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October 27, 2016updated 07 Nov 2016 2:35pm

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty promises 1bn Watson customers as GM taps AI platform for cars

IBM's many partnerships based on Watson platform success.

By Hannah Williams

IBM has certainly seen success with its AI platform, Watson. Banks like RBS are bringing on board Watson’s chatbot, while hospitals are leveraging Watson’s AI capabilities to diagnose rare diseases. Integration with the likes of Slack, a new £200m HQ and appearances at Wimbledon, show how Watson is taking smart cognition into nearly every corner of business and everyday life.

However, for IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, consumers and business should get set to see even more of IBM Watson. Speaking to CNBC at IBM’s World of Watson event in Las Vegas, Big Blue’s chief said: “Through others, Watson is touching hundreds of millions of consumers, and by the end of next year it’ll be a billion.”

Rometty highlighted that Watson has boosted much of IBM’s success, with the company’s “strategic imperatives”, which involve Watson, reaching $32 billion in revenue.

Further expanding Watson’s scope is a new partnership with automotive giant, General Motors (GM).

In what is claimed to be the industry’s first cognitive mobility platform, GM will integrate IBM Watson into OnStar to create OnStar Go.

The IBM Watson, GM tie-up will effectively deliver in-car marketing, connecting passengers with their favourite brands. Set to be delivered in early 2017, the OnStar Go platform will combine OnStar’s vehicle connectivity with Watson APIs to deliver personalised content through the dashboard.

The aim is to provide drivers and passengers with greater efficiency and safety – for example, OnStar Go could avoid traffic when the car is low on fuel, then activate a fuel pump and pay via the dashboard.

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Other possibilities include GM’s OnStar Go tapping into Watson Personality Insights and Watson Conversation APIs to remind a working father to pick up baby food at the pharmacy a few miles before his exit, so he won’t have to leave the house again once he gets home. Watson Tradeoff Analytics, on the other hand, could be used to give a traveling foodie dining recommendations from celebrity chefs when driving in a new city.

“On average, people in the U.S. spend more than 46 minutes per day in their car* and are looking for ways to optimize their time,” said Phil Abram, Executive Director, GM Connected Products and Strategy.

“By leveraging OnStar’s connectivity and combining it with the power of Watson, we’re looking to provide safer, simpler and better solutions to make our customers’ mobility experience more valuable and productive.”


With the customer’s consent, Watson will learn the driver’s preferences, apply machine learning and sift through data to recognise patterns in their decisions and habits.

The information gathered will then allow brand and marketing professionals who work with IBM and OnStar to deliver individualised location-based interactions that directly impact their target audiences.

The capabilities will be available in more than two million 4G LTE connected vehicles and millions of GM vehicle brand app-enabled mobile devices in the U.S. by the end of 2017.

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