IBM supercomputer Watson will answer questions with Twitter data


IBM is to bring social media data from Twitter to its Watson Analytics service, with tweets to also become available on its Bluemix cloud developer environment.

The company first announced a partnership with Twitter in October last year, gaining access to the social media site's database going back into 2009.

Since then, Twitter has announced IBM as it's only global consulting partner, and this week's announcement fulfills the promise of integration between the company's services.

Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO, said: "Twitter provides a powerful new lens through which to look at the world as both a platform for hundreds of millions of consumers and business professionals, and as a synthesiser of trends.

"This partnership, drawing on IBM's leading cloud-based analytics platform, will help clients enrich business decisions with an entirely new class of data. This is the latest example of how IBM is reimagining work."

And Chris Moody, VP of data strategy at Twitter, gave an example of how it might work, saying: "This relationship will enable IBM solutions like the famous computer Watson to access Twitter data as an input for multi-variable, pattern-dependent questions like 'What do customers like best about my products?' or 'Why are we growing quickly in Brazil?'"

Alistair Rennie, IBM Analytics general manager, said the enhancement to Watson Analytics has so far garnered 150 customer "engagements", claiming that the service goes beyond simply sentiment analysis of brands on Twitter.

"It's in demand signalling, the supply chain and customer churn models," he said. "One example is how employee retention has an impact on retail sales."

With the data taken from the social media platform, customers can more easily identify patterns and attach reasoning to customer behaviour.

This is boosted by the service's combining of information from a number of different data sources.

"The skillset needed to use that is similar to what you'd need for a spreadsheet, but it delivers very powerful analytics," Rennie added.

"People are not approaching this saying we'll take two years and have a long strategy. They want to do this quickly, get an insight, make a decision. And it is not expensive Watson Analytics is a freemium tool."

The Watson Analytics service does cost $30 per month, however, though with Bluemix, developers can access up to five million tweets for free, before a pay-as-you-go model kicks in when developers' apps are up and running.

Industries that have so far used the Twitter data service include financial services, insurance, consumer events, telecommunications, utilities and sporting events, according to IBM.

Caroline Preece

Caroline has been writing about technology for more than a decade, switching between consumer smart home news and reviews and in-depth B2B industry coverage. In addition to her work for IT Pro and Cloud Pro, she has contributed to a number of titles including Expert Reviews, TechRadar, The Week and many more. She is currently the smart home editor across Future Publishing's homes titles.

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