IBM reported earnings Wednesday. Most revenue came from cloud services, security and data analytics. Less impressive was its Cognitive Solutions department, which includes artificial intelligence, mostly under the brand of the "Jeopardy"-winning supercomputer Watson. Brandon Purcell, an analyst with Forrester, said IBM is selling artificial intelligence as a service through what’s called an API — application programming interface — which lets companies license the power of Watson and build their own tools on top of it, like digital assistants or in-house analysis tools. But there are a lot of other tech companies, like Google and Amazon, working on similar AI products. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood asked Purcell if AI is a good business bet for IBM. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
Brandon Purcell: At the core of Watson is these dozen or so APIs that do different types of AI. So, like computer vision or natural language understanding, which you would use to build a chat bot. Those are strong capabilities, but still require very technical resources on the part of the enterprise to use them together as components for an artificially intelligent solution. One of the issues with Watson is that IBM has taken that term, Watson, and labeled all of their products Watson-this and Watson-that, and to a certain degree, that's diluted the essence of what Watson is.