IBM bets $3B on Internet of Things, devotes 2,000 consultants and researchers to the cause

Given IBM's history of dealing with huge swaths of data, it's not a big surprise that it is seizing the opportunity for the Internet of Things (IoT), saying it's got the chops to lead the industry and help its partners build IoT solutions.

The problem with today's IoT, as IBM sees it, is all the data that sensors are collecting is not being acted upon fast enough. To address the situation, it's offering new cloud services and devoting more than 2,000 IBM consultants, researchers and developers to help enterprise clients gain new insights.

"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," said Bob Picciano, senior vice president, IBM Analytics, in a press release. "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."

IBM says it will make resources 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.

What kinds of decision-making? One example involves IBM's new alliance with The Weather Company, whereby IBM plans to pull weather data and feed it through Watson, its artificial intelligence engine, and other analysis tools as part of its mission to deliver a "new service for business, detailed weather information and insights for decision-making," Robert Picciano, senior vice president for analytics, told The New York Times.

The Weather Company is best known for its media properties like The Weather Channel and, and its data powers the weather apps for Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and others, the Times noted. It also sells its weather data to thousands of companies, including airlines, retailers and insurers.

IBM figures its experience in enterprise IoT implementations that securely combine and analyze data from a variety of sources gives it a good position from which to launch its new IoT unit, into which it plans to invest $3 billion over the next four years. 

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.

In its announcement, IBM provided a long list of examples where it already plays a role in the IoT world--in everything from appliance maintenance solutions for Whirlpool Corporation to intelligent operations for the city of Montpellier, France, to set up services for smarter water management.

IBM has a lot of company in the IoT space. It's a founding member of the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), along with AT&T, Cisco, General Electric and Intel.

For more:
- see The New York Times article (sub. req.)
- see this Computerworld story
- see this Forbes article
- see the press release

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