Cognitive computing will usher in a new wave of change, giving organisations the power to gain insights and make decisions from vast amounts of data. Over the next 12 to 18 months these new systems will begin to replace the programmable computers we have known since the 1940s. Instead they will use natural language recognition and machine learning to discover new insights from vast amounts of unstructured data, at a speed never before possible.

National Australia Bank, for example, has recently deployed a cognitive solution to help employees identify customer needs faster and in a more personal way. Banks already invest significantly in cognitive systems for fraud analysis and investigation, automated threat intelligence and prevention, and for smarter financial advice.

By 2019 the world’s banks will account for 20 per cent of the $41.5 billion global cognitive systems budget says the International Data Corporation (IDC). The transformative effects of cognitive may begin in banking, but they will percolate rapidly into many other sectors.

According to Rod Bryan, lead partner of KPMG’s Solution 49x cognitive consulting group, the huge transformations possible through deductive and inductive reasoning will be deployed widely as cognitive becomes embedded in business practices.

KPMG itself is a case in point. Ken Reid, the firm’s head of innovation, initially saw cognitive as a way to deliver solutions faster and cheaper.