Reflecting on IBM’s Watson requires going back to the 1990s. IBM have done some iconic advertising since the late 1990s. Sun became the dot behind dot com; but was out-marketed by IBM’s ownership of e-business.
For some early clients like Boxman – there were accusations that IBM was learning about the internet whilst it did the work. And for many many of the products it was little more than putting HTML lipstick on a mature technology pig.
In 2008, that seems to have changed to smarter planet as IBM looked to get involved in infrastructure from building management to traffic control.
In 2011, IBM’s Research division saw the culmination of a seven year project that had one of their supercomputers perform on TV game show Jeopardy! Marketing really started to change in 2014 in a dramatically different direction. IBM started describing a mix of machine learning and big data analysis technologies as Watson – they have their own Watson business unit. The implication being that the company had a corporate mascot. Think Tony the Tiger meets The Terminator.
The Watson you might have been sold may use similar technology principles but there isn’t a single sentient AI doing your tax returns in one milli-second and pharmaceutical research the next. Yet having talked to friends who work in a number of sectors and that’s precisely how they perceived Watson.