Big Data

IBM launches Watson Discovery Service for big data analytics at scale

IBM's Watson Discovery Service is a suite of APIs that aims to make it easier for companies to ingest and analyze their data, even if they don't have an advanced degree in data science.

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Image: IBM

A new IBM Watson service, announced Thursday, could make it easier for businesses to process, analyze, and glean insights from their data. The Watson Discovery Service, unveiled in a blog post, is a suite of APIs that assist users in collecting, organizing, and using their data.

The service works with structured and unstructured data, leveraging core APIs like AlchemyLanguage and Document Conversion to help users make sense of their data. It also helps to democratize and scale the big data analytics process, making it easier for all employees to learn from data.

"With Watson Discovery Service, even customers lacking systems engineering or machine learning skills can rapidly analyze and gain insights from enormous collections of unstructured data," the post said.

SEE: IBM Watson: The smart person's guide

In its post, IBM cited a New York Times article that claims data scientists can spend up to 80% of their time processing, cleaning, and organizing their data—also referred to as "data janitor" work. This is the proposed value addition of Watson Discovery Service in that it streamlines the process of getting data ready for useful analysis.

It starts by ingesting and standardizing your data. Then, it "enriches" the data with natural language capabilities like sentiment analysis, named entity extraction, and concept tagging. Users can then use a query API to segment the data and search through it, an IBM video explained.

Many insights can be found in relationships among text-based data, such as news reports, and social media. Because Watson Discovery Service can read into these sources and understand the data at "massive scale," the report said, the new service can open up new opportunities for developer to make use of that data.

"For example, you could identify all the companies acquired by a competitor over a specific period of time, or the diseases impacted by a target chemical compound, or key events impacting supply chain or shipping routes," the post said.

As mentioned above, the new service is meant to be able to be leveraged by many different types of employees. The post equated using the service to the process by which one would call a REST API.

Watson Discovery Service is focused on natural language understanding, but IBM said it is working on making other cognitive capabilities available in a similar fashion.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. On Thursday, IBM announced the Watson Discovery Service, a suite of APIs that makes it easier to store, analyze, and understand data at scale.
  2. The service relies on API calls and is meant to be able to used by all employees, even those who may not have an expertise in data science.
  3. Watson Discovery Service focuses on natural language understanding, but the company is looking to make other capabilities available in a similar way.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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