IBM and South Korean IT services company, SK Holdings C&C, have come together to bring IBM’s Watson cognitive services to South Korea. The strategic alliance, is aimed at accelerating the adoption of IBM’s cognitive computing, by training Watson to understand Korean, giving South Korea-based developers a set of localized APIs and services which can be used to create their own applications and build new businesses.
With this move, SK Holdings C&C intends to strengthen its commitment towards the growth of cognitive and Artificial Intelligence technologies. The company will will run Watson and IBM Bluemix from its Pangyo Cloud Center, in support of universities, developers, and local businesses, across diverse industries including banking, telecommunications, health and government.
IBM already has English, French, Italian, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Japanese, and Arabic as its conversational languages. Watson’s ability to understand Korean builds upon nearly five years of research and development driven by scientists at IBM Research in Tokyo. With this deal, SK Holdings C&C plans to actively invest in fostering talents in the artificial intelligence field through industrial-academic collaboration under a long-term investment plan.
The partnership will be fostering a strong developer community that is already eager to integrate cognitive computing into its business ideas. The companies aim to jointly nurture the growth of cognitive computing in the region by establishing a multi-million dollar fund to support education- and developer-focused initiatives.
David Kenny, General manager, IBM Watson, says, “Watson remains at the forefront of cognitive computing: advanced systems that learn at scale, understand with meaning, reason with purpose and interact with humans in natural ways. The South Korean marketplace is moving quickly to embrace the disruptive opportunities from next generation technology. Our strategic alliance with SK Holdings C&C will put cognitive services in the hands of more businesses and developers, allowing them to apply Watson within their organizations to help transform entire industries and professions.”
According to IBM, the Korean language Watson services are expected to become available early next year, currently both the companies are establishing new programs to fast track access to IBM’s cognitive services, working closely with local and regional businesses to encourage development of new enterprise and consumer use cases for a variety of industries. The alliance will help developers work with Watson’s advanced conversational capabilities to help improve the mobile device experience; and improve consumers’ call center interactions. SK Holdings C&C will also explore ways to embed cognitive into new form factors such as robotics.
“This alliance highlights SK’s dedication to growing our artificial intelligence-based data services business, strengthening our Ai leadership position, as well as spurring innovation and Ai adoption across Korea,” says, Park Jung-ho, CEO, SK Holdings C&C.
Ongoing work by IBM Research has advanced the science powering the Watson platform, and enabled IBM to strengthen Watson’s speech, vision and text capabilities. The Watson platform is already being used by tens of thousands of developers globally, who are tapping cognitive computing to help address business and society’s most significant challenges.
Moving into new markets with collaborations with organizations such as SoftBank in Japan, Mubadala in the Middle East and GBM in Latin America includes fostering a community of local developers and equipping them with simple, self-service tools needed to build, explore and create new applications in their native languages. IBM claims that SK Holdings C&C will be its preferred distributor for cognitive solutions in South Korea, where the technology could be embedded into various form factors such as tablets, smartphones and smart devices, as well as robots, giving both organizations an opportunity to reach a broader audience of users.