Thursday, February 17, 2011

All Eyes on Watson, IBM's Marketing Triumph

I admit it: I was glued to Jeopardy! on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights. I even sought out spoilers on Wednesday to learn in advance whether Watson would win (and of course by now, you know he did, by a large margin).

Yes, IBM did seem to turn parts of the program into an infomercial, but the challenge and the story behind Watson are so fascinating that the audience didn't mind one bit.

Watson has brought a ratings bonanza for Jeopardy! during sweeps week and a major marketing triumph for IBM--today and in the months to come. Now when people hear the name "Watson," they'll be as likely to think of the IBM super-computer (named after IBM's founder) as they are to think of the Sherlock Holmes sidekick. Watson has become a celebrity in its own right, inspiring IBMers and members of the viewing public, not to mention kicking off a lively ongoing debate about the capabilities of computers and artificial intelligence.

Smart marketing, IBM: Watson focused the audience's attention on IBM's cutting-edge core competencies in a way that no competitor can duplicate. The amount of media exposure that Watson gained for IBM would have cost tens of millions of dollars, if not more. Watson wins this round!

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