IBM Watson Analytics now open for business

After a lot of buildup, IBM Watson is now open for business.

IBM: Enabling Smarter Healthcare
IBM's Watson supercomputer can be used in many verticals, but healthcare arguably gets the most attention. So much medical data, from patient history to physician notes to medical journals, remains unstructured, making it difficult for machines to interpret it. Watson's capabilities, recently dubbed cognitive computing, can parse data, combine it with treatment guidelines and the latest medical studies, to suggest and score potential diagnoses — or even, some hypothesize, to cure cancer.

In addition, IBM's Smarter Healthcare initiative (part of its Smarter Cities project, itself part of the Smarter Planet) seeks ways to incorporate that insight into collaborative, patient-centered care processes as a means of emphasizing wellness and prevention, not sickness.
IBM: Enabling Smarter Healthcare IBM's Watson supercomputer can be used in many verticals, but healthcare arguably gets the most attention. So much medical data, from patient history to physician notes to medical journals, remains unstructured, making it difficult for machines to interpret it. Watson's capabilities, recently dubbed cognitive computing, can parse data, combine it with treatment guidelines and the latest medical studies, to suggest and score potential diagnoses — or even, some hypothesize, to cure cancer. In addition, IBM's Smarter Healthcare initiative (part of its Smarter Cities project, itself part of the Smarter Planet) seeks ways to incorporate that insight into collaborative, patient-centered care processes as a means of emphasizing wellness and prevention, not sickness.

IBM Watson, apparently not content with its Jeopardy winnings, is looking for work. After a lot of buildup, Watson Analytics, the natural language business intelligence tool based on Big Blue's famed AI, is now available in beta under a freemium model where it's free to get started -- but the really powerful analytics are going to cost you.

That "natural language" part is the key to how IBM sees Watson Analytics differentiating itself in a crowded cloud-delivered BI market defined by startups and big players like Birst, Anaplan, Tidemark, Salesforce Wave and Microsoft. Ask Watson Analytics a question like "Which deals are likely to close?" or "What employees are likely to leave the company?" and it pops up some shiny visualizations with graphs and charts and other good tidbits of data. It's based on the same language processing that let Watson understand Alec Trebek on Jeopardy in the first place.

That simple approach makes it easier for anybody in an organization -- not just a data scientist or an IT guy -- to ask questions and get answers in real time. It's supposed to take the pain out of processing complex data, making predictions, testing assumptions and telling stories without a lot of hassle. Because it's web-based, it works on just about any device with a browser -- making it handy for field workers.

As for data ingestion, it can take in data from basically anywhere, with Salesforce, Google Drive, Box, Oracle and, of course, IBM connectors already available. As with any analytics cloud, the more data you put in, the more data points Watson Analytics has to draw from and the more valuable the insights -- at least, in theory. Prominent statisticians like Nate Silver have been warning against data overload, under the precept that not all data is created equal.

In short, beware of more signal than noise.

IBM's moving into a crowded market that's only getting more so. Everybody wants to be the vendor that provides people outside the IT organization with better visibility into their own data, but differentiation is a tremendous challenge. IBM has a big advantage with a recognizable brand -- and Watson definitely makes a better company mascot than HAL 9000.

It's free to get started, but this is your obligatory reminder that it's still in beta, and things that are free today may be paid tomorrow. IBM likely has Watson Analytics in beta for the same reason Google kept Gmail in beta for so many years: It wants the freedom to change up the platform, even though it's definitely ready for prime time.

IBM claims that 22,000 people are already signed up on the platform. And if you give Watson Analytics a shot, let us know in the comments whether Big Blue's artificial intelligence has what it takes to compete in business intelligence.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Does your brand need a personality review?

There are five tell-tale signs your brand needs to take a long hard look at itself.

Charlie Rose

Senior Strategy Consultant, Principals

How to create profitable pricing

How do we price goods and services? As business leaders, we have asked ourselves this question since the history of trading.

Lee Naylor

Managing partner, The Leading Edge

Sport and sponsorship: The value of event sponsorship

Australia’s cricketers captured the nation’s attention during their recent run to the semi-final of the ICC Men’s World Cup. While the tournament ultimately ended in defeat, for over a month it provoked a sense of belonging, hope and empowerment for millions of people across Australia. Cricket, and sport in general, has a near-unique ability to empower individuals, irrelevant of their background, demographic or nationality.

Nikhil Arora

Vice-president and managing director, GoDaddy India

Thank you, so do I.

David Freeman

Sustainability of message: H2coco founder's commitment to consumers

Read more

Hi Harry, thank you for pointing this out I can confidently say both these bottles are in transition away from PET as we continue to impr...

David Freeman

Sustainability of message: H2coco founder's commitment to consumers

Read more

I’m confused. He has a giant 2l hard plastic bottle in Coles and his pink bottle is also in plastic??

Harry

Sustainability of message: H2coco founder's commitment to consumers

Read more

Great message from an Aussie company about sustainable business practices, particularly packaging. Wish more businesses would think more ...

Krisy

Sustainability of message: H2coco founder's commitment to consumers

Read more

Well, I wish we could change the situation. But I am not sure it's possible.

Patricia Miller

Does social media make astroturfing acceptable?

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in