Building on their landmark partnership announced in October, IBM and Twitter announced several new cloud-data services to help businesses more efficiently listen to consumer Twitter conversations to identify insights and to make better business decisions.
By merging Twitter data with Watson Analytics, users can more easily identify and explain hidden patterns and relationships, the companies said. Bluemix, IBM’s cloud-based developer environment combined with Twitter, will help developers and entrepreneurs create a variety of social data-enabled apps.
The IBM and Twitter partnership aims to help enterprise clients apply social data to business decisions. More than 100 customers are using the software in early engagements.
IBM said Twitter is like no other data source in the world. It is a real-time, public, conversational and global information platform where voices from around the world are speaking about every topic imaginable.
“The unprecedented partnership between IBM and Twitter helps businesses tap into billions of real-time conversations to make smarter decisions,” said Glenn Finch, global leader of Big Data & Analytics for IBM Global Business Services, in a statement. “Through unique expertise, curation and insights Twitter data is now able to inform decision-making far inside organizations.
IBM said it is able to isolate important information from “noise” on Twitter by enriching and analyzing Twitter data in combination with millions of data points from other streams of public and business data – such as weather forecasts, sales information and product inventory stats. This helps to uncover powerful correlations that drive more actionable insights.
“So much of business decision making relies on internal data such as sales, promotion and inventory. Now with Twitter data, customer feedback can easily be incorporated into decision making,” said Chris Moody, vice president of Data Strategy at Twitter, in a statement. “IBM’s unique capabilities can help businesses leverage this valuable data, and we expect to see rapid demand in retail, telecommunications, finance and more.”
The new IBM analytics services on the cloud will help businesses and developers create social data-enabled apps, merge predictive analytics with Twitter data and more easily analyze Twitter data, the companies said. Also, by automating the steps of data curation, predictive analysis and visual storytelling, Watson Analytics gives users the ability to immediately pull Twitter data into any project in order identify and explain hidden patterns and relationships. Bluemix also enables users to combine Twitter data with IBM’s Enterprise Hadoop-as-a-Service offering.
Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, said he believes the IBM/Twitter partnership is significant for both companies. “As we’ve seen before — notably with the Apple partnership — IBM carries an enterprise imprimatur that most other vendors can only dream of. As a result of this deal and the seriousness of the collaboration, Twitter should be able to gain entry to a host of new large- scale prospects. But the deal should also allow IBM to prove that it is far more than a purveyor of traditional business computing solutions and services. Truly unlocking the value of Twitter data is critically important for both the company’s finances and its credibility as an innovator.”
Dave Schubmehl, a research director at IDC noted that the partnership opens up many opportunities for both IBM and Twitter to use Twitter data to gain insights in many areas for IBM’s enterprise customers.
More than 4,000 IBM professionals now have access to Twitter data and are trained to enrich the data with analytics capabilities from IBM industry solutions and cloud-based services, IBM said.
IBM seems to be taking this very seriously, Schubmehl said. “IBM and Twitter announced this partnership at the end of October and in a little over four months, they’re got over 100 client engagements and thousands of their services people trained on developing – insights using Twitter,” he noted.
IBM, Twitter Deliver Data Services for Business Pros, Developers
“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.”