Cognitive 101: Cognitive Computing and the Enterprise

I remember my team and I getting on the phone with the CFO of a holding enterprise in Los Angeles. He shared his frustrations in his decision making process — most of them came from being the finance lead for the company’s 10 subsidiaries with different tech systems and vast amounts of data that he could not trust added up to one version of the truth. I didn’t take it personally when he said he was not a big fan of tech companies, since tech was making it hard for him to do his job.

Cognitive Computing and the Enterprise Business

Like my CFO friend, all enterprise decision-makers need help sifting through vast amounts of data (and versions of it), handling risk, uncertainty, and assessing probabilities. Cognitive Computing can help with that.

What Cognitive Computing means for my CFO friend and other C-Suites is this: with cognitive computing, the problem of volume, variety, velocity, and veracity of data will transform into a vehicle that provides quick insight and decision-making. I agree with how the Economic Times explains it: Cognitive Computing will “engage with people more fully, provide elevated levels of expertise across subjects, uncover patterns not possible through traditional computing systems, enable fine-tuning to suit individuals, lower costs of expertise, bring more certainty to business and change the odds of high stakes research in the areas of drug development, complex financial modeling, materials science and innovation to name a few.”

Can Cognitive Computing deliver on all of that right now, you ask? Well, we’re still working on getting there.

Cognitive Computing Enterprise Beta

Cognitive Computing Enterprise is working on the optimal applications of the computer-human relationship; it’s in beta. At the moment, Cisco, Microsoft, and IBM are heavily investing in it (IBM put in $1Billion), and so is the startup-world. According to the Cognitive Computing Consortium, the top Cognitive Computing investors are 500 Startups, Techstars, Intel Capital, and Y Combinator.

Companies Head Towards Cognitive Computing for Enterprise Business

Venture Capital firm Bloomberg Beta did a great job in putting a landscape together of companies heading towards cognitive computing here. These are companies focused on marrying data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence with the goal of serving Enterprise Businesses.

So how did my conversation with the CFO end? After reconvening with my team and creating a customized solution for him, the CFO decided to sign-off on Phase I of the proposal — which would allow him to use software to access data (from his different sources now passing through a special piece of hardware) and get reports (helping him to make more informed decisions).

C-Suite: In our situation, all data considered, what are my best options and why?

Cognitive Agent: Great question. Let me process the situation. Done processing. Simulating three optimal options in meeting room. Option 1 includes…and is considered an optimal option because. [Repeat for Option 2 and 3]

C-Suite: Anything else I should know?

Cognitive Agent: Well, yes. Have you considered…?

C-Suite: Well done. That’s what I needed to make my decision. Thanks.

In the next couple of decades expect to have a cognitive assistant (who draws insights from data) to verbally give you the information you need to make-decisions. That will be the day!

“Cognitive 101” is an introductory series on the world of Cognitive Computing and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Written by Lolita Taub and written for C-suite and Line-of-Business seeking to address business challenges and goals using the smartest tech.

Originally published at on September 16, 2016.

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