Twitter’s new mega-partnership has interesting implications

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ibm and twitter

Today Twitter announced a landmark partnership with IBM as it seeks to turn its unprecedented flow of real-time consumer data into business intelligence. This is a deal that had been “years in the making.”

There were three primary benefits described to the partnership. Let’s look at each one and see what it means to you …

1) Integration of Twitter data with IBM analytics services: IBM plans to offer Twitter data as part of select cloud-based services, including IBM Watson Analytics, a new cognitive service they say will be “in the palm of your hand.”

First, let’s set the stage on Watson. This is a computer that appears to think and reason in a way that can answer highly complex questions in natural language. It beat Jeopardy, remember?

When I met with a Watson team member last year, she described the role of content in this environment as “fuel.” My mind is kind of blown by the potential of the Twitter-Watson marriage. Using the Twitter feed as one source of that fuel, Watson could potentially answer questions like this:

  • What movie is getting the most buzz in India today?
  • I just heard that there was an explosion at the White House. Is it a hoax?
  • Why did XYZ’s stock drop so much right now?
  • My company XYZ just made an announcement. How are people reacting to it?

This could be an extremely interesting development.

Let’s also dissect this provocative phrase “in the palm of your hand.” Is there going to be a (gasp) smartphone version of Watson available?

Contacts at IBM say that a Watson App is not available yet but a new service called Watson Analytics, which is a Google Analytics type service, will be live within the next couple weeks (beta was supposed to go live this week but didn’t). It will be available via desktop, mobile, tablet but not as an app yet.

2) New data-intensive capabilities for the enterprise: IBM and Twitter will deliver a set of enterprise applications to help improve business decisions across industries and professions. The first joint solution will integrate Twitter data with IBM customer engagement solutions, allowing sales, marketing, and customer service professionals to map sentiment and behavior to better engage and support their customers.

Twitter is the go-to platform for customer service these days so this makes a lot of sense. But on the surface, this does not appear to be anything earth-shaking. There are services today that can examine Twitter sentiment in creative ways to help businesses react. It remains to be seen what unique twist IBM might put on this capability.

3) Specialized enterprise consulting: IBM will also be training 10,000 Business Services consultants to write custom enterprise apps that use Twitter data. This is not just about watching for a company’s name mentioned in Twitter, or analyzing sentiment, the companies said. The goal is to help companies make business decisions by mining Twitter. Special focus will be on banking, consumer products, retail, and travel.

This could be an interesting opportunity if you are an IBM customer, but probably doesn’t mean much to the general population. Again, we’ll have to wait and see what truly unique comes out of this development.

Disclosures: I wrote the best-selling book on Twitter but have never received any compensation from Twitter. Amazing, I know. IBM is a client but I have not been compensated to write this post.

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