Editor’s note: IBM has gone cognitive to the core, writes Cassandra Mooshian, Senior Analyst, Cloud & Software at Technology Business research, after participating in two recent IBM events.

HAMPTON, N.H. – Cognitive was the buzzword across IBM Amplify and IBM InterConnect, the conference about cognitive solutions for marketing, commerce and supply chain practitioners and the hybrid cloud conference, respectively, that ran concurrently in Las Vegas.

By embedding Watson-backed cognitive solutions into each of the IBM cloud SaaS and PaaS solutions, IBM showcases the value of cognitive solutions, supported by use cases from well-known clients and brands that are using data integration building blocks to capture better business outcomes.

[VIDEO: Watch highlights from InterConnect at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zC1fP5QS6EY ]

There has been a noticeable change in IBM’s targeted customer persona. While large enterprise IT departments still play a critical role in IBM’s go to market strategy, line-of-business (LOB) personas, particularly the chief marketing officer (CMO), at companies of all sizes are being targeted more frequently. Further, during the InterConnect keynote, IBM’s Arvind Krishna, senior vice president, Hybrid Cloud, touted that over 4,000 startups are on the IBM Cloud.

As machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive become more mainstream and are at the core of an increasing swath of products from both IBM and its peers, the potential for vendor lock-in moves beyond technology stacks and to the data layer. IBM refers to data as “the fuel for AI” and looks to provide its customers with “trusted transactions for everything,” underscoring that “your insights are your insights” with the data control, locality and isolation features that IBM offers to its customers.

“The best cognitive could do is to bring ideas and information in an organized way, the way I want,” said Rich Lesser, CEO of The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Lesser’s statement highlights the benefits of utilizing IBM’s cognitive solutions, as well as the importance of having an end-to-end view into the consumer life cycle. This, as well as the ability of cognitive solutions to connect the right data at the right time, has resonated through Amplify events for several years, showcasing the importance of the end user’s ability to navigate a data lake without the help of Watson.

IBM Amplify 2017 overview and highlights

IBM brought together its marketing, commerce and supply chain applications and rebranded the portfolio as Watson Customer Engagement. Watson Customer Engagement was the focal point of IBM Amplify 2017. IBM executives were passionate about helping their end users, most often LOB users in these three areas, to more easily consume cognitive-backed applications that would improve their day-to-day work lives and better achieve their strategic business goals. For example, the IBM Watson Content Hub was built from the beginning as a cloud-native SaaS application because the world of digital content management is now so much more than the web and needs to be managed. Also, IBM publicized during Amplify that its Watson Marketing Assistant was launched in beta.

Another LOB-oriented application was announced at InterConnect, IBM’s Digital Business Assistant. The new solution uses Watson cognitive technology and links to data sources that LOBs care about most, like Box, Gmail and Salesforce, among others. The application proactively detects potential complications in business situations and either alerts the user and makes a recommendation, or automatically rectifies the situation. As time goes on, the application continually improves its understanding of the individual user and can make even more informed recommendations and decisions.

In addition to the product announcements and updates, IBM announced key customer wins and case studies as a testament to the successes of its Watson Customer Engagement SaaS portfolio, including:

 Retailer 1-800-Flowers.com is utilizing IBM’s Watson Customer Engagement Suite and has created a Watson-backed gift concierge for its online customers. Further, the retailer is utilizing the IBM Cloud Payment Gateway solution to help facilitate customers’ online payments.

 Women’s fashion retailer Charlotte Russe looked to IBM last year to better organize its online order processing system around the holiday season. The retailer notes Watson Customer Engagement solutions were up and running within seven months, including the implementation of the IBM Order Management solution, with the help of the IBM Holiday Readiness team.

 Performance Bicycle, a key customer highlight at both the 2016 and 2017 Amplify events, utilizes Watson Customer Engagement, particularly Watson Content Hub and Watson Customer Experience Analytics, to improve the service given to and experience for the bicycle retailer’s customers.

 Titan Company Limited, an India-based watch manufacturer, is utilizing a suite of Watson Customer Engagement solutions to expand its customer base and increase share of wallet among its existing base.

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