How a Weather Company is Transforming into a Technology Disrupter
Pelmorex Corp., the company behind Canada’s popular web application, The Weather Network (TWN) and its French counterpart, MétéoMédia (MM), has been keeping over 60 million global consumers safe and informed for the past 30 years through its massive TV and digital platforms. With a team of 40 meteorologists and over 120 product, data, and technology staff, Pelmorex has been able to grow and refine its AI and ML capabilities to deliver hyper-localized and precise weather forecasts to viewers and advertisers.
Now, the company is expanding its data solutions to cater to B2B customers — using location, weather, and behavioural data as AI and ML inputs — to help better predict consumer patterns. “By combining weather historical data with B2B sales data across various locations, we can determine correlations between outside weather and inside sales,” says Bala Gopalakrishnan, Chief Data Officer at Pelmorex. “This helps our B2B customers make smarter decisions about supply, marketing and sales,” he says.
Specialized AI products predict consumer trends and retail traffic
Among the company’s current AI products are the Weather B2B Sales Mashup, which marries weather data with sale B2B metrics data and apply AI to analyze historical trends and predict short-term consumer trends. The Location Insights Platform (LIP) measures historical consumer behaviour against sales categories to predict future retail consumer behaviours.
To fine-tune these models, Pelmorex has been working with researchers from some of Canada’s best universities as well as talent teams from major technology providers like Google. “Working with these firms helps us to integrate our products into the larger digital ecosystem they sell into,” says Gopalakrishnan. Pelmorex has already become a leading provider of these solutions in the Canadian marketplace to a wide range of customers that include automotive firms, financial institutions, and retail chains, among others. The solutions are also used by hospitals in public service to understand patterns between weather and specific illnesses.
Looking to the future
Going forward, Pelmorex will maintain and grow its core B2C media businesses while building its clout in the B2B space by offering technology platforms with the same scale, precision, and localization it uses with TWN & MM. “Our mission has always been to harness the value of weather to make our users safer and smarter by delivering critical weather-related content 24 hours a day through our media platforms,” says Sam Sebastian, President and CEO of Pelmorex. “But now, we’re building a technology platform with weather, behavioural, and location data that can also make businesses smarter.”
As the company makes the shift from a media company to a full-fledged tech company, they will be hiring more data scientists and engineers to develop products and manage their ever-expanding infrastructure needs. “A new set of talent will help us build our new products and support the cloud technology we need to store large amounts of data,” says Sebastian. “We’ve always specialized in this concept of localization and precision with our weather forecasts, but to have that capability coupled with massive scale is something that I think really differentiates — certainly in Canada,” says Sebastian.
When it comes to using AI, there’s generally a concern about data privacy, but it’s important for users to understand what data is required, and why. “Any company collecting information from consumers is under obligation to protect it, but the data that companies using AI keep, is not personal data,” adds Scott Smith, Director of Intellectual Property and Policy Innovation at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “The most important information for third parties is the anonymized and aggregate data that predicts what number of people will need what number of particular items, so retailers can ensure they have the stock to meet that need. Mixing aggregated behavioural data with weather data is actually a boon for retailers, suppliers, and logistics companies.”
With years of experience, Pelmorex has the capability to support executives in making their businesses smarter through personalized digital solutions.