IBM’s (News - Alert) long-awaited Watson data analytics cloud service is a step closer to being widely available. The company announced Watson Analytics will enter a public beta period within the next 30 days with a freemium service available for all IBM business clients in November.
The company offered a demonstration of the tool in New York today, showing its value for improving e-commerce performance as well as employee retention, optimizing marketing campaigns and finding patterns in sales wins and losses. Watson Analytics is designed to streamline and simplify the entire data analysis process and is geared toward untrained business users who want to glean value out of massive amounts of data.
The service, which will be delivered through IBM’s growing cloud infrastructure, uses the company’s infamous Watson cognitive computing technology to offer a natural-language interface to end-to-end data analysis workflow. The solution incorporates a variety of IBM technologies including its InfoSphere Data Refinery services, which assess data sources and suggest corrections to users. The company’s Catalyst Engine features IBM SPSS (News - Alert) analytics, which find correlations among data sets as well as data trends.
Watson also includes Project Neo technologies from IBM Labs, which automatically suggest data visualizations, as well as IBM Concert technologies, which support collaborative decision-making using visualizations and dashboards.
"When people have individual problems, they can get answers without having to call a data scientist or call IT, without having to become a data scientist themselves," said Alistair Rennie, general manager of business analytics for IBM.
The service prompts users to upload their data and then enter questions like, "Who are my most profitable customers?" IBM also plans to integrate geographic, industry and economic data into the service that customers may use in conjunction with their own data. The tool also creates charts and graphs to help users better understand results as well as resolve issues.
The freemium pricing is a strategic move for IBM, making the service available to a broad customer base for free and requiring them to pay for more advanced features.
"Essentially, we think freemium is important because this is the type of tool that hasn't been accessible to a wide audience,” said Rennie. “We're convinced once professionals get a taste for the base features, they're going to love it and want to use more of the premium features."