With Mapbox Deal, IBM Watson Will Learn A Lot More About Where Things Are Happening

Fast Company
By Sean Captain
August 8, 2016

The geo­da­ta provider will help IBM let non-techies track things like sales, real estate val­ues, and cit­i­zen com­plaints by address.

The catch­phrase “arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence” may be ubiq­ui­tous, but it’s hard to find peo­ple who actu­al­ly know how to use it. That dis­crep­an­cy rep­re­sents an oppor­tu­ni­ty for prod­ucts like Wat­son Ana­lyt­ics, IBM’s point-and-click AI tool that lets non-experts ana­lyze busi­ness data by ask­ing ques­tions in col­lo­qui­al speech. In recent years, IBM has been build­ing out the data sources that Wat­son Ana­lyt­ics can draw from—and is now adding gran­u­lar map­ping info through a deal with geo­da­ta provider Mapbox.

Wat­son Ana­lyt­ics is not the sex­i­est form of AI—pretty far from Ex Machi­na. But it’s attrac­tive to peo­ple in fields like mar­ket­ing, who can start with as lit­tle as a spread­sheet of sales fig­ures and get arti­fi­cial insights into how and where they might sell more prod­uct. (Sin­gle user accounts range from free to $80 per month.) Since announc­ing Wat­son Ana­lyt­ics in Sep­tem­ber 2014, IBM has been adding built-in data sources that cus­tomers can pair with their uploads. In March, 2015, it announced a deal with Twit­ter to let Wat­son Ana­lyt­ics users study online chat­ter. That same month, IBM also made a deal for detailed mete­o­ro­log­i­cal data from The Weath­er Com­pa­ny (own­er of The Weath­er Chan­nel and Weath­er Underground)—including mov­ing its data to IBM’s cloud. A few months lat­er, IBM pur­chased The Weath­er Com­pa­ny, a deal that closed in Jan­u­ary 2016.

For all these com­pa­nies, the sig­nal may not be in your own data,” says Marc Alt­shuller, IBM’s gen­er­al man­ag­er of busi­ness ana­lyt­ics. “Most like­ly, the sig­nal is in a com­bi­na­tion of mar­ket data like what Map­box has, plus your own inter­nal data.”

To read the full arti­cle, vis­it Fast Com­pa­ny.