I’ve been intrigued by the Watson project from IBM. It was quite a coup to see the platform win on Jeopardy. That’s an amazing accomplishment for machine learning, though it does seem like the investment and effort to set up the platform and experiment with it was more than most people could afford.
However this week I saw an announcement that IBM has introduced a freemium version of Watson, aimed at people looking to work with analytics. This product allows users to upload some data and ask natural language questions, which Watson will answer.
I have no idea how this will work, but I like the model they’ve taken. We can upload limited data and experiment with it. If it works well, we can subscribe, pa some money and upload more data and get more complex analysis. As an IT person, I think this is great. End users can play with it, and I don’t have to mess with a proof of concept. If it works, I can get involved, help automate ETL, query structure, tuning etc.
It’s a changing way of working with analytics, and one I welcome. To me, as business people play with technologies like this, they become more savvy and willing to invest in technology. And as they demand more, they create more opportunities for IT people to help them, not less.