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The Architecture of Watson Orchestrate – A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Innovation at IBM

By DAVID Jenness posted Mon June 28, 2021 02:45 PM


This is the third article in a series that takes you inside the ongoing development of a new game-changing use for AI-powered Automation. Called Watson Orchestrate, the new offering, still in development through 2021, which orchestrates work between people and Automation and can initiate its own workflow, and trigger Automation capabilities with a voice or text command. 

Earlier, we featured Product Manager, Salman Sheikh, who is charged with productizing the technology, and Allen Chan, IBM Distinguished Engineer, who helped shape the vision. In this article, we visit with the Watson Orchestrate software architect, Sebastian Carbajales. 

Sebastian Carbajales

A software architect makes high-level design choices and looks to enforce technical standards, including software languages, tools, and platforms. Sebastian Carbajales is a 25-year veteran of IBM, who has been one of the key architects on such IBM Automation stalwarts as IBM Business Automation Workflow and Workstream Automation Services. His deep knowledge of workflow is one of the main reasons he was tapped for this project, as well as his previous work with IBM Research labs.

“I’ve been doing a lot of work with research teams on new workflow capabilities like Decision Recommendation, Intelligent Task Prioritization, and other projects that bring AI and workflow together,” he says. “Which is why the team felt I’d be the right guy for this project.”

How does a software architect take on a project like Watson Orchestrate, which has a lot of complex components?  “It’s definitely a challenge,” he admits. “My role is to understand the big picture; how all the components come together. I rely on other people to go deep. There are team members that know about security, others know the database, and others that focus on integration between components. My job is to create the technical roadmap. So I figure out how to design the components and put them together to make them work, ensuring that the approach can grow in future releases.”

Sebastian has been very busy lately getting the Alpha Sandbox ready for selected customers to experience Watson Orchestrate, which launched on June 28. He says it’s all about bringing IBM customers along on the innovation journey. It’s a reminder that innovation demands that extra push for something unique that will make a difference. “We started asking ourselves, ‘How do we provide a user experience that allows customers to really understand what Watson Orchestrate is capable of?’, says Carbajales. “We envisioned a sort of virtual playground with a scenario that enables participants to go through the steps of interacting with Watson Orchestrate.  We didn’t want to do anything typical.”

During a brainstorming session, Carbajales and team hit on it. “Let's not give a user a script to follow, like we usually do, let's give them a goal they have to accomplish!” he said.

When you take the Watson Orchestrate Challenge, you play the role of a salesperson and your task is to get a quote approved and sent to your customer. This is one of the most common business processes that people all over the world in many industries understand. But getting there can involve a lot of forms, people, and systems. But with Watson Orchestrate at your service, you can easily apply automation to get to job done.

“It’s like a scavenger hunt. They get to complete a bunch of tasks and along the way they discover the capabilities of Watson Orchestrate,” he says. “You don’t have to do things in a linear way either. You can skip optional tasks or do them in a different order where possible, just like you would if you were using Watson Orchestrate in the real world.”

While customers will be able to experience Watson Orchestrate, there’s an important purpose behind the Alpha Sandbox.  “We want to get people’s imagination flowing, to get them thinking about what they can do with it. Then we’ll ask people who’ve done it for feedback, so we can make the product robust and useful to a variety of industries.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Watson Orchestrate and the Alpha Sandbox, here is the link to sign up and learn more.