IBM brings Watson to the masses

The company addresses a major hurdle to AI adoption by letting its platform run on any cloud platform.

IBM announced that it has made its Watson artificial intelligence platform portable in an effort to help along wide-scale deployment.

Watson services can now be run on any cloud data storage system, giving it access to a company’s data, no matter where it is stored. Previously, Watson could only work on data stored within IBM’s own cloud service. By giving clients the option to use Watson as a managed service, they can bring AI to their data, instead of the other way around.

In a press release, Rob Thomas, general manager of IBM Data and AI, alluded to a common hurdle many companies and executives believe prevent AI adoption: that data is often siloed across different cloud services, limiting the scope of what AI can be applied to in a business, or limiting its effectiveness by not giving it a rich enough pool of data to draw from.

“With most large organizations storing data across hybrid cloud environments, they need the freedom and choice to apply AI to their data wherever it is stored,” he said. “By breaking open that siloed infrastructure we can help businesses accelerate their transformation through AI.”

IBM is making this launch happen by integrating Watson services with IBM Cloud Private for Data (ICP for Data), an open data architecture platform that helps companies structure their data at the source where it is stored.

For the time being, IBM is focusing on services based on two of its flagship products: Watson OpenScale – which allows clients to manage AI and add transparency into its decision-making processes – and Watson Assistant – a tool for building conversational platforms. Later this year, the company plans to bring Watson’s Knowledge Studio (which teaches the AI platform how to interpret specific terms in unstructured text) and its natural language understanding capabilities to the ICP platform as well. Watson Studio, IBM’s AI building tool, is already on ICP for Data.