IBM Watson Analytics Empowers 'Citizen Analysts'

IBM introduced Expert Storybooks, new analytics technology that makes Watson Analytics even easier to use for its more than 500,000 users.

IBM big data

NEW YORK—IBM announced new functionality for its Watson Analytics offering, including new data discover and Q&A capabilities, new connections to corporate data and a brand new Watson Analytics solution in the form of Watson Analytics for Social Media.

At an event dubbed “Analytics for All” at the famed Cipriani 42nd Street restaurant here, IBM introduced new data discovery and question-and-answer capabilities for Watson Analytics that will make it even easier for users to extract insights from their data. This ease of use will empower "citizen analysts" to perform big data analytics rather than requiring data experts.

IBM also announced widespread adoption, with half a million professionals registering for the Watson Analytics data exploration and visualization service since its introduction less than a year ago.

“Watson Analytics is the on-ramp to a whole new era of computing – the cognitive era,” said Bob Picciano, senior vice president of IBM Analytics.

Indeed, the rapid ascent of Watson Analytics into one of the most popular self-service analytics platforms has been fueled by its ability to put cognitive capabilities into the hands of business users, and enable a new era of unbiased analysis. IBM Watson Analytics helps individuals unlock the value of data they already have in their systems, as well as new valuable external data sources they may not even know they need.

By bringing as much data as possible to the problem at hand, professionals can answer their toughest questions and embed insight and expertise into every decision they make. And by understanding natural language, reasoning and generating hypotheses, cognitive computing is helping people understand, reason and learn from their data in new ways.

IBM announced new data connectors, which enable Watson Analytics users to bring more external data sources to a business question, helping to ensure the right data is collected and curated to add context, depth and confidence to every decision. This includes access to data from IBM DB2, IBM Informix, IBM Netezza, IBM SQL Database, IBM dashDB and popular third-party data sources.

Big Blue also announced secure gateway technology for Watson Analytics, which automatically encrypts data, and uses Docker containers to transport it through a dedicated connection to allow for secure analysis, IBM said.

Meanwhile, to assist users with interactive data discovery, IBM introduced Expert Storybooks in collaboration with its industry partners. Expert Storybooks will help guide users on how to understand, learn and reason with different types of data sources to surface the most relevant facts and uncover patterns and relationships for predictive decision making, the company said.

“In essence, IBM’s Expert Storybooks are tools designed to help workers quickly get up to speed in using Watson Analytics to explore information sources and solve specific kinds of business problems,” said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. “Use cases, applications and information sources vary widely, depending on both individual companies and their particular needs.”

The Expert Storybooks introduced include:

  • AriBall -- a Storybook that will help users analyze the performance of baseball players to build predictions about player performance that they can use to gain an edge in their fantasy lineup.
  • Deloitte -- a Storybook that measures the effectiveness of incentive programs to help sales leadership determine how and when to effectively deploy short term incentives for revenue uplift.
  • The Weather Company -- a Storybook that helps users incorporate weather data into their revenue analysis to understand how weather is impacting their business.
  • OgilvyOne -- a Storybook that shows users how to analyze marketing campaign data while integrating disparate data points such as weather information to bring creative inputs into campaign planning.
  • Twitter -- a Storybook that helps users analyze social media data from Twitter to measure reputational risk, and also get a better understanding about how social sentiment could reveal drivers behind fluctuations in stock prices in real time.
  • American Marketing Association -- a Storybook that helps users identify and analyze the key drivers of customer profitability.