IBM, Twitter Deliver Data Services for Business Pros, Developers

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2015-03-17 Print this article Print
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“The partnership with Twitter is just one aspect of a greater effort at IBM to redefine its forward course to take advantage of a host of emerging market opportunities,” King said. “The reorg announced a few months ago is related to this, too, but the underlying point is that IBM realizes that it must embrace change in order to succeed. The size of the Twitter effort is a good indication of the company's seriousness as well as the scope of the commercial opportunity IBM hopes to capture.”

 IDC’s Schubmehl expects IBM to forge more partnerships.

“I believe that Twitter is just the first of many value-added content partnerships and licensing agreements,” Schubmehl said. “There’s a world of data that when integrated with enterprise information is going to yield significant new insights into items like customer behavior, effects of governmental policies, operational behavior and many other aspects that organizations will find very useful.”

IBM said the new services have already yielded valuable insights for early engagement customers. For example, a major global food service chain, was able to better understand the connection between employee turnover and customer loyalty by looking at IBM analytic models and learning that consumers value, and Tweet about, the relationship they build with sales associates, particularly in food service where individual tastes and preferences are important.

Once a relationship is removed consumers also Tweet, but this time expressing a sense of loss for the relationship and their dissatisfaction with having to ‘start over.’

IBM looked at Twitter data along with loyalty information and the financial performance of different stores and restaurants. Not only did dissatisfaction with employee turnover impact sales negatively, the dissatisfaction was most keenly felt by the most loyal and valuable customers. In one study the impact was highest with a consumer cluster that represented just 3.3 percent of the total customer population -- yet these customers have some of the highest gross margins for the retailer and shop virtually every day, IBM said.

In another early engagement in the telecommunications industry, IBM said it identified the correlation between weather events, angry Tweets and customer defections. By helping analyze localized Twitter data combined with weather data, IBM said it could  significantly improve churn models – in some cases by 5 percent – and help a client take actions to minimize turnover.

IBM also found that Twitter is an effective demand signal for the apparel industry. Manufacturers want to know what products to make and when, but constantly changing retail trends and habits make it harder to understand and respond to demand.

By using psycholinguistic analytics from IBM Research to extract a full spectrum of psychological, cognitive and social traits from Twitter data and combining it with operational data such as sales and market share information, manufacturers can better understand why some products sell well while others don't. They can also improve merchandising strategies and provide input to future product development, IBM said.

"What I've seen has been very impressive both in terms of the insights delivered and the solutions' ease of use," King said. "One of IBM's primary goals in analytics has been to make the insights derived available to virtually anyone in any organization. By leveraging Twitter data and Watson analytics together, the company may well achieve just that."


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