Weather is no longer just conversation while paying for your coffee, or chatting around the water cooler – it is becoming big business. That’s why IBM recently bought the Weather Channel for reported $2 billion. And it is also another manifestation of Big Data creating opportunities for companies to capitalize on. IBM has made Big Data and analytics the next mountain it wishes to climb. They understand that a company of any size will need vital sets of information in order to survive and as such the technology giant is building a portfolio of products and data streams to ensure they will be at the right place, at the right time.

However, one doesn’t have to wait for IBM to provide all of the tools to take full advantage of opportunities within Big Data.

As an Example: As mundane as it sounds – few years ago, new startup (well let’s face it, it was just one guy) in landscaping business realized that there wasn’t enough hours in a day to do two things; cut grass and visit new customers with work quotations. His solution? Probably something you’ve used at least once today – Google maps. This guy searched Google maps, measuring the yard sizes in each neighbourhood and then sent in his quotes. The resolution from the Google application was sufficient enough to identify how much grass was present in each yard and how many trees existed so he was able to provide a reasonable estimate. Most importantly, the quotations could be prepared at any time – even after dark, without ever needing to visit a potential customer so the daylight was dedicated to cutting grass – and making money. The result? This company was able to rapidly grow and expand to other cities. Search the Internet and you may see how many solutions are there for similar businesses now.

OK so hooray for the landscaper, he’s a smart guy. Now let’s take the Google maps example and combine it with accurate (IBM) weather forecasts from it’s new acquisition in the Weather Channel. Retailers like Home Depot could deliver highly contextual advertisements to individual households. It would know the vegetation of every garden, understand the growing seasons for that area, and with weather forecasting it would be sure to know which product to recommend to it’s customers.

In the not too distant future, you might be surprised when you receive a flyer for new garden furniture including a diagram of your back yard showing where to put it, combined with a new BBQ and a recommended local microbrewery to get your growler filled. Then you’ll look outside at your garden and suddenly realize that these items were exactly what you were missing.

Welcome to the new world of marketing and advertising.