IBM to invest $3 billion in Internet of Things

A new IBM IoT unit will focus on creating an open platform and tools to help organizations leverage enterprise and IoT data.

internet of things abstract
Credit: Thinkstock

IBM is betting big on the Internet of Things (IoT) to the tune of $3 billion over the next four years to establish a new IoT unit, the company announced Tuesday.

[Related: 10 hot Internet of Things startups ]

Last year, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty oversaw one of the biggest moves in the company's century-long history with the creation of the IBM Watson Group business unit — replete with some 2,000 IBM employees, a new headquarters at the heart of New York City's Silicon Alley and $1 billion to get everything going (including $100 million earmarked for venture investments in startups).

[Related: Internet of Things connections to quadruple by 2020 ]

But Rometty and Big Blue aren't resting on their laurels. With the new IBM IoT unit, the company plans to build on its new industry-specific cloud data services and developer tools to integrate data from an "unprecedented number" of IoT and traditional sources. The company said everything will be made available on an open platform to allow industrial customers the ability to design and manufacture connected devices and create systems that take advantage of enterprise and IoT data.

"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 Bob Picciano, senior vice president, IBM Analytics. "This is a major focus of investment for IBM because it's a rich and broad-based opportunity where innovation matters. Over the next decade, integration of IoT in business operations and decision-making will transform business."

[Related: How to Develop Applications for the Internet of Things ]

The new unit will offer the following:

  • IBM IoT Cloud Open Platform for Industries. These consist of new analytics services to design and deliver vertical industry IoT services for industry clients on the IBM Cloud. For instance, Big Blue will introduce a cloud-based service that aids insurance companies in extracting insight from connected vehicles.
  • IBM Bluemix IoT Zone. These new IoT services will be offered as part of IBM's Cloud Foundry-based platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering, Bluemix. IBM says the new services will enable easy integration of IoT data into cloud-based development and deployment of IoT apps. For example, developers could enrich business applications like enterprise asset management, facilities management and software engineering design tools with real-time data and embedded analytics to optimize processes.
  • IBM IoT Ecosystem. The new unit will expand its ecosystem of IoT partners to provide secure and seamless integration of data services and solutions on the IBM platform.

A new global partnership with The Weather Company — also announced Tuesday — is a prime example of IBM's commitment to building out its ecosystem. IBM's global strategic alliance with WSI, The Weather Channel's global B2B division, will see WSI shift its entire weather data services platform to the IBM Cloud and integrate its data with IBM analytics and cloud services.

The partners will focus on the integration of WSI's historical and real-time weather data with Watson Analytics to give organizations the caspability to leverage Watson Analytics for Weather in their business operations and decision making solutions. They have plans to jointly develop industry solutions for the insurance, energy and utilities, retail and logistics verticals.

In addition, cloud and mobile app developer tools will be able to take advantage of WSI data combined with data from operational systems, connected devices and sensors using advanced analytics through Bluemix. And IBM plans to train thousands of consultants from across IBM Global Business Services to combine WSI data with other sources.

"This deal combines the capabilities of the world's largest and most advanced commercial weather company with the leader in big data and analytics," says David Kenny, chairman and CEO of The Weather Company. "Together, we'll help businesses and government transform their decisions and operations around weather fluctuation at a scale that hasn't been possible until now."

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