IBM’s Watson Predicts Holiday Sales Trends, ‘Hot’ Gifts

The big data-driven, cognitive computer that has outdiagnosed some physicians and beat a champion on the Jeopardy game show is now being put to a different use: predicting what the big holiday sales trends will be and helping shoppers buy the season's "hot" gifts before they sell out.

IBM announced today that it has launched the Watson Trend App -- currently available just for iPhone and iPad users via the Apple App Store -- to help people better figure out what the biggest holiday shopping trends are, and how those trends might change over time.

The Watson app tracks online conversations across more than 10,000 sources, including social media, blogs, and product ratings and reviews, then applies predictive analytics to forecast whether a trend is a fleeting one or one that's likely to last through the holidays. The tool currently provides trend information for three major types of products: consumer electronics, toys and health/fitness products.

'Cognitive' Steps in Where Web Analytics 'Fall Short'

While the Watson app is aimed at shoppers, IBM clearly envisions doing much more with its famous cognitive computer as the holiday shopping season gets ready to kick off next week on the day after Thanksgiving.

For instance, the company has scheduled a Twitter conversation for Wednesday afternoon on the topic, "How cognitive will power the holiday season for both retailers and consumers." IBM Commerce is also sponsoring a December 2 webinar with Internet Retailer magazine on "Turning Commerce Data into Online Merchandising Insight."

"Today, online merchandisers manually compile information about products and categories while lacking the analytics and insight needed to effectively manage the customer experience and drive business results," according to the webinar's registration page. "Web analytics can help you begin to understand the customer but falls short of providing actionable insights needed to maximize business performance."...

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