Magazine article CRM Magazine

IBM Merges Weather and Business Forecasts: Big Blue's Purchase of the Weather Company Enhances Its Ability to Provide Business Insights

Magazine article CRM Magazine

IBM Merges Weather and Business Forecasts: Big Blue's Purchase of the Weather Company Enhances Its Ability to Provide Business Insights

Article excerpt

IBM in late October announced plans to acquire The Weather Company and its digital assets, including weather.com, Weather Underground, and WSI, for an estimated $2 billion. The Weather Channel is not included in the acquisition, but the television network will license weather forecast data and analytics from IBM under a long-term contract.

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While the deal might not seem significant on the surface, the enormous data-gathering operation that IBM is buying from The Weather Company could lead to more accurate climate modeling and weather forecasts, which can be vital to all businesses as they look to plan around favorable or unfavorable weather.

"With an added focus on in-the-moment marketing and predictive analytics, having the most relevant information about the weather could make or break a company," says Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research. Companies alerted to a pending snowstorm, for example, can rebook corporate travel, restock shelves with salt, change staffing levels in call centers, or cancel meetings.

Weather, Wang says, is a core business contextual attribute, along with time, location, and identity.

Esteban Kolsky, principal and founder at ThinkJar, says there isn't a business in the world that couldn't benefit from weather information, especially if it is made available in advance of the six o'clock news. "If you know your supplier will be late because of a storm half a world away, could you use that for better service or sales?" he asks. "If your product will become less available, can you raise prices but manage configure, price, and quote for your top customers?"

With The Weather Company acquisition, IBM gets a wealth of additional data to feed into its Watson cognitive computing and analytics engine to help companies. The combination of technology and expertise from IBM and The Weather Company will serve as the foundation for IBM's new Watson IoT Unit and Watson IoT Cloud platform.

Thanks to The Weather Company's cloud-based data platform, IBM can collect an even larger variety and higher velocity of global data sets, store them, analyze them, and distribute them to its business clients. …

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