Watson Offers Macy's AI Help, Workday Acquisition: Big Data Roundup - InformationWeek

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Watson Offers Macy's AI Help, Workday Acquisition: Big Data Roundup

Watson's AI will help you find shoes at Macy's, Workday buys big data analytics company, Google releases machine learning APIs, and more in our Big Data Roundup for the week ending July 24.

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Retailer Macys is the most recent beneficiary of IBM's AI Watson cognitive computing capabilities. Google's AI investment pays off in energy savings. The search giant introduces a couple of new machine learning APIs. SaaS-based enterprise applications upstart Workday has made a new acquisition in the analytics and big data realms.

Let's start with IBM and Macy's.

This week the retailer announced a pilot of "Macy's On Call," a mobile web tool that lets customers interact with an AI-powered platform via their mobile devices. Think of it as Siri for Macy's customers. Except this is via Satisfi, the location-based intelligent engagement platform.

(Image: PonyWang/iStockphoto)

(Image: PonyWang/iStockphoto)

The solution will be rolled out to enhance the customer in-store shipping experience at 10 test locations nationwide. Will it help you locate your size instantly so you can get in and out of the store before you are sprayed by perfume-wielding store workers? Unclear at this point. We haven't tested it.

What the companies say it will do is enable customers to ask a question about products, services, or facilities, and receive a customized response.

The companies noted that a customers may ask for the location of women's shoes, and may also specify a particular brand of shoes. That customer will then receive a relevant response with the location of matching products in the store, according to the two companies.

The pilot will include a Spanish language feature to reach a broader set of customers in select stores, Macy's noted.

[How some sports teams are getting the edge with analytics. Read Hudl Sports Video Analysis Service Grows Fast on Amazon.]

"This particular use case takes Watson beyond helping consumers evaluate purchasing decisions, and influences another, equally important aspect of the in-store experience -- ease of use in locating products, facilities, and services," said David Kenny, general manager of IBM Watson, in a prepared statement.

"As more developer partners like Satisfi continue to build with the technology, we see Watson more frequently being delivered into the hands of consumers, and we’re looking forward to learning more from this pilot with Macy’s and Satisfi."

Google Gains Energy Edge

Google has cut its energy use for data centers by up to 40%, thanks to the insights delivered by its DeepMind artificial intelligence. The company reported that it had begun using machine learning two years ago to help it save energy at its data centers, and more recently added artificial intelligence from its DeepMind research, significantly improving the results.

The energy savings come from improving power usage effectiveness by 15%, which includes accounting for non-cooling inefficiencies and electrical losses.

Google also said it has focused on reducing data center energy usage over the past decade by investing in green energy resources and building its own efficient servers. Google notes that its ultimate goal is to power its data centers completely with renewable energy.

Google APIs

Meanwhile, Google also announced two new beta versions of Cloud Machine Learning product APIs, Cloud Natural Language, and Cloud Speech. Google unveiled the news in a blog post this week. The Google Cloud Natural Language API enables revealing the structure and meaning of text in languages including English, Spanish, and Japanese. It includes sentiment analysis, entity recognition, and syntax analysis.

The Cloud Speech API gives enterprises and developers access to speech-to-text conversion in over 80 languages for both apps and IoT devices, Google said. Cloud Speech uses the voice recognition that powers Google Search and Google Now.

Workday Buys Platfora

Software-as-a-service enterprise applications company Workday announced via a blog post on July 21 that it will acquire Platfora, a provider of operational analytics and data discovery tools that let companies make sense out of huge amounts of data (on the scale of petabytes) instantly.

"With the Platfora team and its technology unified within Workday, we will continue enriching the analytics in Workday Financial Management and Workday Human Capital Management so our customers can be even more prepared to tackle business problems and seize opportunities today and into the future," the company announced in its post.

Jessica Davis is a Senior Editor at InformationWeek. She covers enterprise IT leadership, careers, artificial intelligence, data and analytics, and enterprise software. She has spent a career covering the intersection of business and technology. Follow her on twitter: ... View Full Bio

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