As a part of its continuing effort to commercialize its Watson AI analysis technology, IBM is now beta-testing a new analytics service that can answer plain language questions business managers have about their data.

IBM Watson Available To Analyze Enterprise Data

International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) announced on Tuesday, September 16th, that it was officially launching a beta of Watson Analytics, a new interactive service for businesses designed to answer questions and help highlight trends within large enterprise data sets.

IBM will select applicants for the beta testing in the coming weeks. The service is scheduled to go live in November.

The pricing for Watson Analytics is not finalized, although Big Blue will offer free use of the service for light, exploratory tasks, and offer paid plans for more in-depth usage.

IBM will demonstrate the Watson Analytics technology in more detail at a launch event to be held in New York Tuesday.

Statement from analyst

“I think IBM is bringing together a lot of important components,” said Dan Vesset, the program vice president for business analytics at the IDC IT, referring to how Watson analytics brings toghether natural language processing, machine learning, cognitive reasoning, data cleansing and formatting, preparatory analysis and visualization. “Instead of dragging and dropping a pie chart, you write in natural language what you’d like to see, and the system itself will provide what it reasons is the most appropriate visualization,” Vesset explained.

Other services from IBM’s Watson

International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) launched the Watson Discovery Advisor a few months ago, which is a service designed for scientific researchers who need to dig deeply one specific body of scientific knowledge, such as chemistry, genetics or cellular biology.

Big Blue’s Watson Engagement Advisor applies the artificial intelligence technology to assist in customer support operations.

Watson Analytics is designed to answer more general questions for the average business manager. IBM says the technology would be a good fit for those working in the marketing, sales, operations, finance and human resources fields.

The service is primarily designed business users who currently perform most of their analysis on spreadsheets, or use more traditional business intelligence tools.

For example, a sales manager could ask which pending deals are most likely to close and when. A human resources manager could ask about which benefits are most likely to keep specific subgroups of employees.

IBM also offers traditional business analysis software and services, including the Cognos Business Intelligence Suite and SPSS.