IBM and The Weather Channel are partnering to help businesses make better decisions around weather patterns, the companies announced Tuesday. The move signals a commitment by IBM to broaden its offerings as it focuses on new projects, especially after a year with rocky financials and a "disappointing" outlook for 2015.
"Weather is perhaps the single largest external swing factor in business performance – responsible for an annual economic impact of nearly half a trillion dollars in the U.S. alone," according to IBM. The company said that it will be able to use cloud computing to process data collected data from "more than 100,000 weather sensors and aircraft, millions of smartphones, buildings and even moving vehicles."
Among the firms that IBM says could benefit from the new Weather Channel partnership are insurance companies, which could use Big Blue's data to save money by halting operations or change their offerings based on weather forecasts. Here's IBM's release:
Insurers pay more than $1 billion in claims every year for vehicles damaged by hail. WSI’s Weather Alert service, together with IBM Analytics, enables insurance providers to send policyholders text messages that alert them to impending hailstorms – and safe locations – so vehicles can be moved before damage occurs. These insights have the potential to save insurers up to $25 per policyholder per year in hail-prone areas, or millions of dollars annually.
The move comes as IBM also announced a $3 billion investment in a new Internet of Things unit, Fortune reported.
In January, IBM reported fourth-quarter earnings of $5.81 per share, which exceeded analysts' expectations. That figure, however, was down 6% from the previous year.