The Role of Watson and Artificial Intelligence in Market Research

The Role of Watson and Artificial Intelligence in Market Research

IBM’s Watson and artificial intelligence in general will play a large role in the market research field.

In order to better understand the role of IBM Watson and artificial intelligence (AI) in the market research profession, we should first spend a few minutes understanding how IBM itself talks about Watson’s capabilities:

Understand: you can analyze and interpret unstructured data, including text, images, audio and video.

Reason: you can provide personalized recommendations by understanding a user’s personality, tone and emotion.

Learn: you can utilize machine learning to grow the subject matter expertise in your apps and systems.

Interact: you can create chat bots that can engage in dialog.

An Example of the Power of Watson and Artificial Intelligence:

It is becoming impossible for market researchers to read and integrate all of the available information coming across their desks every day.  A real world case study that IBM describes as their “moonshot” is focused on healthcare and specifically cancer research.  During IBM’s World of Watson conference in 2016, Satoru Miyano, a professor at the institute of Medical Science in the University of Tokyo described a 66-year-old women with leukemia who was receiving standard therapy but continued getting worse and her healthcare team did not understand why she was getting sicker.  Using Watson, researchers analyzed all of the woman’s data in a short amount of time and discovered that the patient had a different type of leukemia that needed a different therapy which she then received and recovered quickly.

My Personal Experience With Watson and Artificial Intelligence:

Another case study that I personally experienced was in the airline industry.  Looking back, it was a great example of Watson’s ability to research all available airline flight options and make a series of recommendations to passengers.

A few months ago, I connected through DFW airport.  Ironically, I actually landed at DFW in plenty of time to change gates and planes.  Unfortunately, a series of problems occurred and the passengers were not allowed to exit the plane for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  As you can imagine, passengers were becoming very anxious.  Eventually, everyone started realizing we would now be in jeopardy of missing our connection flights.

When we very finally allowed off the plane, I hustled over to my gate only to see the gate door closing and you can imagine the frustration that I was experiencing.  The gate attendant looked at me, asked to see my boarding pass and within 1 minute told me, “There are 3 possible flights that will get you to your destination this afternoon and if you will tell me which one you would like to take I will get you on that plane.”  The gate attendant told me that they had AI technology which analyzed all available flights, assessed my original arrival time, looked at which flights had seats available and determined there were 3 possible scenarios to choose from and did all of this within 1 minute.

Why I Expect Watson and Artificial Intelligence Will Be the Future of Market Research:

Our market research profession will need to adapt and learn to use Watson and artificial intelligence:

  • Ginny Rometty (IBM CEO) has stated that “our goal is augmenting intelligence” and “it is man, machine and extending your expertise.”
  • Artificial Intelligence works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year and never needs to eat, drink or sleep.
  • The research world is producing so much information and data that we will need to utilize artificial intelligence in order to produce a simplified integrated story.


Whether it is health care, or airplane flights, or consumer insights, artificial intelligence is making our lives easier.  The question is, which CPG company will be the first to harness the full power of Watson and artificial intelligence to change the game in consumer insights.

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