Everyone loves a good underdog story, a tale of a comeback kid who overcomes supposedly insurmountable odds to reach his lofty goal. One thinks of Rocky Balboa taking Apollo Creed to the final bell, or the young, doe-eyed United States hockey team beating the Russian behemoth in the 1980 Olympics. In the corporate world, one cannot help but think of International Business Machines Corp (IBM), the multibillion dollar technology company that has in the recent past been playing second fiddle to companies like Apple, Google/Alphabet, Amazon, and Microsoft. Though it remains to be seen if IBM will be able to successfully change these tech giants, they have recently taken the necessary steps to challenge their growing competitors.
Reports indicate that IBM is reorganizing and reenergizing its Global Technology Services branch, despite a series of job cuts at the department. This has come largely via the advent of Watson, IBM’s premier A.I. product. In order to keep up with the ever expanding A.I. and cloud based product lines—areas in which IBM has struggled to keep up with competitors like Apple, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft—IBM has rolled out several Watson products to meet various customer needs. These products, as one article puts it, “will help IBM’s customers minimize disruptions such as server outages or switching malfunctions by predicting problems before they occur and automatically taking corrective action.” Thus IBM’s solution to computer network problems is to fix them before they even happen—all using the A.I. capabilities provided by Watson.
According to Bart van den Daele, the general manager of IBM Global Technology Services in Europe, Watson can “broker additional cloud capacity or rerouting network traffic around bottlenecks.” IBM conditioned the platform by uploading data “from more than 10 million past incidents… The system is now handling more than 800,000 incidents a month.” Another added benefit is the system’s ability to understand and parse helpdesk queries. This function eliminates menial, low-level IT tasks, freeing up IT employees to focus on bigger, more critical ones.
Several large customers have noticed the usefulness of IBM’s Watson, including the famous Wimbledon Championship at in London, England. According to IBM’s report, “IBM Watson is analyzing what it really takes to make a great Wimbledon champion, based on new insights that are provoking social media discussion among fans.” The system is able to analyze data via a twitter hashtag to evaluate tennis champions based upon six different criteria. The result according to the post can be used to “spark debate on social channels like Twitter, Facebook and the Telegraph.co.uk.” thereby boosting traffic and web reach.
Though IBM is often seen in the tech world as a weakening brand that clings to its former dominance in the computer and software world, it is taking giant steps in improving its influence in A.I. and the cloud. Perhaps one day the world will wake up and see IBM standing over its competitors—much in the same way Rocky Balboa stood over Apollo Creed after the shocking first round knockdown.