IBM just got bigger into big data.
In recent years, the company has spent billions to enhance its data capabilities, and today the firm launched a new analytics center in Ohio as clients increasingly demand processing power to analyze customer information.
The IBM Client Center for Advanced Analytics -- housed in an existing IBM facility in Columbus -- will help clients put their proprietary data and other data sets to use. The facility will be home to a growing number of data scientists and analysts working on complex projects for IBM business clients who don't have the in-house expertise to manage and analyze data on their own.
"Over the last four years, we invested over $17 billion in both assets and resources and software in this space," said Ron Lovell, VP of IBM's Client Center for Advanced Analytics in Columbus, Ohio. "We see a real need for skills to support our customers in this [big data] space," he said.
IBM has other, smaller analytics centers, but they do not have the breadth of capabilities offered by the new center, said Mr. Lovell.
IBM aims to have 500 people working in the center in three years - some hired from other firms, some products of an educational collaboration with Ohio State University and other schools, and some from elsewhere in IBM. The company would not share the number of staff currently working at the new center, which launched today.
As part of a broader collaboration with around 200 universities, IBM is in the process of developing curricula for Ohio State graduate, undergraduate and executive education programs focused on data analytics.
Throughout the first quarter of 2013, IBM will ratchet up its Ohio operation, said Mr. Lovell. "We're getting it set up for security reasons with particular customers who will need things walled off," he added.
Through acquisitions in recent years IBM has built out various aspects of its data-driven services. Marketing services firm Unica, web-analytics company Coremetrics, online customer experience firm Tealeaf, and Kenexa -- a social-media-management company serving the HR industry -- are all now under the IBM umbrella.
Information gleaned through work done at the new center might be used to inform the work of other IBM analytics centers, according to Mr. Lovell.
The new center in Columbus, for instance, might serve a client in the insurance industry that is experiencing retention problems among policy holders. "We would look at the data beyond customer data within their own firewall, around social data, mobile data, that would help them evaluate why they are losing those customers," said Mr. Lovell.
The Columbus operation will also be home to additional people dedicated to development of IBM's Watson, a key component of the company's innovation around understanding and using data.