Working with IBM Watson – all types of partners needed

If you want to buy a Watson, IBM will sell you one, Lauri Saft, director of the Watson cognitive computing partner programme told the ISV convention, but that is not the way many will use it. IBM's cognitive computing system is something that many at the event had not been exposed to before, and many had questions on how it could benefit partners.

The Watson Ecosystem empowers development of “Powered by IBM Watson” applications, she told the meeting. “Partners are building a community of organisations who share a vision for shaping the future of their industry through the power of cognitive computing.”

Of considerable interest was the range of types of partner in the ecosystem, as it is composed of “complementary, interconnected partners”. The first group - App Partners actually develop cognitive powered applications powered by IBM Watson; but because it feeds on data, there is a need for Content Partners to fuel the ecosystem with content to drive cognitive applications. A Watson Content Store brings together sources of free and for-fee data, including general knowledge, industry-specific content, and subject matter expertise to help power Powered by Watson apps

On top of that, Talent Partners support application partners with developing and designing their solution. For ISVs, this helps to bridge resource gaps by providing a marketplace for skills like linguistics, natural language processing, machine learning, user experience design, and analytics. Tools and APIs provide ISVs with self-service training, development, and testing of their cognitive application, all in the cloud.

Over 1000 app partners joined in the first 60 days, she told the ISVs. And as a guide to the development area, she advised them to start by asking three simple questions:

  • What is the business value to the “Powered by Watson” application you intend to build?
  • Does the application draw upon the unique characteristics and capabilities of a cognitive offering?
  • Has the content that will fuel the application been identified and can it be secured/licensed for the intended use?