Move over Farmer’s Almanac, mashups are coming to the rescue. Today, IBM’s Emerging Technology Group and AccuWeather (the leading weather authority) announced an agreement to use IBM’s QEDWiki platform to create situational mashups for its enterprise customers.
I spoke today with Paul Raymond, AccuWeather’s senior product manager for AccuWeather’s commercial client business and Dan Gisolfi from IBM’s QEDWiki team. Raymond is looking to use the mashup technology to bring just-in-time data needed to his commercial clients when and how its needed. “We get requests daily from businesses to create applications or provide data that has an impact on their business.” He sees the new QEDWiki platform as a surefire way to rapidly develop new prototype applications for his clients.
What kind of applications are we talking about?
Straight from the press release:
The types of AccuWeather information to be delivered via a subscription–based service using QEDWiki technology include:
- Weather forecasts, current conditions and historical data, including temperature and precipitation, for over 2.7 million locations worldwide, for use by energy analysts, traders as well as retail and other business analysts
- Real–time Local Storm Reports, providing critical, localized and dynamic data to emergency managers and risk managers
- Doppler Radar with StormTimer™ forecasts for anticipating arrival times and conditions of severe weather
- Severe weather watches and warnings for tornadoes, hail, heavy rain and lightning, enabling businesses to protect their personnel and property.
- Tropical and marine forecasts, such as sea surface temperature, wind speed and direction, and ocean wave heights, guiding off–shore interests in transporting and servicing mobile and stationery assets.
Raymond described a real-life scenario that recently cropped up. An energy trader and commercial client who already subscribes to AccuWeather for daily temperatures related to its natural gas and heating fuel inputs asked him if he could make him an application where he could simply “grab” this information, rather than doing manual data entry and using spreadsheets. He wanted real-time live access to temperatures for the last month in 12 cities and then a forecast for the next three days’ high temperatures. This application is made-to-order for a mashup.
What I find really interesting about this announcement is not necessarily the fact that the two companies intend to try and get the mashup market going for weather, it’s that the market is user-driven. Raymond says, “The people who are coming to AccuWeather with the business need are the business managers.” Gisolfi notes that it’s possible to go direct to the user in this case because of the skill set of the end-user. AccuWeather’s commercial clients who already pay for subscription data are scientists and engineers. They already have a baseline high tech skill base. Although Gisolfi says IBM is happy to mentor AccuWeather’s IT staff if the situation warrants it.
Because the QEDWiki team is now rolling out the platform to select clients, Gisolfi says he’s creating a “sandbox” where widgets can be incubated and shared. “You need an eco-system of content providers like Dun & Bradstreet, AccuWeather and others as well as people willing to consume and create mashups like the Environmental Protection Agency and American Express.” In the true spirit of web 2.0 collaboration, Gisolfi is optimistic IBM will get the feedback it needs from the community so they can get the business model right.
Like Gisolfi said, “A content provider like AccuWeather who already has a commercial business is trying to embrace the long tail around weather and provide a vibrant, new channel for their existing assets.”
IBM, with its ginormous client base, wins the Enterprise 2.0 evangelizer of the year award for 2006.