IBM’s global CEO Ginni Rometty visited Australia this week to promote the company’s Watson cognitive platform to top business and IT leaders.
Rometty was joined on stage by technology executives from the likes of Westpac, NAB, Woodside Energy, Myer and the Department of Human Services at the Thinkforum event in Sydney to discuss the potential role for cognitive and machine learning technologies in business.
About 300 of IBM’s clients were also in attendance.
The forum – and Rometty’s visit – represents the latest attempt by IBM to sell business on its Watson platform, a commercial take on technology that famously beat two human champions of the US TV game show Jeopardy in 2011.
Watson has some big names on board in Australia already. These include liquefied natural gas company Woodside Energy, whose CIO Sara Braund told the ACS Reimagination conference last year that Woodside uses Watson to “digest our lessons learned from previous projects”.
Woodside staff can ask natural language questions of Watson to tap those learnings to apply in their own projects. It is also expanding its use of Watson to help prevent plant disasters.
Two new names emerged at Thinkforum – audit firm KPMG and Melanoma Institute Australia.
KPMG already has a strategic alliance for its US and UK operations that it is using to power a transformation of its professional services capabilities with Watson.
The company this week explicitly brought Australia into that alliance.
KPMG said it intended to bring cognitive technology to its “audit and assurance services”.
“Auditing is particularly suited to cognitive technology because of the increasing challenge to tackle immense volumes of structured and unstructured data related to a company’s financial and non-financial information,” the firm said.
“Cognitive technology’s exponential data analysis capabilities can transform how critical decisions are made and the level of assurance which can be provided.”
For Melanoma Institute Australia, “IBM’s cognitive technology would aim to learn to understand skin cancers such as melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma using lower resolution clinical images, with a goal of similar accuracy to what can be achieved with dermoscopy images.”
“IBM Research will conduct retrospective analysis on de-identified data, which will include access to more than one million images from 9,000 Australian and New Zealand patients, as well as text based clinical notes in an effort to improve the accuracy of its machine learning algorithms,” the company said.
A number of business and technology executives in attendance shared some of their key takeaways on Twitter.
— Andrew Johnson (@adjohnsonACS) June 28, 2016
Every CIO and CEO at IBM #THINKForum has highlighted their biggest challenge is to better serve the customer & improving their experience
— Tim Sheedy (@timbo2002) June 28, 2016
— Katrina Read (@katsinsight) June 28, 2016
— Shannon Thomas (@shanthomas) June 28, 2016