SAN FRANCISCO – IBM says former Weather Co. CEO David Kenny will be the new boss for Watson, the Jeopardy-winning “cognitive computing” service that’s a central element of CEO Virginia Rometty’s campaign to find new revenue for the struggling tech giant.
Watson is a computing system that uses machine-learning and natural-language skills to analyze and find trends in data from a wide variety of sources. IBM has been promoting Watson and related technology as a powerful tool for use in health care, retailing and other industries.
The Armonk, New York, company announced last year that it was buying The Weather Co., including its websites, apps and data platform, for an undisclosed sum. The cable-TV Weather Channel was not part of the deal and is continuing to operate independently.
Analysts say IBM Corp. is hoping to leverage The Weather Co.’s vast trove of climate data as well as its Internet platform, which delivers weather forecasts via free consumer apps along with more extensive services sold to airlines, insurance companies and other businesses.
IBM said Kenny will oversee the Watson business and related partnerships with outside developers who can build software that uses Watson’s technology. Michael Rhodin, who previously led the Watson unit, will move to a job developing new business uses for Watson.
The Weather Co. and its current services will become part of IBM’s Data and Analytics unit.
Rometty has vowed to increase IBM’s revenue from new types of commercial technology, including cloud computing and data analytics, because its mainstay hardware and services businesses are no longer growing. The company reported earlier this month that its overall revenue for the last three months of 2015 was down for the 15th consecutive quarter.
IBM’s board has backed Rometty’s efforts. The company disclosed late Thursday that she will receive a $4.5 million performance bonus in addition to her $1.6 million salary for 2015. She received a $3.6 million bonus in 2014.
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