IBM just hired Deborah DiSanzo to lead the company’s all-important Watson Health unit.
That’s the part of IBM that is trying to change health care by bringing IBM’s super smart computer, Watson, to doctors, nurses, hospitals, researchers, pharmacies, and, eventually, consumers.
DiSanzo is best known for her two-years as CEO of Philips Healthcare, a unit of the bigger Royal Philips company. She left in the summer of 2014 as part of a management shakeup after Royal Philips reported a disappointing quarter, blaming a revenue miss in the health care unit.
At IBM, DiSanzo will lead a huge division: an organisation of 2,000 people, an IBM spokesperson told Business Insider. IBM is also opening up a new global headquarters for the unit in Cambridge, Mass. The Cambridge HQ will house about 700 of those employees.
IBM CEO Ginni Rometty isn’t just betting her career on all-things Watson, she sees Watson Health as IBM’s “moonshot” and her legacy.
In Rometty’s vision, Watson’s ability to sift through massive amounts of data, apply human-like reasoning and then talk conversationally with humans will completely change health care. It will do things like provide better diagnostics in developing nations, help find cures, help people manage chronic conditions, all from an app or a l0w-cost medical device.
And now DiSanzo has become Rometty’s general of the mission.
IBM on Thursday also announced a bunch of new customers for Watson Health: Boston Children’s Hospital, Columbia University, ICON plc, Sage Bionetworks and Teva Pharmaceuticals.
By the way, Sage is a user of Apple’s ResearchKit, using it for projects involving breast cancer and Parkinson’s Disease. IBM is benefiting from its partnership with Apple.
IBM has already landed other customers like CVS Health, Medtronic and Yale University.
This is a good sign for Rometty who is trying to shift IBM away from its declining businesses that sell old-school hardware and software to enterprises, and push into hot areas like cloud computing, analytics, and mobile computing.
Right now, IBM’s revenues are declining faster than the new areas are building up, but Rometty is moving full-steam ahead, launching new business units, spending billions to build out IBM’s cloud, and signing on new partners ranging from Apple to China’s Tencent.
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