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Arts and culture Updated: 21 Aug 2017

Cognitive systems: customers are no longer seeking information, they want to communicate

People are also asking machines for real-time communication and customization to build loyalty to a company or brand.

Ashok Goel is the creator of the first cognitive teacher in history: she's called Jill Watson and for six months last year answered about 10,000 questions asked by her students without flinching. She's able to do this thanks to the cognitive system based on Watson technology that Goel implanted. Imagine Discovering That Your Teaching Assistant Really Is a robot, headlined the Wall Street Journal when it featured a story about Jill.

Marta Fernández, Chairman of IBM for Spain, Portugal, Greece and Israel, highlighted the students' relationship with Jill upon discovering her true identity: many said she was the best teacher they had ever had. At the event "Welcome to the cognitive era" held in Madrid there was much talk of Watson — it was organized by IBM — and the progress of cognitive systems.

Machines like the autonomous car Olli — made with 3D-printing — that is able to speak to its occupants and is now driving around Washington was another example given by Fernández to highlight cognitive abilities and the values of analytical technology and natural language processing.

"We are entering a new era not only for technology, but also for transforming business, the economy and, ultimately, the society we are living in. A new era in which two factors are combined: on the one hand we have creativity, the desire to improve and team collaboration and, on the other hand, cognitive abilities. What we have is not artificial intelligence, but augmented intelligence that allows us to do things we would have never imagined," Fernández stressed.

In the IBM Chairman's opinion "in the new era energy is data", something that was also remarked by Jail Bellissimo, IBM Cognitive Solutions general manager. Bellissimo stressed the importance of knowing how to interpret that data. "We're collecting lots of data but the challenge is how to capture insights of all this," he stated.


Jail Bellissimo, IBM Cognitive Solutions general manager.

The latter has become an obsession for Big Blue: "Our teams are working round the clock to understand how to make sense of them, how to use them, how to leverage them against our competitors, to assist us in our decision making. Since 2014 the number of projects we have underway with data has increased by 125%, with the aim of improving the quality and effectiveness of our decision making", he added.

The general manager said that  "dark data" should not be belittled. These are unexploited data that humanity shares in the form of tweets, blogs, articles, etc. We can access this information! The big question is how we can access all this information and use it to be more competitive and make better decisions", he stressed.

These are unexploited data that humanity shares in the form of tweets, blogs, articles, etc

And how can companies leverage cognitive systems? Carmen García, cognitive engagement manager for IBM, quoted the Nobel Prize Winner in Economic Sciences, Daniel Kahneman, when talking about relationships with brands: emotions decide. 95% of the brain is emotional, and 5% is rational."Customers are the ones who decide how to approach the brands, we have lost that control," García highlighted. In the IBM representative's opinion, customers no longer want information, they seek communication.

Bellissimo gave one of their products as an example: "Staples has millions of interactions each year with customers that can interact and are accompanied throughout the entire process. The customer can ask for help and chat, making their experience fuller. At the same time, more inputs are also collected and they have a better idea about what is needed, so that they can make better decisions about which process the customer wants and how to make it simpler and more competitive," the IBM representative said.

Real-time communication and customization to win the customer were the keys highlighted by all marketing experts participating in the event.