Turning Watson into a data business, from machine learning to analytics | #SparkSummit

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When IBM Corp. acquired The Weather Company’s B2B, mobile and cloud-based web-properties in January 2016, the goal was to combine forces to lay the groundwork for IBM’s Watson IoT Platform. One year later, Robbie Stickland (pictured), vice president of engines and pipelines, Watson Data Platform, at IBM Analytics, is finalizing the merger of technologies from both companies to create a best-in-class analytics platform.

“What we had to do was reconcile what we built at The Weather Company, existing IBM tech and the new things that were in flight and try to figure out how can we fit all those pieces together,” Strickland said. “The story is obviously more complicated … but the reality is we’ve combined those teams and they are all moving in the same direction together with various bits and pieces from the teams.”

During Spark Summit East 2017 in Boston, MA, Dave Vellante (@dvellante) and George Gilbert (@ggilbert41), co-hosts of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile live streaming studio, met up with Strickland to get the update on how the merger has evolved after year one. (*Disclosure below.)

Simplifying data feeds for the enterprise

Talking about the status of the Watson platform, Strickland explained that his group is trying to make data, analytics and machine learning operational for the enterprise. Simplifying the process, however, will have to happen before they can move forward.

The vision for both companies is to develop a single data pipeline. According to Strickland, one of the missing capabilities in the market today is the ability to simply grab data from platforms that are both streaming, data feeds or data at rest (batch data).

“One of the things we wanted to do was combine those two together [to make it easy] to acquire data at scale, bring it into a platform, orchestrate complex workflows around that with the objective of data enrichment, taking the signals, whatever they are, and turn that into rich data for your organization,” he described. 

As it stands today, many organizations are struggling to stitch together an end-to-end pipeline, Strickland explained. The engines and pipelines team has developed an out-of-the-box software solution on the Watson Data Platform that is the nexus of the company’s cloud strategy.

“We did all of the manual work of standing up individual pieces and building a platform designed to orchestrate those multiple combinations of real-time and batch flows and with a click of a button and a few configuration options,” Strickland said.

Another innovative component of IBM’s enterprise offering is providing the ability to have people in various roles, from the data scientist to the enterprise developer, be able to use the same tools to collaborate with each other in a logical manner.

“I think the answer is, for us, a platform for seamless collaboration, where there are not these clean lines between personas. The toolsets easily move from one to the other,” Strickland illustrated.

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s coverage of the Spark Summit East 2017 Boston. (*Disclosure: TheCUBE is a media partner at the conference. Neither Databricks nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo by SiliconANGLE