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USAA Enlists Watson to Enhance Digital Capabilities

The IBM supercomputer will help to answer questions from USAA members.

USAA is enlisting the world's most famous Jeopardy champion to help connect with its customers via digital channels.

No, not Ken Jennings; but IBM's Watson supercomputer is being enlisted by USAA to help answer questions from its members. USAA, which provides financial services to military members and their families, says it is the first company "to commercialize the use of Watson as a consumer-facing application":

For now, USAA members can ask Watson questions about military separation. Eventually, members will be able to ask Watson about many of the products and services offered by the enterprise.

“We’ve had persistent challenges with delivering advice through the digital channels,” says Neff Hudson, vice president of Emerging Channels. “What we’re trying to do is create a network, a system where digital gets adept at providing advice.”

A team from USAA spent more than six months training Watson to answer questions about military separation. The team started with 2,000 questions to educate the computer.

With a member base that is often scattered around the world, digital and self-service capabilities are critical to USAA. Of the 700 million digital interactions members have with USAA each year, nearly 94 percent allow members to complete their transactions by themselves, wrote Hudson.

Bryan Yurcan is associate editor for Bank Systems and Technology. He has worked in various editorial capacities for newspapers and magazines for the past 8 years. After beginning his career as a municipal and courts reporter for daily newspapers in upstate New York, Bryan has ... View Full Bio

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