IBM and The Weather Company’s WSI Division announced a global strategic alliance under which WSI will shift its massive weather data services platform to the IBM Cloud and integrate its data with IBM analytics and cloud services.
In doing so, WSI will be able to accelerate the growth of one of the largest cloud-based applications in the world, IBM said.
Partnering with IBM also will enable enterprise clients and industry ecosystems to more easily integrate WSI weather data – including rapidly updated forecasts – into their operations and decision-making. Once integrated with enterprise processes, weather data can be combined with data from supply chains, customer buying patterns and other sources to create more valuable insights.
Weather is a key factor in business performance – responsible for an annual economic impact of nearly half a trillion dollars in the U.S. alone, IBM said. While weather prediction is increasingly precise and granular, business systems generally assume every day is the same. As a result, knowledge of impending extreme weather disruptions – or even routine disruptions that drive well-understood behaviors and systemic reactions – don’t always trigger operational responses. Combining weather data with traditional business data and rich data from an unprecedented number of Internet of Things- (IoT) enabled systems and devices will fundamentally transform enterprise decision-making, IBM said.
The IoT and cloud computing allow for collection of data from more than 100,000 weather sensors and aircraft, millions of smartphones, buildings and even moving vehicles. WSI’s forecasting system ingests and processes data from thousands of sources, resulting in approximately 2.2 billion unique forecast points worldwide, and averages more than 10 billion forecasts a day on active weather days.
“There’s an opportunity to inform all business operations and decision-making with real-time actionable insight delivered securely via the cloud and extracted from all this data collected from sensors all over the planet,” said Bob Picciano, senior vice president of IBM Analytics, in a statement. “The Weather Company and IBM partnership can be a catalyst to making critical business systems even smarter.”
IBM and WSI will deliver new cloud services to businesses in three primary ways: Watson analytics for Weather, cloud and mobile app developer tools, and business and operational weather expertise. With Watson Analytics for Weather, IBM and WSI will enable easy integration of historical and real-time weather data in business operations and decision making with IBM analytics platforms such as Watson Analytics. The companies will jointly develop industry solutions for insurance, energy & utilities, retail and logistics among others.
Moreover, with the new tools, entrepreneurs and software developers will be able to rapidly build mobile and Web apps that take advantage of WSI data combined with data from operational systems, connected devices and sensors using analytics through Bluemix, IBM’s cloud application development platform. In addition, thousands of consultants from across IBM Global Business Services will be trained to combine WSI data with other sources to more effectively interpret industry pain points, providing clients new insights that solve business problems.
IBM Nabs Cloud, Big Data, IoT Deal With The Weather Company
By combining IBM’s cloud computing, industry consulting and analytics expertise with WSI’s precision weather data and forecasts, the alliance enables entire industries to apply their understanding of weather to business outcomes and take action at a local level. For example, IBM said insurers pay more than $1 billion in claims every year for vehicles damaged by hail. WSI’s Weather Alert service, together with IBM Analytics, enables insurance providers to send policyholders text messages that alert them to impending hailstorms – and safe locations – so vehicles can be moved before damage occurs. These insights have the potential to save insurers up to $25 per policyholder per year in hail-prone areas, or millions of dollars annually, IBM said.
In addition, utility companies are impacted by increases in temperature and relative humidity – even if just a few degrees – by dramatic increases in air conditioning use and power consumption, IBM said. The difference between 90 and 95 degrees in Texas, for example, can add up to $24 million more in electricity spending per day. With IBM and WSI, utilities will be able to more accurately predict power consumption so they can avoid over-producing power, reduce service interruptions and better serve customers.
“This deal combines the capabilities of the world’s largest and most advanced commercial weather company with the leader in big data and analytics,” said David Kenny, chairman and CEO of The Weather Company, in a statement. “Together, we’ll help businesses and governments transform their decisions and operations around weather fluctuation at a scale that hasn’t been possible until now. This is a watershed moment for businesses that have long been impacted by weather but haven’t had the rich data or enhanced decision-making ability to drive positive business outcomes. The combination of our new high-resolution forecasting capabilities with IBM analytics opens up a world of possibilities for the enterprise.”
The new IBM/Weather Company partnership builds upon IBM’s investment of $3 billion over the next four years in an Internet of Things (IoT) unit to develop a portfolio of cloud services, software and related intellectual property.
IBM’s deal with The Weather Company calls into question the weather organization’s existing relationship with Amazon Web Services (AWS), which has supported The Weather Company’s cloud and big data strategy. A case study on the AWS site describes AWS as a key component of The Weather Company’s cloud strategy.
“We need to be within 100 milliseconds of everyone on the planet — and we leverage the global reach and availability of AWS to deliver on that strategy,” Bryson Koehler, executive vice president and CIO of AWS, is quoted as saying in the case study.
However, in response to queries about the roles of AWS and IBM at The Weather Company going forward, Koehler said in a statement: “The reports around a complete migration off of AWS were not accurate. I, and The Weather Company continue to believe in a multi-cloud architecture that allows us to manage workloads across multiple cloud providers. Our partnership announcements today are in addition to our long-standing and strong partnership with AWS.”
The addition of IBM to the party, however, indicates that The Weather Company has bought into the IBM big data and analytics strategy of delivering an integrated view of all their data in a single IoT platform.