IBM Acquires Financial Consulting Firm to Train Watson on Regulatory Issues

Has your company ever been acquired with the purpose of training an intelligent machine?

That is what IBM did this week with the purchase of prominent financial consulting firm Promontory, which IBM hopes can train Watson so that the artificially intelligent computer aid the company’s financial clients on managing regulatory obligations and reducing costs.

More than 20,000 new regulatory requirements were created last year alone, and the complete catalog of regulations is projected to exceed 300 million pages by 2020, rapidly outstripping the capacity of humans to keep up.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Promontory, which was launched after the financial crisis of 2008, has 600 employees.

“What Watson is doing to transform oncology by working with the world’s leading oncologists, we will now do for regulation, risk and compliance,” explained Bridget van Kralingen, a senior vice president for IBM’s industry platforms team. “This initial offering of Watson Financial Services is emblematic of the transformative cloud-based solutions that IBM Industry Platforms will bring to clients.”

“We believe the future of business and regulation will be driven by the need for advanced technology alongside deep subject-matter expertise,” said Eugene Ludwig, Promontory’s founder. “Combining Promontory’s expertise with IBM’s extraordinary technological capabilities such as Watson will permit us to directly address our clients’ greatest challenges in innovative and powerful ways.”

Promontory is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and has 19 offices in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East. The acquisition is expected to close this year.

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