Watson gains traction in Brazil

IBM's cognitive computing platform is expanding in the country as large organizations showcase the technology.

IBM is moving forward with its plans to promote its cognitive computing platform Watson in Brazil, one of the main target markets for the company.

The company expects that by next year, 1 billion people worldwide will have had contact with the platform. In Brazil, a current priority is to educate prospective buyers about how the technology can improve their processes.

IBM does not disclose how many local clients are using Watson so far - but it's demonstrating what the platform can do through some of its largest clients, who have been showcasing their recent experiments based on the AI system.

Banking giant Bradesco is the first supporter of the technology in Brazil and has been piloting it for about a year. The bank has now announced that it will make its Watson-based artificial intelligence system available to end consumers.

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The platform, dubbed Bradesco Inteligência Artificial, or BIA, was only used internally until now. It enabled the bank to answer client requests about products and services, with 22,000 queries handled through the system daily.

With the added customer-facing functionality, account holders will be able to carry out tasks such as transfers, payments and mobile phone top-ups by interacting with a Watson-powered chatbot.

Insurance conglomerate SulAmérica has also been using Watson as part of its own digital transformation process and is one of IBM's first Brazilian clients to go live with a pilot of the artificial intelligence platform.

The Watson trial is specifically about SulAmérica's interactions with its independent salespeople. Here, the AI platform responds to frequently asked questions such as changing the license registration number of insured vehicles, changing client's policy details or getting a copy of a previously issued customer bill.

According to the company's chief information officer Cristiano Barbieri, the Watson pilot started earlier this year will continue for the next couple of months and so far, "some positive experiences" have been learned through the use of the IBM platform.

The Big Blue had better hope that Brazilian organizations will be resuming their investments in innovation projects. While the economic and political conditions remain unstable, 6.7 percent growth in local IT investments is expected for this year in Brazil, according to a recent IDC study.