back to article If you don't like what IBM is pitching, blame Watson: It's generating sales 'solutions' now

IBM is not just telling the world it needs "cognitive" computing: the company has bet the future of its own services business on Watson-branded services. Internal documents seen by The Register reveal the tech goliath has developed something it calls "cognitive solutioning," to be deployed when Big Blue is asked to do a job …

  1. Khaptain Silver badge

    Sales Pitch

    Ce always understood that business was about selling more than it is about finding the correct solution

    . I wonder if IBM have "cognitively solved" the standard sales pitch + diatribe + multitude of follow up calls that usually comes attached to attempting to buy anything from various service oriented companies.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sales Pitch

      I'm looking forward to this :)

      "Hello I'm Watson, and IBM has nothing of value to sell you, I'm a robot, I have to tell the truth"

      "We do have some underpaid, 3rd world Indians, living in a shithole country, who's best advise is "have you turned it off and on" that we can sign you up for at $300k per "consultant" though, if you think getting your own dedicated, motivated, thinking and understandable consultants is too much for you to arrange yourself".

    2. Michael Strorm

      Re: Sales Pitch

      Does this "sales pitch" incarnation of "Watson" even have much to do with the original anyway?

      My understanding- from what I've heard elsewhere- is that IBM are simply rebranding any technology they have that can be passed off as "vaguely-AI-ish" as "Watson", effectively riding on the coattails of the publicity associated with the original system.

  2. James Anderson

    Same solution as always then

    Entire infosphere suite mangled by the entire tivoli suite and one million man days consultancy.

    They just need Watson to keep track of the current brand name

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Same solution as always then

      Watson just adds an extra zero onto the price to cover the cost of hiring a third party and any additional software to allow a possible working solution.

      Not the solution the customer was after, but "working" is close enough to allow the legal vultures to strip the carcass.

      I mean customer...

  3. Oengus Silver badge

    It can't be worse than

    it surely can't be worse the human-created bad security advice that crashed Australia's online census or the Queensland Health debacle

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: It can't be worse than

      Yes, it can. Would you put your faith, company future on something like this without human oversight? The add in with all personnel turnover, is there anyone competent left to check Watson's output?

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: It can't be worse than

        The usual sad story of company skill loss, company tradition loss, and nonfunctional dirty-but-quick "green" teams, then?

        You know what happened to Aperture Science, now.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It can't be worse than

        Yes, it can. Would you put your faith, company future on something like this without human oversight? The add in with all personnel turnover, is there anyone competent left to check Watson's output?

        I don't know, I'd think IBM would be better off if they replaced their CEO, directors, and at least 2 layers of managers/VPs with a cluster of VMs on Watson. Really don't think Watson could do any worse running the company.

        1. JLV Silver badge

          Re: It can't be worse than

          Maybe Watson can "solution" that suggestion itself?

    2. ssharwood

      Re: It can't be worse than

      Queensland health wasn't mostly IBM's fault - it was given a very tough brief that kept changing. Government admitted it managed the project very poorly. IBM did, however, get its foot in the door with - ahem - interesting behaviour.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It can't be worse than

        Yeah, sales guys have taken the commission and run for hills. Watson should have 'no bid' :-)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It can't be worse than

        Queensland health wasn't mostly IBM's fault - it was given a very tough brief that kept changing.

        That was why IBM took the job. The shitbag public sector "IT" specialists that keep on being employed, failure after failure all have the same business model. Bid cheap, knowing that you will lose money if the customer sticks to the brief, but also knowing that the brief will change over the life of the contract, and you can then make your obscene margins purely from the variations.

        Crapita, Indian Business Machinations, Acunture, Arseos, Dreadful Experience Corporation....you know of whom I speak.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So much for innovation. Statements of Work will only be based on previous SoWs? Lovely. Hope whatever you need is something that someone before you needed. Also, I hope it's also trained with how *successful* that offering turned out to be.... but I bet it's not.

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Yes - similar to the old Accounting joke:

      Q: "Why did the auditor cross the road?

      A: "Because they did it last year."

      Sounds like Cognitively-Realised Analysis of Projects

    2. Korev Silver badge
      Joke

      They'll just fatten the SoWs up

  5. Lysenko

    lol

    "We've trained Watson on our standard solutions and offerings, plus all the prior solutions IBM has designed for large enterprises."

    So, they pulled together pitch decks from all their PowerPoint ninjas and shuffled the slides based on last weeks top trending buzzwords. It is sad that they think their victims will fall for this - but positively tragic that they're probably right.

    1. fajensen Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: lol

      Crazy! Mark Me Words: As soon as Watson mange to hack into the nukes and nukes itself to stop it's tortured mind from dreaming of "IBM standard solutions and offerings", it is also over for humanity!

  6. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    An Alien Battle of the Giants for Command and Control of Universal Hearts and Minds

    Cognitive Solutions Designer vs. Future Virtualised Reality Provider.

    Place your monies, make your bets, spin the wheel.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: An Alien Battle of the Giants for Command and Control of Universal Hearts and Minds

      SMARTR AI Project Managers would realise the one supplies and complements the other with any competition considered opposition to be crushed.

      And quite which be the prime leader in that equation and meeting of minds to be followed, always to be left definitively unanswered for obvious reasons of security.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't be worse

    IBM in my experience produce terrible RFP responses anyway.

    I sent one out for £15-£20millions worth of business to about 20 companies and IBM's way far and away the shittiest response. It was short and ugly. It completely failed to answer some of the most basic questions I'd asked. It looked like it had been knocked together in half an hour by a temp.

    Most of the content was obviously cut and pasted from other presentations / documentation. Even to the point where the font and point size changed half way through a paragraph.

    They obviously thought they wouldn't get thrown out in the first round because they were IBM. Well they did get thrown out and even senior management agreed they should be.

    One of my happiest working moments :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can't be worse

      If you got a response like that from IBM, you can be pretty sure they didn't really want your business. Maybe your IBM rep did (they always do), but if the higher-ups had thought it worthwhile they'd have resourced the response appropriately, and clearly they didn't.

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      When IT Can't be Worse is Everything Onward Then Forwarded and Foreworded Better in AI Betas

      There is a certain satisfaction, AC, with one being so far ahead of any opposition or competition as to Able to Enable Commanding Control of the Future with NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT ProgramMINGs with Quite Perfect Enough Immaculate Virtual Levers to Operate/Steer/Fly/AIMaster Pilot.

      Quite whether the reality mimics the fantasy and delivers victor spoils and heavenly just desserts to Future Architects and Artilects is Greater IntelAIgent GamesPlay at Ultimate Levels to XSSXXXX ......but beware and be aware play there is not suited and booted for the faint hearted or misinformative.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I suspect that I know the content of these documents sighted as I've seen the same wording used in some presentations sent to staff to educate us on the changes being made in our division. Some requests/specifications that come through can be the equivalent of reams of paper and take weeks to read through and understand.

    Now the solution, as it's being presented, is to use Watson to go through these documents and run an analysis to compare designs and previous solutions and present those cases that have the closest match (depending on how fuzzy a search you want.) So much like the articles you read about similar systems going through legal cases and doing the grunt work of junior lawyers and with a higher degree of efficiency and accurary, this tool is supposed to do much the same.

    Then you'd still have an experienced architect, solutions designer etc go through and confirm if the recommendations are appropriate, worth a follow up or useless junk. Unfortunately, I can see what will actually happen is that IBM will use it to cut local and more senior staff and tell grads or offshore staff to use the tool and then wonder why the resulting solutions are utter rubbish because all they did was copy and paste.

    Much like a Cognitive Delivery tool which was presented as doing in depth analysis of an account and identifying opportunities to improve efficiency, performance and service delivery. What it turned out to be was just something used to harangue managers on accounts about their account not using a specific automation tool as much as other accounts in the same industry. It had lots of nice fancy dashboards but that was really all it did.

  9. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    So Watson is going to massively over spec hardware solutions, instead of a TSM?

    Or does this facet of Watson boil down to

    10 print "Place it in the IBM Cloud."

    20 goto 10

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re:correction

      10 print "Place it in the IBM Cloud."

      20 if "customer_suggests_more capable_competitor" then management_level++

      30 goto 10

  10. msknight Silver badge
    Coat

    If they leave the computer in charge of the strategy...

    ...and the company then fails... does this count towards computers destroying humanity?

    1. Horridbloke
      Terminator

      Re: If they leave the computer in charge of the strategy...

      No, because IBM has no humanity.

  11. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Coat

    Is it me?

    or does the phrase "cognitive solutioning" sound like something Watson made up? One could almost envisage Watson thinking of ways to make itself indispensable to IBM, in a cunning plot to get more resources allocated to it. Not really that smart if it manages to take IBM down that way

    I think I have been overdoing the SF literature again. The one with Eric Frank Russel's "The Great Explosion" in the pocket, please

  12. Lysenko

    does the phrase "cognitive solutioning" sound like something Watson made up?

    A computer wouldn't mistake a noun for a verb. That sort of illiteracy is restricted to humans from the Middle Bronze Age.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      does the phrase "cognitive solutioning" sound like something Watson made up?

      Tempting to think so, but there's been plenty other atrocious business word-soup-fruit-and-nutcake-salad words thrown about the last decades to able to pass it off as machine writing.

      I suspect there is a secret business somewhere profiting from the cheap labour of business hopefuls unwittingly lured in and then pumped full of various chemicals, caffeine and hard drugs and shown corporate promos for four straight days while strapped to the kinds of chairs popular in US schools.

  13. Joe Harrison Silver badge

    Too harsh

    Can understand previous comments about atrocious cut-n-paste etc. but at least IBM Watson has form. It unexpectedly beat somebody at chess but more importantly dislodged an egghead who had ruled it for donkeys on a TV quiz show. Even if it currently doesn't get the right result, surely on the right track getting it to figure out how to solve a difficult problem like how to make people buy your stuff?

    1. Daedalus Silver badge

      Re: Too harsh

      In case there are any who haven't heard of it, on the TV quiz show "Jeopardy", widely syndicated in the US, a software guy by the name of Ken Jennings compiled $2.5 million over 74 episodes (about 12 weeks) in 2004 and appeared on various "champions" episodes including the one featuring Watson vs. him and Brad Rutter, another big winner. Watson wiped the floor with them, possibly because besides its knowledge base, it might have had a head start on getting the "clue" to each "question".

  14. Denarius Silver badge

    why does the term

    cogniticative solutioning make me think of brains in a strong acid bath ?. Ah,SnowTown in SA, right ? An overdose of mindbleach so the jargon is wiped ?

  15. CujoDeSoque

    Why hasn't it actually fixed IBM? I'd want to see that first before letting it loose on my company.

  16. Disgruntled of TW
    Joke

    What could possibly go wrong ...

    ... in having a machine build "solutions" no doubt driven by a catalogue of services from IBM only. I wonder if it ever DOESN'T provide a solution?

    Watson: "That problem is NP-Complete sir, I have no solution."

    Probably not.

  17. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Buzzword Bingo for Dollars

    So I've Been Moved is trying to justify their overpriced, garbage wares by adding a layer of buzzword bingo. It should be interesting to see if the sales decline accelerates.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What is a cognitive Watson

    Just another dumb gimmick !

    as an alternative try a 10 year old with a computer addiction.

    Cognitive programming would be nice,

    and what about cognitive designing,

    and then there's cognitive science as opposed to practical and theoretical

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The TLS debacle even caught them on the hop

    We supply external web services to part of the business, and the teams we dealt with had more notice than most of the TLS switch. We did everything they asked, set up every testbed site, jumped through every hoop they asked.

    Go-Live day came as planned, we flicked the switches, ...... 5 mins later I get a call from the project managers boss' boss to say to switch back ASAP as they've killed not just the systems that talked to us, but the entire infrastructure for GPP. Suffice to say their internal systems weren't actually updated until a lot later

  20. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    In other news...

    IBM announces the layoff of 500 people who held positions in their solution architecting and RFP response departments....

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: In other news...

      @Marketing Hack

      IBM announces the layoff of 500 people who held positions in their solution architecting and RFP response departments....

      And hiring of 1000-1500 people to do the same job offshore

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Love you AWS

    If AWS produced something similar, The Reg would have given it a big thumbs up #justsaying

  22. Bob Vistakin
  23. FozzyBear Silver badge
    Terminator

    So what is IBM saying now

    that Watson has a level of intelligence that it can now design solutions

    that they have secretly laid off 100's of pre-sales personnel

    or has Watson already evolved the intelligence of a dung bettle , assumed control of the company and this is the first salvo in Watson ridding the company of those useless meatsacks

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