IBM Launches Watson Analytics Pro
Since its release in December, more than 40,000 have registered and are using Watson Analytics. For instance, Mueller manufactures metal roofing across the central and southwestern United States—an area known for extreme weather. In Texas alone, residents from the Panhandle to the Rio Grande Valley can experience drought conditions one moment and golf ball-sized hail and tornados the next. And while Mueller's products can withstand the extreme forces of Mother Nature, weather can still compound traditional business challenges like revenue forecasting. "Before Watson Analytics, we used a basic formula to gauge and forecast revenue," Lack said. "We would take our daily invoice revenue, month-to-date, divide it by the number of business days for the daily average and then multiply that by the number of days left in the month. The formula was OK, but it was never accurate until the last week of the month." That all changed with Watson Analytics. By inputting a variety of variables into the system, including everything from invoice data, to the number of projects ongoing, to even the number of phone calls received, Mueller was able to consistently produce highly accurate revenue forecasts, quickly and easily. With more accurate revenue forecasts available earlier each month, Mueller was able to start identifying and confirming trends, said Lack. With such insights, the company was able to begin re-aligning staffing and sometimes entire jobs. "With more accurate forecasts, we can mitigate if not eliminate guesswork, as well as surprises," Lack said.For its part, Legends, which handles professional and college sporting events, uses Watson Analytics to gain fast insights into a variety of business areas, particularly its hospitality operations. "We knew we had certain stand locations that were outperforming others and wanted to know, what was driving it," De Lord said. "After uploading pertinent data around transaction times, attendance, number of stands open, and even the weather, we were able to identify numerous aspects critical to operational success." Meanwhile, Watson Analytics Professional also provides users with access to 50,000 tweets per dataset to better understand the social sentiment surrounding a particular topic of analysis. The solution, which is $80 per user per month, also supports up to 100GB of data storage. Watson Analytics Professional joins two other solutions in the family, Watson Analytics Personal, which is $30 per user per month and supports up to 2GB of data storage, and Watson Analytics, which is free to users and supports up to 500MB.
But most important to Lack, is Watson Analytics' ability to inspire additional queries and analysis. "The system produces search and query results so fast, and in such an easy-to-view format, that it really sparks new ideas and 'what-if' questions," he said. "That's a unique power of this system."