New services to help end users get more from analytics

LAS VEGAS – IBM Corp. is adding two new features to its data analytics portfolio, aimed at helping businesses refine their data and get more out of what it has to say.

At its Impact conference here Tuesday the company said it will launch Blue Insight and Catalyst Insight, two new products geared towards simplifying business analytics for novice users by helping them figure out what data to look at, based on the domains of the problems they want to solve.

Fitting in with IBM’s strategy to appeal to startups, Blue Insight and Catalyst Insight could come in handy for developers. For example, developers might want to use their data to gain insight on their customers’ behaviour, but they may not have the infrastructure or the expertise to use business analytics effectively, said Bob Picciano, general manager of IBM’s information management software division.

“Data is the new natural resource. If you had a gallon of crude oil, but you would have to create your own refinery to get oil,” he said during the company’s morning keynote. “But that’s untenable – we want to open it up for people to do data extraction and analytics.”

While more precise details on Blue Insight and Catalyst Insight were scant, Picciano went a little more into depth about IBM’s plans for data analytics during a press conference on Monday.

Blue Insight will be a service inside BlueMix, a cloud platform allowing developers to code and test apps, get continuous feedback, and launch new iterations, all from one place. The feature will use advanced data extraction and data matching services to refine data, Picciano said.

Catalyst Insight brings in more of a “self-service” model, he added, giving a novice business analytics user the chance to try their hand at predictive modelling.

“The notion is today, many of the business analytic professionals really are struggling with the quality of the information they have at their disposal, and understanding how to model predictive patterns on the side of the information. So today they might use another statistical core of their company or statistical service set, to do some of that data science,” Picciano said.

“So matching what we understand about these patterns of how predictive analytics can transform an information source, we can put that together in capabilities like Catalyst Insight to allow the business analyst to be able to glean those predictive models as a function of the outcome they’re trying to drive and the data they have at their disposal.”

While IBM (NYSE: IBM) said it has not announced availability dates for either Blue Insight or Catalyst Insight, Ken Bisconti, business leader of IBM’s TeaLeaf, said he expects many different use cases for the new data analytics features, including e-commerce.

It’s also likely there will be more digital analytics and customer behaviour solutions entering the BlueMix marketplace in the future, he added.

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