Mark Davison is at IBM Think in San Francisco – In line with what chairman, president and CEO Ginni Rometty said in her keynote about the world now moving into Chapter 2 of digital transformation, IBM is making its AI technology Watson available anywhere and on any cloud.
Watson Anywhere is designed to help businesses deploy Watson AI wherever their data resides – public, private or on-premises, or cloud vendor – and to accelerate their move to Chapter 2.
“Businesses have largely been limited to experimenting with AI in siloes due to the limitations caused by cloud provider lock-in of their data,” says Rob Thomas, GM, IBM Data and AI. “With most large organisations storing data across hybrid cloud environments, they need the freedom and choice to apply AI to their data wherever it is stored. By breaking open that siloed infrastructure we can help businesses accelerate their transformation through AI.”
Watson is designed to help organisations put AI to work to improve the performance of business. With a clear set of applications, development tools, machine learning models, and management services, Watson is helping organisations around the world mine their data, predict outcomes, and automate time- and resource-sensitive processes.
The announcements at Think advance this mission by providing businesses with a simpler, faster way to build, deploy and run AI models and applications across any cloud. With these tools in place, organisations can:
* Run IBM Watson services, including Watson Assistant and Watson OpenScale, on any cloud. Through their integration with IBM Cloud Private for Data (ICP for Data), Watson and Watson OpenScale can now be run any environment – on premises, or on any private, public or hybrid-multicloud – enabling businesses to apply AI to data wherever it is hosted. Businesses will be able to infuse AI into their apps, regardless of where they reside. The flexibility this affords can remove one of the major obstacles to scaling AI, since businesses can now leave data in secure or preferred environments and take Watson to that data.
* Deploy AI software that automates business processes for improved efficiencies and performance. New AI digital automation software is designed to enable clients to discover patterns in their business processes and then create AI-embedded programs to automate certain workflows.
Though the use of AI continues to gain attention in business, many organizations are still challenged to move projects forward. According to an MIT Sloan report, 81% of enterprises do not understand what data is required for AI, or how to access it. And a recent Gartner study found that, “data and analytics leaders continue to struggle with the complexity, time to integration and cost implications of their data integration projects, thereby inflating their schedules and delivery costs with multiple cycles of revised project scope.”
Still, the vast majority of enterprises, 83%, according to the MIT Sloan report, agree that driving AI across the enterprise is a strategic opportunity.
ICP for Data is IBM’s open, cloud-native information architecture for AI that comes integrated with advanced data science, data engineering and application-building capabilities, and is designed to help companies uncover previously unobtainable insights from their data. Openness is at the core of ICP for Data, for which Watson Studio is a key part. For example, based on internal study, 85% of Watson users are using open source languages and frameworks like Python, R, and TensorFlow, within the Watson family.
At the heart of today’s announcements is a series of new Watson microservices built for ICP for Data that are based on open source technologies and easily scalable across cloud environments. Based on the open-source Kubernetes technology, these new Watson microservices can be run on IBM Cloud, and other public, hybrid or multi-cloud environments.
The microservices are based on the following software solutions:
* Watson OpenScale: IBM’s open AI platform for managing multiple instances of AI, no matter where they were developed – including the ability to explain how AI decisions are being made in realtime, for greater transparency and compliance.
* Watson Assistant: IBM’s AI tool for building conversational interfaces into applications and devices. More advanced than a traditional chatbot, Watson Assistant intelligently determines when to search for a result, when to ask the user for clarification, and when to offload the user to a human for personal assistance. In addition, the Watson Assistant Discovery Extension enables organisations to unlock hidden insights in unstructured data and documents.
The new Watson services join Watson Studio and Watson Machine Learning, among other services, which are currently available on ICP for Data. Later this year, IBM will bring additional Watson services to ICP for Data, including Watson Knowledge Studio and Watson Natural Language Understanding.