Look At How IBM Is Trying To Pull The Rug Out From Salesforce.com


You will soon be swimming with apps that let you ask questions about your business and find answers, like magic.


IBM just launched a new cloud computing big data "analytics" tool that could be big competition for another new not-yet-announced Salesforce product that does the same thing.

On Friday, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff leaked info over Twitter about the new "Analytics Cloud" product he plans to announce on Oct. 15 during the company's huge annual customer conference, Dreamforce, in San Francisco.

That's when he'll tell the world about Salesforce.com's new "Analytics Cloud," according to the leak. It will likely be a product that takes the info stored about customers in Salesforce and lets you ask questions to find insights and make business predictions.

Now we know why he might have leaked it.


Because today, IBM told the world that it, too, is offering the same kind of big data analytics cloud, and that its cloud is using IBM's world-class language processing technology called Watson. That means that you'll be able to ask (as in type, not speech) in normal language questions about your business, and Watson will understand what you mean and offer answers.

You can ask things like: "What is driving my company's profit?" or "What drives people to put items in their cart?" It looks like this:

But wait, there's more for Salesforce to worry about.

IBM will let business users import their business data from wherever they keep it like spreadsheets, documents stored in Google Docs or Box, databases like Oracle or Teradata, IBM's own older-generation analysis tool Cognos, or even ... Salesforce.com.


And on top of that, IBM will be releasing all this for free, at least at first.

IBM said it will use the "freemium" business model, which generally means free to use in limited circumstances. IBM may limit this by the amount of data you can store for free or the number of questions you can ask or the number of user accounts you can have, or all of the above. It hasn't said when or how much it will charge.

We also don't know exactly what Benioff will announce on Oct. 15, including pricing, availability, and capabilities of Analytics Cloud, and if it can compete with the super-smart Watson. But Benioff wouldn't want his customers to rush off to Watson Analytics before they knew that he has something on tap for them, too.

Here's the full demo video on Watson Analytics.