IBM launches business unit to make Watson a moneymaker

The newly formed Watson Business Group will be based in New York and offer cognitive computing systems and services for industry

IBM continues to commercialize its Watson-branded cognitive computing technology, setting up a new Watson business unit and unveiling two new Watson-derived services.

IBM's new division, called the Watson Business Group, will develop and run cloud-based cognitive applications and services on behalf of enterprise users. IBM will invest US$1 billion in the group, including $100 million earmarked to invest in startup companies building applications that run on the Watson Developer cloud.

Michael Rhodin, who most recently served as a senior vice president for the IBM Software Solutions Group, will head up the Watson Group. The new business unit will be staffed by 2,000 IBM professionals and will be headquartered at 51 Astor Place in Manhattan, in New York's "Silicon Alley" district.

IBM first developed Watson as a research project to compete against humans on the game show "Jeopardy," answering obscure trivia questions across a wide range of topics. Watson can formulate answers to specific questions using a range of source materials in various formats, honing its answers by, in effect, learning how to formulate the best responses through trial and error. This approach is known as cognitive computing because it involves a computer emulating a biological brain to learn about its environment.

Watson won its three-day round of "Jeopardy" in 2011, and IBM has since worked to commercialize Watson technologies, with varying degrees of success.

The company has set up Watson as a cloud service that enterprises can use to tackle difficult problems. The company has set up Watson-like systems to serve as virtual assistants to help doctors diagnose medical conditions and to help retail businesses more effectively interact with their customers. Both the media analysis company Nielsen and Royal Bank of Canada use Watson services.

Last year, the company also launched the Watson Ecosystem, a development platform that allows third-party businesses and entrepreneurs to build their own cognitive computing applications.

The Watson Group's headquarters will provide labs where clients can learn about and test cognitive computing systems. It will also offer workshops and seminars on the benefits of cognitive computing.

The business unit will consist of four groups. One of those, called the IBM Watson Innovation group, will concentrate on core research and development.

The IBM Watson Transformation team will focus on business development, looking for specific markets that would be a good fit for cognitive computing. The IBM Watson Implementation team will be in charge of deploying Watson services and systems on behalf of IBM clients. And the IBM Watson Engagement team will handle sales and marketing.

In addition to launching the new business unit, IBM unveiled a number of new Watson-related services.

One offering, the IBM Watson Discovery Advisor, is an advanced search service designed for educational institutions and pharmaceutical and publishing companies.

The other new service is IBM Watson Analytics Advisor, which can field natural-language questions from users and look for possible answers in large data repositories located in the cloud.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags ClustersHigh performanceIBMhardware systems

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

D-Link PowerLine AV2 2000 Gigabit Network Kit

Learn more >

ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q – Reign beyond virtual world

Learn more >

D-Link TAIPAN AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Modem Router (DSL-4320L)

Learn more >

Crucial® BX200 SATA 2.5” 7mm (with 9.5mm adapter) Internal Solid State Drive

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >


Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

ASUS VivoPC VM62 - Incredibly Powerful, Unbelievably Small

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Best Deals on Good Gear Guide

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.


Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?