Past Winners

IBM’s Jeopardy!-Winning Computer Scores Big as Business Innovator Winner

IBM took a mundane subject, business computing, and created a cultural landmark when it took its Watson supercomputer to Jeopardy! for three days in February. The show garnered its highest ratings in six years when Watson took on previous champions, and the appearance was mentioned on shows such as The View and Late Show with David Letterman. Watson was also a trending topic on Twitter for all three nights it appeared on the show. Judges hailed the campaign, with one stating, “It was a very strong, creative, and strategically planned and executed campaign. Perhaps the best campaign of the decade.” “This is the case my kids’ kids will study in years to come – history-making work!” commented another judge. IBM’s key goal was to highlight the potential of Watson’s analytics technology to solve tough challenges facing industries such as healthcare, government, and financial services. It also wanted to connect with thousands of businesses and IT leaders and drive social media traction, while avoiding the appearance of a publicity stunt. IBM gave The New York Times Magazine full access to the research team and sparring matches six months before the Jeopardy! run. In addition, it invited reporters to 200 viewing parties. The effort succeeded on all fronts – with staggering results. Watson appeared in 33,000 media stories. Astoundingly, 70% of the population became aware of its Jeopardy! appearance. Time gave Watson the number nine ranking on its “100 most influential things” list for 2011. It also garnered 24,000 Facebook fans and 11,600 Twitter followers. “Introducing Watson on Jeopardy! was one of the most effective promotional events in recent memory,” noted one judge. “And it sustained interest in the product for months.”