IBM Expands Watson Analytics Program, Creates Citizen Data Scientists

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2016-03-01 Print this article Print
IBM Watson

Messina said IBM began to see an industry need for more data scientists starting about five years ago. Big Blue's partners began to talk about their need for more data scientists and IBM began to build up its own corps of data scientists.

"But as a lot of our partners have been able to get a hold of more data and more types of data, they challenged us by asking how could they get analytics into the hands of more users," he said. "So for us, we saw an industry need. And that is what spurred this student edition. They get our premium edition and they have the ability to not only do data exploration, predictions and dashboarding, but also social media analytics. This is geared toward getting them prepared so when they do graduate they'll have a leg up and be well-versed on what industry is demanding today."

The new Watson Analytics Academic Program includes a one-year license of Watson Analytics Professional Edition for up to 100 users at no cost.

"Watson Analytics makes the process of data analysis more automated and is a guide to discovery," Messina said. "In a computer science class, they want you to show them what's under the hood. But by no means is Watson Analytics looking to replace some of our other analytical tools like SPSS. We see it as a continuum of analytics. If we can arm your everyday line-of-business users with Watson Analytics, that's great. That means you've got hundreds of more hands that can give you quick insights. The idea is that when all of these people have these insights, you can then take that information to your coveted data scientists who will then run their assumptions under a bigger gun. Those data scientists will use another, more powerful tool to validate those assumptions."

Moreover, the new student version also provides universities with access to Twitter data as well as data from external data sources including DashDB, IBM Netezza and more at no cost, with the goal of creating a first line of data analysts or citizen data scientists, Messina said.

"Industry today is hands-down telling us that data scientists are overwhelmed," Messina said. "If they could have a front line that could actually qualify some of these assumptions, they could then focus more of their time on mission-critical stuff. And that to us is pretty important."



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