IBM’s exciting new supercomputer Watson is described as a cognitive technology that thinks more like a human than a computer. As an analytic tool, Watson is a billion dollar solution for companies with large data sets. For organizations without a large IT budget, though, big data analytics also hold the potential to answer specific strategic business questions. IBM saw this as an opportunity to develop a viable business service leveraging Watson tools. The potential for shared research and solution development with NC State innovation experts presented the two organizations with a Collaboratory opportunity.
Beginning in 2007, IBM’s jStart team and the Center for Innovation Management Studies (CIMS) at NC State developed new tools using Watson’s big data analytic capabilities. The tools were able to identify a strategic business partner for a growing healthcare company. After delivering this pilot project, it became clear that there was an on-going business opportunity for IBM.
Led by Mike Kowolenko and Steve Markham, NC State Executive Education and CIMS arranged a meeting with senior marketing leaders at IBM that produced an 8-step process for defining and solving business questions using the analytic tools. The session kicked off several internal IBM projects, as well as joint engagement with external clients.
NC State Executive Education and CIMS are also offering their own clients use of the tools developed in this partnership with IBM, as well as providing training to students on big data analytics at the Poole College of Management. The Watson tools are providing valuable big data insights for executive education and student project clients including Air Products, BASF, The Clinton Health Initiative, Eastman Chemical, IVCC, Kelly Services, Lenovo, Patheon, Pentair, Ply Gem, Syngenta, and many others.