IBM Buys The Weather Company's Digital Assets

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2015-10-28 Print this article Print
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"The Weather Company's extremely high-volume data platform, coupled with IBM's global cloud and the advanced cognitive computing capabilities of Watson, will be unsurpassed in the Internet of things, providing our clients significant competitive advantage as they link their business and sensor data with weather and other pertinent information in real time," John Kelly, senior vice president of IBM Solutions Portfolio and Research, said in a statement. "This powerful cloud platform will position IBM to arm entire industries with deep multimodal insights that will help enterprises gain clarity and take action from the oceans of data being generated around them."

Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, said he believes the research data could be even more valuable over time since the announcement suggests that IBM plans to integrate cognitive features into weather analysis and predictions.

"One of the company's reps told me that the impact of weather events in the U.S. alone is around $500 billion annually," King told eWEEK at IBM's Insight event. "So it'd be natural for IBM to develop predictive services for industries that are especially sensitive to weather events, including transportation, power utilities, construction, emergency & disaster services, travel, etc. Toss in their stated plans to leverage Weather Company data in the new Watson IoT solutions and services, and this deal could become extremely important to both IBM and its enterprise customers."

The Weather Company's mobile and Web properties handle seven times the volume of the world's leading search engine, while serving 82 million unique monthly visitors, IBM said. The Weather Company's platform can ingest a wide range of data at massive speed and scale, supporting a huge volume of queries at very low latency. IBM plans to advance The Weather Company's digital advertising platform and skills, which have driven effective monetization of weather information through data-driven advertising, to build additional ad-sponsored consumer and business solutions.
"We see the next wave of improved forecasting coming from the intersection of atmospheric science, computer science and analytics," David Kenny, chairman and CEO of The Weather Company, said in a statement. "Upon closing of this deal, The Weather Company will continue to be able to help improve the precision of weather forecasts and further deepen IBM's Watson IoT capabilities by enabling the integration of global atmosphere and weather insights with enterprise information to create disruptive industry solutions that optimize decision-making."

Cognitive insights derived from data generated by the Internet of things are transforming the ways in which entire industries operate. For example, predictive weather analytics, coupled with real-time analysis of social media chatter, detailed understanding of transportation flows and other related data, can help retailers and distributors finely tune and maintain availability of vital goods in times of need. Airlines can save millions of dollars annually by tapping multiple real-time and historical data sources to optimize fuel consumption, reduce delays and airport congestion, and improve passenger safety during disruptive conditions.

"IBM brings some pretty remarkable technology resources to the table, so I expect that WU's [Weather Underground] creative development team will be able to take advantage of that and crank out some ground-breaking weather software," said Dr. Jeff Masters, co-founder of Wunderground in a post to the Weather Underground blog.



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