More partnerships? Twitter and IBM cosy up for social enterprise analytics

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Take a deluge of real time data from Twitter and combine it with Watson, IBM’s Jeopardy-winning, illness diagnosing supercomputer. What do you get?  With a bit of luck, a business which can spot trends and insights and incorporate it into their decision making process.

According to the deal, announced yesterday, IBM will become one of the few companies with access to Twitter’s ‘firehose’ – complete access to every tweet sent globally, which equates to around 500 million per day. One of these companies is social data firm Gnip, which Twitter bought back in April.

IBM said the deal represented two “giants of their industries combining forces” – Twitter consumer, and Big Blue enterprise.

Alastair Rennie, general manager for IBM Business Analytics, wrote in the company’s A Smarter Planet blog: “Thanks to this alliance I look forward to being able to spot trends on a mass, global scale – and with a minimum of effort.

“The new natural resource of social data is at last coming to the enterprise in [a] way that could help transform how business is done,” he added.

For its part Twitter said it was “thrilled” to partner with IBM.

“Something we hear consistently is that companies want guidance on how to incorporate Twitter data into their business operations,” wrote Chris Moody, VP Twitter data strategy in a blog.

“Our relationship with IBM will directly address this need by training tens of thousands of IBM Global Business Services consultants on the business applications for Twitter data, as well as the technical and organisational changes needed to effectively weave this important resource into day-to-day business operations.”

This move is a particularly interesting one for IBM on two fronts. It showcases the more than 100 year old company’s need to become more agile and create partnerships with big players in the consumer game, while it also showcases IBM’s determination to play in the analytics space.

Last month IBM unveiled Watson Analytics, a tool which uses natural language for both input and output, meaning the job of sifting business insight isn’t just restricted to data scientists. IBM exec Oliver Oursin told sister site CloudTech at the time the move was a “breakthrough.”

IBM and Twitter’s most recent financial results were a comparative struggle. IBM’s Q3 showed revenue down 4% and operating net income down 18%, while Twitter’s looked better but had growth slow enough to cause at least one downgrade, according to Forbes’ Chuck Jones.

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