IBM Watson starts thrilling career in telesales

Oh, how the mighty fall.

Not long after its glorious heyday as a daytime TV celebrity on US gameshow Jeopardy!, IBM’s Watson supercomputer is set for a life of drudgery as a cold-calling telesalesperson.

Like a faded rockstar forced back to a life of servitude after the hits dry up, Watson is now facing a life away from the glamour and the cameras.

According to Eweek, IBM has outlined some of the more practical uses for its machine.

IBM vice president and CIO Jeanette Horan reportedly said that the company wants to implement Watson internally, to take all of the information that is used by its sales team and “build a source of information”.

This will involve bringing together and manipulating a variety of information including customer and market info, pricing, and so on.

With the DeepQA technology and Power7 processors used by Watson, it is possible to have massive amounts of information stored and easily retrievable.

This could give telemarketers, salespeople and customer support staff easy access to a massive amount of information.

As Extremetech points out, this could potentially be done on a larger scale with the language processing technology able to understand human commands.

Watson is able to apply its language processing, reasoning and learning on its own, as shown in its star turn on Jeopardy!, so there is seemingly little stopping it from being rolled out for speaking to customers.

Indeed, it seems that IBM is intent on getting Watson to have a go at giving technical support for help desks, call centres and so on.

For anyone who has battled with a customer support person who refuses to veer from the information on their computer screen – or fielded questions from a cold caller about the ‘mobile service providings’ – it could be a welcome change.

And it could also open up some interesting questions about the outsourcing approach to call centres, offering a potentially even cheaper option.

Of course there are downsides to this plan, not least that it would be too expensive for many to think about buying up their own multi-million dollar supercomputer. And we’re speculating like crazy anyway.

Just how responsive the public would be to being hounded by a machine to buy double-glazing is a slight concern.

We approached IBM for more information, but Watson has not called us back.