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IBM may be back in the artificial intelligence (AI) arms race as of this week. At its annual summit, Think 2023, IBM introduced Watsonx, a new data and AI platform that integrates IBM’s AI offerings while including the power of foundation models designed for the complex needs of businesses.

As IBM repeated many times at the summit, AI is the way of the future and is a key technology needed for elevating business practices, user experiences, achieving sustainability and harnessing data.

While it may seem to non-tech oriented professionals that artificial intelligence is a relatively new technology that just broke on the scene this year, Digital CxOs should know that several companies have been working with, using, and developing AI for a number of years. However, the pivotal moment that put AI back in the main public spotlight is when Open AI unleashed ChatGPT late last year; a groundbreaking open-source generative AI tool that has since taken the world by storm, opening up limitless possibilities for both business and personal use. With ChatGPT, it has really felt like the race was on for companies to put out the next bigger and better tool.

Interestingly enough, the last time I recall super smart technology (for its time) making such big waves in the media world was when IBM introduced the supercomputer Watson in a Jeopardy match, and it won against its human competitors. But over a decade later, several other companies turned their focus to machine learning and AI, especially generative AI, and have been dominating the space including Open AI, Amazon, Google, Meta and Microsoft.

However, IBM may have been thinking that slow and steady wins, because by considering the key needs of companies after many AI products have already hit the market, Watsonx appears to have some unique features incorporated that make it stand out.

Watsonx Features and Products That Can Help Transform Businesses:

  • Released for foundation models and generative AI, Watsonx provides a studio, data store and governance toolkit
  • New Watson products infused with foundation models and generative AI will also be launched for AIOps, code, digital labor, sustainability and security
  • Through a collaboration with Hugging Face, work is being done to provide the best of open-source AI models to the enterprise on the Watsonx platform
  • IBM Consulting has also announced a Center of Excellence for generative AI with over 1000 AI experts prepared to implement clients’ business transformation needs with enterprise-grade AI

IBM is Betting on AI as a Key Tool in Business Transformation and Sustainability

At Tuesday’s morning keynote presentation, IBM CEO and Chairman Arvind Krishna shared the new ways IBM will drive enterprise-ready and scalable AI, stating that AI had the ability to unlock work productivity in a massive way and allow enterprises to scale at a speedier rate than ever before.

“With the development of foundation models, AI for business is more powerful than ever,” he stated. We built IBM Watsonx for the needs of enterprises, so that clients can be more than just users, they can become AI advantaged. With IBM Watsonx, clients can quickly train and deploy custom AI capabilities across their entire business, all while retaining full control of their data.”

A large focus for this year’s conference over the last two days has been having an “AI first mindset” in business, and several companies have given use cases, with the overwhelming key issue being how to harness large amounts of data in order to transform.

To that note, NASA’s chief science data officer, Kevin Murphy, took the stage yesterday to share how NASA is putting its single largest repository of scientific data in the world to work, using IBM’s AI tools to better understand our world. Through the partnership between NASA and IBM, this data can be applied to study climate change, and make better environmental decisions.

“Next-generation AI technology can expedite our analysis and discovery of mission-critical insights pertaining to Earth and climate-related issues, enabling scientists to gain insights that can help us protect our planet,” Kevin explained.

He also mentioned that other businesses can utilize NASA’s open data platform to make their own intelligent digital transformation decisions that will be sustainable, more affordable and less harmful to Earth.  

In additional news, IBM also plans to infuse foundation models throughout all its major software products going forward.

With IBM in the AI mix, it will be interesting to see the tools and platforms companies choose to utilize in their digital transformation and sustainability efforts moving forward.