RFID Talk Blog

IBM to invest $3B to build Internet of Things business unit

IBM is stepping up its game when it comes to the Internet of Things. The tech giant announced today that it plans to invest $3 billion over the next four years to establish a new IoT division that includes a cloud-based open platform designed to help clients and ecosystem partners build IoT solutions.

Bob Picciano, senior vice president of IBM Analytics, says that a major goal of the IoT initiative will be to help clients act on data collected by things like RFID tags and other sensors.

“Our knowledge of the world grows with every connected sensor and device, but too often we are not acting on it, even when we know we can ensure a better result,” says Picciano. “IBM will enable clients and industry partners apply IoT data to build solutions based on an open platform. This is a major focus of investment for IBM because it’s a rich and broad-based opportunity where innovation matters.”

Appliance manufacturer Whirlpool Corp. is already leveraging IBM’s IoT and predictive maintenance and quality solutions to improve the performance and reliability of its appliances, while Pratt & Whitney is relying on the IoT to more accurately and proactively monitor the health of more than 4,000 commercial engines.

IBM’s pioneering work in Smarter Planet and Smarter Cities was based on practical applications of IoT in the enterprise and led to a broad set of solutions, ranging from water management to optimizing retail and customer loyalty to alleviating traffic congestion. IBM leads in enterprise IoT implementations that securely combine and analyze data from a wide variety of sources.

With new industry-specific cloud data services and developer tools, IBM will build on that expertise to help clients and partners integrate data from an unprecedented number of IoT and traditional sources. These resources will be made available on an open platform to provide manufacturers with the ability to design and produce a new generation of connected devices that are better optimized for the IoT, and to help business leaders across industries create systems that better fuse enterprise and IoT data to inform decision-making.

IBM estimates that 90 percent of all data generated by devices such as smartphones, tablets, connected vehicles and appliances is never analyzed or acted on. As much as 60 percent of this data begins to lose value within milliseconds of being generated.

A hint of IBM’s Internet of Things capabilities was demonstrated in a new global strategic alliance announced with The Weather Company through WSI, its global B2B division. WSI’s forecasting system ingests and processes data from thousands of sources, resulting in approximately 2.2 billion unique forecast points worldwide, and averages more than 10 billion forecasts a day on active weather days.

The IoT and cloud computing allow for collection of data from more than 100,000 weather sensors and aircraft, millions of smartphones, buildings and even moving vehicles. The two companies will help industries utilize their understanding of weather on business outcomes and take action systemically to optimize those parts of their businesses.

For example, insurers pay more than $1 billion in claims every year for vehicles damaged by hail. WSI’s Weather Alert service, together with IBM Analytics, enables insurance providers to send policyholders text messages that alert them to impending hailstorms – and safe locations – so vehicles can be moved before damage occurs. These insights have the potential to save insurers up to $25 per policyholder per year in hail-prone areas, or millions of dollars annually.

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