H&R Block is partnering with IBM’s Watson this tax season to offer its customers a tax advice service. IBM’s Watson is a data analytics service that is said to work a lot like Apple’s Siri. It uses an AI technique called deep learning, it will be able to answer basic tax questions with the information that customers provide. This service is intended to reduce the amount of meetings between customers and tax professionals, as well allow H&R Block to compete with online service competitor TurboTax. One of the things that most people are concerned about is their personal identity information being released. However, no identifiable information such as Social Security numbers will be sent to IBM’s data centers.
I think that the addition of this service will not only help H&R Block become more efficient this tax season, but it will make doing taxes more convenient for the customer. Many people choose to use TurboTax for the main reason that you can do it at home at your convenience and it is simple to use. By providing an at home tax advice service H&R Block is expanding into the market that TurboTax currently has a big share in. Some people though especially the older generation, which is not as advanced with technology may not be interested in this new service and prefer the face to face meetings with an advisor.
However, if the IBM Watson system doesn’t go as plan such as, provides wrong answers or fails during peak season, it could hurt the company. The system is said to improve as more people ask it questions, therefore the more users the better it should get. As for marketing the new service, H&R Block is airing a commercial featuring Mad Men’s Jon Hamm during the Super Bowl. This is a great opportunity to advertise to a massive audience right before tax season, the service is available starting February 6th.