IBM on Tuesday introduced Watson Assistant, a smart enterprise assistant that brings together artificial intelligence, cloud, and the Internet of Things (IoT) to help businesses enhance loyalty and transform customer experiences, while keeping data private and secure.
Watson Assistant can be embedded in anything: a car, hotel room, retail store, conference room, and more. It combines a deep understanding of the user with additional contextual factors, such as their location and time of day, to anticipate their needs and proactively make recommendations.
The contextual element is important, according to Kareem Yusuf, general manager of Watson Internet of Things at IBM. "Watson Assistant isn't just designed for a single location, such as your home. And, it doesn't just respond to a person's commands and provide generic information that's publicly available," he said in a blog post Tuesday. "It can be accessed via voice or text interaction and gets to know a person more through each and every interaction, gaining greater insight into who they are, what makes them happy, and more."
Watson Assistant is delivered through the IBM Cloud and can be embedded into industry-specific applications for the automotive, hospitality, retail, banking, and insurance segments, among others. Companies can even white-label and custom brand their Watson Assistant apps.
Watson apps can share data, such as context and profile information, and use that to enable businesses to proactively respond to customer needs. They can also access other Watson service, such as IBM's Watson Speech to Text and Text to Speech,to create more comprehensive conversations.
All of this combines to make Watson Assistant "the future of smart AI assistants," Yusuf said.
Others in the industry are just as excited about the launch.
"Watson Assistant is interesting because of its ability to be contextually relevant across industries. Along with IBM's deep expertise within the AI space, Assistant has a lot of variables that are setting it up for success," says Juan José López Murphy, technical director and data science practice lead at Globant, an IT and software development company.
Amazon's Alexa, he adds, "is just starting to integrate into more business settings, and it will most likely be a while before it learns to adapt to multiple industries; whereas, Assistant is already primed for use across varying people, organizations, locations, and devices. This creates a more streamlined and holistic experience for users right out of the gate."