In her keynote speech at the conference plenary session, Rometty, chair, president and CEO of IBM, noted that the vast majority of service providers are already digital.
“Digital is the foundation, but I don’t think it’s the destination,” she said, adding that cognitive business represents “another shift right in front of you that is actually going to be more transformative and more disruptive”.
Taking a digital business and adding digital intelligence creates a cognitive business—making it both a business model and a technology model, which can mean the “ultimate competitive advantage”.
“The advantage will go to those who can really get and extract the insights of all the information we all talk about.”
The huge amounts of data available to institutions can create a competitive advantage, but they need a cognitive technology to understand the insights in the data, and to extract them.
This is “far more than artificial intelligence”, Rometty said, adding that it can “interact in natural language”, that it has domain knowledge, and extensive knowledge of various areas.
She added: “I don’t think of them as artificial intelligence, I think of them as augmented intelligence, and therefore, these systems learn.”
She suggested that this will be an “era of systems that understand—they reason and they learn”, and that we need such systems as “the challenges are too big otherwise”.
Citing the success of the financial services industry in leading the innovation charge in the past, she suggested that it could pioneer new technologies that can be applied in other industries. She said: “Financial services can and will lead the world into this era.”