IBM: The Watson Experience

Yesterday, we visited the IBM office in San Francisco. We spoke with Patt Cronin who is the General Manager of IBM Global Technology Services. Patt is responsible for over 40,000 employees and for managing a budget of $3.4 billion for applications, leading edge technologies, infrastructure, and processes that enable world-class services by IBM. Our cohort was able to learn about Patt’s role at IBM and her career path and mobility throughout the company. Patt asked two sales associates who are recent college graduates to assist her in the Q&A session with our cohort so that we could gain a better understanding of how these two employees got started at IBM and their roles in the company today.

After learning about what IBM does and the different roles of the employees that we were so fortunate to meet, our cohort was taken into the Watson Experience Center to watch a presentation about how IBM Watson functions. We were taken into a dark room with a screen surrounding the entire space. Focused on health care and cancer, the use-case that we were shown involved a doctor needing to diagnose her patient. Without Watson, the doctor would have had to read through hundreds of pages of medical records and research for just one patient to determine the right course of treatment. With the help of Watson, however, the doctor was able to get summarized information on the patient’s medical history and up-to-date data on the most appropriate treatments. Watson also allows you to compare different treatments and filter the effects based on a variety of characteristics to be able to come to the best conclusion. Ultimately, this entire process takes only a few minutes to help doctors make better informed decisions.

We also were shown the suite of APIs that are connected to IBM Watson and experienced an interaction with a chat bot that was created using these coded building blocks. We learned that Watson is a learning machine, meaning that after key words are inputted for Watson to recognize, the system will automatically learn other phrases and words surrounding the topic for better performance. Overall, our experience at IBM was extremely rewarding considering we spoke with one of IBM’s top executives and were fortunate enough to partake in the Watson Experience that many IBM employees never even get a chance to see.

To learn more about Watson click here.