IBM Pushes Hard on the Internet of Things

Carl Weinschenk
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Developing Tech: What's Next?

One of the challenges of modern telecommunications is that the big labels that people give trends and emerging platforms bleed into each other. The cloud is related to the Internet of Things (IoT), which is related to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), which is related to Big Data, which is related to machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, and on and on. The boundaries are artificial, but in a sense necessary in order to have a conversation.

All of those names can be jettisoned in favor of a simple statement: Computing is getting so inexpensive and condensed that it can collect data and improve processes in an almost limitless number of applications. At the end of the day, that is the reality to which each of the terms and phrases refers.

IBM gets this. Datamation reports that the company yesterday announced a four-year, $3 billion IoT research program. A key to the project is to help users harness the huge amount of data that these platforms generate. IBM suggests that as much as 90 percent of the data that connected devices generate is not analyzed or acted upon.

One of the earliest dreams of the pioneers of computing was to predict weather patterns. That makes it appropriate that one of the early high-profile moves in IBM’s deepened focus on the IoT is a deal with The Weather Company, which owns The Weather Channel.

On the business side, the importance of the deal is that it brings The Weather Channel from Amazon Web Services to Big Blue. Beyond a competitive win, the goal is to make data actionable. An example is giving insurance companies the ability to warn their customers about severe weather events. The concept is pretty straightforward:

For instance, automobile insurers could use the service to tell policy holders to move their cars before a hailstorm happens; hail damage can cause an average of $25 of damage per policy holder per year in hail-prone areas, says IBM.

Internet of Things

IBM offered a good deal of specifics in the press release announcing the investment. There are three emerging groups. IBM IoT Cloud Open Platform for Industries is a long name for a service that will deliver analytics that it, partners and clients will use to support vertical industries. The IBM Bluemix IoT Zone is a cloud-based platform aimed at enabling IoT apps to buttress existing business applications. IBM IoT Ecosystems is an expansion of the partners with which IBM works on IoT endeavors.

BusinessInsider mentions IBM Watson and the fact that the output of The Weather Company’s business-to-business data, called WSI, likely will be fed into it. WSI generates 26 billion weather forecasts a day from its 2 billion sensors. The bottom line is that IBM has a long-term plan in place to harness modern computing and the data that is generated. That’s important, whatever label is used.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

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