Citi turns to IBM’s Watson to answer elemental ‘big data’ challenge

6 March 2012

Citi has entered into an agreement with IBM to investigate potential uses of its Big Blue Watson supercomputer for ‘big data’ customer information mining activities.

The IBM Watson supercomputer, which famously beat out human competitors to win £1m on the US Jeopardy quiz show last year and was a keen chess player in an earlier iteration, has the ability to analyse the meaning and context of human language interactions, to learn, and to turn this information into useful data with its powerful computing capabilities. Citi is obviously hoping that this combination of ‘big data’ analysis, with volumes growing exponentially under the impact of social media, and ‘big compute’ power will help it advance its customer interactions and risk assessments, while improving the experience and profitability of each customer.

The exploratory deal means Citi will this year evaluate the ways that IBM Watson technologies can get useful information by processing vast amounts of up-to-the-minute financial, economic, product and client data.

"We are working to rethink and redesign the various ways in which our customers interact with money,” said Don Callahan, Citi's chief administrative officer and chief operations & technology officer. “[The collaboration] with IBM will explore how we can use the Watson technology to provide our customers with new, secure services designed around their increasingly digital and mobile lives."

According to Mike Rhodin, senior vice president of IBM Software Solutions: “The collaboration could help empower financial professionals to make better business decisions and represents a significant step in delivering on the promise of personalised banking in the 21st century.”

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