Citigroup’s next teller: IBM’s Watson?

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Photo: Courtesy of IBM

IBM’s Jeopardy! playing computer Watson is getting plenty of job offers following its smack-down of two grand champions on national TV a year ago.

Citigroup threw its support behind the question-answering software on Monday, when the bank announced that it was exploring possible uses for Watson. It didn’t go into specifics, but Citi said Watson could “help advance customer interactions, and improve and simplify the banking experience” for a “first-of-a-kind customer interaction solution.”

"We are working to rethink and redesign the various ways in which our customers and clients interact with money," said Don Callahan, Citi’s chief technology officer, in a statement. “We will collaborate with IBM to explore how we can use the Watson technology to provide our customers with new, secure services designed around their increasingly digital and mobile lives.”

The news follows health insurer Wellpoint’s September 2011 announcement that it would incorporate Watson to help medical professionals diagnose and sort out treatment options for complicated health issues.

IBM had said early on in the Watson project that the research wouldn’t just be used for playing games. The tech giant said it would focus on partnering with companies in the health and finance industries, which IBM believes are best-suited to integrate a natural human language analytic technology.

"IBM continues to advance Watson in information intensive industries, enabling organizations to quickly gain valuable insights from vast amounts of data that can speed decision making and improve how companies serve their customers," said Mike Rhodin, head of IBM’s software solutions division. -David

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