IBM Watson Explorer Review

Facilitates utilizing data streams that we haven't tapped into, and producing results that are tremendously useful, company-wide


What is our primary use case?

It's hard to say, simply because the team level is pretty big. 

My specific use case would be taking raw, unstructured data, and using the Watson Explorer services, the NLU, the WKS, the Knowledge Studio, to create relationships between entities, and certain phrases - they always say, their "utterances" - and produce a graphical output and an Excel-type output that coincides with that graph. The goal is to give us sentiment, and break those different entities, and subject matter, out into four different buckets.

How has it helped my organization?

It hasn't yet, it's still under PoC. What I can say is that, of all the directors and senior managers, senior directors, and SVPs that have seen the MVP, they've been quite surprised and very positive about what it's been able to produce.

What is most valuable?

On the selfish side, possibly advancing my career. 

But, really, I would say the big thing is being able to utilize some data streams that we haven't tapped into, or maybe not successfully, and being able to produce something that's tremendously useful, not just for one part of the company, but actually company-wide.

What needs improvement?

I haven't played with it in depth enough really to answer this so much. The scheduling is always tricky when you're trying to get a big group together. People are people, so unless you can improve the people, we're talking process, so...

For how long have I used the solution?

Trial/evaluations only.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's stable. We haven't been able to put it to full production though, so I can't say with absolute assurance. But in all our MVP and through our test-case scenarios, it has produced eye-opening results, results that we really didn't expect either on the good or the negative side, on both sides, really. It has been a huge eye-opener as far as what we can and should be doing, and what we shouldn't be doing but are doing.

How is customer service and technical support?

I actually can't talk about it enough. My representative that I work with, Mauricio Albuquerque, he's been amazing. Any issue I have, anything I have a question about or something I'm looking for: no more than, typically, two days. Actually, he's usually responsive that day, if not the next. It's pretty rare that I have to wait four or five days before he can find something. 

I first met with the Bluemix team to develop what we're using, and they got us connected with the Garage Services, and I haven't had to work too much with the Bluemix team because they just do the middleman segment.

But Garage Services, Sonia Cyrus, she's been amazing. Dave Bellagio has just been way over the top, and Mark Scott. The entire team, they've just been awesome.

I have to say, this is all on a PoC, and it was on some credit that we had. The credit has long expired, and they're still continuing to give me support because they have such vision. They share my vision with what this can do and how it can really change our industry, or at least within our company. They are excited about the project itself, and being able to participate in it. They are all just constantly: "Whatever you need, whatever you need. We don't care what the contract says, just whatever you need. We want to see you succeed, and we want to be part of that success. And we want to see this thing take off," just because they like it so much.

I really can't talk enough about the team.

How was the initial setup?

They were really good about telling me what to expect, what to plan for, what to have ready. Usually they require all the stakeholders to go offsite. They made an exception on this one to see how it would work out. It worked out pretty well, but apparently not well enough, because if the approval goes through, then we'll have to go offsite.

Even though they told me what to expect, I was still caught a little off-guard. The types of semi-flared emotions of who wants what, during the design/think workshop was, I won't say stressful, but you could feel tension, of the "No, this is what I want. No this is what I want!" 

So trying to hit that alignment definitely occurred much sooner in the project. It was forced at the beginning, as opposed to coming to realize in the middle that everybody had different visions, though they thought they were talking about the same thing - and causing everything to just stop. I would say that was probably the biggest thing for me as far as being prepared.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate the product at eight out of 10. It is a little bit tricky to get used to the workflow of knowing how to train Watson, what can be provided, what can't be, how to provide it, how to import, export, and what it means every time you have to add a new dictionary or something of the like.

But, like I said the people, higher than 10 out of 10.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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