Citibank Hires Game Show Champ

David Wagner, Managing Editor | 3/8/2012 | 27 comments

David Wagner
The answer is, “This super computer beat a bunch of guys on Jeopardy and will now take its talents to Wall Street.” The question, of course, is, “Who is Watson?” That’s right, according to Bloomberg, Citibank has just contracted with IBM to have Watson do portfolio analysis, risk analysis, and consult on customer needs. Watson’s talent for digesting natural language may be just the breakthrough banks need in analytics to get it out of the doldrums of the financial crisis.

Of course, data mining and analytics are nothing new to banks, but Watson, Google, and Microsoft are going to change the way it is done. We’ve been talking about monitoring data on social networks for quite some time, but mostly this is centering around monitoring keywords, and providing reports to social media and business experts. This amounts at best to a snapshot of what people are thinking over a brief period.

However, Watson can read 200 million pages in three seconds. In other words, Watson isn’t just going to read a few tweets that mention Citibank, but every tweet. Then the information about what people are thinking about, struggling with, and or need can be digested quickly and reported to the right staff. No one has ever been afforded such a wide picture of their business environment and the world that affects it. It has to feel like an enormous safety blanket.

And speaking of safety, we all know risk assessment is one of the places that financial companies failed at most before the recent financial crisis. One of the great things about this type of analytics is that it can combine the analysis of traditional SEC filings with loan documents, newspaper reports, and social networking. It isn’t just about facts. Those can be discovered through traditional means. It is also about judging mood and social signals about industries, products, and companies, and doing it in near-real-time. A blue-chip stock may go from a “buy” to a “sell” just from what appears to be an innocuous tweet or article that goes viral.

Precisely what Watson will be doing is still up in the air. The first thing that has to happen is that Watson has to “learn” the financial business. It needs to grab as much data as it can to better contextualize what it reads. The great thing about technology like this is that it improves over time as it can make more connections to previous data. Watson has already helped WellPoint Health with cancer diagnosis and treatment.

If that experience is an indicator, what Watson and other natural language analytics computers can do best is simplify incredibly complex tasks. Diagnosis of cancer and treatment options is getting more diverse and difficult for single doctors to track. Watson was able to distill those complicated decisions without “dumbing down” the process or getting rid of vital information.

The other advantage is that other types of data mining don’t provide “learning engines” the way natural language analytics can. You can add more data to a traditional database without making it smarter. Watson and its competitors get better as their data grows.

The Bloomberg article says that we should expect it to start out analyzing portfolios for unknown risks. But the real revenue growth for banks is in making new products that respond to the needs of the market. Sounds like a great place to start, since I’ve never felt my bank was particularly aware of my needs. In any case, if computers can keep us out of another financial crisis, it will be well worth it.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
<<   <   Page 2 / 3   >   >>
fbpmt   Citibank Hires Game Show Champ   3/29/2012 8:22:20 PM
Re: Could see the benefits...
Damian - do you honestly think Citi would reveal anything important as to significant uses of watson, if indeed there were?
User Ranking: Blogger
fbpmt   Citibank Hires Game Show Champ   3/29/2012 8:20:39 PM
Re: What's your Watson score?
But, The_Phil, would it attract deposits?
User Ranking: Blogger
fbpmt   Citibank Hires Game Show Champ   3/29/2012 8:19:33 PM
Re: Super Computing, Watson and Analytical Potential
Technocrat - I think Citi needs a little more than Watson, unless Watson can enable Citi to pass the federal stress test?
User Ranking: Blogger
Syerita Turner   Citibank Hires Game Show Champ   3/26/2012 6:49:46 PM
Re: customers needs and institutional needs can differ
@ David, I agree with you. Many companies spend so much money on things that I don't necessarily want but for the stuff that I need it can be tedious at times to actually get.
Technocrat   Citibank Hires Game Show Champ   3/9/2012 10:58:42 PM
Super Computing, Watson and Analytical Potential
It never ceases to be amaze me the power of supercomputing. Watson is the latest representation of this.  200 million pages in three seconds ?  Amazing.   And of course it will be used to make more money for banks.  But Hopefully after the banking industries bellies are full - this type of computing power can greatly aid the analytical efforts of Big Data and analytics in general.
The_Phil   Citibank Hires Game Show Champ   3/9/2012 7:54:22 PM
Re: What's your Watson score?
Why not? Here's a chance for another reality show (and free PR for Citi). If you're considered borderline for a loan or line of credit, you can prove your worthiness by facing the champ in front of the entire TV nation. If you win, you're approved. I think it would get viewers.
LuFu   Citibank Hires Game Show Champ   3/9/2012 1:28:12 PM
What's your Watson score?
Anyone applying for a bank loan, whether for a mortgage or small business loan, has to worry about their credit score to get approval or preferred rates. Doe this mean besides getting your Equifax credit score you'll need a Watson score?
Pedro Gonzales   Citibank Hires Game Show Champ   3/9/2012 1:13:22 PM
wow,great article I would really like to see more information about watson. Altough a game show is a different environment than the financial sector, it will be very interesting to respond what are its results.  I think as computers have more powers, the financial sector are looking for new ways to use it to maximize its earnings. 
Damian Romano   Citibank Hires Game Show Champ   3/9/2012 11:59:34 AM
Re: Could see the benefits...
@HH - I'll grant that there's risk with any technology, particularly when we're asking it to do something for us. The first thing that comes to mind is intrusion detection systems. While there's no doubt configuration is necessary (both upfront and ongoing), we can't expect the device/software to detect everything.

I'm eager to learn what else Citibank will seek to utilize Watson for, outside of the elements you described.
Hospice_Houngbo   Citibank Hires Game Show Champ   3/9/2012 11:55:10 AM
Re: Could see the benefits...
@Damian Romano:

"What happens if/when Watson recommends something that fails? Where then will we point our fingers?"

There is a risk associated with the use of any technology. Waston is still work in progress and it will certainly make mistakes. But the good news is that it will mostly be used for portfolio risk management and not for sensitive tasks such as stock picking - at least for now.
<<   <   Page 2 / 3   >   >>

The blogs and comments posted on do not reflect the views of TechWeb,, or its sponsors., TechWeb, and its sponsors do not assume responsibility for any comments, claims, or opinions made by authors and bloggers. They are no substitute for your own research and should not be relied upon for trading or any other purpose.

More Blogs from David Wagner
David Wagner   5/30/2014   21 comments
For almost three and a half years I have had the pleasure and real privilege to write the Geekend for you every Friday. Fortunately, that privilege isn't ending, it is just moving to our ...
David Wagner   5/23/2014   69 comments
Most of us have gone through the pain of losing a beloved pet. Maybe you lived a long and happy life together, and it died peacefully. Maybe it was tragically struck down by a car or a ...
David Wagner   5/22/2014   47 comments
It is a rare thing when you find me advocating for the government to get more involved in regulating technology, but when it comes to the Internet of Things, that is what I'm advocating. ...
David Wagner   5/21/2014   13 comments
E2 has long trumpeted the days when 3D printers would sit on our desks and print prototypes, consumer goods, and even body parts right from our desk, but a new cloud manufacturing company ...
David Wagner   5/16/2014   40 comments
With Disney's success with the Avengers franchise, geeks everywhere are being treated to an outrageously large number of TV shows and movies based on comic book superhero characters. For ...
Latest Archived Broadcast
In this episode, you'll learn how to stretch the limits of your private cloud -- and how to recognize the limits that can't be exceeded.
On-demand Video with Chat
IT has to deploy Server 2012 in a way that fits the architecture of its application delivery system.
E2 IT Migration Zones
IT Migration Zone - UK
Why PowerShell Is Important
Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI
Rethinking Storage Management
IT Migration Zone - FR
SQL Server : 240 To de mémoire flash pour votre data warehouse
Quand Office vient booster les revenus Cloud et Android de Microsoft
Windows Phone : Nokia veut davantage d'applications (et les utilisateurs aussi)
IT Migration Zone - DE
Cloud Computing: Warum Unternehmen trotz NSA auf die „private“ Wolke setzen sollten
Cloud Computing bleibt Wachstumsmarkt – Windows Azure ist Vorreiter
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Enterprise Efficiency Twitter Feed
Site Moderators Wanted
Enterprise Efficiency is looking for engaged readers to moderate the message boards on this site. Engage in high-IQ conversations with IT industry leaders; earn kudos and perks. Interested? E-mail:
Informed CIO: Dollars & Sense: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Cut through the VDI hype and get the full picture -- including ROI and the impact on your Data Center -- to make an informed decision about your virtual desktop infrastructure deployments.

Read the full report
Virtualization Management: Time To Get Serious
Welcome to the backside of the virtualization wave. Discover the state of virtualization management and where analysts are predicting it is heading

Read the full report
A Video Case Study – Translational Genomics Research Institute
e2 Storage Video

On the Case
TGen IT: Where We're Going Next

7|11|12   |   08:12   |   10 comments

Now that TGen has broken new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions, the company discusses what will come next for it and for personalized medicine.
On the Case
Better Care Through Better Communications

6|6|12   |   02:24   |   11 comments

The achievements of the TGen/Dell project could improve how all people receive healthcare, because they are creating ways to improve end-to-end communication of medical data.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Are Now

5|15|12   |   06:58   |   6 comments

TGen is breaking new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Were

4|27|12   |   06:45   |   10 comments

The Translational Genomics Research Institute wanted to save lives, but its efforts were hobbled by immense computing challenges related to collecting, processing, sharing, and storing enormous amounts of data.
On the Case
1,200% Faster

4|18|12   |   02:27   |   12 comments

Through their partnership, Dell and TGen have increased the speed of TGen’s medical research by 1,200 percent.
On the Case
IT May Improve Children's Chances of Survival

4|17|12   |   02:12   |   8 comments

IT is helping medical researchers reach breakthroughs in a way and pace never seen before.
On the Case
Medical Advances in the Cloud

4|10|12   |   1:25   |   5 comments

TGen and Dell are pushing the boundaries of computing, and harnessing the power of the cloud to improve healthcare.
On the Case
TGen: Living the Mission

4|9|12   |   2:25   |   3 comments

TGen's CIO puts the organizational mission at the heart of everything the IT staff does.
On the Case
TGen Speeding Up Biomedical Research to Save More Lives

4|5|12   |   1:59   |   6 comments

The Translational Genomics Research Institute is revamping its computing to improve speed, storage, and collaboration – and, most importantly, to save lives.
On the Case
Computing Power Helping to Save Children's Lives

3|28|12   |   2:13   |   3 comments

The Translational Genomics Institute’s partnership with Dell is enabling them to treat kids with neuroblastoma more quickly and save more lives.
Tom Nolle
How Deep Is My Storage Hierarchy?

7|3|12   |   2:13   |   5 comments

At the GigaOM Structure conference, a startup announced a cloud and virtualization storage optimizing approach that shows there's still a lot of thinking to be done on the way storage joins the virtual world.
E2 Interview
What Other Industries Can Learn From Financial Services

6|13|12   |   02:08   |   3 comments

We asked CIO Steve Rubinow what CIOs in other industries can learn from the financial services industry about datacenter efficiency, security, and green computing.
E2 Interview
Removing Big-Data Flow Bottlenecks

6|12|12   |   02:55   |   No comments

We ask CIO Steve Rubinow what pieces of financial services infrastructure need to perform better to get traders info faster.
E2 Interview
Getting Traders the Data They Need

6|11|12   |   02:04   |   1 comment

We ask CIO Steve Rubinow: What do stock market traders need to know, how fast do they need it, and how can CIOs get it to them?
E2 Interview
Can IT Help Fix the Global Economy?

6|8|12   |   02:32   |   2 comments

We ask CIO Steve Rubinow whether today's IT can help repair the global economy (and if IT played any role in the economy's collapse).
E2 Interview
More Competitive Business via Datacenter Strategy

5|4|12   |   2:46   |   1 comment

Businesses need to be competitive, yet efficient, and both goals affect datacenter design.
E2 Interview
The Recipe for Greater Efficiency

5|3|12   |   3:14   |   2 comments

Intel supplies the best ingredients to drive greater datacenter efficiency and support new compute, storage, and networking needs.
E2 Interview
Datacenters Enabling Business Transformation

5|1|12   |   06:37   |   1 comment

Dell’s Gaurav Chand says that for the first time ever datacenter technology is truly enabling all kinds of organizations to transform their business and achieve new objectives.
Tom Nolle
Cloud Data: Big AND Persistent!

3|28|12   |   2:11   |   10 comments

We always hear about "Big" data, but a real issue in cloud storage is not just bigness but also persistence. A large data model is less complicated than a big application repository that somehow needs to be accessed. The Hadoop send-program-to-data model may be the answer.
Tom Nolle
Project Lightning Streamlines Storage

2|16|12   |   2:09   |   2 comments

EMC's Project Lightning has matured into a product set, and it's important, less because it has new features or capabilities in storage technology and management, than because it may package the state of the art in a way more businesses can deploy.
Tom Nolle
Big Data Appliance Is Big News

1|12|12   |   2:18   |   No comments

Oracle's release of a Hadoop appliance for Big Data may be a signal that we're shifting to database appliances.
Tom Nolle
Myopia Can Hurt Storage Policy

12|22|11   |   2:08   |   No comments

We're at the beginning of a cloud-driven revolution in storage, but Oracle's quarter shows that enterprises are hunkering down on old concepts because they're afraid of the costs in the near term.
Sara Peters
An Untrained User & a Mobile Medical Device

12|19|11   |   2:43   |   11 comments

Untrained end users, clueless central IT staff, and expensive mobile devices are a worrisome combination for healthcare CIOs.
Tom Nolle
Too Many Labels on 'Big Data'?

12|9|11   |   2:12   |   3 comments

However you label it, structured and unstructured information are different and will likely always require different tools.
Sara Peters
E2 Debuts New Storage Section

12|8|11   |   1:51   |   1 comment

Need strategic guidance on everything from SSDs to 100 percent virtualized datacenters? Look no further.