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Could a Tech Merger Help Retailers Weather the Storm?

wet weather pixabay

Unpredictable weather patterns won’t be such an easy card for struggling retailers to play in the near future.

It’s been less than four months since IBM closed its deal to acquire The Weather Company’s product, and technology businesses and details have now begun to emerge about how the two will work together.

“Everyone wondered why an IT company like IBM would make such an acquisition, a company that produces forecasts for 2.2 billion locations every 15 minutes,” Harriet Green, vice president and general manager of Internet of Things (IoT) and commerce for IBM, said last week at IBM Amplify in Tampa, Florida, Ad Exchange reported. “We’re the second largest location services company now in the world. Weather affects people’s mood and how much they’re willing to pay.”

And therein lies the magic: IBM intends to merge The Weather Company with its super computer, Watson, in a bid to help marketers do their jobs better; by combining their digital assets with weather-related triggers. So, if sunny spells are forecast, consumers will be targeted by ads for sunscreen and swimsuits, not winter coats.

According to Green, Watson might identify nearly 5,000 locations with below-average temperatures or 50-plus percent chance of precipitation, so marketers can choose to update their campaigns with weather-related content. Past CRM or sales could also be considered. Watson’s cognitive learning capabilities would come into play, too.

“There are a lot of interesting applications for Watson to make recommendations off of disparate, structured data sets, such as product feed or clickstream data,” noted Chris Victory, vice president of strategic partnerships for MediaMath, a UBX partner.

A launch date has not been set, but IBM Commerce’s chief marketing officer, Maria Winans, told attendees that it typically takes the company about 18 months to take a new product from conception to the ship-to-market stage.