The inevitable ascendance of artificial intelligence with mobile

By John Ponzo, on


When Watson answered the final question to win “Jeopardy!” in 2011, voice recognition and artificial intelligence software were just making their large consumer debut on mobile devices. At the start, these capabilities were engaging, interesting and even exciting, but sometimes more as a parlor game than a deeply functional application. Yet they’ve continued to improve at an accelerating rate and now demand our serious attention as productivity tools.

We are now half a decade on, and cognitive computing is making its presence felt at a deeply functional business level — not just at the gateway of the journey on our devices, but deep within the industry-process level. For instance, cognitive computing is having a real impact at the clinical-process level for healthcare, which was featured specifically in a segment on artificial intelligence on “60 Minutes.”

As the market evolves, cognitive will actually be essential to the next revolution of innovation. In fact, cognitive may be inevitable, even as the devices we use to access it will certainly evolve. Here’s why:

  • The world now has a sensing nervous system.
    Sensors are proliferating with the evolution of the Internet of Everything. The move to having all these sensors on a network, in our homes and in our cars creates a mind-boggling quantity of unstructured data available that demands intelligence to sort. This real-time data feed can help people and businesses focus more on the critical decisions in changing circumstances, provided it’s processed into insights quickly. This requires cognitive. The world’s nervous system needs a brain.
  • The only way businesses can deal with all the data is to process it cognitively.
    We’ve called this a world awash in data. As the Internet of Things is responsible for much — if not all — of the machine data, mobile is responsible for the majority of the people and social data. As devices become more sophisticated with sensors, the amount of data is growing. We’ve seen businesses arise from turning this data into actionable insight that helps customers in their moment of need.
  • The experience of mobile is our de facto expectation now.
    Our expectations are tirelessly increasing. The simplicity and ease of having everything at your fingertips is addictive, isn’t it? Mobile is the de facto experience we expect in everything else now, with fast, specific, personalized, easy-to-navigate and low-latency experiences. We now expect that all our experiences will be fortified by real-time intelligence that adjusts to our circumstances. For example, if that lane is closed today, does that mean I should take a different route to the airport? Will that store be closed by the time I get there in normal traffic? Which line at the sporting event is the shortest so I can get back to my seat and not miss any of the action? These questions are already being answered through mobile. We want more intelligent insights about everything we do.

The point is that unlike other technological evolutions, artificial intelligence in mobile is going to happen faster than we might expect, not because technologists will hoist these capabilities on us, but because customers are going to want them.

Learn how to build end-to-end Swift apps with Watson APIs

So, how can your company respond?

  1. Start with technology born and bred for mobile, such as Swift.
    Use Swift to build out your client-side app. In order to form a solid foundation for innovation and speed, go deep into the server side with Swift. You’ll be able to refresh your business processes by deploying innovation closest to the data source built on a fast, modern language. This will improve latency and security for users and core systems.
  2. Think connectively and learn all the tools available to you now.
    The potential for innovation has never been higher, and APIs are available to assist your digital automation with the Internet of Things. Swift packages are available every day, giving your development team the power of best-in-class search-and-discover capabilities as well as a modern language that improves development across your enterprise. Understanding the tools and the growing packages available is the first step in making groundbreaking innovations.
  3. Take advantage of the cloud as your flexible innovation launchpad for cognitive and the Internet of Everything.
    Innovation can start small and still scale quickly. The cloud, including the Swift packages and cognitive capabilities, offers the flexibility you need to start work now without making major upfront investments. You know your business will absolutely need to make sense of all the external data available, such as weather data, to deliver the next generation of experiences that clients already expect. The cloud gives you access to what you need to harness the energy of all the devices that increasingly demand and supply data to your business, so this change really is inevitable.

Join me at World of Watson, where we’ll further discuss cognitive and Swift in Session No. 3600A, “Get Ahead of the Cognitive Curve by Using Swift for End-to-End Productivity.”

About The Author

John Ponzo

IBM Fellow, Mobile Chief Technology Officer

John is an IBM Fellow, Vice President and CTO for IBM MobileFirst.

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