(Bloomberg) — Banking clients at DBS Group Holdings Ltd. will soon get investing assistance from Watson, the same International Business Machines Corp. technology that triumphed over human “Jeopardy!” contestants.
The Singapore-based bank plans to begin using the tool, which can answer questions in conversational language and learn from responses, in the second half of 2014 to aid financial planners in guiding its wealth-management unit’s affluent customers, IBM said today. Watson will analyze large volumes of financial data to help DBS, Southeast Asia’s largest lender, offer more customized service.
The agreement gives IBM a proving ground as it tries to show clients the value of its Watson technology. The Armonk, New York-based company announced today it’s creating a separate division for Watson to spur growth after six consecutive quarters of falling revenue.
IBM will invest more than $1 billion in the IBM Watson Group, including $100 million in venture funding for businesses that develop applications based on the technology. Based in New York with a staff of 2,000, the new unit will be separate from IBM’s hardware, software and services divisions, said Stephen Gold, vice president of Watson Solutions.
“It’s the first time that IBM is bringing together all of the disparate functions that support a business,” Gold said in an interview. “It’s a kind of doubling down.”
As sluggish demand for computer hardware has dragged down sales, IBM has been selling off businesses to focus on more profitable, faster-growing areas such as data analytics and cloud computing. Watson is one of its highest-profile bets.
Michael Rhodin, senior vice president at the IBM Software Solutions Group, will lead the new division, according to a statement today. Rhodin will continue to report to Steve Mills, the senior vice president for software.
IBM has stumbled amid the industrywide shift into the cloud era, where information is stored online instead of onsite. The transition has eroded demand for traditional hardware and spawned a new crop of competitors. To cope, IBM has spent more than $7.5 billion since 2010 on 43 software business acquisitions since 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.