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.”
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