RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – IBM is giving a big reboot to its “Watson” artificial intelligence suite, responding to aggressive moves and expansions being made by Microsoft, Google and other competitors while companies worldwide capitalize on opportunities being made by ChatGPT and more humanlike interactions.

“With the development of foundation models, AI for business is more powerful than ever,” said Arvind Krishna, IBM Chairman and CEO, Tuesday in IBM’s announcement of what it is calling “WatsonX.

“Foundation models make deploying AI significantly more scalable, affordable, and efficient. We built IBM WatsonX for the needs of enterprises, so that clients can be more than just users, they can become AI advantaged. With IBM WatsonX, clients can quickly train and deploy custom AI capabilities across their entire business, all while retaining full control of their data.”

Krishna just last week said IBM was going to incorporate AI more deeply across the company, including moving nearly 8,000 from humans to AI.

IBM looks to turn nearly 8,000 jobs over to artificial intelligence, CEO says

Then came today’s announcement at IBM’s annual “Think” event. Raleigh-based Red Hat will be part of other announcements coming today, IBM said in the WatsonX news.

What’s the WatsonX bundle?

Through WatsonX, IBM said customers “will have access to the toolset, technology, infrastructure, and consulting expertise to build their own — or fine-tune and adapt available AI models — on their own data and deploy them at scale in a more trustworthy and open environment to drive business success. Competitive differentiation and unique business value will be able to be increasingly derived from how adaptable an AI model can be to an enterprise’s unique data and domain knowledge.”

IBM’s Watson has been a leader in AI development but Big Blue sold Watson Health in January 2022. Then late last year came the explosion of ChatGPT.

Here’s how CNBC describes IBM’s new AI effort:

“The new offering is part of a larger strategy shift, as IBM seeks to take the lead on user-friendly platforms for companies looking to introduce AI into their business models, in part because there’s a massive shortage of human talent in the AI market.”

Product suites

WatsonX offerings will include:

  • IBM A next generation enterprise studio, expected to be generally available in July 2023, for AI builders to train, test, tune, and deploy both traditional machine learning and new generative AI capabilities powered by foundation models through an open and intuitive user interface.
  • IBM A fit-for-purpose data store built on open lakehouse architecture that is optimized for governed data and AI workloads, supported by querying, governance, and open data formats to access and share data. The solution is expected to be generally available in July 2023.
  • IBM watsonx.governance: An AI governance toolkit to enable trusted AI workflows. The solution, expected to be generally available later this year.

Training partners

In developing the new package of services, IBM is working with two other companies to provide AI training: Hugging Face and Meta’s PyTorch, an an open source machine learning framework.

  • “To benefit from the latest AI capabilities, enterprises want to build on open-source machine learning: open-source models trained on accessible datasets that can run within a secure environment with compliance and proper data governance,” said Clem Delangue, co-founder and CEO, Hugging Face. “We are excited to partner with IBM to deliver a top-tier developer experience based on Hugging Face open-source and community-driven machine learning, within the new watsonx platform offering the enterprise-readiness and trustworthiness of IBM.”
  • “Businesses today cannot get the most from their AI and cloud technologies unless these innovations are equipped to succeed at scale,” Damien Sereni, Engineering Director, Meta. “Meta has enjoyed a multi-year collaboration with IBM to address this key challenge. And, with the release of IBM watsonx, the PyTorch team at Meta and IBM are collaborating further to build a production-ready software stack for end-to-end training, fine-tuning and inference of large-scale foundation models.”

Read the full announcement online at:

IBM employs thousands of people across North Carolina, operates one of its largest corporate campuses in RTP, and owns Raleigh-based Red Hat.