The cognitive revolution is here, so get out of the Stone Age

By Doug Nelson

Count me among the people wary of sudden drastic changes — experience has taught me that big-bang technology updates are inherently risky, compared to incremental updates. Having said that, it’s become increasingly important to embrace technological revolutions. These revolutions mark a radical change, and when they’re over, people look back and say, “Why didn’t I recognize this sooner?” The people who recognize them early give themselves and their enterprise a tremendous competitive advantage.

The cognitive revolution

Take the cognitive revolution, for example. Today, everyone should instinctively see, feel and recognize we are in the midst of a revolution. According to Grand View Research, the global cognitive computing market size is expected to reach USD 49.36 billion by 2025. Cognitive computing is an obvious seismic shift in technology that is driving this revolution forward. Looking back, we will note the time before cognitive as a relative stone age in our industry.

Get ahead of your competition. Embrace the revolution cognitive computing represents in your industry. I’m not suggesting you use cognitive just for the sake of using a new technology — that’s counterproductive. However, now is the time to identify problems cognitive computing may help solve as it is maturing and more readily available. Given the rapid rate of growth, it’s no wonder IBM chief executive Ginni Rometty said the company sees a USD 2 trillion worth opportunity in cognitive over the next decade. As new projects or products are introduced into your pipeline, you should consider how cognitive can change the way you design and implement your projects.

Why? Because if you don’t take part in the cognitive revolution, someone else will, and that someone will build it smarter and better. In a year or two, you might find yourself having to reimplement that same project.

Business benefits of cognitive

So, what exactly are the features of cognitive computing and how can it enhance your business?

  • Predictive analytics can use your existing historical data to predict outcomes. For example, you can use medical data to predict which people are at risk in a population.
  • Tone analysis can augment customer service. Imagine sending clients to a call center employee who is most compatible with her or his mood. Furthermore, you can track customer service employees to see how they treat people and how people treat them.
  • Cognitive search technology can replace keyword searches in e-commerce. Teach your cognitive platform about your products and services, then let it find the most appropriate product for your customers when they search.
  • Dialogs give you the ability to build smart virtual agents that chat with your customers. Believe it or not, they are simple to build and respond appropriately to conversational input.

These are just a few simple examples of how you can use cognitive computing right now based on how we use IBM Watson in our enterprise, SimpleC. There are lower-level cognitive tools at your disposal as well, which means you can build cognitive solutions on top of Watson to fit your exact use case. It will not only disrupt enterprise capabilities but also profoundly change consumer behavior.

Our company provides behavioral health tools for people with cognitive issues such as dementia. Family members are the ones providing information to help us give the care recipient the best possible solutions. We ask family members very open questions about their loved ones. Watson empowers us to take very human, nonclinical input and translate it into clinical, actionable data. That’s something psychologists did on a case-by-case basis before Watson. Now, our psychologists teach Watson how to accomplish that goal.

Here is the real-world impact to our business: previously, our psychologists spent eight hours building each recipient profile. Now, family members can build the same exact profile in 15 minutes without our psychologist proving the real-world impact of taking part in the cognitive revolution.

We can scale our customer base quickly while empowering our customers — and that’s truly revolutionary.

This article was originally published on Mobile Business Insights.