ASP Research

Recognizing Innovation: IBM Cognitive Support


Through the Service Innovation Series, ServiceXRG highlights examples of innovative approaches to achieve service excellence. In this Service Innovation profile, we feature IBM’s use of its own Watson technologies as a platform to deliver a new approach to service delivery – Cognitive Support.

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For decades service organizations have sought to find tools and methods to reduce the burden and subsequent costs associated with assisted support delivery. Service automation and self-help strategies have helped to offload some of the support burden from support staff. These approaches however have limits with industry average self-help success and deflection rates in the mid 20% range. There are clearly benefits to capture and share knowledge with customers, yet it is costly and time consuming to keep knowledge and self-help systems up-to-date with dynamic product lines and ever changing customer needs.

IBM’s approach to Cognitive Support is subtle and elegant. They have introduced an intelligence into the end-to-end support delivery process that can learn and evolve to “augment and scale human knowledge and expertise.” IBM staff do not need to retool the system every time a new product is released; the system does not rely on a formal knowledge management process to create customer-consumable content; and customers do not need to choose between self-help and assisted support. The Cognitive Support Platform is fully integrated into IBM’s existing support delivery process. It is designed to assist when it can and when it cannot it learns for future situations.

IBM has several advantages for adopting a cognitive approach. First, they own Watson, the foundation of their Cognitive Support Platform. Second, they have immense scale in support delivery and even small incremental gains can result in significant benefits. Early indications suggest that the Cognitive Support Platform will offer significant benefits to both IBM and customers. Customers get access to quality support with faster time to resolution. IBM gets more satisfied customers, significant cost efficiencies and the means to meet growing demand without breaking the bank.

Perhaps the most profound benefit for both customers and IBM is the ability to reallocate human subject matter experts to high value service delivery activities – beyond the realm of break-fix. The ability for IBM to focus more effort on helping customers apply and succeed with IBM technologies is a win for all. For all these reasons ServiceXRG finds that IBM’s cognitive support efforts are innovative and will lead to service delivery excellence.

Through the Service Innovation Series, ServiceXRG highlights examples of innovative approaches to achieve service excellence. Companies featured within the Service Innovation Series are selected by ServiceXRG and do not influence the observations and perspectives presented.