Watson Works helps employers make informed decisions about workplace re-entry

IBM logo on the side of a building

IBM has announced the launch of Watson Works, a set of products designed to help employers make informed decisions about workplace re-entry, facilities management, employee health and other coronavirus-related priorities. The curated set of Watson artificial intelligence (AI) models and applications is based on capabilities in IBM Return-to-Workplace Advisor, IBM TRIRIGA, IBM Watson Care Manager, IBM Maximo Worker Insights and IBM Watson Assistant.

According to IBM, Watson Works will ingest information from in and outside of companies to help employers make informed decisions as they navigate re-entering the office amid the coronavirus pandemic. Modules in Watson Works include:

  • Managing facilities: By using real-time data such as Wi-Fi, cameras and mobile phones, Watson Works enables managers to reallocate spaces, arrange for cleaning and monitor social distancing and mask wearing among employees.
  • Prioritizing health: Using local infection trends, area regulations and voluntarily shared employee symptoms and test results, Watson Works enables employers to make evidence-based decisions about when employees should return to work and when offices should be closed.
  • Employee communication: Virtual agents and apps using Watson's Natural Language Processing capabilities help employees self-report symptoms and decide if they should report to work that day.
  • Optimizing contact-tracing efforts: Watson Works can also maximize the effectiveness of contact tracing by assisting employers as they identify individuals who should be notified of potential exposure to the virus.

"We've designed Watson Works to help businesses navigate the workplace with the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis as effectively as possible," said Bob Lord, senior vice president of Cognitive Applications, Blockchain and Ecosystems at IBM.

"Applying AI models and applications is especially useful in this context, where there are so many different sources of information businesses must consider, and every aspect of the situation is in flux," Lord continued.

IBM isn’t the first to announce coronavirus-specific tools. Earlier this week, Amazon announced Distance Assistant. The AI-based tracking system provides employees real-time feedback on social distancing in the workplace. Amazon is currently working to open-source the software and AI behind the tool so employers can create their own Distance Assistant.