IBM’s Watson signs up to help the heroes in the US

IBM’s Watson supercomputer is getting its first wide-scale consumer roll out through the USAA’s customer facing portal.

Related: IBM’s Watson scores another customer service deal with Genesys

The financial services firm that specialises in products for former military personnel announced that it is using the tool on its site so that customers can get insightful answers and advice whilst making the transition to the civilian world.

"USAA's innovative application is a prime example of how Watson's cognitive intellect has the potential to empower individuals and organizations. Today's announcement is a great testament to USAA, which prides itself in customer engagement and brand loyalty. We believe this new service can help men and women who served their country gain timely and relevant insights into the steps they need to successfully move to civilian life,” stated Mike Rhodin, senior VP of the IBM Watson Group.

USAA’s pilot uses IBM’s Watson Engagement Advisor to connect with personnel and the supercomputer has already analysed over 3,000 documents on various topics that are related to military transitions. It will use these to answer even the most taxing of questions that former military men or women may have.

IBM and the USAA have worked together for around nine months to develop the tool and it brings 24-hour access to help that wasn’t available to previous users of the website. If the deployment is successful, then it’s planned that USAA will expand its use across other areas of the firm.

“This is a continuation of our journey to deliver meaningful advice to our members on digital platforms. And it reinforces our commitment to finding innovative and distinctive ways to make our members’ lives easier,” said Shon Manasco, executive vice president of member experience at USAA and a veteran. “Through this experience, we expect to learn how intelligent assistants like IBM Watson can help service members who may not know exactly where or how to start the daunting transition process.”

Related: IBM to invest $1bn in new Watson supercomputer unit

IBM has been focusing on developing its big data and cloud credentials in order to rely less on the hardware business that was its mainstay for a number of years, and in this respect it has raised data analysis sales for 2015 to $20 billion [£11.7 billion] from an earlier forecast of $16 billion [£9.4 billion].