World of Watson 2016


World of Watson is an annual conference that offers inspiring talks from some of the world’s leading minds, numerous immersive cognitive experiences, and an introduction to how countless industries are using IBM’s Watson technology. This year’s conference was held in Las Vegas and through the use of IBM Watson in their mobile app, attendees could receive personalized agendas based on their unique interests to build an individualized experience and make the most out of the 4-day event.

The conference hosted 20,000 attendees, 120 IBM Business Partners showcasing their own cognitive solutions, 1,500+ sessions exploring cognitive analytics, and IoT, commerce, fashion, food, and much more. Over 500 IBM clients showcased their real-world experiences with cognitive solutions, and there were 200+ hands-on labs, 4 exploratory keynotes, 12 Innovation Talks, and 1 spotlight event featuring IBM’s Chairman, President, and CEO, Ginni Rometty.

This year’s curriculum surrounded Transforming Industries, Monetizing Data, Reimagining Professions, and Redefining Development, but each topic focused on how to use cognitive technologies in the new “cognitive era of computing.”

GHG had a booth in the Innovation section of the conference, in which we demonstrated two of the applications we’ve developed using IBM Watson. We featured an application which uses IBM Watson to analyze the sentiment, emotion, location, and trends of content on Twitter, as well as creates a full analysis of any Twitter user’s personality based on their own tweets. We also demonstrated how our Adverse Events Moderation tool uses natural language processing to determine whether content is an adverse event that should be reported and triaged, or just a regular post, saving time and money for our pharmaceutical and healthcare clients.

The conference was full of some of the more famous IBM Watson partnerships such as The Cognitive Dress, The Cognitive Chocolatier, Cognitive Beer, and of course Pepper, a partnership with Softbank and IBM Watson. During some of our breaks, Chris and I were able to track down some of the other health-focused booths around the conference, including a startup that created a smartphone app that uses IBM Watson to help guide the blind through their environments and shop efficiently at supermarkets and The Weather Channel’s use of Watson Ads within their smartphone app to help users predict and combat their allergy symptoms.

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While health-related IBM Watson booths were a bit sparse at the conference, Chairman, President, and CEO Ginni Rometty described health as IBM’s next “moonshot” during her keynote speech at the impressive T-Mobile Arena. Rometty’s keynote featured four speakers on how their respective industries are using IBM Watson to improve the world. The arena filled to the brim with attendees anxiously awaiting Rometty’s speech and her insight into the future of cognitive computing and what she referred to as “Augmented Intelligence.” She opened with a few jokes, putting the crowd at ease and setting the tone for the next hour and a half. While the topics she was about cover were high-science, high-tech, and future-focused, the partners utilizing the technology had found ways of applying it right now, and are creating a huge impact on their customers and in their industries.


Rometty’s first guest was Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO of General Motors, who spoke about how GM is using IBM Watson to upgrade their cars’ technology, but focused on the responsibility they have to their customers first. Barra insisted that “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” when it comes to implementing new technologies in GM cars. While they want to bring their customers the most up to date technology, they also want to ensure customers are safe while using their products, and that the tech is there first and foremost to help. She announced new updates coming in 2017 such as technology enabled to alert the driver when they’re running low on gas, where on the route they should stop, and allow them to pay from their car’s dashboard.

The next guest was John King Jr., U.S. Secretary of Education, who discussed how IBM Watson is influencing the educational system in America. The technology can help teachers match curriculum to an individual student’s specific needs, provide supplemental educational materials, and even help train the teacher on new ways of educating her students. He stressed the importance of opportunity for every student, and the idea that with IBM Watson, “we’ve got to give kids a sense of what’s possible.”

The next topic was healthcare, which Rometty stressed as one of the most important issues of the next 20 years. Professor Yitzhak Peterburg, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Teva Pharmaceuticals, and Professor Satoru Miyano of the Human Genome Center, Institute of Medical Science at the University of Tokyo discussed how IBM Watson can be used to predict and prevent a person’s next asthma attack, and to discover and develop new cancer treatments. Rometty insisted, “IBM Watson helps us tap into the vast amount of data information available, with the potential to transform the way we deliver health.” With IBM Watson, the potential in the healthcare space is really endless, but we have to overcome the fear that exists with computing and AI in order to truly impact the future of health.

On a lighter note, Alex da Kid, founder and CEO of KIDinaKORNER record label, was the final speaker and discussed how he used IBM Watson BEAT program to create the hit pop song, Not Easy. He used Watson analytics to discover music trends, listener preferences, and popularity history to determine what was needed to create the next hit song. Not Easy, featuring X Ambassadors, Elle King, and Wiz Khalifa, debuted at number 6 on the Rock Digital Song Sales Chart with 18,000 first-week downloads sold in the week ending 10/27, and reached #1 on Spotify Global Viral 50 just 5 days after its release. Da Kid joked that Rometty should appear in his next music video, garnering big laughs from the audience and a reluctant agreement from Rometty.


GHG is excited to keep working to stay ahead of the biggest healthcare industry trends and continue to work and partner with IBM Watson to create the most interesting and impactful products for our clients. We are proud to be one of the only agencies that is “With Watson” verified, a certification that proves our expertise in working with IBM Watson technology.


If you’d like to learn more about how we can help leverage IBM Watson technology, please email us at and

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