IBM launches yet another Watson business unit

October 6, 2015, 5:57 PM UTC
Watson computer at IBM in New York City
NEW YORK CITY, NY- MAY 27: IBM Watson's computer housing case. IBM's Watson computer is best known for winning Jeopardy, unaware of time constraints, while playing against humans. Some of Watson's other features are based in problem solving across many different careers. A demonstration showed how quickly Watson is able to diagnose illnesses, and provided a real life case that took doctors and nurses six days to diagnose, and only ended with the correct diagnosis because a nurse had seen the disease before. Based on symptoms input, Watson was able to correctly diagnose in minutes. The demonstration took place at IBM Watson's New York City, New York office on May 27, 2015. (Photo by Andrew Spear for The Washington Post via Getty Images.)
Photograph by Andrew Spear — The Washington Post/Getty Images

IBM is establishing yet another business unit centered on Watson, its famous cognitive computing system.

On Tuesday morning, the company announced a new consulting organization aimed at speeding up the commercialization of “cloud-delivered cognitive innovations.”

Translation: IBM is still working on ways to make money from its pricey Watson project and realize the substantial margins that the technology promises It’s a years-long effort, as CEO Ginni Rometty explained to Fortune in September 2014. “There is always a new shift coming in technology,” Fortune wrote two years before that, “and if she doesn’t help IBM become the first to discover and commercialize it, the company will lose its shirt.”

(“Cognitive computing” is another term for artificial intelligence.)

IBM (IBM) said it will invest (yes) $1 billion in the new Cognitive Business Solutions group, which will be led by Stephen Pratt, who had been an executive with Infosys, the Indian outsourcing firm, before a brief stint at TPG, the investment firm. Rometty announced the news at the Gartner Symposium in Orlando.

The news comes weeks after the official opening of a new Watson Healthcare facility in Cambridge, Mass.

Watson and its self-learning capabilities first captured the public’s attention on Jeopardy! five years ago. Since then, there’s been hardly an industry that IBM has not attacked with the technology. Last year it set up the first Watson Business Group in Manhattan.

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