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Cognitive computing in mobile landscape

An app that thinks with you

Martijn Spee – Jr. Business Analyst @ MOBGEN

We’ve become very much used to the presence of the smartphone in our lives. It wakes us up in the morning and keeps us entertained while waiting for friends at the bar. It’s also made our lives so much easier, with over 2 million apps available in the Google Play Store and iTunes, we decide what our smartphones are capable of. With so many capabilities in our pockets, it’s hard not to get attached to it.

Yet, new developments in the software space are about to make the relationship we have with our smartphones even stronger: Cognitive computing systems. This emerging technology enables humans and systems to interact more naturally with each other, thereby bringing humans and computers closer together.

Since many see cognitive computing as the driver of the next big wave of innovation in the digital landscape, let’s take some time to explore this upcoming technology.

So what is it?

A cognitive computing system is a self-learning system that uses data mining, pattern recognition and natural language processing to understand the user’s behavior. The system constantly learns from the interactions with the user, while at the same time analysing the user’s experience and environment before coming into action. In this way, the system is able to provide the right functionality or content at the right time, in the right place. In simple terms, with cognitive computing, Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri, not only gives you the right directions to the nearest gas station, but is also aware if you are in a car, on a bike, or in a hurry, and adjusts its response to your situation.

As the word ‘’self-learning’’ indicates, cognitive computing systems are capable to learn, reason with, and correct information they find in internal and external data sets. And because of this capability, we are slowly moving into a situation in which systems are trained instead of coded. The more the system is trained to understand different types of data, the more it is capable of generating content that is relevant to the user.

This type of method is very similar to the way we humans process information in our brains. We also use different types of information sources (e.g. experience, knowledge and education) to make decisions. And this is exactly what cognitive computing does: it mimics the functioning of the human brain. This is an interesting development, because the human brain is an incredibly complex network. The way we store information, how we remember things, and interpret our environment is hard to describe, let alone understand. However, due to the fast evolvement of cognitive computing, we are moving into an era in which systems think the same as humans. Well-known examples that have already integrated cognitive computing are IBM’s Watson, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home.

Opportunities for mobile apps

As mentioned earlier, cognitive computing enables humans and systems to communicate in a more natural way. By giving the user the feeling that they are interacting with another human rather than a programmed system, chances are high that the user will feel more connected to the system, resulting in a higher engagement level.

Engagement with the user is key in today’s mobile landscape. Apps need to continuously deliver content and functionalities that the user can relate to. If this is not the case, there is no reason for the user to return to the app. Cognitive computing can be the helping hand here. Through cognitive computing, apps will be able to adjust functionalities, tailor-made to the needs of the user. This will result in:

1) Unique user-journeys

2) Advanced decision-making

3) Higher engagement

4) Lower costs for business


How to apply it?

The following cases will give a general impression of how cognitive computing can be applied to different types of industries:

Hospitality industry – Cognitive apps in the hospitality industry could personalise user journeys with dynamic feeds of available hotels and apartments. For example, based on the personal details and time of searching, hotel apps such as Airbnb and could display different search results to different type of users for the same destination. Additionally, cognitive computing will disrupt the traditional way of planning holidays by pre-empting the decisions and desires for the user.

Financial industry –Financial cognitive apps will visualise complex data sets to make it more understandable for the user, thereby enhancing decision-making. Think of investors who need to make decisions on the spot. Also, with cognitive computing, systems would be able to identify potential frauds much earlier, resulting in safer environments for users to do their finances.

Retail industry – Cognitive computing will transform the way users interact with retail apps by having real dialogues with virtual shop assistants and customer service bots. This will have direct impact on customer service efficiency. Similar to the hospitality industry, retailers will be able to target each user individually on a more personal level. Combining this with automated purchase analyses, retailers will be able to move items to locations closer to the user, thereby decreasing delivery times.  

Aviation industry – Through cognitive apps, companies in the aviation industry will be able to enhance the customer experience both online and offline. From eliminating the ‘’will wait for cheaper tickets’’ -behaviour towards buying tickets, to providing them with their favorite drink or snack when entering the plane.

As a last note:


Cognitive computing is becoming an interesting way to move forward for many industries. Many software firms have started looking into this technology for their business and systems. Yet, making use of cognitive computing is proving to be quite challenging. The reason for this is that we train systems how to behave, thereby losing a bit of human control on the output generated by these systems. In other words, we are starting to build systems we cannot fully regulate. Hence, it will require more research, testing and development before cognitive computing can be considered a reliable technology.

At MOBGEN, we are constantly on the lookout for new innovations, and exploring them to see how they can bring value to the mobile landscape. If you feel that cognitive computing technologies could suit your business strategy, or just want to receive more information on this topic, please do not hesitate to contact us: