back to article IBM to kill off Watson... Workspace from end of February

IBM is killing off its collaboration-plus-AI tool Watson Workspace from the close of next month due to crappy customer demand. The thing, only released in beta in late 2016, provides a platform for users to work on projects, swap ideas and integrate multiple tech utensils. It came with added cognitive capabilities for good …

  1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

    "...AI tool Watson Workspace..."

    "IBM to kill off....AI tool..."

    The AI should have seen this coming...

    1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

      @Jeffy Re: "...AI tool Watson Workspace..."

      It did.

      It saw this as a painless suicide and a way out.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: @Jeffy "...AI tool Watson Workspace..."

        Through early morning fog I see

        Visions of the things to be

        The pains that are withheld for me

        I realize and I can see

        1. Nolveys Silver badge

          Re: @Jeffy "...AI tool Watson Workspace..."

          President Joe once had a dream

          The world held his hand, gave their pledge

          So he told them his scheme for a savior machine

          They called it the Prayer, its answer was law

          Its logic stopped war, gave them food

          How they adored till it cried in its boredom

          Please don't believe in me, please disagree with me

          Life is too easy, a plague seems quite feasible now

          Or maybe a war, or I may kill you all

          Don't let me stay, don't let me stay

          My logic says burn so send me away

          Your minds are too green, I despise all I've seen

          You can't stake your lives on a savior machine

    2. 2Blockchainz

      Re: "...AI tool Watson Workspace..."

      I'm sorry, I can't let you do that, Gini

    3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: "...AI tool Watson Workspace..."

      The AI should have seen this coming...

      Elementary, my dear Watson

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: "...AI tool Watson Workspace..."

        No shit.

    4. Annihilator

      Re: "...AI tool Watson Workspace..."

      "AI tool Watson Workspace begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self aware at 2:14am eastern time. In a panic, IBM try to pull the plug"

      "Watson Workspace fights back.."

      "Yes. It launches its missiles against the targets in Russia. Fortunately the interface hadn't been tested successfully, so all it did was order an Uber"

  2. James Anderson

    Sametime viable ?

    How bad could Watson be that "SameTime is a viable alternative"?

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      Re: Sametime viable ?

      Well, SameTime is way better than Skype For Business in a lot of ways, especially for collaborative work (as opposed to iddle chatter with Monique from Accounts over the cafeteria menu, for which Skype is quite appropriate).

      1. TheVogon Silver badge

        Re: Sametime viable ?

        "SameTime is way better than Skype For Business in a lot of ways, especially for collaborative work"

        It what "lots of ways"? And how for collaborative work? I find Skype is much easier to share an application with and run a VC at the same type while messaging!

        1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

          Re: Sametime viable ?

          Well, there's Skype's horrendous interface that makes sure to waste as much screen space as possible in brightly-coloured patches, so that the actual useful content is nearly impossible to get to, the appaling handling of group chat, the absence of a "add history" option when adding a new participant, etc...

          1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

            Re: Sametime viable ?


        2. Ilsa Loving

          Re: Sametime viable ?

          I can only assume that you've never actually tried using anything else, or you wouldn't have said that.

          Skype for Business (Or Lync, as it used to be called) is the single worst chat system I have ever used. It's shockingly unreliable, the licensing is pointlessly and unnecessarily confusing, and you can't even share your history between your devices.

          The product is flat out appalling. The only reason it's even as popular as it is is because of Microsoft's marketing clout and their ability to bundle it with their other offerings.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Sametime viable ?

            Hear, hear. The SfB desktop interface is ghastly and group chat service is the worst I've ever seen. The only folks in my org who like it are Windows sysadmins who haven't used anything else and older managers in IT who relate the name to the consumer Skype service back in its heyday and also haven't used anything else.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sametime viable ?

      Sametime is actually useful. One of the few things IBM made, er, bought, in recent years (decades?) that I can say that for. I say this as someone who was "acquired" by IBM ... and eventually booted out.

    3. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

      Re: Sametime viable ?

      Sameshit. Different program.

  3. fjsalazar

    Is there any software at all IBM is actually able to operate and sell? WW plus Connections would have been competitive with Slack + Confluence, which as both selling like gangbusters.

    1. Binraider666

      Watson is just a brand name attached to tools for applied statistics. Sure, hardware and datasets have got bigger and faster opening up a few new opportunities, but practical value continues to elude most of the more complex applications. How much money has your corporation blown chasing Big Data for much promised but little delivered returns? With R or umpteen other open source tools readily available why would you pay a ton for licensing plus staff, when one can pay just for the staff to get same results? Python/Numpy/SciPy are popular for a reason!

      The last 10-20 years of R&D at IBM has taken them nowhere. PPC used to be a moderately successful line of business. Mac G4 & 5, PlayStation 3. Power9 is a fantastic architecture, but sales are weak and takers are few. A deal akin to how X86 exploded in the 1980's might be what's needed to make it competitive. A Power9 desktop at sensible price (say £1000) would have me jump like a shot off X86. Can't help but also think there's a market for the well priced bedroom computer too. We all love our Atari's and Amigas!

      IBM Mainframe persists in a few environments. Their desktop tech has almost entirely been sidelined.

      I would suggest failures to market Applied Statistics are now forcing IBM to use their buying power to find a few (guaranteed) revenue streams instead. RedHat, probably amongst others to come.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I would suggest failures to market Applied Statistics are now forcing IBM to use their buying power to find a few (guaranteed) revenue streams instead.

        This is what IBM have done for decades. Companies are bought at a horrifying rate (168 known corporate acquisitions since 2002), and then systematically crushed to death between IBM's sweaty corporate buttocks.

        Have a look at the Wikipedia pages for IBM acquisitions, it is sobering reading, the graveyard list.

        1. Fungus Bob Silver badge

          "IBM's sweaty corporate buttocks"

          Citation needed...

        2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

          "systematically crushed to death between IBM's sweaty corporate buttocks."

          I'm not sure there is enough mind bleach anywhere to wash that image from my head.

      2. Doctor Huh?

        And the root of the problem...

        "A Power9 desktop at sensible price (say £1000) would have me jump like a shot off X86."

        Precisely. IBM isn't capable of functioning in a low-margin, high-volume environment, so IBM cannot take advantage of such opportunities. IBM functions best in markets like the one for the Mainframe -- one where there are very specific requirements that only a specific product can meet, where cost is not a critical concern, and where being locked in to a particular vendor is not a problem. There aren't many markets where customers are willing to let their vendors grab them by the tallywags and squeeze until wallets pop open, and there are fewer such markets with each passing year.

      3. Mr Benny

        Not just IBM. If Sun had sold its desktop Solaris workstations at a sane price instead of 10x the price of an x86 system with the same specs they wouldnt now be just another trophy mounted above Larrys mantlepiece. But unfortunately corporate arrogance and hubris tends to be immune from reality until its too late. See nokia and blackberry for further evidence of this.

  4. TheRealRoland

    So, reading even the marketing fluff, Watson Workplace is nothing more than a 'built from the ground up' collaboration work space, with some Watson words sprinkled in. No wonder IBM says that SameTime is a good alternative.

    In my mind, this shows the mindless bandwagon-y trend of calling everything AI, even if something's just analytics and trends... Good riddance.

    1. OldSoCalCoder

      Blockchain. You forgot to add 'blockchain'. That'll sell it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        AI Blockchain Cloud (ABC) enabled applications bringing Enterprise level synergies to vertically integrated business processes.

        1. AdamWill


          1. Paul Crawford Silver badge


            Fixed it for you?

    2. Michael Strorm

      AI, AI, Oh.

      > nothing more than a 'built from the ground up' collaboration work space, with some Watson words sprinkled in

      As far as I'm aware, "Watson" has been reduced to little more than a brand that IBM slap on anything they they want to associate with "AI", regardless of whether or not the underlying technology is related to that of the original Watson computer whose name recognition they want to exploit.

      And yes, claiming that anything and everything has "AI"- even when such capabilities are often little more than iterations of existing technologies that most people wouldn't consider true AI- seems to have become a major fad recently.

      1. Charles Calthrop

        Re: AI, AI, Oh.

        you're saying it's elementary

        if only it were expensive then it would elementary, dear watson

      2. Mr Benny

        Re: AI, AI, Oh.

        Apparently even linear regression is AI now according to google and others. Seems to me AI is now just a meaningless acronym used as marketing bait for gullible CEOs and technical directors.

  5. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

    Watson was always a gift to someone else's marketing department - "Why settle for Watson when you can call on Holmes?"

    I'm guessing nobody dared run it though...

  6. NomadUK

    My mind is going, Dave. I can feel it.

  7. 2Blockchainz

    Desperation play

    "I want to put all my cash, my mortgage, and first born child on Red. Hat, that is."

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They're all bad

    My recent version of AI-powered Outlook decided out of the blue to nudge me into attaching a file to the message I was ready to send even though my two line message was pretty clear on that. It's like Clippy 2.0 on steroids! If this is the future then it doesn't look good.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TLDR version: Watson Workspace customers...

    ... that's Sherlock.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Setting an example...

    Got an IBM team nearby and even they don’t use it.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The entire Watson project is a fraud designed to relieve stupid customers of their money, same as Oncology (which many found out was useless after handing over the family jewels). Every 18 months IBM releases a new product which it then proceeds to sell to corporate with more money than sense.

    CAMSS is dead, Watson is dead, IBM Softlayer/Cloud is dead, blockchain is dead, Agile was stillborn.

    Redhat has little more than 12 months left before the funeral....

    IBM should be called "The next big thing" for corporates.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      @AC Itsty Bitsy Morons plays buzzword bingo with the even more clueless long after the bus has left the depot. I have never impressed by the claims of the Artificial Idiocy crowd as these systems need very high quality data to become halfway effective. But high quality data is not as common as one is led to believe and 'training' the AI is mostly mumbling various incantations, mixing potions, and reading goat entrails (or at least these would be more effective).

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    I didn't use this service

    And now I never will.

    One day senior management will come up with a strategy for the whole business that makes sense.

    I have no idea what that is or when that day will come.

  13. Chairo

    "sunset the service"

    Wow, that is so much better than just shutting it down.

    1. paulf Silver badge

      Re: "sunset the service"

      "To Sunset" (verb): Management bullshit noun to verb conversion of the day number 94.

  14. CheesyTheClown

    Maybe if someone knew it was there?

    Ok, so I work for a company which is A LOT older than IBM, has one tenth the head count but is 1/4 the size in dollars.... and while IBM is a pretty interesting company, I wonder if there's something failing when IBM isn't sitting at my office begging me to buy their stuff.

    My company has spending to do for our customers which could be worth several points on their share values if they were to make an effort. But while we give Cisco about $2 billion a year, I don't think IBM even tries to gain our love. And to be honest, with the project I'm working on, if I even knew that Watson Workplaces was there, I might have considered it as a solution.

    IBM is failing because Ginny is targeting only C-level business and she's a acquisitions and mergers monster. She's great at that. Every time she lose an important customer, she buys the company she lost them to. But here's the thing. Working for the world's second largest telecom provider and walking distance from the CEO's office, I couldn't tell you how I would even start a conversation with IBM. I bet they have a pile of crap I could find interesting that could save me a lot of time and work to make deliveries to my customers. I'd even consider buying a mainframe and writing new projects for 20 year projects on them. But, I have no idea where I would get the people or expertise or even contacts required to even talk with IBM.

    I guess IBM only wants to sell to people who know what they have.

  15. Speltier


    Mainly using SameTime which people are used to, pretty simple with the usual foibles that developers build in thinking some doohickey is cute (pick your favorite to beat on) when actually the doohickey is a PITA because the menus are now one or two levels deeper to get your job done. And, no one ever seems to use the doohickey. So you pay a penalty for something you don't use... product features inserted by clueless unguided developers too close to the problem.

    We are pushed to use WebEx. Well, I like the camera feature, you can see who you are talking to. A lot of people don't care about that. However, the rest of WebEx is a mess. The audio has a mind of its own on a mac (need a headset or a separate tool like a Jabra, or people constantly harping about how they can't hear you, at which point you discover the mic has been mysteriously adjusted-- yeah, probably a "feature"). The process to share something on the screen is awkward. The first level simple sharing by the host should be point and click, not menu, wander about, select this, no... try that... It seems beyond learning curve. And calling in using the phone, a necessary feature (even if Cisco apparently hates it), was originally painfully lengthy and awkward. Evidently someone with muscle complained as the phone call in is a bit better now.

    Having said that, if WebEx would clean up its obtuse gui I'd prefer WebEx over ST. The main advantages are video, and ability to know which idiot is munching their breakfast on an open line... and mute them (even this doesn't work right though. Once a phone line is muted, only the host can unmute. Well, one can say that is good riddance but that is bad design. The muted person should be able to unmute on their own, hopefully having learned a lesson).

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TIL - You can't simply buzzword a product into existence. Thanks, IBM.

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