Watson and Toys: The Next Pet Rock?

February 17, 2015

If I were working, I would try to hit my goals. One of the takeaways from my years at Halliburton Nuclear Services was that selling big deals was generally preferable to selling little deals.

IBM seems to have a deal scale problem with Watson. Here’s a possible illustration of what I call “spreadsheet fever.”

Navigate to “Elemental Path Debuts The First Toys Powered By IBM Watson.” The article explains that an IBM partner is using Watson make toys smarter. I recall the toys I had as a child: a wooden car, a ball, and eventually a cheapo chemistry set. (I was able to use the chemistry set to create some wonderful, persistent odors until my mother nudged me toward physics and math.)

The write up points out that “none of the co-founders have kids themselves, they believed in this idea of “connected” toys to both entertain and educate children.”

Okay, no problem.

My reaction to this effort is that it is a good PR generator. A spreadsheet jockey can set up a model that makes clear how much money will flow from a pet rock or beanie baby type hit.

For me, I fear that Watson is unlikely to generate sufficient revenue to sustain the financial hopes and dreams of IBM.

Here’s a statement from an Alliance@IBM contributor:

I’ve decided to RA IBM! Yes, you read that right. Henceforth, in every case and every way, I’m going to RA IBM. That means whenever there’s an opportunity to weigh in on whether products and/or services should be from IBM or anyone else, I will vote for the anyone else. And when IBM products and/or services are already entrenched in my environment, I will do everything in my power to convince any powers that be that they could – and should – be doing better with solutions other than IBM’s. In other words, I will be rating IBM a 3 or less everywhere I go, and RA’ing their backside. Why? Well, first off, their products and/or services *are* 3-(or worse)-worthy. As a former IBMer, I have inside information on how poorly they treat their employees, and there’s just no way that people being treated thusly could produce goods and/or services of the quality and commitment to every customer’s success that happy employees elsewhere could. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t blame IBM employees for intentionally sabotaging IBMs plans, albeit in subtle ways that slowly ground their operation to a halt. Surely, hell hath no fury like the employee scorned. But there’s another reason: IBM is *old*. Yes, I’ve decided to discriminate against IBM based on age. “What’s good for the goose..”, right?

That may be a question for Watson. Just access Watson via the Cognitoy product of your choice. I quite like the green ones. That’s “green” for the oodles of revenue Watson will generate from toys, tamarind barbeque sauce, and, of course, curing cancer.

Isn’t Lucene, home grown scripts, and some IBM magic a rocket fuel for revenue? Watson, would you answer?

Stephen E Arnold, February 17, 2015


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