IBM is releasing pre-trained AI algorithms for its IBM Watson engine across nine different industries: agriculture, customer services, human resources, supply chain, manufacturing, building management, automotive, marketing, and advertising.
The move comes amid growing recognition by vendors that industry-vertical specific and largely pre-trained AI solutions are crucial to uptake of the emerging technology; training algorithms to offer predictive analytics is intensely challenging.
IBM AI: The New Industry Offering
IBM’s Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture gathers data from various sources – such as weather, IoT enabled tractors, and satellite imagery – for predictive insights on an app. Farmers will be able to use AI vision recognition, for example, to identify pest and disease damage or to forecast weather to inform decision-making.
Watson Discovery for Salesforce, meanwhile, gives real-time information about a caller to customer service agents and possible solutions to requests. IBM cited its study of 5,000 executives, 77 percent of whom said they see customer satisfaction as a key value driver for AI.
For advertising, IBM’s WEATHERfx Footfall with Watson is an ad engine that provides ads based on shifting weather. One of the users of the platform has been Subway, which IBM said increased its traffic by 31 percent and a 53 percent reduction in campaign waste.
IBM also introduced AI functionalities to help HR to sift through resumes, flagging potential applicants based on data decisions and addressing potential human bias in hiring decisions, and the IBM’s Requirements Quality Assistant, which looks to help companies such as autonomous car developers to work through engineering requirements.
Its Watson solutions will also help manufacturers of industrial equipment stablise costs; let commercial buildings “talk” to building managers to reduce energy costs and analyse occupancy; assist marketing teams in building better campaigns; and collate information to provide companies with better insights of global supply chain issues.
“As data flows continue to increase, people are overwhelmed by the amount of information we have to act on every day, but luckily the information explosion coincides with another key technological advance: artificial intelligence,” said David Kenny at IBM Cognitive Solutions.
“AI is the tool professionals need to take advantage of the data that’s now at our fingertips and tailoring general AI for specific industries and professions is a critical way to enable everyone to reach new potential in their daily jobs.”
More Than Three Quarters of Businesses Considering AI
IBM cited research from its Institute for Business Value that said 82 percent of businesses are now considering AI deployments. The report cited the top five functions, as identified by CEOs, as where AI provides the most value in the workplace. These were information technology, information security, innovation, customer service, and risk.
Meanwhile, the bottom five drivers of value for AI in the workplace were cited as human resources, procurement, manufacturing, finance, and supply chain.
Last week, a report from the World Economic Forum said job roles that utlise human skills such as creativity, critical thinking, persuasion, and negotiation — such as customer services, sales and marketing, software and app development, and ecommerce and social media — will see increasing demand as AI continues to replace human workers.
“Routine-based, middle-skilled white collar roles”, including data entry clerks, telemarketers, door-to-door sales workers, and even lawyers were at the greatest risk becoming “redundant”, meanwhile.
Big Blue Builds on Salesforce Partnership
IBM also announced Watson Discovery for Salesforce, an AI powered insight engine that brings together Salesforce’s customer-focused platform with Watson’s neuro-listic programming.
Watson Discovery for Salesforce uses AI-powered search, natural language processing, semantic understanding, and machine learned relevancy to resolve customer issues.
IBM said the tool will bring together information from PDFs and text documents to create a single cloud-based data source. It will then combine information plus past customer issues to better serve customers.
The new offering, which will be unveiled on Tuesday at Salesforce’s Dreamforce event in San Francisco, is the first product available on Salesforce’s AppExchange.
Last week, Big Blue announced the AI Fairness 360 toolkit, an open-source library that provides developers with the means to test AI models for biases, released on GitHub.
It also released a new IBM Cloud-based software service, which aims to make the “black box” of third-party algorithms transparent so that organisations can manage AI systems from a variety of industry players.
It gives enterprises explanations in digestible terms that show what factors were considered in the decision to highlight biases, while also showing what level of confidence it has in the judgement.
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