With Mapbox Deal, IBM Watson Will Learn A Lot More About Where Things Are Happening

Fast Company
By Sean Captain
August 8, 2016

The geo­data provider will help IBM let non-​​techies track things like sales, real estate val­ues, and cit­i­zen com­plaints by address.

The catch­phrase “arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence” may be ubiq­ui­tous, but it’s hard to find peo­ple who actu­ally know how to use it. That dis­crep­ancy rep­re­sents an oppor­tu­nity for prod­ucts like Wat­son Ana­lyt­ics, IBM’s point-​​and-​​click AI tool that lets non-​​experts ana­lyze busi­ness data by ask­ing ques­tions in col­lo­quial speech. In recent years, IBM has been build­ing out the data sources that Wat­son Ana­lyt­ics can draw from—and is now adding gran­u­lar map­ping info through a deal with geo­data provider Mapbox.

Wat­son Ana­lyt­ics is not the sex­i­est form of AI—pretty far from Ex Machina. But it’s attrac­tive to peo­ple in fields like mar­ket­ing, who can start with as lit­tle as a spread­sheet of sales fig­ures and get arti­fi­cial insights into how and where they might sell more prod­uct. (Sin­gle user accounts range from free to $80 per month.) Since announc­ing Wat­son Ana­lyt­ics in Sep­tem­ber 2014, IBM has been adding built-​​in data sources that cus­tomers can pair with their uploads. In March, 2015, it announced a deal with Twit­ter to let Wat­son Ana­lyt­ics users study online chat­ter. That same month, IBM also made a deal for detailed mete­o­ro­log­i­cal data from The Weather Com­pany (owner of The Weather Chan­nel and Weather Underground)—including mov­ing its data to IBM’s cloud. A few months later, IBM pur­chased The Weather Com­pany, a deal that closed in Jan­u­ary 2016.

For all these com­pa­nies, the sig­nal may not be in your own data,” says Marc Alt­shuller, IBM’s gen­eral man­ager of busi­ness ana­lyt­ics. “Most likely, the sig­nal is in a com­bi­na­tion of mar­ket data like what Map­box has, plus your own inter­nal data.”

To read the full arti­cle, visit Fast Com­pany.