IBM And Twitter Partner On Making Business Sense Of Twitter-verse

IBM and Twitter inked a deal Wednesday that will give businesses a way to mine the social network for insight, forecasts and business insights. IBM, which has struggled to move the needle on its cloud business as it shifts focus from hardware to cloud, software and services, said it will offer Twitter-based Insights-as-a-Cloud service tied to its Watson Analytics platform.

"Twitter provides a powerful new lens through which to look at the world--as both a platform for hundreds of millions of consumers and business professionals, and as a synthesizer of trends,’ said Ginni Rometty, IBM Chairman, President and CEO, in a prepared statement.

As part of IBM's Insight 2014 conference, taking place in Las Vegas this week, IBM said the solution would be available as a service called ExperienceOne, allowing sales, marketing and customer service professionals to map sentiment and behavior to better engage and support their customers.

[Related: IBM Goes On Cloud Offensive With Mobile, Database And Analytics Blitz ]

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"This important partnership with IBM will change the way business decisions are made--from identifying emerging market opportunities to better engaging clients, partners and employees," Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said in a prepared statement.

IBM said it also would work with Twitter to develop industry-specific solutions for the banking, consumer products, retail, and travel and transportation industries.

"Twitter is a priceless communications tool, but now we can start using it as a business tool," said Alan Arnold, CTO for Vision Solutions, an IBM cloud partner based in Irvine, Calif. "Harvesting metrics from email--be it knowing how many people read an email or clicked on a link--is something we take for granted. If IBM and Twitter can bring the same type of business intelligence to Twitter that email has, then this is something we'll be very interested in."

The move boosts IBM's analytics bragging rights, giving it a further edge over competitors Hewlett-Packard and Oracle, partners said. The announcement comes on the heels of a bevy of cloud, mobile and analytics services showcased at Insight 2014 on Monday.

IBM has been struggling to grow a number of its new cloud and analytics business units as it sheds unprofitable lines of business and grapples with serious financial woes. Last week, IBM said it would pay Globalfoundries $1.5 billion to take its money-losing chip unit off its hands. That followed the sale of its commodity x86 server business to Lenovo.

"IBM is slowly putting all the right pieces of the puzzle together," Arnold said. "If they can figure out a way to leverage their expertise in analytics with their powerful [SoftLayer] business, IBM will have a powerful business tool with its Twitter partnership."

Arnold said, however, IBM's myriad of cloud, analytic and big data services has yet to gel into a cohesive solution. "I'm still not getting the type of support I need from IBM when it comes to its SoftLayer business. While IBM has more pieces of the puzzle to work with, Microsoft's Azure team returns my calls, is taking meetings and helping me accelerate my cloud business."

A Twitter partnership, he said, is an exciting prospect, so long as IBM isn't making more commitments it's going to have trouble following through on.