Remember when the IBM Watson supercomputer showed the humans on Jeopardy! how it’s done? Like most people, you probably thought “Great experiment, but so what? What has Watson done for me lately?”
Now you can find out. Watson has bailed on game shows and is now available in public beta for some serious hardcore business analytics supporting the likes of…you! IBM’s public beta release of Watson Analytics is being positioned as a do-it-yourself version “when you can’t afford to wait for others who have the access or the analytical skills.”
Examples of the questions that different business professionals might ask include:
- Marketing: Which campaigns have been the most successful and why?
- Sales: Which deals are most likely to close and why?
- Finance: Who is most likely to pay and why?
- Operations: Which products are likely to have warranty issues and why?
- IT: Which support tickets are high priority and why?
- HR: Who is likely to leave and why?
Each of these scenarios is supported by a “real life” problem/solution story on the IBM website complete with peppy, on-the-go line of business professionals getting a leg up on their competition.
According to ZDNet, the public beta allows “users to feed in their own raw data, say, in the form of a spreadsheet, which the service then crunches with its own statistical analysis to highlight associations between different variables. It saves execs from needing to know how to write their own scripts or understand statistics in order to derive meaning from their data.”
IBM has spared no expense in creating a rich web experience for curious business users and data “visualizers”. The beta allows users to look at visualizations of their data to find patterns and relationships, while experimenting with Watson's predictive capabilities. ZDNet also reports that the next release will support infographics and dashboards.
In a PC World article, IDC analyst Dan Vessett reports: “I think IBM is bringing together a lot of important components,” referring to how the service combines natural language processing, machine learning, cognitive computing, data cleansing and formatting, preparatory analysis, and visualization.
“Instead of dragging and dropping a pie chart, you write in natural language what you’d like to see, and the system itself will provide what it reasons is the most appropriate visualization,” Vesset said.
While nobody wants to coin another “as-a-service” acronym, Watson Analytics is, in truth, analytics-as-a-service. It runs on IBM's SoftLayer cloud infrastructure and is available through the IBM cloud marketplace and is accessible from any desktop or mobile device. This news is on the heels of IBM's recently announced global partnership with Twitter, which includes plans to offer Twitter data as part of IBM Watson Analytics.