The Weather Company: Creating Consumer Apps that Leverage its Big Data

Case Solution

Ruth Gilleran, Patricia J. Guinan, Salvatore Parise
Babson College ()

The Weather Company (TWC) innovated by using its big weather data to develop new consumer products. Weather was the original big data problem, and over the years TWC has benefited from this data with its compelling television coverage on The Weather Channel, as well as its popular website and mobile app. In search of new uses for its weather data, the company recently decided to develop weather-related applications for outdoor enthusiasts. In order to gather ideas for these applications, TWC invited all employees to a company-wide “hackathon” in which they were asked to create a mobile application prototype for part of this population group. At the end of the three-day event, everyone demonstrated their prototypes and management chose OutSider, a mobile app for runners. Like most media sites, TWC followed an advertising-based revenue model. While TWC had millions of television viewers and website visitors, it had limited information about them. However, based on the profile information provided by the brokers when registering for the use of the OutSider app and the data collected by the smartphone sensors, TWC was willing to charge a premium for the provider’s ads placed on the app. . The case not only illustrates the importance of using data resources for the development of new products and services, it also shows an example of the intersection of mobile data and big data. When asked to name an innovative company, TWC is most likely not the first choice for most people, but the 30-year-old company has been very entrepreneurial in its approach to developing mobile apps for consumers. In addition to TWC’s brainstorming process, the case describes the composition of the mobile application development team, the implementation of agile software development methods, and the use of modern big data technologies.

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