IBM’s Watson hopes to translate Big Data into sales

Posted by Justin Hesser on January 15, 2014

The thing about Big Data is that, well, it's big. Not only are thousands of years of information collated and stored online, there are the millions upon millions of interactions that are constantly happening every day. From online transactions to social media posts, managing the sheer amount of data is a daunting task even for the most specialized custom database software. For many companies, this volume is tantalizing, but also intimidating.

The challenge, of course, is to corral all of these disparate pieces into a format where they're usable — it's why spending on Big Data IT was somewhere in the range of $34 billion last year. Companies are interested in not only collecting the information, but also parsing it and deriving actionable takeaways. There's precious little good in having a tool if you're having trouble properly wielding it. 

That's part of why there's such a big buzz about IBM's Watson. Especially after it handily dispatched Jeopardy champions, proponents have thought of it as the next big thing in analytics. There are now 2,000 sharp minds behind it, who are bolstered by $1 billion in funding and the freedom that comes with being a standalone entity. Never before has there been such a concentrated expenditure by a single company on the implications of Big Data, so companies that are interested in using these techniques are keeping a close eye.

Ultimately, some of their findings will become part of common practice. It's this endless capacity for growth that makes the analytics industry one that  is so important to invest in.