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IBM's Watson Analytics offers new data discovery tools for everyday business users

Marc Ferranti | Oct. 15, 2015
Features include 'Expert Storybooks,' new data connectors and more secure connections to corporate information

In addition, IBM has bolstered the Watson Analytics' ability to securely connect to corporate information with new functionality from the company's cloud-based data refinement and access service, DataWorks. The new features use Docker containers to transport automatically encrypted data through a secure connection.

Watson cognitive computing services are embedded in Watson Analytics offerings, for example giving users the ability to ask natural language questions or proposing a series of new relevant areas for them to explore. "It's constantly giving you proposals, so it’s constantly, as you’re entering data or as you’re asking questions, it’s constantly learning what you’re looking for and trying to propose to you how to go and access that," Colthart said.

While acknowledging that there is strong competition to bring analytics to the masses, for example in the form of Microsoft's Power BI, Colthart maintains that Watson Analytics has an edge in predictive analytics and forecasting. And as more cognitive computing services are embedded in Watson Analytics offerings, those predictive analytics feature will only get stronger, Colthart said.

IBM first developed Watson as a research project to compete against humans on the game show "Jeopardy." Watson can come up with answers to questions using a range of sources in various formats. It was able to hone its answers by learning how to formulate the best responses in an iterative, trial and error process. Because this approach to problem solving emulates how humans think, it is known as cognitive computing.

IBM is on a continuous delivery model, such that cognitive computing services are added into Watson Analytics every month or even every two weeks, Colthart said.

"You’ll see us in the future try to ensure that the entire platform as the user experiences it is underpinned by the right services from the Watson Group to make that either more delightful in terms of finding interesting patterns or just to allow them to access a much higher degree of unstructured data, for example," Colthart said.


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