Twitter Partners With IBM To Bring Social Data To The Enterprise

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Twitter and IBM announced a significant partnership today that will involve Twitter sharing its data with IBM for integration into IBM’s enterprise solutions, including the Watson cloud platform. The deal means IBM will gain access to the Twitter “firehose,” allowing businesses to incorporate insights gained from the social network into their decision-making processes.

Additionally, the two companies will also be teaming up to build “a unique collection of enterprise solutions,” they say, which puts IBM into a different category than some of Twitter’s other data partners, who generally just ingest the data for use in their own systems.

IBM says the companies will collaborate to build enterprise applications to improve business decisions across industries and professions, beginning with applications and services for sales, marketing and customer service. They will also work together on industry-specific solutions, including those for banking, consumer products, transportation and retail.

Developers will also be able to integrate Twitter data into their own cloud applications, thanks to this agreement, using either IBM’s Watson Developer Cloud or its BlueMix development platform.

Going forward, the integrations will allow IBM customers to ask more complex questions about their businesses, like “why are we growing quickly in Brazil?” for example, a Twitter blog post suggests, and then use Twitter data to help them inform those responses.

The announcement, which Twitter says has been “years in the making,” comes at a time when IBM has been ramping up its efforts to become a player in the analytics space. The company has been rolling out a number of products recently, including Watson Analytics, a cloud application designed for working with big data which bears the name of the Watson supercomputer best known for its stint as a Jeopardy contestant years ago.

IBM has since taken that technology and turned it into a cloud platform that they’re building their own solutions on top of, while also inviting others to do the same.

IBM wants to provide business customers with as many data sources as they can, so it makes sense that they would include Twitter’s data stream in their analytics products.

Meanwhile, for Twitter, the company is now able to benefit more from its firehose of data, while also establishing its value to enterprise customers beyond the usual marketing and social media monitoring kinds of use cases. That matters even more these days as Twitter is struggling to find user growth, even attempting to invent new metrics that can track Twitter’s true reach to its “logged-out” and “syndicated” audiences, and beyond. (During the company’s earnings this week, it reported that user growth slowed to 4.8 percent and timeline views per user fell 7 percent.)

Twitter’s user growth may be slowing, but its move into the enterprise space here is surely not without some financial impact to the company’s bottom line.

Twitter also notes today that its new relationship with IBM was made possible by its acquisition of Gnip earlier this year, as it provided the enterprise-grade platform capable of delivering its 15 billion “social activities” created per day to Twitter partners, now including IBM.

Additional Reporting: Ron Miller