Posts Tagged ‘Fluid Inc’

IBM’s Watson Group Invests In Fluid And Its Cognitive Assistant For Online Shoppers

watsonpixnwqEarlier this year The Semantic Web Blog covered the launch of the IBM Watson Group, a new business unit to create an ecosystem around Watson Cloud-delivered cognitive apps and services. One of the partners announced at that time was Fluid Inc., which is developing a personal shopper for ecommerce that leverages Watson. Today, the Watson Group is pushing that partnership forward by drawing from the $100 million that IBM has earmarked for direct investments in cognitive apps in order to invest in Fluid and in helping deliver what it says will be “the first-ever cognitive assistant for online shoppers into the marketplace.”

At the previous event in January, Fluid CEO Kent Deverell discussed and demonstrated the Expert Personal Shopper, now known as the Fluid Expert Shopper (XPS). Still in development, it takes advantage of Watson’s ability to understand the context of consumers’ questions in natural language, draw upon what it learns from users via its interactions with them, and match that against insights uncovered from huge amounts of data around a product or category – including a brand’s product information, user reviews and online expert publications — to deliver a personalized e-commerce shopping experience via desktops, tablets and smartphones.

The first Fluid XPS prototype is being developed for customer outdoor apparel and equipment retailer, The North Face, which Deverell showcased at the previous event.

At the IBM event in January, Deverell painted a picture of the difference between the experience consumers have with a great sales person vs. traditional ecommerce. Good salespeople, he said, “are personal, proactive conversational,” whereas e-commerce is data-driven. He told the audience at the event that Fluid wants to combine the best of both worlds. “A great sales associate makes you feel good about your purchase,” he said, and he envisions Fluid XPS doing the same through natural conversation, the ability to learn about the users’ needs, “to go as deep as you need to and resurface and provide relevant recommendations.”

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IBM Watson Group Launches As New Business Unit

ibmwatsonevent3IBM is getting down to business with Watson. Today it officially launched its NYC-based IBM Watson Group at an event in downtown Manhattan. The new business unit – a $1 billion investment for Big Blue – will be headed up by Mike Rhodin, senior VP for Watson and formerly its Software Solutions Group lead,

“We don’t form a business unit very often. When we do it’s to make our company, our clients, our partners accelerate progress. It’s not just about business—it’s about advances that make a big difference to all of society, said IBM CEO Ginni Rometty at the event, which took place at 4 World Trade Center and also was streamed live online. Declaring us to be in the “cognitive” era of computing, in which computers will learn, get smarter over time and unleash insights from Big Data, to help us make better judgments, Rometty discussed IBM’s plan of having entrepreneurs and developers leverage its Watson Developer Cloud to create their own solutions, and the interest by some 750 companies in working with them towards those ends.

Some 2000 people will be part of the new IBM group, which will be situated in the East Village’s Silicon Alley. To drive the ecosystem it wants to see around Watson Cloud-delivered cognitive apps and services, it’s making $100 million of that billion dollars available for venture investments in startups and businesses. The fundamental idea, Rhodin noted, is pulling together the cloud, content, and investment to get things up and running. “The first thing you need in an ecosystem is the developer cloud, the second thing is…content, the fuel of a cognitive system,” he said, and you need to “make a pool of talent available to the ecosystem to accelerate its speed and build-out.”

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