Softchoice IBM Watson e-Book


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Unless you’ve been living in cave – although even caves are wired these days (just ask Batman) – you’ve probably heard about Watson, IBM’s latest Research Grand Challenge, designed to further the science of natural language processing through advances in question and answer (QA) technology.

Make no mistake about it. IBM didn’t develop Watson to play games. The advances in Watson’s QA technology are poised to help support professionals in a variety of critical and timely decision-making areas like health care, business intelligence, enterprise knowledge management and customer support.

In this ebook, we take a brief look at four of the areas in which Watson’s DeepQA technology holds the most promise for businesses.

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Softchoice IBM Watson e-Book

  1. 1. IBM Watson & Your Organization
  2. 2. SECTION 1:What can Watson do for you?Unless you’ve been living in cave – although even caves are to transform how computers can help people accomplish tasks in Here’s how he explains some of that potential affecting students:wired these days (just ask Batman) – you’ve probably heard business and industry.about Watson, IBM’s latest Research Grand Challenge, designed “We’re now developing new standards in science, math,to further the science of natural language processing through In this ebook, we’ll take a brief look at four of the areas in history, and English. But if you’re still stuck with the sameadvances in question and answer (QA) technology. which Watson’s DeepQA technology holds the most promise, multiple-choice testing, even if you have higher standards, beginning with the quest to better understand customers. it won’t raise people up, it will dumb things down so peopleIn February 2011, Watson competed against two human base their teaching and learning on those multiple-choiceJeopardy! champions and beat them. Quite an achievement 1: Better understanding customers tests. The technology behind Watson blows that up. It says youfor something IBM describes as a “workload optimized system could have long-answer questions, you could have the abilitybased on IBM DeepQA architecture running on a cluster of As IBM’s Craig Rhinehart describes it: “[Watson’s] DeepQA to grade lengthy paragraphs of information. If the testingIBM® POWER7® processor-based servers that hold roughly the technology provides humans with a powerful tool for their system incorporates that, it will allow teachers to test to higherequivalent of one million books.” In other words, it’s a big fancy information gathering and decision support.” standards and children to learn at higher levels. And it willcomputer – but what a computer it is. save lots of money in what is currently a very ineffective and Take customer relationship management, for instance. Imagine inefficient testing and assessment system.”Make no mistake about it. IBM didn’t develop Watson to play a tool built on DeepQA that has a deep understanding of naturalgames. The advances in Watson’s QA technology are poised language to the point where it’s able to process users’ questionsto help support professionals in a variety of critical and timely and quickly deliver and justify precise, succinct, high-confidencedecision-making areas like health care, business intelligence, answers. That’s the sort of potential descendants of Watson willenterprise knowledge management and customer support. offer organizations.In fact, Watson’s ability to understand the meaning and context Stanley S. Litow, president of the IBM International Foundation,of human language, then rapidly process the information to find sees other exciting ways DeepQA may help better understandprecise answers to complex questions, holds enormous potential “customers,” in areas like non-profit and education.1.
  3. 3. 2: Making better decisions in real-time That’s where network computing blogger David Hill sees DeepQA investments or pricing decisions or trying to understand what technology headed: customers and consumers want. How many of them depend onIn Part 1, we took a look at how the DeepQA technology behind asking the right questions and then of course selecting the rightWatson – IBM’s latest language-deciphering supercomputer – “A ‘Dr. Watson’ for the health care field is likely to be the first answer with the highest level of confidence and giving it reallycan help better understand people, whether they’re customers, commercial instance of the technology. The purpose would be really quickly?”donors or students. to complement a physician by helping examine all the evidence (such as from medical journals and medical images) for a A lot, of course. Watson’s deep analytics capability could helpBut what about going beyond understanding? What about patient to form a broader, deeper perspective. For example, businesses extract knowledge from these mountains of data andmaking, quite literally, life or death decisions? Dr. Watson could examine evidence outside of a specialist’s make more informed, quicker financial decisions. area of knowledge that may apply to the patient. IBM believes“Built into Jeopardy!,” says IBM’s Katharine Frase, “is this notion that a Dr. Watson could save lives and that seems very likely “Watson represents a way to look at all this data and extractof confidence. And in the real world there are lots of problems the case.” and [find] the key insight that’s useful,” says Iwata. “[In otherjust like that. You don’t want your doctor to guess. You want words,] the needle in the haystack.”him to have confidence in his answer before he decides to give In other words, Watson’s DeepQA technology ought to be ableyou a treatment.” to gather and assess many disparate data sources – more than In the next section we’ll look at how Watson can help any one human could – then prompt human users like doctors with collaborative decision-making, for instance helping toSome of the leading minds believe Watson’s DeepQA technology for help with missing pieces of information and finally, in the transform the customer service industry into a faster, moreand the robustness of its hardware – 90 Power 750 servers with case of medicine, arrive at the correct diagnosis. Or Watson could accurate experience.2,880 POWER7 cores, 500GB per second on-chip bandwidth provide summaries of the likely diagnoses and allow the doctorand 35 terabytes of memory and clustered disk storage – could to assess them and select the most likely one.significantly impact the way doctors diagnose and treat patients. But it’s not just healthcare where DeepQA holds promiseHow? of course. Think Finance. Enormous amounts of data are generated every day in the financial industry and as the globeImagine medical records, texts, journals and research documents becomes even more interconnected, the amount of data growsall stored in a Watson-type machine, one that doesn’t simply call exponentially. You only need to turn on the news to see thatit up the way search technology would, but rather understands what happens in China or Egypt or Indonesia can have a directthe stored information and instantly delivers answers to impact on the markets here at providers. “Business people make decisions every day,” says IBM Marketing and Communication’s Jon Iwata, “whether it’s about2.
  4. 4. 3: Transforming customer service Dr. Eduard Hovy at the University of Southern California agrees. According to, “if a financial institution could harness Watson’s computing power, it could determine the proper actions asAs we saw in Parts 1 and 2, health care and finance hold a lot of “I would like nothing more than to have my little PDA … that I they happen. Watson has the ability to analyze multiple scenarios,promise when it comes to Watson, but Dr. Paul Bloom from IBM can speak to and [if] my computer stops working I can say ‘what’s many broader, more impossible and complex than those able to beResearch believes the first level of Watson application in the happening now with my computer?’ and that it goes through the executed on the average statistical model.”marketplace will not be around either. Rather it’ll be around an web to the right little collection of knowledge, runs this [DeepQA]industry that’s judged on the same two criteria as Watson – speed technology and brings me back the answer – just the answer. I don’t Shankar Ramamurthy puts it another way.and accuracy. That industry is call centres, and Dr. Bloom believes want 7,000 pages out Google.”Watson is poised to change the business models of how those “What if you had 50 or 100 of the best economists available tocentres are set up. Will technology like Watson completely eliminate the human element you when you look at a scenario … and what if each expert had to customer service? Probably not. But nor will it be unsuccessful the ability to access not just structured data but also unstructured“It’s really going to change the way businesses interact with their because customers can’t relate to it, as some critics suggest. data – voice streams, video, etc. – and what if you could add morecustomers,” Bloom says. “Call centres are very large costs for experts as you learn and could bring them all together and respondindustries where they get literally millions and millions of phone “I can’t relate with the self-serve kiosk at the airport,” says the to events as they happen on a real time basis?”calls [and] sometimes you’ll get very frustrated because you have to Customer Contact Council’s Matt Hoffman, “but I prefer using thewait minutes and sometimes hours to get an answer.” kiosk to waiting for a relatable airline employee to check me in.” Banks, says Ramamurthy, would be able to put that power and insight to good use analyzing risk and a whole host of otherThe promise is that the DeepQA analytics technology and POWER7 4: Enabling visibility and understanding risk business challenges.processing capabilities behind Watson would enable the improvementof service quality and provide answers quickly. Unlike a well-trained “The recent financial crisis,” says financial services executive Jay In healthcare, finance, customer service, is Watson poised to solvebut decidedly human customer service representative, a Watson-type Dweck, “highlights the problem of systemic risk. One thing that all our pressing problems? Of course not. But in this age of big datarep would be pre-programmed with all the organization’s relevant causes this systemic risk is interdependency and these failures that and as with the advent of the internet before it, Watson’s DeepQApolicies, any of which could be accessed 100% accurately and, most start to go like dominoes. You could use something like Watson to technology and processing power are offering up new ways to findimportantly for customers like us, quickly. understand what creates those interdependencies.” clearer answers.One way to look at the customer service potential of Watson, says Whether an extension of banking or insurance or any business really, “When you have data and also the tools to make sense of thenetwork computing blogger David Hill is as the quantum evolution of Watson’s understanding of language, its capability to learn and its data, you can begin to make things better,” says IBM Marketingsearch engines. sheer processing power – 2,800 Power Unix processors running in and Communication’s Jon Iwata. “Business people would say we parallel – could put a significant dent in enterprise visibility – or the can make things more productive, more efficient, more optimized.“[Imagine] making Watson available via a cell phone. [It] would ability to see an organization’s processes and operations in action – Others would say we can address some real societal issues.”allow people to ask a natural language question and get back a not to mention understanding, managing and simplifying the typesvery precise answer verbally (rather than having to try to review of risks every organization continually faces.information on a small screen in text).”3.
  5. 5. SECTION 2:Digging into the technologyIBM DeepQA 2. Many experts: Facilitate the integration, application and running at 3.55 GHz. Running the Linux® operating system, the contextual evaluation of a wide range of loosely coupled servers are housed in 10 racks along with associated I/O nodesDeepQA is a massively parallel probabilistic evidence-based probabilistic question and content analytics. and communications hubs. The system has a combined total ofarchitecture. For the Jeopardy! Challenge, more than 100 16 Terabytes of memory and can operate at over 80 Teraflopsdifferent techniques are used to analyze natural language, 3. Pervasive confidence estimation: No single (trillions of operations per second).identify sources, find and generate hypotheses, find and score component commits to an answer; all componentsevidence, and merge and rank hypotheses. Far more important produce features and associated confidences, scoring With its innovative, eight-core processor design, POWER7 isthan any particular technique is the way all these techniques different question and content interpretations. An ideally suited for massively parallel processing of Watson’sare combined in DeepQA such that overlapping approaches can underlying confidence processing substrate learns analytics algorithms. POWER7 also features 500 gigabytes ofbring their strengths to bear and contribute to improvements in how to stack and combine the scores. on-chip communications bandwidth, contributing to exceptionalaccuracy, confidence, or speed. efficiency of both memory and processor utilization. And since 4. Integrate shallow and deep knowledge: Balance the use of each server packs 32 high performance POWER7 cores with upDeepQA is an architecture with an accompanying methodology, strict semantics and shallow semantics, leveraging many loosely to 512 GB of memory, the Power 750 makes an ideal platformbut it is not specific to the Jeopardy! Challenge. IBM has begun formed ontologies. for Watson’s processor and memory-hungry Java processes.adapting it to different business applications and additionalexploratory challenge problems including medicine, enterprise Harnessing POWER7 Designing Watson on commercially available Power 750search and gaming. servers was a deliberate choice to ensure more rapid adoption Watson harnesses the massive parallel processing performance of of optimized systems in industries such as healthcare andThe overarching principles in DeepQA are: its POWER7 processors to execute its thousands of DeepQA tasks financial services. That goal was a fundamental difference simultaneously on individual processor cores. Each of Watson’s between Watson and Deep Blue, which was a highly1. Massive parallelism: Exploit massive parallelism in the 90 clustered IBM Power 750 servers features 32 POWER7 cores customized supercomputer.consideration of multiple interpretations and hypotheses.4.
  6. 6. Deep Blue was based on an earlier generation of Powerprocessor technology, featuring a 30 node RS/6000 SP system,with each node containing a single 120 MHz POWER2 processor.But in addition to the regular POWER2 processors, Deep Blue’s Used by Watsonperformance was enhanced with 480 special purpose chessprocessor chips. IBM Content Analytics Natural language processing and content analysis leveraging UIMAThe same Power 750 server used by Watson is already deployedtoday by thousands of organizations in optimized systems thatprovide for both complex analytics and transaction processing. InfoSphere BigInsights “Big Data” analysis (Hadoop)A system designed for answers IBM Power Systems Thousands of parallel processesAfter four years of intense research and development by ateam of IBM researchers, Watson has demonstrated its abilityto compete on Jeopardy! against champion players, performing Workload Optimized Systems Integrated, Optimized by Workloadat human-expert levels in terms of precision, confidence andspeed. The project has advanced the fields of unstructureddata analytics, natural language processing, and the design ofworkload optimized systems. Beyond Jeopardy!, the technologybehind Watson can be adapted to solve business and societal Related Innovationsproblems—for example, diagnosing disease, handling onlinetechnical support questions, and parsing vast tracts of legal InfoSphere Warehouse DB2, Informix, Netezza ECM Solutionsdocuments—and to drive progress across industries. Aggregating and storing data and content IBM eDiscovery analyzer, IBM classification module,Watson’s ability to understand the meaning and context of IBM OmniFind enterprise searchhuman language, and rapidly process information to find precise InfoSphere Streamsanswers to complex questions, holds enormous potential to Massively parallel analysis IBM Global Business Services Research, expertise and analytical assetstransform how computers can help people accomplish tasks in Business Analyticsbusiness and their personal lives. BI, Predictive analytics and more5.
  7. 7. SECTION 3:How to get Watson working for you.Better Insight. Better BusinessAs a $1-billion solutions provider, Softchoice serves the needsof thousands of organizations in more than 40 local markets.Certified for the entire spectrum of IBM technologies, expertisedesigning and implementing even the most advanced IBMsolutions. Simply put, we believe the key to better business isbetter IT.Our Performance Management Proof of Concept and IBM SystemsConsolidation Evaluation can help you to understand the potentialof Watson to unlock the intelligence of your organization.6.
  8. 8. Better Insight. Better Business. Softchoice Fully Funded Customized Proof of Concept. Gaining insight into your business can be the key to your competitive edge. That’s why Softchoice, in partnership with Dimensional Strategies Inc., is offering eligible organizations a free Proof of Concept with IBM Cognos, an industry-leading Business Intelligence solution. Making it easier to explore the often overlooked relationships within your data is just one step toward achieving your organization’s full potential. Introduction to the Performance Management POC Our Cognos POC offering allows organizations considering implementing a Performance Management solution the opportunity to evaluate the IBM Cognos suite of tools, utilizing their own data. Experience has proven that the most effective manner to evaluate a solution is to incorporate real data from your business into the process. Our Cognos experts use a proven process for delivering POCs: • No up-front hardware or software costs to your organization • The focus is on your business solution and not the technology • The process promotes early business involvement • The approach helps you fast track requirements gathering and validation • Our methods facilitate learning/ awareness and promote your holistic understanding of Performance Management • Your investment is low, and there is minimal to no risk involved How Do We Conduct Your POC? Our team of seasoned experts will work with your organization to agree on the scope of your POC – selecting two key reports along with the specific data you want to be leveraged. We then follow our industry proven methodology and approach to accomplish the following key steps for your POC: • We first gather and understand your requirements and agree on success criterion • Design POC Solution (Architecture) • Acquire your data to be used in the POC • Build a prototype data repository • Develop two key prototype reports • Evaluate and demonstrate the POC and BI Suite with you and your key stakeholders • Build a high-level plan for leveraging POC prototypes into a full production environment What Do You Get Out Of The POC? • A low-cost, low-risk means of validating the suitability of IBM’s Cognos suite of tools for your Performance Management solution • Two key reports that provide a solid under-standing of the Cognos Suite of tools utilizing your real business data • A clear sense for the BI/DW lifecycle and key data management steps • A path to leverage and expand the POC into a full-production Performance Management solution Understand your options Softchoice believes our assessment-led approach is the key to helping our customers make the best technology decisions. To understand if this offer is right for you, connect with your Softchoice Representative today.Connect with us today.1.800.268.7638 |
  9. 9. Softchoice’s IBM Systems Consolidation Evaluation Softchoice’s IBM Systems Consolidation Evaluation Tools for Success It’s time to reinvest in your business Sample TCO Comparison — Three-Year Cumulative System Management With multiple or aging platforms to maintain, your resources are $25,000,000 Labor Server Software Costs locked into an endless cycle of purchasing and maintenance to support annual IT growth. Consolidation onto a common, modern $20,000,000 Server Hardware Costs platform can cut costs and free up resources to develop new Planned Downtime – products or services, speed time to market and increase your $15,000,000 Business Costs Power and Facilities competitive edge. Costs $10,000,000 Business Agility – Productivity Impact Business Agility – It’s time to think about the future $5,000,000 Revenue Impact Unplanned Downtime Investing now, to save in the future, can yield a high return on Business Costs investment with a strong net present value. It’s time to build a $0 Professional Services Current (As Is) Environment IBM Server Solution Fees dynamic infrastructure. Softchoice and IBM can show you how. Your analysis will project your three-year potential TCO savings with an IBM Systems consolidation solution. The example shows potential savings based on information input into the tool. Individual results will vary. Getting there: Softchoice’s consolidation methodology Aligned with the goals of Dynamic Infrastructure, we are proud to offer an IBM Systems consolidation evaluation. This process can help you cut costs and modernize your IT infrastructure, while improving performance and driving long-term financial savings. Depending on your needs, you will qualify for either a low-impact or comprehensive analysis. PHASE 1: LOW-IMPACT ANALYSIS OF POTENTIAL SAVINGS • Thirty minute phone interview with our IBM sales specialist • Immediate, quantifiable breakout data on TCO and ROI savings potential • View examples of how to reduce infrastructure costs, increase efficiency and modernize your environment • Understand how consolidating your IT environment can increase your competitive advantage Decision time: Is consolidation worth pursuing? PHASE 2: COMPREHENSIVE DEEP-DIVE ANALYSIS • Analyzes server load over 30 days utilizing in house IBM tools • Uncover consolidation opportunities in their current infrastructure • Architecting a price solution for optimized virtualization • Comprehensive TCO, ROI and cash flow analysis for proposed options To schedule your IBM Systems Consolidation Evaluation with Softchoice’s IBM sales specialist, contact your Sales Representative or send an email to Connect with us today.Connect with us today. 1.800.268.7638 | www.softchoice.com1.800.268.7638 |
  10. 10. How to achieve Dynamic Infrastructure: IBM System x & Softchoice Your business demands an infrastructure built for today’s world: one that drives down costs and is as intelligent, secure and dynamic as the ever-changing business climate. With IBM’s System x platform – featuring the IBM-unique proven chipset in its 5th generation – you can start doing business the way you need to. The latest innovations from IBM System x enable you to: • Decrease software costs and drive down hardware footprint • Be flexible & scalable: X5 architecture enables you to start Dynamic small and grow. Infrastructure® • Optimize your environment for virtualization performance • Harness industry-leading management capabilities Softchoice is Dynamic Infrastructure certified: What does that mean to you? Softchoice is one of a select few North American organizations to earn IBM’s Dynamic Infrastructure Specialty Accreditation. What does this mean? IBM recognizes us as a top-skilled partner, with cross- brand, solution-oriented skills. Softchoice takes data center and network optimization strategies from concept to reality, helping clients reduce costs, risk and maximize efficiency across their enterprise. Solution Design & Delivery >> Architecture Design >> Professional Services >> Project Management National reach. Local touch. That’s the Softchoice difference. MANC E As a $1-billion solutions provider, Softchoice serves the needs of OR IT Asset F PER thousands of organizations in more than 40 local markets across Management A SSETS North America. Certified for the entire spectrum of IBM technologies, OPTIMIZE >> Enterprise License Management we leverage our tenured team of IBM specialists to provide deep >> PC Lifecycle Services EN SP expertise designing and implementing even the most >> ITAM-as-a-Service advanced IBM solutions. Simply put, we believe the key to D better business is better IT. Technology Sourcing >> Vast HW/SW Selection >> Cost-Effective Supply Chain >> Management Reporting >> Connect with us today.Connect with us today. 1.800.268.7638 | www.softchoice.com1.800.268.7638 |