IBM and Cognitiva to Usher in a New Era of Cognitive Computing Using Watson in Latin America

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The FINANCIAL — IBM and GBM Corporation, one of the leading IT integration companies in the Central American and Caribbean region, on February 17 announced a strategic partnership to accelerate the use of IBM’s Watson cognitive computing capabilities in Latin America. GBM has created a new company, Cognitiva, for this purpose in the region.

Cognitiva will be dedicated to delivering cognitive computing solutions to help clients, specifically in Spanish speaking countries, transform their industries and create data-driven businesses. Cognitiva will collaborate with IBM to bring Watson to the Latin American arena, providing sales, service and support for the localized Spanish-enabled version of Watson, according to IBM.

The new company is investing tens of millions of dollars over the next two years to establish hubs in 23 Latin American countries, including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and México, answering the demand for new technologies throughout the region. According to International Data Corporation (IDC), businesses across Latin America will invest $139 billion in IT services (Hardware, Software and IT Services) in 2016.1

“This strategic partnership with GBM is another important example of IBM’s dedication to driving the global adoption of cognitive computing,” said David Kenny, general manager, IBM Watson. “Together, we will empower organizations throughout Latin America to drive innovation and transformation with Watson technologies.”

According to IDC, “Big Data will continue to represent a fast-growing, multimillion-dollar opportunity in Latin America for the next five years. More importantly, it will transform businesses everywhere – making businesses Big Data driven in the process.”2

One of the potential areas of impact is within the healthcare space – Cognitiva and IBM plan to apply the technology to help health professionals and individuals make personalized, data-informed health decisions. For example, there are many hospitals with oncology divisions across Latin America – each of which treat thousands of new cancer patients a year. By applying cognitive computing, physicians and other healthcare professionals could identify evidence-based treatment options, helping oncologists to provide cancer patients with individualized healthcare.

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Cognitiva will establish an ecosystem of third party organizations that will utilize Watson technology to create a new class of cognitive powered apps, services and businesses in the region. These ecosystem partners will join a growing community of startups and established businesses who are leveraging the Watson Developer Cloud, a platform used by more than 80,000 developers globally to design, develop, and test new business applications in industries ranging from health care, financial services and retail to education, music, and sports. These cognitive apps and services are already being offered by over 500 Watson ecosystem partners globally.

IDC projects that through 2017 a third of the CEOs at the largest companies in the region plan to establish a digital transformation at the core of their corporate strategy. Similarly, IDC predicts that that by 2018 one third of the companies who seek to embrace a digital transformation will incorporate cognitive design and augmented reality into their applications. 3

“We know the power of Watson will impact our countries’ businesses and societies. Bringing this technology to Latin America will help professionals gain deeper insights that can enhance how they engage with clients, patients and customers. We are eager to be proactive players, helping business leaders throughout the region apply cognitive computing to tackle current challenges and uncover new opportunities”, said Carlos Pellas, Chairman of the Board, GBM.

“IBM’s leadership in cognitive computing, coupled with GBM’s deep regional market knowledge, creates an opportunity for Cognitiva to become a trailblazer in the burgeoning Latin American technology industry,” said Rolando Castro, CEO, Cognitiva. “Cognitiva will enable existing businesses and entrepreneurs across the region to use cognitive technologies to drive innovation, inspire the creation of new businesses and industries, and accelerate the speed of the technological revolution.”

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The partnership will significantly expand access to Watson in Latin America. As a longstanding partner of IBM, GBM is in a unique position to deliver cognitive offerings and services in Latin America and address the growing demand for these services in the region.

IBM and GBM have worked together for more than two decades to bring technology services and solutions to the Central American and Caribbean region, including infrastructure, software, services and consulting IT solutions to over 13,000 clients locally.

Cognitiva will also hire and train a team of industry-specific professionals, focused initially on the banking, insurance and health care industries. Additionally, IBM will share its expertise to help Cognitiva professionals develop cognitive computing technical skills.

The collaboration is the latest step in advancing the application and adoption of cognitive technology around the globe. Last year, IBM announced a landmark global alliance with SoftBank to bring Watson to Japan, and established a joint venture with Mubadala to introduce Watson to the Middle East and North Africa region. Both initiatives include the establishment of local Watson Partner Ecosystems, as well as work to expand on Watson’s language capabilities, teaching the system to understand Japanese and Arabic, respectively.


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