking toward cognitive capabilities to redefine traditional business offerings, products, services and processes across the enterprise — from foundational back-office systems to critical middle-office capabilities to essential front-office functions. Cognitive computing not only can support radically simplified, improved and cost-effective modes of operation, but also can enable entirely new forms of innovation to dramatically expand revenue opportunities.

While traditional analytics can provide data-based insights, cognitive turns these insights into recommendations. Cognitive can understand unstructured information, such as the imagery, natural language and sounds found in books, emails, tweets, blogs, images, and audio and video files. What’s more, cognitive systems can reason through data to unlock meaning, learn iteratively to empower more informed actions and interact to dissolve barriers between humans and machines. Ultimately, these capabilities can fuel unique, essential user experiences.

It is no surprise then that the concern just a few years ago about unproven business models, experiences and enablement of emerging technology has quickly developed into widespread recognition of cognitive computing’s power. In fact, as many as seven out of ten global CEOs surveyed indicated it will play an important role in their organizations’ futures. And 50 percent said they either have adopted or intend to adopt cognitive computing within their businesses by 2019.

To analyze the impact of cognitive computing on enterprises, the IBM Institute for Business Value, in cooperation with Oxford Economics, surveyed 6,050 executives globally across 18 industries (see “Study approach and methodology” at the end of this report). We examined CEOs’ survey responses to determine their organizational priorities for applying cognitive computing across business functions. Then we analyzed responses from leaders of each function to determine their top three cognitive priorities.

From this foundation, we developed a three-phase approach that executives can adopt to explore different paths to scale new cognitive capabilities:

• Phase 1: Envision the future

• Phase 2: Ideate

• Phase 3: Incubate and scale


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Meet the authors

Rafi Ezry

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Brian Goehring

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, Associate Partner, AI / Cognitive & Analytics, IBM Institute for Business Value


Anthony Marshall, Senior Research Director, IBM Institute for Business Value