NEW YORK: IBM, the technology group, is hoping that Watson – its cognitive computing system – can enhance popular awareness of the wider range of services and solutions it provides.

John Kennedy, IBM's vp/marketing, global business services, told delegates at BRITE '14 – an event run by the Center on Brand Leadership at Columbia Business School – many people still associate the firm with building PCs, even though it sold this unit in 2004.

Having moved into software and services, however, IBM has few direct connections with consumers. And it is here that Watson comes in. (For more, including details on how IBM makes branding decisions, read Warc's exclusive report: IBM tackles a marketing paradox.)

"We're now pointing Watson at the experience space, where it can help the marketer create these very interactive experiences for the customer," said Kennedy.

One example of this is a recent test programme conducted with The North Face, the outdoor apparel and equipment retailer, to see if ecommerce could have a more human feel.

"Where we have a brand like Watson that does have a bit of personalisation to it, we use that as a way we can help extend the IBM brand, and help the world understand what it is that we do."

Prior to this, Watson achieved high-level exposure after making a victorious appearance on the game show Jeopardy! in 2011.

"Watson really stands for the work around data and analytics, and we try to personalise that in such a way that Watson can have some meaning to the world at large," said Kennedy.

In an indicator of how rapidly technology is changing, Watson might be available on smartphones in the near future – having started life on a rather larger scale.

"When Watson competed on Jeopardy!, it was a system that was half-a-dozen refrigerator-sized systems that were sitting in a very temperature-controlled environment," Kennedy said.

"We're living in a world where you'll soon have access to Watson on your mobile device; you'll have that power as the technology progresses."

Data sourced from Warc