Cognitive computing might sound like science fiction, something that we can look forward to using in the next few decades – but it is a reality today, and resellers should be gearing up for the many opportunities it opens up.

Far from being a science fiction concept, cognitive computing is the technology that is enabling a wealth of applications including search and analysis.

Bradley McCulloch, IBM business lead at Axiz Advanced Technologies, explains that the field of artificial intelligence is advancing in leaps and bounds.

“IBM is a leader when it comes to new technology and developments, and it’s unbelievable what can already be done – things that were just a dream a few years ago are a reality now.”

With cognitive computing the business case for users moves away from a product sale towards what insights can be gained, and what services can therefore be offered.

McCulloch explains that the ability to gather data from various systems lets companies draw intelligent conclusions – and then suggest what services a user could consume based on these insights.

Businesses that could develop new products and services based on cognitive computing enabling intelligent insights include retail, insurance and healthcare.

“For instance, IBM Watson can run through reams of medical history and come up with an accurate diagnosis. It can even go beyond that and read a personal face and voice to determine their mood and health.”

Best of all, he adds, this kind of analysis is easier than people think thanks to technologies like IBM Watson and cognitive computing.

IBM and Axiz Advanced Technologies are geared up to help partners to understand the world of cognitive computing, and to make the business case for their customers.

“With the tools IBM makes available you can develop anything you want,” McCulloch says. “Cognitive computing may be non-traditional business now, but it allows you to tackle any market you want to.

“The challenge for us is finding business partners who can identify the opportunities and develop solutions to take to the customer base.”

The IBM team at Advanced Technologies is trying to do things differently and is looking to recruit new partners from outside the traditional reseller base. “We want to talk to people who write applications, who do DevOps – and these are not necessarily IT resellers. We are looking to break out of the mould.”

Hardware, software and infrastructure is still a major part of the IBM business, he adds, but this business opportunity will start to move into the Cloud.

“So we’ve got traditional partners, including those who have been doing this for years and are best of breed, and some of these partners are changing to cloud-based business. At the same time we are recruiting new types of partners that we have never engaged with before.”

Advanced Technologies has committed to helping these new partners join the community, and will assist all its partners in identifying new routes to market that are not necessarily based on products.

“We will help them to create new solutions and take them to market,” McCulloch says.

A global community of developers is working on APIs and algorithms that harness the power of cognitive computing, and local developers can do the same.

“IBM talks about smarter initiatives, which is something no single partner can deploy. So we are working with business partners to collaborate and create new solutions, and help partners to work with one another.”

The IBM team of 18 people works hard to understand its partners and the markets they operate in, helping them to develop new products and collaborating with the broader community.

“This is one of our greatest strengths,” McCulloch says.