IBM announced today it has struck a deal to bring its Watson cognitive computing platform to a variety of industries in Middle Eastern and African countries.
Watson is best known as the computer system that autonomously vanquished the world’s best Jeopardy players during a highly publicized competition in 2011. In the years since then, IBM has applied the system to a wide range of computing problems in industries like health care, banking, retail, and education. The system is based on Watson’s ability to understand natural language queries, as well as being able to analyze huge data sets.
Now, Big Blue has partnered with the Mubadala Development Company to bring cloud-based Watson applications to those same industries in the Middle East and Africa. The two companies say they hope that they will be able to leverage the technology partnership to create a new regional ecosystem of entrepreneurs, app developers, and startups. This dovetails with Mubadala’s interest in using information and communications technology (ICT) to bolster the economy of Abu Dhabi, IBM said in a release.
According to International Data Corporation, spending on the ICT market in the Middle East and Africa is expected to hit $270 billion in 2015. That would make the region the second-fastest-growing IT market in the world, and explains IBM’s interest in getting more involved there, despite having worked in the region for more than 60 years.
IBM formed the new joint venture with Mubadala through the latter’s wholly owned IT services subsidiary Injazat, which will handle all Watson implementation in the region. Financial details of the arrangement were not disclosed.