Cognitive Computing Opportunities

You may have heard the term cognitive computing and maybe read about systems such as IBM Watson or AlphaGo developed by Google Deepmind. If you came to the conclusion that commercial opportunities for cognitive computing are years away, it is time for a re-think. Kenton Turner, European Solutions Architect at Tech Data explains why.

IDG forecasts that global spending on cognitive systems will reach nearly $31.3 billion in 2019. It has identified cognitive computing as one of six innovation accelerators that will drive digital transformation by opening new revenue streams, creating information-based organisations and changing the way work is performed. It is not alone in thinking this, with Gartner predicting that ‘smart machines’ will enter mainstream adoption by 2021, driving spending on consulting and system integration services from $451 million in 2016 to nearly $29 billion in 2021. Experience tells us that projections don’t always translate to reality. Sometimes, businesses are put off from investing in new solutions, simply because there are so many new technologies being hyped up that it is hard to know what is truly worth taking notice of.

Exploiting data for business gain
There are many sources that predict exponential data growth toward 2020 and beyond, yet all broadly agree that the digital universe is doubling in size every two years.  The ability to exploit data for business gain is a necessity in the age of digital transformation and yet organisations are finding themselves overwhelmed with data, making it incredibly difficult to process, analyse, interpret, consume and act upon that data.
Cognitive computing, where computers are no longer tied to programme algorithms that respond to a set of pre-defined questions, but are able to formulate logical responses and draw inferences by understanding natural language, can hold the key.

Compute a new class of complex problems for the information age
Cognitive computing systems can rapidly compute data, draw conclusions and develop new insights through self-learning. In short, they can process data more like humans than machines.
Why is this useful? Because it allows organisations to compute a new class of complex problems where there are many factors, variables and uncertainties. It enables information-overloaded industries, such as healthcare, finance and legal, to address dynamic and shifting situations with real-time data.
We are operating within a dynamic and information-rich culture and it will no longer be possible to create algorithms for all the situations that arise. We need computers that can think for themselves, learn from data and find hidden insights, without being explicitly programmed as to where to look.

Tech Data's European Solutions Architect, Kenton Turner

Tech Data’s European Solutions Architect, Kenton Turner

Commercial opportunities for the channel
Cognitive computing will profoundly change the way work is completed and how value is created. There are three key stages to success and each one represents opportunities for channel partners who see themselves as solution providers, rather than product resellers.
Preparing the foundation – with the market place awash with hype and new technology entrants, the channel has a critical role to play, by advising businesses in the selection of credible and proven cognitive computing technologies. This delivers opportunity in assisting organisations in sorting through the hype, designing the appropriate solution and managing the integration ensuring it operates alongside existing systems
Defining the value – the challenge for business leaders will be to identify where cognitive computing can be applied to business problems in order to improve outcomes.  Channel partners have extensive experience in delivering solutions across multiple industries and can help organisations uncover the potential areas where greater information, intelligence and automation can deliver tangible results
Managing change – technology is an enabler, but change can be hampered by outdated and outmoded business processes. Organisations that are embracing digital transformation recognise that to maximise benefits, the entire organisation needs to reframe its thinking.  Channel partners are experienced in seeing the bigger picture from many diverse client installations and can help identify the business change
necessary to maximise on any technology investment

As organisations introduce the next generation of products and services, cognitive computing has a major role to play.  New opportunities will arise for the channel as it is uniquely positioned to bring together the essential combination of technology and business understanding required to make cognitive computing projects a success.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine