IBM Intros Freemium Watson for the Masses

It understands natural language; it answers tough business questions; it doesn't require a data science degree.

Jason Verge

September 18, 2014

2 Min Read
IBM Intros Freemium Watson for the Masses
In 2011, Jepardy champions Ken Jennings (left) and Brad Rutter (right) competed with IBM’s then new supercomputer named Watson and lost. (Photo: IBM)

IBM has introduced Watson Analytics for everyone. Now available as a freemium option, the new IBM Watson offering brings together a set of self-service enterprise data and analytics capabilities on the cloud, including access to data warehousing and data refinement services.

The natural-language-based cognitive service provides instant access to powerful predictive and visual analytics tools for business. The service is meant to use predictive analytics to surface key relevant facts and uncover unforeseen patterns and relationships.

It is hosted on the SoftLayer data center and cloud platform, and the first release includes a freemium version, designed to run on desktops and mobile devices.

This is analytics for the masses, unlike the recently released Discovery Advisor, an IBM Watson offering targeted specifically to research and sciences.

Most analytic offerings assume users have data ready for analysis, a clear idea of the type of analysis needed and the skills and time to build a model for analysis. However, many business users have none of these things. Finding and validating data takes a tremendous amount of time, and there’s further struggle with identifying what analysis would be relevant.

IBM is pitching Watson Analytics as a way to do a lot of the heavy lifting, automating steps like data preparation, predictive analysis and visual storytelling, provide the visuals you ultimately need to convey the findings to others. Watson in general has already proven itself to be very powerful, and now the goal is to make it easy to use.

A user identifies a problem and Watson Analytics can help them source the data, cleanse and refine it, discover insights, predict outcomes, visualize results, create reports or dashboards and collaborate with others. It does this through its natural language capabilities.

It can understand natural language questions like “What are the key drivers of my product sales?” It also  produces results that explain why things happened and what's likely to happen, all in familiar business terms. Results can be interacted with and questions can be fine-tuned to delve deeper.

“Watson Analytics is designed to help all business people – from sales reps on the road to company CEOs – see patterns, pursue ideas and improve all types of decisions,” said Bob Picciano, senior vice president of IBM's Information and Analytics Group. "We have eliminated the barrier between the answers they seek, the analytics they want and the data in the form they need."

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