Good News

Microsoft sees it’s not the technology that matters most

It’s the overall user experience that counts.

Users: includes customers, employees, senior executives, partners, contractors, visitors, the people who casually browse through your website as well as the clerks who have to interact with your systems while on the telephone with a customer. In fact, this applies to any human interface.

Experience: The user’s journey, helping them, rather than force fitting them into the vendor’s view of the world. Every user’s experience will be different and vendors, services firms, policies and regulations need to address the unique needs of each individual rather than aiming for a “market average.”

Connundrum: If it doesn’t significantly enhance the user experience, then it’s not worth the investment. If it does enhance the user experience, why would any vendor want to put their main emphasis on the technology?

As noted by Fast Company:

It’s not enough to have brilliant researchers and a bunch of popular products. You’ve got to have a system–or several systems–for melding raw technology into experiences that make a difference for businesses and consumers.

Detail: Microsoft’s online ads have recently compared user experiences in Office 365 versus Office 2019. The ads are focused on how Office 365 (cloud-based, “rental” applications) makes people super! And Office 2019 (local, pay-once applications) doesn’t. The differences are driven, in part, by AI but you won’t find Microsoft trumpeting AI. It’s focused on the payback to users. Bravo.

IBM recognizes the value of decoupling IBM Watson from IBM cloud

IBM Watson Anywhere, announced earlier this week, means that IBM Watson services, including both Watson Assistant and Watson OpenScale, will be available almost anywhere, including Google, Amazon, Microsoft and IBM cloud infrastructure services, as well as on customer premises.

We speculate (without IBM approval — this is our advice, not theirs) that there are some hidden messages in here:

  1. IBM sees maximizing Watson success as more important than maximizing IBM Cloud services success.
  2. IBM believes freeing IBM Watson and IBM Cloud from each other increases the chance both will be more successful.

If IBM wants to maximize message two, it will be interesting to see if, when and how it might support Amazon, Microsoft and Google AI services from the IBM Cloud.

Net: Watson Anywhere is a very solid step forward for IBM and entities considering using or already using IBM Watson. Bravo.

Mixed emotions

AI applications in Medicine

At the start of the week, the New York Times featured an article on AI technologies doing a better job identifying certain human illnesses than doctors did.

The research itself was done in China, and availed itself to 101.6 million data points from electronic health records of more than 1.3 million patient visits by 600,000 patients. The article explained the limitations on such research in other countries, like the US. China has a massive advantage in developing these systems because the data are available and easily accessible.

This asymmetry is going to handicap non-Chinese researchers and developers.

These systems are not perfect.

The software could rival the performance of experienced physicians. It was more than 90 percent accurate at diagnosing asthma; the accuracy of physicians in the study ranged from 80 to 94 percent.

In diagnosing gastrointestinal disease, the system was 87 percent accurate, compared with the physicians’ accuracy of 82 to 90 percent.

These technologies are likely to be accepted and flourish outside the US, particularly in places where doctors are scarce.

In the US, after very large amounts of testing, these technologies are not likely to replace doctors, only serve as assistants to doctors and other medical personnel.

Disclaimer: This post is my own opinion. It’s not a paid post. I wrote it myself and I have no affiliation with any of the entities mentioned above.