From financial services and retail to healthcare, massive influxes of data from the Internet of Things (IoT) are transforming entire markets and opening revenue opportunities. Weather forecasting, an industry that has always been heavily dependent on data, is no exception. The Weather Company is the operator of The Weather Channel, weather.com, Weather Underground, and WSI. Company technology leaders are generating revenue by creating useful new products and services based on data from the IoT.
“We started as a cable network and have burgeoned into a range of brands, all driven by data,” says Bryson Koehler, Chief Information Officer at The Weather Company. “Content, data and technology are the foundation of everything we do, from generating the best forecasts to collecting massive amounts of information from many different sources and distributing it all over the world.”
Data-Driven Business Expansion
Previously, The Weather Company primarily received information from the National Weather Service. Now, information also pours in from sensors, nanosatellites, aircrafts, autonomous marine vessels, automobiles, and drones. The company even receives real-time information from weather enthusiasts around the globe who share data from their mobile devices and personal weather stations.
Koehler remarked, “We love our friends at the National Weather Service, and we’ve also got the public and crowdsourcing on our side. We’ve gone from 1300 national reporting stations to include 37,000 personal reporting stations, allowing us to get even more granular and accurate.”
Data: Just the Beginning
The data deluge alone doesn’t advance the company’s strategy, but what technology executives at The Weather Company do with it makes all the difference to the bottom line. They innovate constantly on products and the data derived from the IoT to deliver more value to customers. It’s a philosophy and strategy that technologists in a variety of industries are embracing to fuel business innovation and income.
With The Weather Channel television network, website, and mobile applications—such as the second most downloaded iPad app and seventh most downloaded iPhone app in history—the company has a number of conduits for reaching consumers and expanding its business. And with burgeoning data sources, The Weather Company can deliver weather forecasts and content that is more relevant and accurate; a huge point of competitive differentiation.
“We’ve seen enormous increases in the volume of data as well as our ability to process and distribute it to huge numbers of consumers and businesses,” Koehler says. “We’re moving from providing a forecast for two million points on Earth to almost three billion. It’s a big driver of business growth.”
Weather: Influencing 35 Percent of the World’s Daily GDP
Insatiable global demand for weather data is good news for The Weather Company. Apparel, food, entertainment, travel, shipping, and insurance are all influenced by weather, and many businesses will pay for insights and alerts that help them save or generate money. Even public entities can spawn new monetization possibilities.
“Weather affects about 35 percent of the world’s gross domestic product every day,” says Koehler. “If we can help businesses influence consumer behavior or become more efficient with their operations, that represents a wealth of revenue potential.”
Accurate weather forecasts are also important to public safety, especially in areas like the Midwest where dangerous storms form quickly and frequently change paths. Issuing an accurate weather alert 90 seconds faster can save lives; conversely, issuing incorrect alerts compromises credibility and can place people in harm’s way.
When Fog is Good News
Technologists at The Weather Company appreciate weather data no matter where it comes from—an airplane, a car’s windshield wipers, or a drone. Regardless of the source, they can collect and analyze information locally using fog computing, a means of connecting remote sensors to cloud-based computing resources to enable rapid, actionable decisions at the network edge. The fog computing strategy helps The Weather Company precisely tailor forecasts, even in some of the globe’s most remote or sparsely populated areas.
“Somewhere around 50 billion Internet-connected devices will be online in the coming years, by many estimates—that’s an amazing amount of data,” says Koehler. “Our business model revolves around transforming all that information into revenue-generating services that make a positive impact on people’s lives—and on our balance sheet.”
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