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Smith Business Close-Up: Students work with IBM’s Watson

Sep 09, 2014
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Thursday, May 8, 2014, 7:30 p.m. | Sunday, May 11, 2014, 7:30 a.m.

IBM says about half of some 270 billion customer service calls go unresolved every year. The company's answer is the Watson Engagement Advisor, a cloud-based system that activates when a consumer clicks the program's "Ask Watson" feature. That click, according to IBM, quickly helps address customer questions, offers feedback to guide purchase decisions and troubleshoots a customer's problem. Recently, IBM challenged University of Maryland students to develop innovative business solutions related to customer service in the IBM Watson Engagement Advisor Case Competition.

Competitors – all undergraduate students in UMD’s Quality Enhancement Systems and Teams (QUEST) honors program -- worked in teams for three months. They developed organization-specific strategies to acquire and implement the technology -- driven by "Watson," the supercomputer that defeated former grand champions on the TV quiz show Jeopardy!

In this edition of Smith Business Close-Up with the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, Joseph Bailey talks about the recent case competition with QUEST students and how the Smith School is teaching through experiential learning. Student Praneet Puppala was on the winning team.

Bailey is a research associate professor in the department of Decisions, Operations and Information Technologies. He also is executive director of the QUEST program. QUEST is a multidisciplinary, reality- centered program for UMD undergraduates from the Robert H. Smith School of Business, the A. James Clark School of Engineering, and the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. QUEST students participate in a challenging course of study that focuses on innovation, quality systems management and teamwork and co-curricular programming aimed at bringing diverse knowledge, skill and perspective to enhance their professional and personal development.


Where to Watch

Smith Business Close-Up can be seen bi-weekly on Maryland Public Television's Your Business and Money. The program airs at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays and is repeated the following Sunday at 7:30 a.m. on public television stations throughout Maryland and the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region, including:

  • WMPB-TV (Ch. 67), Baltimore
  • WMPT-TV (Ch. 22), DC metro/Annapolis
  • WCPB-TV (Ch. 28), Salisbury
  • WFPT-TV (Ch. 62), Frederick
  • WWPB-TV (Ch. 31), Hagerstown
  • WGPT-TV (Ch. 36), Oakland

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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