IBM Advances Watson’s Ability to Understand the Language of Business

IBM Advances Watsons Ability to Understand the Language of Business

  • Announces first commercial availability of key technologies from Project Debater;
  • Integrated into IBM Watson, the new capabilities help enable businesses to begin mining & analyzing some of the most challenging aspects of human language  

Bangkok, Thailand 11 Mar 2020: IBM (NYSE: IBM), the leader in artificial intelligence for business [1], is announcing several new IBM Watson technologies designed to help organizations begin identifying, understanding and analyzing some of the most challenging aspects of the English language with greater clarity, for greater insights.

The new technologies represent the first commercialization of key Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities to come from IBM Research’s Project Debater, the only AI system capable of debating humans on complex topics. For example, a new advanced sentiment analysis feature is defined to identify and analyze idioms and colloquialisms for the first time. Phrases, like ‘hardly helpful,’ or ‘hot under the collar,’ have been challenging for AI systems because they are difficult for algorithms to spot. With advanced sentiment analysis, businesses can begin analyzing such language data with Watson APIs for a more holistic understanding of their operation. Further, IBM is bringing technology from IBM Research for understanding business documents, such as PDF’s and contracts, to also add to their AI models.

“Major roadblocks including the lack of advances in data discovery and management technology, and especially in Thailand, the need for development of Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology for Thai to allow AI to truly understand customer interaction, are holding companies back from the benefits of AI,” said Patama Chantaruck, Vice President for Indochina Expansion and Managing Director of IBM Thailand. “While IBM as well as many leading organizations in Thailand are trying effortlessly to solve AI understanding capabilities of complex text segmentation and structure used in Thai to allow businesses to get the best out of AI, a breakthrough that will bring the ability to better understand the language of business to AI comes to reality today as IBM is integrating Project Debater into Watson.”

Today IBM is announcing that it will integrate Project Debater technologies into Watson throughout the year, with a focus advancing clients’ ability to exploit natural language:

  1. Analysis – Advanced Sentiment Analysis. IBM has enhanced sentiment analysis to be able to better identify and understand complicated word schemes like idioms (phrases and expressions) and so called, sentiment shifters, which are combinations of words that, together, take on new meaning, such as, “hardly helpful.” This technology will be integrated into Watson Natural Language Understanding this month. In addition, we are announcing a new classification technology that will enable clients to create AI models that can more easily classify clauses that occur in business documents, like procurement contracts. Based on Project Debater’s deep learning-based classification technology, the new capability can learn from as few as several hundred samples to do new classifications quickly and easily. It will be added to Watson Discovery later this year.
  2. Briefs – Summarization. This technology pulls textual data from a variety of sources to provide users with a summary of what is being said and written about a particular topic. An early version of Summarization was leveraged at The GRAMMYS this year to analyze over 18 million articles, blogs and bios to produce bite-sized insights on hundreds of GRAMMY artists and celebrities. The data was then infused into the red carpet live stream, on-demand videos and photos across to give fans deeper context about the leading topics of the night. It will be added to IBM Watson Natural Language Understanding later in the year.
  3. Clustering – Advanced Topic Clustering. Building on insights gained from Project Debater, new topic clustering techniques will enable users to “cluster” incoming data to create meaningful “topics” of related information, which can then be analyzed. The technique, which will be integrated into Watson Discovery later this year, will also allow subject matter experts to customize and fine-tune the topics to reflect the language of specific businesses or industries, like insurance, healthcare and manufacturing.

IBM, has long been a leader in NLP, developing technologies that enable computer systems to learn, analyze and understand human language – including sentiment, dialects, intonations, and more – with increasing accuracy and speed. IBM has brought its NLP technology, much of which was born in IBM Research, to market via Watson. Product such as, Watson Discovery, for document understanding, the IBM Watson Assistant, for virtual agents, and Watson Natural Language Understanding, NLP for advanced sentiment analysis, are all infused with NLP.

ESPN Fantasy Football uses Watson Discovery and Watson Knowledge Studio to analyze millions of football data sources each day during the season to offer millions of fantasy football players real-time insights. By processing natural language, Watson identifies the tone and sentiment of news articles, blogs, forums, rankings, projections, podcasts and tweets that cover everything from locker room insights to injury analysis. ESPN Fantasy Football surfaces these insights in player cards that snapshot the “boom” and “bust” potential of each player, as well as a “Player Buzz” section that summarizes the positive or negative commentary about a player.

KPMG, a multinational professional services network, and one of the Big Four accounting organizations, worked with IBM to create an AI solution based on a variety of Watson services, including Watson Natural Language Understanding. This technology makes it more effective for companies to identify, claim and retain potential R&D income tax credits. Developed by KPMG, the solution can help clients increase the amount of R&D income tax credits they capture because the Watson technology is able to review more documentation quickly while minimizing disruption to the client’s business.

In the past year, KPMG clients have seen more potential for R&D tax credits, with some projects even seeing more than a 1000% increase in the number of documents reviewed. The solution helps clients uncover more potential activities that qualify for additional income tax credits, while reducing business disruption. As a result, engineers and scientists can stay focused on innovative R&D work by spending less time on income tax compliance activities.

 “IBM has seen the excitement building with clients every day, and the breakthrough today is turning AI to the next frontier,” added Patama.



[1] IDC Market Share: Worldwide Artificial Intelligence Market Shares, 2018: Steady Growth — POCs Poised to Enter Full-Blown Production (Doc # US45334719, July 2019)

About IBM

For more information please visit IBM Watson.
For more information please visit IBM Research.
Developers and data scientists can access Watson APIs at IBM Developer.
Register here to view a webinar on the news which will be broadcast on March 18 at 1:00PM ET.