What do you know about IBM Watson?

m5xbsgp3zxjvkztcxo4oDisclaimer: this article is my own opinion  and research and doesn’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, beliefs,strategies or opinions.

Hey!

A key buzzword round IBM and in the Cognitive world is ‘Watson’. Watson is a super computer which combines advanced Artificial Intelligence and analytical software for unprecedented performance as a “question answering” machine. Watson is named after IBM’s founder, Thomas J. Watson.

Basically, Watson parses questions into different keywords and sentence fragments in order to find statistically related phrases. It then searches its extensive databases for results and answers  the user’s question or input with high accuracy. The more you use Watson, the smarter it gets as it learns from your input! Watson can be used as chatbots, to improve customer service and as  cognitive analytics system amongst multiple other uses.

Here’s a great introduction video about how Watson works;

Watson originally rose to fame when it won the US show Jeopardy in 2011 against former winners Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings.  You can view the win below;

A further in-depth study can be found Here

The videos below also offer a deeper insight into Watson’s capabilities.

Today Watson offers a variety of services as detailed below;

  • Watson Conversation

Quickly build, test and deploy bots or virtual agents across mobile devices, messaging platforms, or even on a physical robot to create natural conversations between your apps and users.

  • Watson Virtual Agent

Quickly configure virtual agents with company information, using pre-built content and engage customers in a conversational, personalized manner, on any channel.

  • Watson Knowledge Studio

Teach Watson to discover meaningful insights in unstructured text without writing any code.

  • watson iconExplore Watson APIs

Use Watson language, conversation, speech, vision and data insight APIs to add cognitive functionality to your application or service.

 

Watson has been used by the medical, business and even fashion industries in a variety of ways. You can discover different cases of Watson in action – Here

Check out a tonne of more information about Watson and Cognitive on the IBM Youtube channels;

 

I hope you learnt a bit more about Watson- ‘Til the next time!

 

~Ruth Websdale

Ruth Websdale

IBM Business Consultant

 

 

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Recap: ThinkIT Week June 2016

Hi all,

Apologies it’s been a while since I posted anything- IBM work and life suddenly sped up!

Back in June I had the opportunity to get involved with ThinkIT, an event run by IBM to encourage young girls to be interested in studying STEM subjects. There is still a huge gap between the amount of women working in the tech industry and this is a subject I am extremely passionate about. A friend of mine was part of the organisation team and informed me of the event earlier in the year. Given my previous interest and work with the Girls Who Can team it was obvious to me that this was a fantastic opportunity to share my having studied IT and working in the tech industry with young girls. Various two day sessions were being run across the country at IBM sites and volunteers were needed to run the groups of girls.

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IBM ThinkIT Twitter

 The event I chose to help with was a two day event in Hursley where I would be a team lead for a group of six girls- each from different schools. There were a series of challenges and activities to work through daily with the teams, composing of a variety of themes such as web design, design thinking, team building games and marketing.

 I knew there would likely be a decent variety in what the girls would already know about IT and I was determined to make the subject accessible and fun and to get everyone in my group participating.  We began with a fun ice breaker to introduce the girls to the concept of thinking like a programmer. I had to act like a robot and have the girls instruct me how to make a jam sandwich. It was my job to be as difficult as possible to get the girls to really think about what a computer could understand and how they needed to define variables, such as what the jam was! After a bit my group really got the concept and we successfully made a sandwich.

  The rest of the first day comprised of a basic wiring session, where the girls got to learn how to wire up and then program a card reader, a fun design thinking session where we came up with a smart criminal catching concept we’d later be working on and presenting and a brilliant murder mystery challenge which focused on logic and code cracking. All the while it was my responsibility to provide support and teach the concepts to the girls. We had overall presentations given before the group sessions but I still needed to be able to answer questions and help with the challenges. I greatly enjoyed sharing my IT knowledge with the girls in such a fun and accessible way and it was great to get them thinking about future careers at IBM.

  The second day focused more on marketing and then making a mock web page for our project. We would then we having an ‘expo’ where all teams presented their ideas at the end of the day.  The girls had bonded more by the second day and a lot of great ideas were going about!

  IBM is very proud of its ThinkIT event and with good reason- it is a vital focus on the next generation and getting them interested in technical careers- especially at IBM.  After all, if young people don’t know about IBM and what we do, how will they know they can get involved with placements and schemes!

I was very keen to contribute to sharing my knowledge with the teenage girls and greatly enjoyed the event and the opportunity it gave me. This was a fantastic knowledge sharing opportunity and I had great feedback from my group who told me I should be an IT teacher because i’d make the subject fun!

I definitely hope to get involved with ThinkIT again next year!

IBM ThinkIT Twitter

ruth

-Ruth, Technical Consultant@IBM

Charge of the Smart Brigade

A group of 24 UK IBM Consulting by Degrees graduates were nominated to attend the Inspirational Development Group course at the British Army Officer Training Centre in Sandhurst, UK. The goal of the course was to take Leadership and Followership learnings from military environments, and apply the learnings in our day-to-day roles. The group was made up of CbD members from a number of different customer-facing departments at IBM, with a broad range of experiences and skills.

Arriving at the Sandhurst Military Academy – my first reaction was how out of place I felt. I never thought I would find myself under Army discipline! We were soon introduced to our course instructor, Lance Gerrard-Wright – an ex-officer in the British Army.

Introductions made, we soon found ourselves in a stretcher race, through tunnels and over fences, with logic puzzles to boot. It was these logic puzzles that were particularly time-consuming; perhaps this was a reminder to pause and reflect in the heat of the moment, before choosing a team approach.

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With thoughts turning quickly to food, we attended a meal hosted by ex-Major David Jackson. We learned about David’s genuinely unbelievable experiences in command and under fire in Iraq. There was also great interest in his experience and abilities as a leader in the most challenging of situations. Despite reminding us all about the triviality of our day-to-day challenges, I was able to learn a key leadership trait:

“Leaders will give their team an objective, not a procedure; they will allow the team to find their own way to the goal.”

We finished off with a challenge of recreating some plastic models; with teams relying solely upon verbal instruction from those who could see the models – hidden in the dark, and on the other side of the academy. Nobody thought to bring the models closer to the team base, nor to turn on the lights – there were no rules against that! This highlighted that one should use the creativity within teams to overcome obstacles.

To summarise – a great couple of days that gave myself and the other 23 attendees a few good laughs; as well as some great insight into what leadership consists of, and how we can go about applying it in our roles.

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Thanks again to our instructors Lance and George, our guest speaker David Jackson and the following participants for making this course so enjoyable:

Alan Ng, Alastair Rodgers, Alexandra Rigby, Daniel Morgan, David Burnside, Isabel Shaw, Jack Clough, Joseph Douglas, Louise Allen, Luke Pearce, Matthew Lee, Michael Murphy O’Reilly, Oliver Hassall, Parik K Makwana, Sarah Kelly, Wenna Hicks

 

Kind regards,

David Burnside

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Girls Who Can: Raising the Roof

 

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Hi all,

As you may remember, last fall I attended the Girls Who Can relaunch event at IBM Southbank. It was a fantastic networking opportunity and focused on inspiring young IBM-ers to network and make the most of their career opportunities. On the 20th May GWC ran another event ‘Raising the Roof’ which was both insightful and fun to attend! Raising the Roof was endorsed by the UK Graduate Manager who also opened the event.

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The event was kicked off by an IBM Master Inventor, who explained to the group about some of the amazing projects he’d worked on recently. Amongst these were a number of Internet of Things (IoS) projects and ones focused on renewable energy. Particularly interesting I found was a project focused around helping vulnerable people (the elderly and disabled) with their day to day lives. The monitoring capabilities of IoS allowed people to be supported whilst still feeling independent.  Projects like this make me proud to be part of IBM, looking at how we can use new technology to help improve people’s quality of life!

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Next we had a very interesting debate on Equality and whether we believed it had been achieved within IBM. The majority of the room believed that IBM had almost achieved equality, and yet we were informed just how few women old CEO positions across the globe. This raised a lot of questions as to why this was and how could we, the next generation of IBMers help resolve it.

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We were informed that a key reason for this is that when it comes to applying for a job, women feel they need to fit the majority of the listed criteria for a position whereas generally speaking a man will feel he need only fulfil a couple of them. This is something almost ingrained into society and something we as women must learn to counter as we are causing ourselves to miss out!

 

We also discussed such in the news topics as dress codes (is it legal to force women to wear heels to work – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-36265545) and gender discrimination in the workplace- something relatively few IBMers in the room had experienced, a good sign for the company!

The next section of the afternoon was a series of roundtables with execs from different areas of IBM. These roundtables were a brilliant opportunity to hear about successful women’s careers within and outside of IBM and to gain their insights as to how to personally be a success. There was a general focus on the importance of taking risks, and not simply staying comfortable but embracing the chance to move around the company and look for new opportunities.   Another key focus was on networking and how important it is to personally reach out to people and be reactive in the work place.

I think my favourite piece of advice however, came from a global marketing leader who said to

‘Be visibly fabulous!

This is a very important piece of advice as it isn’t enough to quietly do your job well, you must always be seen to be doing it! As an IBM-er it’s so important to reach outside your comfort zone and get involved with as many things as possible. We should aim to celebrate the individual and make use of the experience of those around us.

The event was then wrapped up with a talk from three Foundation Alumni who shared with us their careers thus far and the difference between being a grad and being a general employee. This was very useful for all of us attendees, the majority of whom were on graduate schemes and working out where we wanted to go next with our careers.

I left the event feeling inspired and really thinking about where I wanted to take my career at IBM. Girls Who Can is such an important team at IBM and one I’ve since applied to join! Thanks for another great event!

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~Ruth, Technical Consultant @IBM

ruth

 

Disability Support @ IBM

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Hi all,

It’s always daunting when you’re a new grad looking for a job, scheme or placement.  You wonder if you’ll be good enough for the role and how it will suit you.  This is even more pronounced when you’re disabled or have a long term medical condition.Obviously it’s illegal for a company to discriminate based on disability but it’s still pretty scary as a disabled person entering the corporate world!

I am disabled. When I was applying for graduate schemes I was so worried that my health would affect a potential employer’s view of me even though I was never asked if I was disabled in the application process. I was concerned if I didn’t mention my disability during my application that I would appear dishonest to IBM, but I also didn’t want to mention it and thereby put them off me by seeming difficult.

In the end I found myself telling IBM during my interview. The response was that I didn’t need to worry and that individual projects would work things with me there and then. This was such a relief; even though I knew I was qualified and capable for the scheme, i’d still been so scared of being judged!

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Since joining IBM,  I have undergone an occupational health assessment where IBM talked through my condition and how and when it might affect my working life. They considered my issue individually and together we came up with an agreed list of allowances which have helped me  with working here. For example, my condition is aggravated by travel and fatigue so it was decided that I would work on projects which were closer to where I lived!

That and the other couple of allowances agreed upon have made so much difference to me as a person and employee. My current project understand that on bad days I may need to work from home and trusts me to be reasonable with this. I am deeply grateful to work at such a caring company and have been so pleasantly surprised with IBM’s reaction to my disability, with after all, doesn’t make me any less capable for the grad scheme!

I hope this reassures any potential applicants with disabilities that IBM really will care about you as an employee 🙂

Until the next time!

-Ruth, Technical Consultant@IBM

ruth

 

 IBM are very open about their understanding of disabilities as you can read here; http://www-03.ibm.com/able/access_ibm/disability.html

Positive Appraisal of IBM’s disability support: http://www.disability-marketing.com/profiles/ibm.php4

 

Leading With Impact: Amsterdam

Hi everyone,

One of the best bits of being on a grad scheme is all the training opportunities and IBM is no exception. Last week I got to spend three days in Amsterdam with two of them being full days of Leading with Impact training.

A lot of my original grad intake were on this training which was especially nice as I hadn’t seen them for a while as we had been spread out across the country on our individual projects!

I flew over to Amsterdam on the monday and luckily met one of my fellow grads getting the same flight as me which was nice. Once we’d touched down and checked into our (business class!) rooms we had the afternoon to explore around which was amazing!

 

 

I hadn’t been to Amsterdam for several years so it was a really great to get to go back and look around and I wish I could have stayed up longer!

The course itself began on the Wednesday morning in the conference center at the Radisson Blu hotel.  We began with individual presentations to see people’s natural styles, strengths and weaknesses- it also worked as a good ice breaker for the group.

Throughout the first day we learnt about different leadership styles. We spent time discussing what the pros and cons were for various styles and the situations each might best be applied in. The course involved a lot of audience participation and group work and ensured that everything sank in.

 

In preparation for the course we’d all had some reading to do plus a strength finding test (https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com) to learn out top 5 strengths. These we compared and discussed in the session – unsurprisingly there were a lot of ‘achievers’ in the room! I was surprised with my results and enjoyed learning about what they actually meant and how they fitted with others.

The day was rounded off with a group dinner in the hotel and then heading back out to explore Amsterdam more!

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On the second day we made more use of roleplay and considered the application of leadership styles to tricky people and situations. We were split into groups of 5/6 and one person was a leader joining a failing project and the rest of the group took on different personas of the existing team. It was a great exercise and a good opportunity to review each other.

After this we had another teamwork task- this time it was to design and build a bridge for a city- bearing in mind stakeholders and then making your case to them.  This was a time limited task and required strong group work skills and a good sense of project direction (and a few papercuts). There were some debatable bridges produced but it was great fun and a good learning experience in terms of requirements and stakeholders.

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To wrap up the course we discussed one of the most important aspects of being an IBM-er –Eminence.  Having Eminence is the goal of every IBM employee – to become well known and respected for your unique skills or personality. We all had to consider what our best skills were and when we’d gained eminence so far on our careers.  A main focus was to become well known for one thing and be known for your specialization rather than try to do everything a bit.  For example, I have a background in SAS technology and did a placement there so that’s an unusual skill to work on and develop within IBM!

Overall, it was a full on and enjoyable training course, filled with a lot of self discovery and teamwork and I know I came out feeling like I understood how to work better on IBM projects and understanding more about how I personally worked.

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Until the next time!

-Ruth Websdale

ruth

Technical Consultant @IBM

 

Benching with the Best of them

Hey everyone!

As you’ve probably gathered from the other blogs the CbD graduate scheme works a little differently from other ones. Rather than simply doing ‘a job’, the CbD grad scheme encourages graduates to take roles with different IBM clients in a whole variety of roles for a set period of time. This means that graduates can get an amazing amount of varied experience and try a whole range of roles.

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However, it’s important to find roles which you’re interested in and which will suit your skills so it’s worth taking a little time to find the right one. When you’re in between roles you’re known as being ‘on the bench’. You can use this time for a variety things.

Primarily should be role hunting of course, IBM has its own role searching system and it’s a good chance to do more networking and see what’s going on within your own network.  Alongside role searching though,  it’s a brilliant chance to do training courses to improve your skills and also take part in ‘Give Back’ activities. IBM has thousands of courses available for its employees and you’re encouraged to embark on these to develop yourself.

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I’ve been on the bench a couple of weeks now and have been able to use the time to make some new network connections, catch up on the IBM news and do multiple training courses – mostly in testing which I hope to work in soon.  I’m also hoping to get a give back opportunity with helping run assessment centers.  Alongside that I’m also looking for a new role of course.

It’s really cool being somewhere which encourages you to be more than your job!

-Ruth, Technical Consultant@IBM

ruth