IBM has brought Watson, the artificial intelligence computing system which famously beat all human contestants on US game show Jeopardy!, together with Apple iOS and Slack. 

IBM is partnering with Slack to enable developers and enterprise users build more apps, especially for communications, particularly chat bots and conversational interfaces.

Slack says it plans to integrate Watson Conversation into its Slackbot, the company’s own customer service bot.

The two companies say the integration will improve the accuracy and efficiency of trouble-shooting on the platform.

David Kenny, general manager for IBM Watson, says: “By combining Slack’s digital workplace capabilities and Watson’s cognitive computing power, one of our first steps is to make it easier for developers to build cognitive-enabled bots and solutions for the Slack platform. From there, we think there will be many more ways we can collaborate and help propel productivity in new ways.”

Stewart Butterfield, CEO and co-founder of Slack, says: “As an increasing number of functional teams — from finance, customer support and HR, to recruiting, marketing and sales — have integrated their workflows into Slack, the degree of leverage we can gain from enhanced cognitive capabilities becomes massive.

“This partnership with IBM and the work we are doing with Watson, will accelerate our customers’ organizational intelligence and propel workplace productivity in dramatic new ways.”

IBM has also developed a new set of APIs aimed at Apple iOS. The company says IBM MobileFirst, as well as custom-built iOS apps from IBM can now embed a variety of Watson APIs as appropriate.

With Watson-enabled speech interaction, for example, professionals can now control IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps with their voice, providing easy access to deeper insights that help improve the performance of their work, says the company.

Mahmoud Naghshineh, general manager, Apple partnership, IBM, says: “Apple and IBM set out more than two years ago to help define the enterprise mobility market, ensuring that professionals could finally enjoy at work the same experience they’d come to expect as consumers.

“We are taking that to a whole new level by combining the power of Watson with the new speech framework of iOS 10. The combinations and possibilities are virtually endless.

“This is a digital assistant for the business – one that creates the next-generation professional experience tailored for enterprise processes.”

IBM has been heavily promoting the chat and speech capabilities of Watson, partly through video advertising which has included appearances by tennis superstar Serena Williams, and Bob Dylan, who was recently awarded the Nobel prize in literature, although the legendary folk singer seems less than impressed as he is yet to formally accept the award.

As well as these new deals, and its appearance on Jeopardy!, IBM Watson has been making many inroads into the world of healthcare, which could be said to be its main market.

The company has also recently reached an agreement with General Motors to integrate Watson into the automakers’ connected vehicles, which use a system called OnStar.

Phil Abram, executive director, GM connected products and strategy, says: “On average, people in the US spend more than 46 minutes per day in their car and are looking for ways to optimize their time.

“By leveraging OnStar’s connectivity and combining it with the power of Watson, we’re looking to provide safer, simpler and better solutions to make our customers’ mobility experience more valuable and productive.”

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