Typography

Watson’s AI capabilities will ‘revolutionize’ the services IBM Cloud Video can offer its client base. IBM’s ability to use Watson’s AI engine to both add and extract intelligence from video can be used as a primary data source that will subsequently bring ‘real value’ to businesses. That was the claim made by Gregor McElvogue, Executive Director, Offering Management, IBM Cloud Video at CommunicAsia 2017 – which is Asia’s premier ICT exhibition and conference held annually in Singapore.

Telecom Review managed to secure an exclusive interview with IBM, in an effort to find out more about its Cloud Video Enterprise Solution, its plan for the Asian markets and how the use of Watson’s AI engine can enhance the services it already provides. McElvogue explained that IBM Cloud Video is relatively new within the IBM organization, and how the new business unit was formed.

McElvogue told Telecom Review: “IBM Cloud Video is a relatively new unit within the IBM Cloud organization. It was formed at the beginning of last year, following the acquisition of two companies that IBM decided to bring in-house. In the last twelve months, we’ve been integrating those companies into IBM – and looked at taking the assets that we required in bringing them into the cloud itself. This provided us with the ability to handle video as part of the cloud fabric.”

McElvogue outlined that IBM’s primary aim is to provide everybody, ranging from individuals using their smartphone to large organizations, with the ability to live stream events, and disclosed that IBM performs massive live events. He said: “At IBM, we cater for individuals, small organizations, and large organizations such as IBM, where we do massive live events both externally and internally. But we also handle the distribution of video from content providers out to distribution points.”

In addition to this, McElvogue highlighted that IBM provides a pure streaming platform for OTT streamers, and that service has been deployed for the last four years - with its largest customers based in the USA and European Market. He confirmed that most of IBM’s OTT footprint was in Europe and the US, but expressed his confidence that IBM’s OTT platform will expand into the Asia Pacific marketplace.

His colleague Dane Gambrill, who is IBM Cloud Video’s business unit executive for Asia Pacific, stated that while AI will provide new and exciting possibilities for our Enterprise and OTT Video clients, the offerings as they exist today are equally exciting. He illustrated his point by discussing IBM’s streaming manager solutions (formally Ustream) and said that IBM was making real headway in the Asian region.

Gambrill said: “With what is available to clients today, there is just as much focus on enhancing the platforms that already exist, as opposed to launching a new product. Other prominent Video technologies we have and are integrating into our platforms include Aspera which is the defacto standard for high-speed data transfer in media production and IBM Cloud Object Storage for media storage. With the other offerings from IBM Cloud Video such as Streaming Manager for Enterprise – which was the former Ustream Align solution - we had the fortunate benefit of already having clients in market pre-acquisition, and we’re now bringing the IBM engine behind it to take to our enterprise customers whether it is in banking, finance, health, insurance, Digital Start up space, basically every industry vertical. We’re really making headway and growing the business across the whole region. In India and South Korea we’ve got a lot of clients, and Australia is one of our largest markets.”

McElvogue added that the idea behind the acquisition was the fact that as video was growing exponentially - it was about time for IBM to bring that capability in-house in order for them to be in a position to provide the service to its traditional IBM customer base.

IBM’s executive director for IBM Cloud Video then highlighted their strategic vision is to base everything around cognitive and augmented intelligence for video. He added: “Our strategic plan going forward - and this is what we’re showcasing here at CommunicAsia - is how everything we’re currently doing now is based around cognitive and augmented intelligence around video. We can show how Watson, our AI engine, can both actually add intelligence and extract intelligence from video - and use that as a primary data source that brings value to your businesses processes and to your business. In order for us to get to an AI engine or augmented intelligence engine that starts matching human cognition, you’ve got to replicate all the human senses. We know that is going to be difficult, but we’re certainly on the right path, and as far as speech cognition is concerned we have without doubt the best performing cognitive engine for language.”

Gambrill concluded the fascinating interview by declaring that any one of the Watson technologies they’re currently showcasing has the power to assist clients in gaining new intelligence within their video assets, and said clients can realize value now by applying any IBM Watson APIs that are available today.

He said: “Any one of these Watson technologies alone, such as speech to text or Image recognition, has the power to really assist clients in enriching their Video assets, as well as providing new intelligence of the audiences or employees who consume their video assets. If you look at the digital era which was underpinned by cloud, mobile and data, we’ve seen a lot of the disruptive companies combining all three elements. I firmly believe with Watson in the new era of Cognitive, that applying this new intelligence that is available today through IBM’s Bluemix Platform, it can really make a difference to improving efficiency in Video operations as well as improving customer value.”