Today, IBM "has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire The Weather Company’s B2B, mobile and cloud-based web properties, including WSI, weather.com, Weather Underground and The Weather Company brand." This deal does not include The Weather Channel programming.
I spent my early cable TV years watching Jim Cantore and his colleagues tell us which storm was about to slam us. We watched while those cheery commentators predicted a massive Nor'easter in Baltimore on my wedding day in January 1996. Oh boy did we get that storm. The city shut down for almost a week. (We just kept the party going.)
So why did IBM do this deal? In a conversations with IBM's Bob Picciano and TWC CEO David Kenny, it became clear that three things drove this deal:
- Massive amounts of atmospheric data. Digital weather is the most important exogenous data source on the planet. Weather sets the mood of the nation and all us citizens. If you want insight into people's actions, the global supply chain, and myriad risks and opportunities, forecast the weather. TWC already handles 26 billion API calls for this data each and every day.
- A powerful data ingestion platform. TWC ingests 40 terabytes of every day, maybe 15 times more data than even Google. TWC's data from sensors, cameras, satellites, radar, and 150,00 citizen meteorologists is the largest source of crowdsourced and engineered environmental data on the planet.
- An anchor tenant of pre-integrated data and insights fueling IBM's insights service business. IBM is betting big on the same things Brian Hopkins and I are: That businesses need insights services injected into their real-time processes and applications. TWC gives IBM a hugely valuable and differentiated source of data and insights that it can pre-integrate with other major sources, including Twitter sentiment insights and Box's document market. By pre-integrating these data, building predictive and cognitive models on them, and blending them with your data, IBM is in a position to deliver differentiated insights services.
Yes, I like this deal. It signals a new path for insights services and the software industry itself: insights-driven business.