Watson Assistant brings a secure AI platform for businesses to build services on

Business / Tech
Watson Assistant

IBM has brought together artificial intelligence, the Cloud/Internet of Things and a commitment to security to help businesses transform their customer services.

A few days ago we ran a story about a new smart speaker named I•VIE with Watson Assistant. Originally we reported that the smart speaker was an IBM product and our wording made it sound as if I•VIE and Watson Assistant were the same. Well, it turns out, we got some information turned upside down. Watson Assistant is indeed an IBM product but its intent isn’t consumer facing. Furthermore, I•VIE is a product made by Chameleon Technology who are using Watson Assistant to power the smart speaker. This new B2B AI platform from IBM is a secure way for businesses to build custom services on and it’s a whole lot more interesting than a smart speaker.

IBM has brought together artificial intelligence, the Cloud/Internet of Things and a commitment to security to help businesses transform their customer services. While I•VIE is a cool product, the IBM technology that Chameleon is using can be incorporated into a broad range of business applications. Company’s like HARMAN, Airwire, Munich Airport, Kaon Media, The Royal Bank of Scotland and IFTTT, are using Watson Assistant to better engage their customers.

These partners recognize that Watson Assistant can be embedded in any “thing” – a car, hotel room, retail store, conference room and more – offering consumers new levels of convenience as they live, work and travel. It combines a deep understanding of the user with additional contextual factors such as their location and time of day to anticipate their needs and proactively make recommendations.

The contextual element is important. Watson Assistant isn’t just designed for a single location such as your home. And, it doesn’t just respond to a person’s commands and provide general information that’s publicly available. It can be accessed via voice or text interaction and gets to know a person more through each and every interaction, gaining greater insight into who they are, what makes them happy and more.

Delivered through the IBM Cloud, Watson Assistant can be infused into a new set of industry-specific applications, including two designed for automotive and hospitality, which businesses can white-label and brand as they chose. Automotive manufacturers can now offer the smart assistant experience in their vehicles, and hotels can offer guests a smart assistant experience in their rooms.

But Watson Assistant isn’t just for auto and hospitality. Watson Assistant for additional industries allows companies in retail, banking and more to create several types of conversational capabilities (skills) that are important and relevant to their business or industry. Data sharing between skills and built-in data objects, such as context (information about the business and industry) and profile (data on the consumer/customer), as well as built-in proactive capabilities, enables natural and life-like conversations that are in-context while protecting data through secure and personalized insights, which the business owns. These skills can be built upon and use any Watson Service—primarily Watson Conversation Service, Speech to Text and Text to Speech—to create a much more comprehensive conversation.

Watson Assistant can also be customized for additional verticals, and with permission from the user, these businesses can share this data through the IBM Cloud to ensure that it’s present throughout each person’s day, no matter where they go.

Leveraging AI and the Internet of Things (IoT), IBM’s new Watson Assistant gets to know users and proactively anticipate their needs, wherever they are, as they live, work and travel. Here a hotel room makes a guest feel immediately welcome by proactively addressing their needs once they step into the room. Watson Assistant can set the room temperature and make dining recommendations based on preferences from past stays, turn on the lights and close the blinds depending on the time of day and check the guest’s calendar to set a morning alarm to ensure they are awake in time for an early morning meeting. (Source: IBM)

Here’s a scenario IBM presented in which their Assistant may prove useful:

You’re on a business trip to Las Vegas. Upon landing at McCarran International Airport, Watson Assistant automatically checks into your hotel and your preferred rental car is not only ready, it has the hotel destination preprogrammed along with suggestions on where to get a latte while en-route. Nearing the hotel, the Watson Assistant in your car signals your arrival to the hotel and not only updates the room with your preferences for music, temperature and lighting, it synchs your smartphone, calendar and email with the in-room wall dashboard and checking you into the convention you’re attending.

Next, after skipping the long lines of the front desk, you use an electronic key on your phone to enter, ask Watson Assistant to check your messages and within minutes, you’re ready to begin the afternoon meetings.

While the I•VIE speaker isn’t an IBM product, IBM does say that their video is a good example of how businesses can use IBM’s Watson Assistant.

It’s an interesting concept IBM has going here and one that could benefit businesses. Not only can they integrate the tech in a multitude of ways, the tech allows for more security than using consumer AI solutions. Remember when Steven Wynn thought an Alexa device in every room was a good idea? While he had good intentions, the fact is, using a consumer-based AI opens up problems for businesses with privacy and security. IBM’s solution allows businesses to be in control and own their data and brand, and no one else.

What do you think of Watson Assistant? Let us know in the comments below or on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.

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