IBM Watson to take on customer service big data problems

Question mark and magnifying glass

IBM is to launch a cloud-based version of its artificial intelligence system Watson to allow organisations to quickly process big data sets and boost the way they deal with customers.

The IBM Watson Engagement Advisor will allow customer service staff to answer queries from their clients using insights gleaned from their company's big data stores.

The system will use a mix of cloud-based services and online chat sessions to provide faster responses to customer questions, and help brands cope with the deluge of queries they receive each day through social media sites and web portals, for example.

The system's "Ask Watson" feature is designed to greet customers that interact with website chat windows or mobile push alerts, and will draw on Big Blue's big data analytics technologies to guide them through purchases or troubleshoot problems.

Big Blue claims Watson's cognitive computing capabilities will allow it to pick up on the nuances of the human language to communicate and learn from customers, and respond to their questions in personalised way.

"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," said IBM in a statement.

"Consumers expect brands to know them individually, deliver personalised interactions and self service options, [meaning] business leaders must transform the way they interact to build brand loyalty and improve customer service."

The vendor claims using Watson could help companies improve customer service by reducing the number of queries that go unresolved.

Manoj Saxena, general manager of IBM Watson Solutions, said the customer service environment is a natural fit for artificial intelligence systems.

"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," explained Saxena.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.