I am currently developing a tutorial for EMBA students for IBM’s Watson Explorer. Having just recently finished content development for R workshop for MSBA, I must say it is a pretty interesting experience. On the one hand you have R, a complex but powerful tool that is designed to lift (almost) any kind of analytics boulder, and on the other hand you have Watson Explorer, a tool that supposedly can deliver analytics with a natural language interface.

Watson’s is an interesting proposition, you feed it data and it answers your questions on data. It aims to be a complete analytics package, with functionality for data manipulation, visualizations, predictions, and presentations. Of course the functionality provided is very limited compared to R, but Watson is not targeting analysts. It is trying to provide data driven insights to less technical people, like the middle management.

The UI really makes plotting and exploration extremely easy. What takes some planning in R is just a few clicks away with Watson Explorer. In my experience, the NLP interface takes some getting used to, often fails to understand what is asked. That however does not mean it will stay that way. I suspect IBM is giving out free trials to Watson to build a training set for Watson, so I expect it to become better at what it does pretty soon.

So, go see for yourself at: http://www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/us/en/ibmwatson/explorer.html