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IBM, Twitter: The new business intelligence best buddies

Business intelligence is a massive, massive industry where organizations pay tens of millions of dollars to turn raw data about them and their competitors into actionable insights.


Now IBM and Twitter are getting in on the game, and launching a portfolio of data analysis tools aimed toward retail, consumer products, transportation, banking, and other industries.

The portfolio, which will be marketed through IBM and available to businesses over the next few years, isn’t just happening because IBM thinks Twitter is neat: It’s also part of a very deliberate strategy to turn IBM into a cloud-centric technology company and ensure IBM’s corporate survival. IBM has been trying to shed much of its background as a hardware and mainframe manufacturer in a big way. Just this last month, IBM paid Global Foundries $1.5 billion to take an unprofitable semiconductor manufacturing unit off its hands.

Twitter and IBM will be working on what IBM’s Alistair Rennie calls “a set of enterprise applications designed to improve business decisions across industries and professions. The first target will be applications and services for sales, marketing and customer service.” Shortly after these enterprise apps come out, IBM and Twitter will begin developing custom solutions for specific industry verticals. As part of the partnership, IBM will begin integrating Twitter data into its Watson Analytics platform and allowing access to Twitter’s API for developers working within IBM software platforms.

“When it comes to enterprise transformation, IBM is an undisputed global leader in enabling companies to take advantage of emerging technologies and platforms,” Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said in a statement. “This important partnership with IBM will change the way business decisions are made—from identifying emerging market opportunities to better engaging clients, partners and employees.”

This past July, Apple and IBM entered into a business partnership. From this argument, the people with the biggest worries are the teams behind products like Dataminr and Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud, and the large ecosystem of Twitter-based social monitoring tools. The decision by Twitter to build apps with IBM based on the Twitter firehose is yet another indicator of the microblogger’s quest to centralize everything as shareholders demand more profits and higher earnings.

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