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Have a cool idea that could change the world? You can build an app for that – Ask Watson

March 25, 2014 No Comments

Featured article by Jerry Cuomo, Chief Technology Officer for IBM WebSphere

Incredible things are happening with mobile computing today. What used to be considered a futuristic scene from a movie is now a reality, and what’s more: you don’t have to be an action hero to spark amazing feats with the push of a button. You can be an everyday consumer who pays a parking meter with your phone while on the go, manage your wallet or simply stay connected to friends; all from your mobile device.

Yet when we step back and look at how companies have evolved their mobile strategies to keep up with changing technology, we find many still don’t have a strategy in place to take handheld innovation to the next level. Instead, they’re taking a tactical, siloed or reactive approach to mobile computing, rushing to build a new app with their existing web platform. With a clear vision, designing for mobile with a mobile platform can provide opportunities to generate real business value.

And with many of the apps available out there today handling simple tasks, there is a gap in the marketplace for a more intelligent breed of app that can provide advice and uncover insights for professionals and consumers, anywhere and anytime. Imagine how intelligent apps can transform industries laden with data – a healthcare app that can quickly help doctors identify rare diseases based on global data. Within this unmet need in the mobile marketplace lies great opportunity.

With the new era of cognitive computing in full momentum, developers now have an opportunity to build sophisticated apps that can change the way consumers and businesses use data to interact with data on their mobile devices. We’re talking about a new class of apps that can ingest and discover insights from vast amounts of information, interact with people in ways that are more natural to us, and learn to improve how they assist us.

The combination of mobile and cognitive computing gets context and insights straight to the end user in real time.  This new class of cognitive apps is very real, and part of a new wave of mobile innovation that will transform industries, professions and how decision-makers solve business and society’s greatest challenges.

Picture this scenario: You’re planning a weeklong camping trip in the Galapagos Islands and you need to ensure the equipment you buy will keep you and your family safe from wind and rain. A retail app powered by cognitive computing will survey data about the islands climate, weather patterns and types of critters lurking on land and sea that time of year — and essentially act as an expert that will provide advice and recommend the right gear for your trip. This app concept isn’t the projection of a futurist; it’s real. Fluid, Inc. is tapping IBM’s cognitive computing breakthrough, Watson, to develop an expert personal shopper called Fluid XPS (sm) that’s intended to be the ultimate shopper’s GPS and planned to hit the market later this year.

This is exactly the type of transformational technology that today’s app developers can tackle with insights driven by cognitive computing. And to bring these ideas to life, IBM recently launched an ecosystem comprising developers, start-ups, tech companies and venture capitalists who share a united vision for taking app-building to the next level.

With this growing opportunity for developers at hand, IBM recently announced the IBM Watson Mobile Developer Challenge, a first-of-its-kind worldwide competition to promote development of mobile consumer and business apps powered by IBM Watson. Over the next three months, developers and entrepreneurs are being invited to share their best ideas and come together to build mobile apps into prototypes that have the ability to transform business and society. At the end of the competition, three winners will join the IBM Watson Ecosystem program and work with IBM Interactive Experience to receive design and development support to help build a commercial app.

In a world where it’s second nature for us to ask our phones for the latest sports scores, locate the nearest pizza shop or check a bank account, it’s time to shift our focus to a more intelligent class of apps; apps that can engage with us anywhere and anytime, understand context, and help us tackle complex challenges in ways that allow us to live better and work smarter.

To all the creative thinkers, entrepreneurs and developers out there, how do you see mobile and cognitive apps transforming our world? All you need is an idea – submit it today at and you can make it a reality.


Jerry Cuomo is an IBM Fellow, VP WebSphere Strategy, and Chief Technology Officer for WebSphere. He provides technical direction and strategy for the WebSphere portfolio and leads the technical executive leaders and development teams to cultivate the future of WebSphere. He is engaged in a number of advanced technology studies for the next generation of innovation and value and is focused on several areas including cloud, mobile, virtualization, and workload optimization and advanced analytics.


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