updated 06:29 pm EDT, Tue May 21, 2013
Several companies starting trials of the platform before end of 2013
Starting this year, IBM's Watson intelligent agent technology will debut as a customer service assistant. Customers of Australia's ANZ Bank, Celcom, The Royal Bank of Canada, and Nielsen can query the system for general questions related to accounts with the companies. IBM claims to have the technology ready for deployment and integrated into consumer apps for computers and smartphones in the second half of 2013.
A report at Forbes points out to IBM noting that a possible 66 percent of the 135 billion failed customer calls could be rectified with better information availability, which the company hopes to provide with the Watson technology. Watson will be provided access to the companies' databases including product catalogs, call center logs, emails, manuals, and other sources of information to give information to customers quicker than the current industry average of six to eight minutes.
Testing by IBM found a 40 percent reduction in the time it took to find key information requested by the consumer. "Watson pulls up stuff that an agent wouldn't because it is looking for semantic links, not just doing text-matching based on keywords," says Manoj Saxena, IBM Watson Solutions general manager.
The first deployments of the technology will be through email, web chats, apps, and SMS requests. Future technology will integrate voice recognition, and allow Watson to simplify phone queues for support or information at the initial testing companies.
Watson's current build is constructed of 90 IBM power 750 servers and associated networking equipment in ten full-size racks containing 2880 3.5GHz POWER7 processor cores and 16TB of RAM. Watson can reportedly process 500GB of information per second.