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IBM Watson Group invests in Fluid to develop new shopping tools

IBM’s Watson Group has partnered with Fluid Inc. to develop a shopping advisor that it expects to transform the consumer shopping experience.

A recent study from the IBM Institute for Business Value of more than 30,000 global consumers shows that 40 percent of shoppers use social, location and mobile technologies for information gathering, and yet are not likely to use them to purchase products. Something crucial is missing from the typical online and mobile experience: the thoughtful help of an expert sales representative, who is knowledgeable, relatable and ready to advise you on important purchase decisions.

IBM and Fluid’s new shopping advisor seeks to offer this important element: the expertise and personalized advice of an in-store sales representative. This personal shopping concierge promises to "understand" and "advise" its users on key purchase decisions. It expects to eliminate the hassle of having to comb through websites for information, link by link, or to enter keywords into search engines and sift through the results.

The Fluid Expert Shopper (XPS) made with IBM Watson is an app that gives consumers the power to ask highly specific questions, as they would a sales associate in a store, and receive personalized advice that truly satisfies their needs. It takes advantage of Watson’s ability to answer consumers’ questions and learn from their responses, engage in real-time conversations and then tailor suggestions for products in a rich and relevant manner.

"Watson will understand the context of its users’ questions, and continuously learn about their needs based on the information they share," IBM said.

Mike Rhodin, Senior Vice President, IBM Watson Group, said it’s a key example of how a new era of cognitive applications will revolutionize how decisions are made by consumers and businesses alike.

Fluid was one of the first organizations to join IBM’s ecosystem of developers, entrepreneurs and growth companies that are building apps and services infused with Watson’s cognitive computing intelligence. As a Watson Ecosystem partner, Fluid is creating its cognitive technology in the Watson Developer Cloud, which provides a toolkit and sandbox for building cognitive apps, as well as access to Watson’s Application Programming Interface (API).

IBM said it is investing more than $1 billion into the Watson Group, focusing on research, development and bringing cloud-delivered cognitive applications and services to market. This includes $100 million earmarked for direct investment to support IBM’s ecosystem of start-ups and businesses building cognitive apps made with Watson.

Currently more than 1,900 organizations and entrepreneurial individuals have shared their ideas for creating cognitive apps that redefine how businesses and consumers make decisions.