IBM unveils ‘analytics for everyone’ with natural language
By Digital News Asia September 22, 2014
- Watson Analytics a natural language-based freemium cloud service
- Puts predictive business analytics in the palm of your hand, says IBM
IBM has announced Watson Analytics, a natural language-based cognitive service that it claimed can provide instant access to powerful predictive and visual analytic tools for businesses.
According to analysts, only a small fraction of business people use powerful analytics tools as part of their decision making today (IDC and Computerworld’s Annual Business Analytics Survey, June 2013), IBM said.
Watson Analytics is designed to make advanced and predictive analytics easy to acquire and use for anyone, the company added.
The first release of Watson Analytics will include a freemium version of its cloud-based service designed to run on desktop and mobile devices.
It offers a full range of self-service analytics, including access to easy to use data refinement and data warehousing services that make it easier for business users to acquire and prepare data – beyond simple spreadsheets – for analysis and visualisation that can be acted upon and interacted with, IBM said.
IBM Watson Analytics uses natural language to make interaction with powerful, predictive analytics easier with the ability to understand key questions, such as: What are the key drivers of your product sales? Which benefits drive employee retention the most? Which deals are most likely to close?
Unlike analytics offerings designed primarily for data scientists and analysts predominantly focused on visualisation, Watson Analytics automates steps like data preparation, predictive analysis, and visual storytelling for business professionals across data intensive disciplines like marketing, sales, operations, finance and human resources, the company said.
Three key innovations can greatly reduce the skills required to engage in advanced analytics, IBM claimed:
- Single business analytics experience: Unlike today’s separate analytics tools designed for different kinds of analysis and data tasks, Watson Analytics is a seamless, unified experience that brings together a set of self-service enterprise data and analytics capabilities on the cloud. Business professionals identify their problem, and Watson Analytics can help them source the data, cleanse and refine it, discover insights, predict outcomes, visualise results, create reports or dashboards, and collaborate with others.
- Guided predictive analytics: Features the use of predictive analytics to surface key relevant facts and uncover unforeseen patterns and relationships. This process sparks new questions and better insight, directing users to parts of their business that matter most.
- Natural language dialogue: Speaks the language of business and people by enabling someone to simply type in what they would like to see; Watson Analytics produces results that explain why things happened and what's likely to happen, all in familiar business terms. And as business professionals interact with the results, they can continuously fine-tune questions to get to the heart of the matter.
“Watson Analytics is designed to help all business people – from sales reps on the road to company CEOs (chief executive officers) – see patterns, pursue ideas and improve all types of decisions,” said Bob Picciano, senior vice president of the Information and Analytics Group at IBM.
“We have eliminated the barrier between the answers they seek, the analytics they want and the data in the form they need. The combination of Watson-fuelled analytics to magnify human cognition, the vast potential of big data, and cloud-scale delivery to PCs, smartphones and other devices is transformational,” he declared.
Like other IBM Cloud solutions, Watson Analytics will be hosted on SoftLayer and available through the IBM Cloud marketplace.
IBM also intends to make Watson Analytics services available through IBM Bluemix to enable developers and ISVs (independent software vendors) to leverage its capabilities in their applications.
Certain Watson Analytics capabilities will be available for beta test users within 30 days, and offered in a variety of freemium and premium packages starting later this year. For more information, go to watsonanalytics.com.
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