25 Apr 2017 10:09 AM

I read with great interest how IBM Watson has joined up with H&R Block in the USA to assist with this year’s tax filing.

H&R Block employs more than 70,000 tax professionals during the filing season who work out of 10,000 offices.

IBM Watson is an artificial intelligence tool that can crunch and process vast amounts of data. It has been fed 74,000 pages of the federal tax code and thousands of tax related questions taken from H&R Block data, accumulated over decades of preparing tax returns.

IBM Watson is already a huge source of information for the Legal and Medical professions. In the US companies such as Geico, Staples and Macys use Watson’s technology to answer customer questions or to improve mobile apps that guide shoppers through stores.

There is a very important rationale for most Americans to get their tax returns in and make sure that they maximise all tax deductible items – 75% of Americans who file tax returns get refunds. For H&R Block clients, the company claims the figure of about 85%.

Further, H&R Block is looking at client retention figures and feels the Watson experience will be more ‘engaging and interactive’ when compared to walking into a tax office.

For IBM, Watson is part of a key crucial strategy going forward. IBM has recently reported its 19th consecutive quarter of declining revenue. Therefore, IBM is banking on Watson turning around this trend and transforming their fortunes.

Elementary - the race is afoot!