IBM is hoping to put Watson, its artificial intelligence business, to a better use. On Wednesday, the company made the announcement that it had signed an agreement for acquiring majority of the digital assets of the Weather Company, which includes a substantial number of weather data collection points, business and consumer applications and a staff comprising of more than 900 people. The company refused to divulge how much it was paying for the acquisition, but Wall Street Journal had reported earlier that the deal was somewhere in the ballpark of $2 billion. However, the deal did not include the cable television outlet of the company, The Weather Channel. But, weather forecast data will indeed be licensed from IBM.
The chief executive officer of the Weather Company, David Kenny stated that there were numerous corporate uses of his firm’s data. He stated that the data was used by airlines for managing turbulence issues. It was use for risk assessment and judgment by insurance companies and crops management was also done by agricultural companies through the data his company provides. He also asserted that it was possible to make the data more valuable if it was combined with Watson.
According to Planet Asia, this is due to the fact that this computing system is skilled analyzing unusual types of data and can make use of it for reaching statistic-based decisions in a wide range of industries. Mr. Kenny said that they were in the position of processing it in a better way as they would be able to decide when it was a good decision to delay or halt a flight, when to evacuate people and deal with similar scenarios. The functions performed by Watson are termed as ‘cognitive computing’ by IBM and they are foreshadowing to an age of machines that supposedly possess thinking capabilities. The problem is that the company hasn’t been able to figure out how to use these abilities for the purposes of growth.
The tech giant has seen its revenue shrink year after year, but it has remained positive. It said that it is fully confident that the investments it has made in Watson will prove to be fruitful in the long run. The deal will give it access to a great deal of talent. There are a lot of atmospheric scientists in The Weather Company, but Mr. Kenny has said that more than three-quarters of their scientists work in data and computers. Most of the weather information is obtained from sources that are publicly available.
But, the this information is supplemented by the company from about 147,000 small weather stations that are distributed to people in the country and in exchange they receive local weather forecasts. There is also a popular mobile app of the company, which, according to Mr. Kenny, uses the phone sensors of users for collecting barometric pressure. Information is obtained from millions of places around 96 times every day. Most of the data of the Weather Company is stored on computers of IBM’s competitors, which include Google and Amazon.