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Many businesses are already experiencing the advantages of big data and predictive analytics, two major and positive changes to the way organizations optimize current and future operations and gain valuable insight. The next step in the continuing growth of analytics is cognitive analytics, which harnesses the power of thinking computers to provide many benefits for a variety of industries and markets. This evolution of business intelligence software offers plenty of promise for organizations that work with the right partner to implement it.

“While still developing, Watson is already changing the way organizations do business.”

What is cognitive analytics?
Cognitive analytics, closely tied to the concept of cognitive computing, uses the learning abilities of advanced software to find connections between pieces of information, make suggestions, and present new perspectives that may not be immediately visible to staff. IBM’s Watson is one of the most famous examples of cognitive analytics in action. The computer system made waves as it won a special game of the show “Jeopardy!” in 2011, beating two former champions and displaying the power of cognitive computing in a novel fashion. Winning a million-dollar prize on a game show is far from the only application of Watson’s cognitive power, however. There are many practical applications, both current and planned for the near future, that use Watson’s power.

One of the earliest business uses of Watson was in health care, where the system’s ability to both connect a large number of disparate data points and answer questions formed with regular, conversational language means it’s a major supporter of medical efforts. As IBM pointed out, everything from cohort analysis to evaluating available treatment options is possible with Watson. The recommendations Watson provides supplement the knowledge and experience of health care providers, taking on tasks involving so much information that it’s impossible for humans – even highly trained ones – to complete them with the same level of speed and accuracy.

Health care is one of the first fields Watson is involved in, but it’s far from the only one where cognitive analytics already made or will soon make an impact. Education, financial services, public safety and transportation are just some of the areas where IBM believes Watson will excel. Of special interest to a wide variety of businesses is Watson’s ability to assist in many aspects of infrastructure planning, including supply and demand forecasting and planning and execution of projects. While still developing, Watson is already changing the way organizations do business.