IBM and Mubadala to bring Watson to MENA

Mubadala and IBM will deliver Watson to clients regionally and establish an ecosystem of partners and developers across industries and professions

Tags: IBM (www.ibm.com)Mubadala Development CompanyUnited Arab Emirates
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IBM and Mubadala to bring Watson to MENA One of the most promising areas of impact for Watson could be in the healthcare field.
By  David Ndichu Published  July 16, 2015

IBM and Mubadala Development Company, the Abu Dhabi-based investment and development company, have announced an agreement to bring IBM Watson to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

The companies will collaborate to deliver powerful Watson cloud-based cognitive computing to healthcare, retail, education, banking and finance organizations. The new joint venture will also create a broad regional ecosystem of partners, entrepreneurs, start-ups and app developers who will apply Watson in innovative ways throughout MENA.

Watson represents a new era in computing in which systems are able to interact in natural language, analyse large volumes of unstructured data, respond to complex questions with evidence-based answers, and discover new actionable patterns and insights.

The availability of Watson in MENA demonstrates Mubadala’s strong commitment to spurring innovation and growing the technology ecosystem throughout the region. The collaboration with IBM exemplifies Mubadala’s philosophy to capitalize on investment opportunities in various industries such as Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to support the diversification of Abu Dhabi’s economy and strengthen its competitive position in high-growth sectors both locally and internationally. IBM, in turn, will draw on Mubadala’s deep regional market knowledge to drive the adoption of cognitive computing technology across MENA.

International Data Corporation (IDC) projects that spending on ICT products and services in the region will cross the $270 billion mark in 2015, making this area of the world the second-fastest growing IT market.  

“This new joint venture with IBM will put both the UAE and broader MENA region on the leading edge for adoption of this breakthrough technology,” said Homaid Al Shemmari, CEO of Aerospace & Engineering Services at Mubadala. “We are confident that together we can continue to accelerate the region’s knowledge-based economy by empowering businesses to capitalize on new opportunities with this world-class technology.”

"This collaboration is another important demonstration of IBM's commitment to bringing Watson to all corners of the world and accelerating adoption of cognitive computing as the new technology standard for innovation," said Mike Rhodin, senior vice president, IBM Watson. "Mubadala's strong relationships throughout the MENA region will enable local organizations and entrepreneurs access to Watson to transform their work."

One of the most promising areas of impact could be in the healthcare field where Mubadala and IBM plan to leverage the technology to help enable individuals and health professionals to make personalized, data-driven health decisions.

Internationally, the healthcare community is already the earliest adopter of Watson where leading hospitals and research institutes such as US-based Cleveland Clinic are working to advance Watson's capabilities in medical education and genomics. At the same time, Mubadala and the Cleveland Clinic have established a preeminent world-class hospital in Abu Dhabi.

"Our collaborations with IBM to apply Watson in healthcare are helping Cleveland Clinic deliver on our mission of providing state-of-the-art education to our medical students," said Dr. Delos Cosgrove, CEO and President, Cleveland Clinic. "As a partner to both IBM and Mubadala, I am pleased to see these two market leaders join together in this important region and believe that their work together will help make it possible for a broader group of medical professionals to unearth the information they need to provide patient-centred care."

“Bringing IBM Watson to the region represents the latest major milestone in the global adoption of cognitive computing,” said Mounir Barakat, executive director of ICT at Aerospace & Engineering Services, Mubadala. “It also signals Mubadala’s commitment to bringing new technologies and spurring economic growth in the Middle East, another step towards developing the UAE as a hub for the region’s ICT sector.”

Mubadala and IBM will establish the joint venture through Mubadala’s wholly owned information technology services subsidiary, Injazat, which will be the exclusive provider of Watson technology in the region.

According to Ibrahim Mohamed Lari, CEO of Injazat, “There is an increasing need of businesses across sectors to strengthen their analytics and cloud technology. This joint venture signifies a strategic shift that will allow the delivery of a new class of Watson-specific capabilities that will help professionals in this region discover insights from massive amounts of Big Data.”

To advance Watson, IBM has two dedicated business units: Watson, established for the development of cloud-delivered cognitive computing technologies that represent the commercialization of "artificial intelligence" or "AI" across a variety of industries, and Watson Health, dedicated to improving the ability of doctors, researchers and insurers to surface new insights from the massive amount of personal health data being created and provide turnkey solutions to deliver personalized healthcare.

Through client engagements around the globe, professionals are leveraging Watson’s capabilities to help transform their industries. This work is expected to grow as IBM continues to enter Watson into new geographies and industries. According to IDC, the worldwide content analytics, discovery and cognitive systems software market will grow from $4.5 billion in 2014 to $9.2 billion in 2019.

IBM is currently working on hundreds of projects to expand Watson's industry domain knowledge, as well as teaching the system new languages such as Arabic, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese and Japanese.

IBM has operated in the MENA region for more than 60 years, making significant investments in areas such as cloud computing and nanotechnology. Last year IBM launched the groundbreaking "Project Lucy" effort, a 10-year, $100 million research initiative using Watson to develop commercially viable solutions to tackle Africa's biggest challenges including healthcare, agriculture and education.

The financial terms of the joint IBM and Mubadala venture were not disclosed.

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