Ushering in a new era of cognitive computing systems, IBM (NYSE: IBM) today unveiled the IBM Watson Engagement Advisor, a technology breakthrough that allows brands to crunch big data in record time to transform the way they engage clients in key functions such as customer service, marketing and sales.
Now businesses can better serve consumers with a cognitive computing assistant that learns, adapts and understands a company's data quickly and easily, enabling users to have IBM Watson at work quickly, while increasing its knowledge and value over time.
Two years after its triumph on Jeopardy!, the IBM Watson Engagement Advisor is a first of a kind system designed to help customer-facing personnel assist consumers with deeper insights more quickly than previously possible. Delivered through cloud-delivered services and online chat sessions, IBM Watson will empower a brand's customer service agents to provide fast, data-driven answers, or sit directly in the hands of consumers via mobile device. In one simple click, the solution's “Ask Watson” feature will quickly help address customers' questions, offer feedback to guide their purchase decisions, and troubleshoot their problems.
Leading brands from a variety of industries are exploring how the IBM Watson Engagement Advisor can help them engage with their customers, including ANZ, Celcom, IHS, Nielsen and Royal Bank of Canada.
“We envision Watson to serve as cognitive assistant, adept and quick at making sense of Big Data, that can empower our regional bank advisors to better serve our two million wealth management clients across the region,” said Joyce Phillips , CEO Global Wealth and Group Managing Director, Marketing, Innovation and Digital, ANZ Banking Group. “We are pleased to explore with IBM how Watson can enable smarter, faster financial recommendations – yielding a customer experience that is simple, personalized and steeped in data-informed insights.”
“Around the globe and across platforms, Nielsen provides insights into what consumers watch and buy—helping marketers engage with their customers in the smartest possible way,” said Randall Beard , Global Head, Advertiser Solutions for Nielsen. “Our work with IBM's Watson is the latest from the Nielsen Innovation Lab, founded to advance research in advertising effectiveness. Watson's unique capacity to uncover insights from Big Data by simply posing a question in natural language is incredibly powerful. Using Watson, we will explore the ways we can help agencies and their client brands more effectively engage with consumers across devices and improve the impact of their advertising and media plans.”
Part of IBM's Smarter Commerce initiative, the newest capabilities of IBM Watson are a natural fit for customer engagement, based on its ability to understand the nuances of human language, process questions akin to the way people think, and quickly cull through vast amounts of big data for relevant, evidence-based responses to its human users' needs.
The rise of the digital consumer has spawned a range of online, mobile and social media commerce trends that require businesses to deepen their interactions with customers and transform the way they provide marketing, sales and service. Consumers expect brands to know them individually, deliver personalized interactions and self service options. Business leaders — such as chief marketing officers, customer experience leaders and heads of sales — must transform the way they interact with consumers to build brand loyalty and improve customer service.
The key to success: IBM Watson, via cognitive computing intellect, can proactively engage with a business' customers, and continuously learn from interactions, anytime and anywhere, providing fast, more accurate and personalized interactions.
The IBM Watson Engagement Advisor will help companies make their interactions count by knowing, delivering and learning what each customer wants – in the context of their preferences and actions – sometimes before even the customer knows it themselves. Consider these findings:
- Millennial consumers will comprise nearly half of the workforce by 2020 — using paychecks for major purchases that require top-flight customer service — from cars to insurance policies.
- There will be more than 10 billion mobile devices by 2016, outpacing the human population.
- An IBM study of 1,700 chief marketing officers (CMOs) reveals that 65 percent of CMOs feel under prepared for the growth of choices that today's empowered consumers have for communications channels, such as smart phones and tablets.
These disruptive forces are empowering consumers and raising their expectations of the entire customer experience. This power shift from the seller to the buyer is redefining the term “commerce.” Retailers were the first to face the rising power of consumers, but now companies across a wide array of industries such as telecommunications, financial services and others have begun adapting to these changes.
With the latest IBM Watson debut, IBM is enabling clients to better respond to market shifts in real-time, automate marketing, and transform the way they service their clients, while improving their global brand presence.
“IBM is taking Watson to the masses in ways that positively impact people's lives, from helping doctors improve patient care to helping businesses put consumers first, in an increasingly mobile world,” said Manoj Saxena , General Manager, IBM Watson Solutions. “Customer engagement is a natural fit for Watson, which can instantly create a strong bond between who customers are as individuals, and what types of information will help them reach their goals. The end product: users will come away feeling known as people, empowered as consumers, and engaged as satisfied brand ambassadors who are willing to champion the business to friends and family.”
This is IBM Watson; How Can I Help You?
For the first time, consumers will be able to tap into the power of IBM Watson for their everyday needs.
The IBM Watson Engagement Advisor “Ask Watson” feature greets, and offers help to, customers via any channel, be it through a website chat window or a mobile push alert, saving consumers the hassle of performing searches, combing through websites and forums, or waiting endlessly for a response about the information they need. Calling upon IBM's Big Data Analytics technologies, IBM Watson retrieves data about customers to help ensure interactions are tailored to their needs, and search its corpus of stored information for the best solutions.
Since its television debut, IBM Watson is smarter, faster and smaller — having gained a 240 percent improvement in system performance, and a reduction in physical requirements by 75 percent. The cognitive computing system can now be run on a single Power 750 server using Linux, transitioning from its original size of a master bedroom to that of four pizza boxes. Businesses that use IBM Watson can have the solution up and running quickly using a cloud computing environment, or deploy the technology on-premise.
IBM Watson transforms the customer service experience
The state of today's customer engagement leaves much room for improvement. 270 billion customer service calls are handled annually, with roughly 50 percent unresolved, which for businesses means an increase in cost per escalated call by three times. In hindsight, 61 percent of those calls could have been resolved with better access to information. It is no surprise that Forrester's 2012 Customer Experience Index revealed only 37 percent of brands received good or excellent customer experience index scores, while 64 percent received a rating of “OK,” “poor” or “very poor” from their customers.
Making matters more urgent for brands is the imminent spike in Millennial consumers who are expanding their footprint in today's economy, using paychecks for insurance, bank accounts and telecom plans. Their expectations for brands: fast and personalized service on the go, via mobile device.
The IBM Watson Engagement Advisor will also help brands manage their existing customer engagement functions, by reducing burdens faced by call and e-service centers that struggle to keep up with skyrocketing demand.
The move of IBM Watson into customer engagement positions it within IBM's Smarter Commerce initiative, which provides a range of solutions and services to better connect more than 2,000 brands to their increasingly digital customers, accelerating business to the speed of life through intelligent automation.
For more insights on this story from ANZ and Nielsen, please visit the Smarter Planet Blog at http://asmarterplanet.com/
For more information on IBM Watson, please visit www.ibmwatson.com
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