Weather means Business: Weather Data as a Driver for Digital Innovation

The impact of weather on business is underestimated. As organizations are increasingly looking to external data sources to innovate and optimize their business, precise weather data sticks out as a unique source of competitive advantage. Across industries, leading players are using weather data to transform decision making and to enable new business models.

‘Data is the new oil’ – and leading organizations manage to utilize a variety of data sources to create 360° degree views of their customers, assets and processes. In a survey of more than 1’000 business and IT leaders, we found that top performing companies are twice as likely to leverage external data to complement their own internal data sources as compared to average performers. One such data source is weather data. With the acquisition of The Weather Company earlier this year, IBM now has access to weather data and is leveraging it to enhance predictive & cognitive analytical models for improved decision making.

Weather Data is Special

Weather data is unique in multiple ways. Other than most other types of information, it is contextual, i.e. highly specific to a given time and location. Weather context information is not only available for the past but also for the future and can thus help to anticipate future course of actions. For example, the forecast of The Weather Company is provides up to 15 days of hourly weather information at high forecast accuracy. But most importantly, weather touches every part of a business: weather shapes customer behavior, weather impacts asset performance, weather moves markets and weather affects processes.


Weather touches every industry and every part of a company







Weather impacts every Industry

In our conversations with clients, most decision makers confirm that there is a strong impact of weather on their business. For example, retailers know that the weather is impacting emotions and planning of consumers – thus directly impacting what people do and what they buy. Or consider building management, where weather conditions are the single most relevant driver for heating and energy consumption or for appropriate timing of exterior cleaning and technical maintenance activities.

Still, many day-to-day decisions are taken based on intuition– not based on facts and precise weather data. In contrast, leading players manage to leverage weather data along with new cognitive and analytics capabilities to unlock significant value.

  • Retailers and CPG companies are leveraging weather insights to steer marketing & ad spend activities and optimize production planning and supply chain. To take an example, the first snow in winter or the first hot day of summer have an immense impact on consumers and drive the purchase of related goods. A shift in the weather triggers changed consumer behaviors which can be leveraged for appropriate (micro-) campaigns. To take another example, we have worked with a leading European fresh foods producer to better understand product demand in relation to weather. In other words, we have built an analytical model to predict “barbecue weather”. With clear spikes for certain products on sunny days, this client is now able to adjust production levels and logistics, optimize revenue and market share while minimizing excess production. As a final example, IBM MetroPulse powered by Watson is a holistic solution that brings together weather with other hyper-local data sources such as socio-demographic data and point of sales data in one single visualization. Analyzing sales data in a broad context such as weather helps Retailers and FMCG companies make better decisions.
  • Agriculture companies are moving from high-level analyses for larger regions to leveraging hyper-local weather data on the field level. In the pre-planting phase, historical weather data and long-term forecasts are used in conjunction with soil conditions to optimize selection of seed types and crop rotation based on historical yield levels and exposure to weather risks. And in the growing phase, continuous updates on weather forecasts are used to recommend the right levels for irrigation and fertilization as well as to forecast farm production levels. Last but not least, weather insights and precision farming are also leveraged by agriculture insurance companies, traders and banks to better predict and manage their risks.

The Winning Combination: Precise Weather Data + Cognitive, Analytics and IoT Innovation

Ask yourself one question: is the weather data to be used precise, granular and accurate? Through the acquisition of The Weather Company, the #1 provider or weather data in the world, IBM now provides a unique source of weather data. The Weather Company uses a unique Big Data & IoT approach to provide global, precise and accurate weather information. Leveraging information from over 160 different weather models from over 200’000 personal weather stations across the world and sensor readings from over 50’000 commercial flights per day, The Weather Company is able to deliver precise forecasts on 2.2 billion locations around the globe. This effectively corresponds to a 500m x 500m resolution – which makes a huge difference as weather can differ on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis.


The Weather Company uses a Big Data & IoT approach to global, precise and accurate weather information

As we have seen, Weather has an impact on almost every business model, every part of your enterprise and every type of end customer – and successful organizations on the journey to the cognitive era already make use of it.

If you want to learn more about The Weather Company and how IBM can help to leverage unique weather data to impact also your business get in contact with the authors of this article.

GBS Europe Data Ecosystems & The Weather Company Growth Initiative Lead

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