Watson captured the public imagination about artificial intelligence after defeating two world champions of Jeopardy in 2011 and bringing home a $1 million prize. Since then, Watson has gained new cognitive capabilities through APIs like Alchemy (for sentiment analysis), Tone Analyzer (for personality and emotional analysis), and Conversation (a chatbot builder) and has been embedded in hundreds of applications across financial services, healthcare, retail, and digital.
“Chances are, you’ve interacted with Watson without realizing it,” says Alyssa Simpson, Program Director at IBM Watson. “Many companies hide their use of the technology for competitive reasons. They don’t want a competitor to buy it too.”
However, Simpson did share a number of major brands who are publicly using Watson, ranging from retailers like Macy’s to financial services like H&R Block. Here are 10 companies you might not have realized were using IBM technology.
1-800-Flowers was a launch partner when Facebook first announced their Bots for Messenger platform. While their Facebook chatbot was built by Assist, the company also features a handy virtual assistant named Gwyn who lives on the website and helps you shop for gifts across all of company’s retail brands, including Fruit Bouquets and Popcorn Factory.
Most companies struggle to provide consistent, excellent customer service. The struggle is even more real when you’re the largest US department store chain, operating over 700 locations where customers shop for hundreds of thousands of different products. To help address the relentless flow of consumer inquiries, Macy’s leverages Watson to power OnCall, a support bot currently live at several store locations.
3. H&R Block
“I love doing taxes,” said no one ever, not even tax preparers. To streamline the process, H&R Block integrated Watson to improve client communications, identify deduction opportunities, and optimize your filing strategy. Unlike a human, Watson can analyze all 74,000 pages of tax code, keep up with changes in the law, and calculate the best approach for saving money.
Constantly re-ordering office supplies for your team is not fun, which is why Staples invented their recognizable red Easy button. Install this button in your office and simply say “Order me more blue pens” and Watson will process your spoken input and get your order under way.
Customer support tickets cost companies a few dollars apiece to tackle, which adds up when you have hundreds of thousands of customers or more. Even simple support requests, such as switching account information, can be costly when fielded by human experts. By building a customer support bot named Ava with Watson technologies, Autodesk was able to reduce support costs by 90% and resolve issues in minutes and not hours.
Chevrolet’s “Find New Roads” campaign is all about promoting positivity and creative thinking when confronted with challenges. In fact, the brand decided to reward positive consumers by teaming up with Watson to analyze Facebook or Twitter posts and reward the most positive people with free gas.
When it comes to shopping, one size does NOT fit all, but trying to find the perfect fit for your specific needs can be daunting when you’re culling through hundreds of options. Partnering with Watson, the North Face is driving forward “cognitive retail” which matches you automatically to the appropriate options based on a quick survey about your intended usage. No longer do you have to decide whether you need a jacket with synthetic, down, or cotton insulation. Just outsource the decisions to Watson.
Personal finance and investments can be confusing. Alvi, a bot powered by Watson, matches you to the right investment education by learning about your personality. You can speak to Alvi directly and answer a few personal questions, ask Alvi to deduce your personality by analyzing your social media accounts, or simply pick from four main investor profiles: Cautious Optimist, Trend Spotter, Advice Seeker, and Researcher.
9. Rare Carat
The average cost of an engagement ring is well over $4,000, so you do not want to buy the wrong one. While simple options like color and shape might be easy to decide on, you might be confused by how to evaluate qualities like “fluorescence” or certification method. Luckily, Rocky, a handy bot that lives on the Rare Carat website, leverages Watson to guide you in your important purchasing decision.
As the fourth most-used mobile app in the United States, the Weather Company was an attractive acquisition target for IBM, which bought them in October 2015. Having a popular consumer app has enabled IBM to launch Watson Ads, an interactive ad unit that allows consumers to chat with branded content via voice or text. Brands like Toyota, Campbell Soup Company, and Unilever have already jumped on board.