IBM Watson Conversation: Unlocking goldmine of unstructured information

Back in 2011, IBM created a flutter by debuting IBM Watson on the TV show Jeopardy and enthralled the public where the artificial intelligence defeated Jeopardy’s all time champions, not one but two.  Since then much water has flown in the AI space and the technology has got into the mainstream consumer technology with companies like Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft focusing on the AI to ease the consumer interactions on mobile devices to execute simple daily tasks. But unfettered, IBM is focusing on IBM Watson for larger picture that would ease, benefit and enrich the development of the society, simplify complicated challenges and find solutions for complex real world problems. IBM Watson is active now in areas like cancer diagnosis/treatment, traffic accident prevention, and tax reporting. I came across an article in Forbes which mentions “Manipal Hospitals in India adopted Watson for Oncology as a tool to support oncologists in making high-quality, evidence-based decisions for their patients. This study is helping reinforce the value of Watson to support clinical practice.” Not, just diagnosing ailments, IBM Watson might be your personal Chartered accountant when you next walk into a accountancy firm. H&R Block an American tax preparation company whose operations spread in various countries including Brazil and India have roped in IBM Watson, the idea is to apply the power of cognitive computing in the tax prep process.

Why IBM Watson ?

In case you are yet to figure out what is IBM Watson, take few minutes to go through the video below. The new service is available on IBM Bluemix where developers can build and train a basic system at no cost. https://youtu.be/_Xcmh1LQB9I

What is IBM Watson Conversation?

The Watson program began with Watson Dialog which enables a developer to automate branching conversations between a user and your application. While this was a good starting point, IBM soon realized there are immense possibilities by tapping into various chatters that happens in the world. The IBM Natural Language Classifier was the next progression which understood the language of short texts and made predictions about how to handle them. Then came the IBM Watson Conversation, which was able to absorb, sieve, identify and collate information from the numerous chatters happening around. IBM Watson can dig into terabytes of information and does not need to be spoon fed with tabulated fields of contents. The natural language learning intelligence can talk like a human mind and sieve the relevant data from a natural conversation type of information. This opens up an immense potential for developers in creating friendlier and ‘intelligent’ chatbots.

IBM Watson Conversation Chatbots

Chatbots are in rage now and they have much practical implications. What makes a good chatbots though is the range of questions it can tackle effectively in a less automated ‘feel’ to it. Effectively the virtual agents or chatbots are ‘fed’ data and trained to answer questions frequently asked by end users and thus automating a variety of customer interactions of an organization. With the Bluemix services based on IBM Watson, it is now possible to automate domains that were not possible to automate before. In particular, the Conversation service allows you to create natural dialogs using virtual agents and bots, reducing the pressure on customer service teams. This is made possible by combining a series of cognitive techniques: defining intents and entities and crafting dialog to simulate conversation, all in one integrated service.

What can you do with Conversation?

Watson Conversation offers a clean and simple user interface that does not require any coding or a deep understanding of machine language providing developers a way to easily build and train a bot – from simple, narrowly focused tools to sophisticated, full-blown virtual agents.
  • Build Facebook, Twitter, Slack and other messaging and social network platform bots that let users interact instantly
  • Add a chatbot to your website that can respond to frequently asked questions from customers
  • Allow customers to control your mobile app using natural language virtual agents
IBM has been actively reaching out to the developers to help them with working on the Conversation. From the Indian perspective with the on-going Digital India push by the government and the new positive outlook amidst public over various digital solutions post-demonetization, the time might be ripe for more companies to look forward to automate many levels of their user engagements and interactions, IBM Watson Conversation could be the right tool the developers could be looking at.]]>

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