IBM plans to bring Watson to Brazil

The company is pitching its machine-learning project to local businesses.

IBM is promoting Watson, its artificial intelligence technology, to Brazilian businesses and making plans to expand its local research and development team to support the predicted growth.

The company's senior vice president and head of the Watson Group, Mike Rhodin, was on a Brazil tour last week to meet potential customers to offer Watson and its big data services. Rhodin has been quoted in the national media as saying that IBM sees Brazil as a promising market with a plethora of opportunities, particularly within financial services.

Watson is designed so that business users can literally ask questions — about medical diagnoses for conditions in healthcare, or the likely outcome of business decisions — on the spot.

IBM has a large R&D facility in Hortolândia, in the countryside of São Paulo, which has been involved in the development of Watson's technology, alongside other labs in the US, Canada, Japan, and Europe.

Rhodin told newspaper Valor Econômico that the Brazil R&D center might well be the base of a future team focused on Watson-specific services. If interest in the Watson technology turns into real deals in Brazil, local applications in Portuguese language will make sense since Watson can currently analyze data in English only.

The Brazil promotion of Watson is part of IBM's $1bn bet to turn its big data/cloud service hybrid into a Siri-like functionality for business.