The Weather Channel Uses Fast IT to Harness Data
When you walk outside and notice dark clouds gathering, or a cheerfully bright sun, little may cross your mind except to grab an umbrella or your shades. But chances are, the team at The Weather Channel knew about these weather conditions days in advance thanks to Fast IT. And with this advance information, The Weather Channel offers what is relevant to you in the moment.
In our Internet of Everything (IoE) world, more consumers and employees are demanding more relevant content now. As such, organizations must keep pace. The Fast IT model built to transform and simplify IT operations is the way to evolve in today’s environment.
For many CIOs, including The Weather Company’s Bryson Koehler, a Fast IT model has resulted in more accurate, relevant and timely data with unprecedented and unlimited uses. Consider his insights in this video:
“When I look at network programmability, I see the same capability enablement that I see from all of the other things that have preceded it,” he said. “Which is how do we leverage technology to be more flexible, how do we free up engineers and developers to innovate quicker and how do we get the traditional shackles of rigid technology unlocked so we don’t have to be nailed down to a specific piece of infrastructure.”
Over the past year-and-a-half, The Weather Company, parent to The Weather Channel, has rebuilt their entire data platform, moving their forecasting over to the cloud, allowing them to ingest data through an extremely rich set of application programming interface (API). In doing this, the organization is able to improve the accuracy of their forecast, collecting data from across the globe and analyzing it at lightning fast speeds – essential when dealing with an unpredictable variable like the weather.
“As a CIO, one of the things you have to do is unleash your organization to innovate,” Koehler said. “And innovation is what’s driven our weather accuracy forward. At this point in time, we’ve gone in the last year from forecasting 2.2 million locations four times an hour and we’ve now increased that to 2.8 billion locations 15 times an hour.”
With a $19 trillion opportunity value at stake, the value of Fast IT in The Weather Company’s business model lies in capturing the audience of millions who are actively engaged in weather patterns, changes and consumer-focused news the channel broadcasts.
“We really started as a cable network and over the past 30 years have transitioned more to a tech-led digital media company,” said Chris Walters, Chief Operations Officer. “Technology is the foundation of everything that we do, from helping us generate the best forecast in the world to collecting massive amounts of content from many, many different sources and ultimately distributing it to our users all over the world.”
Using the metrics and data that they have been able to harness thanks to the power of a Fast IT strategy, The Weather Company has been able to deliver more value to both consumers and their business partners. By utilizing sales data from their largest marketing partners and aligning it with their own weather data, The Weather Company is able to provide insight and guidance on which products are likely to sell best, dependent on current or forecasted weather conditions.
The results? More relevant advertising messaging for The Weather Channel consumers and increased response rates for their advertising partners. Other exciting opportunities made possible by innovative IT are on the horizon for The Weather Company, including global weather alerts that will impact public safety and influence ad messaging. And data gathered directly from tens of thousands of consumers who’ve invested in personal weather stations will be shared in real-time with Weather Underground, another brand of The Weather Company, assisting in extremely accurate forecasts and ground conditions.
Relying on atmospheric science, computer science and now, Fast IT technology, The Weather Company is in a position now to tell better stories, deliver enhanced content and enrapture a new audience with their innovations. Though a large operation with hundreds of engineers, forecasters, producers and more, the company is an example to businesses of all sizes of the amazing value that Fast IT adds to a brand.
What role do you see a Fast IT model playing in your organization’s development and what are your ideas on how it can be leveraged to positively affect customer interaction and your bottom line?
Additional resources from Cisco’s Jim Grubb: