IBM launches consulting practice dedicated to cognitive

IBM has launched a consulting organisation to push for the value of cognitive business. The new practice draws on the expertise of more than 2,000 consulting professionals spanning machine learning, advanced analytics, data science and development.

According to IBM, the unit is supported by change management specialists to accelerate client journeys to cognitive business. IBM also said in a statement that "cognitive represents a new model of computing that includes a range of technology innovations in analytics, natural language processing and machine learning". Industry analyst firm IDC predicts that by 2018, half of all consumers will interact regularly with services based on cognitive computing.

"Our work with clients across many industries shows that cognitive computing is the path to the next great set of possibilities for business," said Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president, IBM Global Business Services.

She explained that clients know they are collecting and analyzing more data than ever before, but 80% of all the available data from images, voice, literature, chemical formulas, social expressions –remains out of reach for traditional computing systems.

“We're scaling expertise to close that gap and help our clients become cognitive banks, retailers, automakers, insurers or healthcare providers,” van Kralingen added.

A survey of more than 5,000 C-suite executives to be released this fall by IBM's Institute for Business Value (IBV) also found that  executives from the highest-performing companies place significantly greater priority on cognitive capabilities than peers in market-following enterprises.

The study finds that:

  • Insurance: 65% of industry CXOs are pursuing some form of business model innovation, but nearly 30% feel the quality, accuracy and completeness of the data in their organisation is insufficient. Nearly all said they intend to invest in cognitive capabilities.
  • Retail: 60% of retail executives do not believe their company is equipped to deliver the level of individual experiences consumers demand, and 95% say they will invest in cognitive in the next five years.
  • Healthcare: The industry forecasts a 13 million person gap in qualified healthcare workers by 2035, and more than half of healthcare industry CXOs report that current constraints on the ability to use all available information limits their confidence about making strategic business decisions. 84% of these leaders believe cognitive will be a disruptive force in healthcare and 95% plan to invest in it over the next five years.

Across all industries, executives surveyed by the IBV cite the scarcity of skills and technical expertise as the primary barriers to cognitive adoption - surpassing concerns about security, privacy or the maturity of the technology.

"Before long, we will look back and wonder how we made important decisions or discovered new opportunities without systematically learning from all available data. Over the next decade, this transformation will be very personal for professionals as we embrace learning algorithms to enhance our capacity," said Stephen Pratt, global leader, IBM Cognitive Business Solutions.

IBM currently has over more than 50,000 analytics engagements from across IBM Research, and the company’s Analytics and Watson solution units. It also has more than 30,000 professionals worldwide in the industry's foremost Strategy and Analytics consulting organisation.

The new practice will also draw upon the exclusive computational reasoning and learning capabilities of IBM Watson, which represents a US$1 billion investment to advance cognitive innovations across industries. IBM will train another 25,000 IBM consultants and practitioners on cognitive computing this fall.  Over the past year, IBM has forged strategic partnerships with Apple, Twitter, The Weather Channel and Facebook, all aimed at unlocking new data sources.