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IBM Watson Heads to Harvard, MIT to Explore Future of Technology in Business 2011.11.01

BOSTON and CAMBRIDGE, Mass., USA - October 31, 2011 - IBM (NYSE: IBM) today will conduct a Watson symposium with Harvard Business School (HBS) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management. The event brings together some of the brightest academic minds to collaborate on the use of advanced analytics, like those powering Watson, to transform the way the world does business.

Speakers at the IBM Watson University Symposium and Challenge from left to right: Eric Brynjolfsson, MIT; Andrew McAfee, MIT; Alfred Spector, Google; Rod Brooks, MIT and David Ferrucci, IBM.

Courtesy of IBM

BOSTON and CAMBRIDGE, Mass., USA - October 31, 2011

IBM (NYSE: IBM) today will conduct a Watson symposium with Harvard Business School (HBS) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management.

The event brings together some of the brightest academic minds to collaborate on the use of advanced analytics, like those powering Watson, to transform the way the world does business.

Follow the event and share your thoughts at #IBMWatson on Twitter and the live blog at www.asmarterplanet.com  

As part of the symposium, teams of students from Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan School of Management will test their skills in a demonstration of IBM Watson's question answer (QA) capabilities in an exhibition game of the television quiz show Jeopardy!

MIT Sloan School of Business Students (left to right) Ari Oxman, Gautham Iyer, RJ Andrews, are preparing to challenge Harvard Business School and IBM Watson in a Jeopardy! exhibition match.

IBM Watson's advanced analytics capabilities can sort through the equivalent of 200 million pages of data to uncover an answer in 3 seconds.
The students and professors from both universities will spend the day talking about how Watson and other technology breakthroughs will change the financial services industry.

Courtesy of IBM
The commercialization of Watson technology means that today's students will require new skills when they enter the job market

As future leaders in a wide range of industries and entrepreneurial ventures, students will need to combine business skills and knowledge with advanced analytical techniques to compete successfully in the world economy.

For example, when applied to the banking and finance industry, Watson-like technologies can uncover hidden patterns in data that can rapidly identify market trends, and provide deep, integrated risk analysis.

This provides financial services professionals a more accurate picture of their market positions, helping them find opportunities, better assess risk and hedge their financial exposures.

Harvard Business School Professor of Management Practice Willy Shih.
Courtesy of IBM
According to Harvard Business School Professor of Management Practice Willy Shih, "the symposium and demonstration match will expose our students to cutting-edge technology in deep analytics, an area of increasing importance in business applications, healthcare and the life sciences, enterprise knowledge management, finance, and anywhere there are vast amounts of unstructured data."

Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist, MIT.
Courtesy of IBM
"Great technology companies like IBM are converting the seemingly impossible into reality these days, to the point that it's hard to keep up with all the digital innovations and their business implications," said Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist, MIT.
"So we thought it would be a good idea to devote a day to discussing them, and also to see them in action. We're going to spend the morning talking computer science and economics with the world's leading experts in these fields, then cheer our students on against Watson in the afternoon. I predict at least a second place finish for the MIT team."

Actress Lisa Kudrow presents IBM's Watson with "Person Of The Year" at the 15th Annual Webby Awards.
 IBM's Watson computer system is congratulated by actress Lisa Kudrow, host of the 15th Annual Webby Awards, after Watson was honored as the "Person Of The Year" at the Webby Awards gala in New York City on June 13, 2011.
The Webbys honor excellence in over 100+ Website, Interactive Advertising, Online Film & Video, and Mobile & App categories.
Courtesy of IBM
By bringing this technology to the university community, IBM aims to inspire the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs
to think about the possibilities of Watson technology and the skills they will need to take advantage of the opportunities Watson creates.

Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan School of Management are the first two business schools where IBM will co-host a Watson symposium.

A team of researchers from MIT led by Boris Katz, principal research scientist at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, contributed code to QuestionAnswer capabilities in Watson.

Harvard Business School's Professor Shih recently wrote an in-depth case study of Watson that will be used by MBA students in the school's required first-year course Technology and Operations Management.

Bernard Meyerson, vice president of innovation and academic programs, IBM.
Courtesy of IBM
"From business to health care, education and the government, the advanced analytics capabilities of IBM's Watson will transform how the world works," said Bernard Meyerson, vice president of innovation and academic programs, IBM.
"Our goal in demonstrating Watson's capabilities and sharing our insights from its development is to challenge the leaders of tomorrow to leverage this new capability in ways we've yet to imagine."

Watson, named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, is a computing system created by IBM scientists that understands the meaning and context of human language, can analyze data and learn correlations between data.

The technology introduces the capability to sift through an equivalent of about 1 million books or roughly 200 million pages of data to provide instant answers to questions posed to it.

IBM's Watson computer system is congratulated by actress Lisa Kudrow, host of the 15th Annual Webby Awards, after Watson was honored as the "Person Of The Year" at the Webby Awards gala in New York City on June 13, 2011.
The Webbys honor excellence in over 100+ Website, Interactive Advertising, Online Film & Video, and Mobile & App categories.
 Courtesy of IBM
With the amount of digital information being generated, stored, processed and analyzed each year growing at an exponential rate - and affecting every industry segment - there is a real need for businesses and governments to use business analytic technology like Watson to make sense of large amounts of data to achieve their goals.

Higher education institutions like Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan School of Management benefit from the ability to work with companies to create curricula that incorporate real-world case studies and brings breakthrough technology like Watson into the classroom.

IBM's Academic Initiative brings technological advances, IBM scientists and executives to universities around the world to talk about how these innovations are transforming the way human beings work and live.

The goal of this initiative is to engage and inspire students while teaching the next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs the skills they need to build a smarter planet.

Erik Brynjolfsson

Erik Brynjolfsson is the Schussel Family Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business, Chair of the MIT Sloan Management Review, and the Editor of the Information Systems Network.

Erik Brynjolfsson
Courtesy of IBM
His research and teaching focuses on how businesses can effectively use information technology (IT) in general and the Internet in particular.

He directs the MIT Center for Digital Business, a research initiative that analyzes the business uses of the Internet and other digital technologies.

His projects include a study of information worker productivity, a valuation method for intangible organizational capital, calibration of increased product variety online (a.k.a. the "long tail"), and an analysis of optimal pricing strategies for digital goods. In related work, Brynjolfsson is assessing how investments in computers and networks alter economic growth, industry structure, and labor demand.

Dr. David Ferrucci

Dr. David Ferrucci is a Research Staff Member and leader of the Semantic Analysis and Integration Department at IBM’s T.J. Watson’s Research Center.

Dr. David Ferrucci
Courtesy of IBM
His team of 25 researchers
focuses on developing technologies for discovering knowledge in natural language and leveraging those technologies in a variety of intelligent search, data analytics, and knowledge management solutions.

In 2007, Dr. Ferrucci began exploring the feasibility of designing a computer system that can rival human champions at the game of Jeopardy!

Dubbed DeepQA, the project focused on advancing natural language question answering using massively parallel evidence-based computing.

After winning support, Ferrucci has set and driven the technical agenda for Jeopardy!
The IBM Challenge

The Watson computer system designed by Ferrucci’s team represents the integration and advancement of many search, natural language processing, and semantic technologies.

Following the Jeopardy! challenge, Dr. Ferrucci and his team plan to apply DeepQA technologies to areas like medicine, government, and law to drive advances in computer supported intelligence and decision-making.

Andrew McAfee

Andrew McAfee, a principal research scientist at MIT, studies the ways that information technology (IT) affects businesses.

Andrew McAfee
Courtesy of IBM
He is the co-author with Erik Brynjolfsson of the ebook Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy, which will be published in the fall of 2011.

He has also held appointments as a professor at Harvard Business School and a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

In 2008, he was named the 38th most influential person in IT.

Dr. Bernard Meyerson

Dr. Bernard Meyerson is IBM's Vice President for Innovation, and leads IBM’s Global University Relations Function.

Dr. Bernard Meyerson
Courtesy of IBM
In 1980, Dr. Meyerson joined IBM Research as a staff member, leading the development of silicon: germanium and other high performance technologies over a period of 10 years.

In 1992, he was appointed the sole IBM Fellow that year by IBM’s Chairman, this being IBM’s highest technical honor, and in 2001 he was appointed Chief Technologist of
IBM’s Technology Group.

In 2003 he assumed operational responsibility for IBM’s global Semiconductor R&D efforts, leading the world’s largest semiconductor development consortium – members being IBM, Sony, Toshiba, AMD, Samsung, Chartered Semiconductor, and Infineon.

Most recently, Dr. Meyerson was VP of Strategic Alliances and CTO for the IBM Systems and Technology group.

Dr. Meyerson and his team was the subject of a long-running study on the topic of innovation in large organizations, culminating in the 2001 Harvard Business School Press publication titled: “Radical Innovation; How Mature Companies Can Outsmart Upstarts.”

More recently, a formal business case study of what has now evolved into IBM’s Semiconductor Strategy of Collaborative Innovation was featured as part of Harvard Business School’s 100th anniversary event in March of 2008, and the underlying case is now taught as part of the HBS MBA curriculum since January 2009.

Willy Shih

Willy Shih is a Professor of Management Practice, at Harvard Business School.

Willy Shih
Courtesy of IBM
Prior to joining HBS, Willy spent 18 years in the computer industry, 14 at IBM, mostly in product development.

From the computer industry, Willy moved into consumer electronics.

From 1997 until early 2005, Willy was president of the Consumer Digital unit at Eastman Kodak where he oversaw the establishment and growth of the consumer digital camera and associated consumables and service businesses to the first $1 B in revenue.

Most recently, he was an Executive Vice-President at Thomson, based in Paris, France, where he was cohead of the Technology Group.

Willy is an experienced practitioner in the field of intellectual property, having structured numerous IP licensing programs, with work in license negotiations and litigation.

Willy has S.B. degrees in both Chemistry and Life Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

For high resolution pictures and additional information on the event visit:


Follow the event along on Twitter at #IBMWatson and on Facebook at


and www.facebook.com/peopleforasmarterplanet  

Contacts information

Erica Topolski
IBM Media Relations


Zeenat Potia
Harvard Business School


Melissa Turesky
IBM Media Relations


Caroline McCall
MIT Sloan School of Management


Source: IBM


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