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IBM Launches Watson Mobile 'Big Data' Developer Challenge
Posted February 26, 2014
IBM Launches Watson Mobile 'Big Data' Developer Challenge
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By Jennifer LeClaire. Updated February 26, 2014 1:21PM

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Big Blue wants business users and consumers to put the power of its Watson supercomputer in the palms of their hands. At Mobile World Congress, IBM launched the IBM Watson Mobile Developer Challenge, a global competition to encourage developers to create mobile consumer and business apps powered by Watson.

Using natural language processing and analytics, Watson processes information akin to how people think, representing a major shift in an organization's ability to quickly analyze, understand and respond to big data. Watson's ability to answer complex questions with speed, accuracy and confidence is transforming decision making across a variety of industries, including health care, financial services and retail.

Driven by the newly formed IBM Watson Group, the competition aims to encourage developers to spread cognitive computing apps into the marketplace. IBM's Watson cognitive computing innovation represents a new class of services, software and apps that analyze, improve by learning, and discover answers and insights to complex questions from massive amounts of disparate data.

"The power of Watson in the palm of your hand is a game-changing proposition, so we're calling on mobile developers around the world to start building cognitive computing apps infused with Watson's intelligence," said Mike Rhodin, Senior Vice President of IBM Watson Group. “Imagine a new class of apps that deliver deep insights to consumers and business users instantly -- wherever they are -- over the cloud. It's about changing the essence of decision making from 'information at your fingertips' to actual insights."

Reading Millions of Pages of Data

IBM pointed out that it’s second nature today for people to simply tap an app to stay connected, make a purchase or manage a bank account. Through the IBM Watson Mobile Developer Challenge, the company said mobile developers can take advantage of Watson’s ability to understand the complexities of human language, "read" millions of pages of data in seconds and improve its own performance by learning.

Here are the details: The global challenge invites mobile developers and entrepreneurs to share their best ideas to build and develop mobile apps into prototypes over the next three months. Three winners will join the Watson Ecosystem Program. The winners will work with Big Blue’s recently launched global consulting practice, IBM Interactive Experience, to receive design consulting and support from IBM experts to develop a viable commercial app.

The IBM Watson Mobile Developer Challenge is part of the IBM MobileFirst strategy to help businesses of all sizes adopt mobile technology to better engage with customers and extend their businesses to new markets. The news also represents the latest milestone in the IBM Watson Group's goal of fueling an ecosystem of developers, startups, tech companies and venture capitalists building Watson-powered apps as part of the Watson Developers Cloud.

Commoditizing Advanced Analytics

We turned to Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, to get his thoughts on the contest. He told us it’s a smart move from IBM because the farther into commercial markets it can deliver Watson-based services, the better it is for both the platform and the company.

“It’s also indicative of the growing importance of sophisticated analytics. You might call it the commoditization of advanced analytics that takes what was not very long ago a multimillion-dollar specialized system and provides access to that information by one of the most common technologies on the market today,” King said.

“Technology that just a few years ago would have been considered virtually unreachable or inaccessible to the vast majority of people is coming down in price and becoming easier to use and easier to access. So it’s a pretty cool announcement and I’ll be interested to see what sort of users developers come up with," he added.

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