IBM Watson Explorer Review

Facilitates easily pulling together lots of different information and drill-down in a smarter way than other analytics tools

How has it helped my organization?

We're still in the exploratory stages. We're a business partner for IBM's customers, so we're wrapping our hands around it to be able to explain it and show the value to customers. We haven't been able to really take this to market much with customers yet, but we're hoping to.

What is most valuable?

The ability to easily pull together lots of different pieces of information and drill down in a smarter way than has been possible with other analytics tools. Watson is all based on a set of AI and deep learning, machine-learning capabilities, and it is looking behind the scenes at some relationships that you likely would not have spotted on your own. It's pulling things together, categorizing some things, that are not something that you might have seen on your own.

What needs improvement?

Much of IBM operates this way, where they have sets of tools that are in the middleware space, and it becomes the customer's responsibility or the business partner's responsibility to develop full solutions that take advantage of that middleware.

I think IBM's finding itself in that spot with Watson-related technologies as well, where the capabilities to do really interesting and useful things for customers is there, but somebody still has to build it. Is that going to be the customer? Are they going to be willing to take on that responsibility themselves? Or is a third-party, a vendor, going to create solutions and make them available? So that ecosystem still needs to happen.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I think it will be a stable, reliable solution for our customers.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Small businesses will probably have a little harder time getting into it, just because of the amount of resources that they have available, both financial and time, but it really is a solution that should work for them. I think there's just going to be some time needed for them to understand that it actually could.

How is customer service and technical support?

Getting to know who the appropriate teams are is actually a challenge. It's a challenge with IBM on anything, and we're newer to this space than in other places where we've worked with IBM in the past. One of the goals for us at this Think 2018 conference, is to sit down with some people and then be able to get to know the teams a little better.

How was the initial setup?

It's straightforward. It's browser-based, you don't need special tools. It's a cloud offering. It walks you through most of the things that you need to do to get started, so no real difficulties here.

What other advice do I have?

I don't think there's a figure factor about getting into the space. I think for most people it's just so new that they don't know a) what it could do for them or b) how to go about actually taking advantage of it.

I'd rate this product an eight out of 10. That has less to do with the actual technology piece, but more in the warm and fuzzies around it: How you bring it to market, how you make customers aware of it; all of those kinds of programs.

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: IBM Business Partner.
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