Sunday, August 30, 2015

IBM and the Internet of Things

by Brenda J. Christie

TechTarget defines the Internet of Things (IoT) as "an environment in which objects, animals or people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction."

A practical application of IoT is a heart patient who wears a monitor or chip-embedded vest which is monitored and tracked remotely by a company millions of miles away.  LoJack and OnStar are further examples of IoT whereby a stolen car can be located, a locked door can be unlocked by an OnStar customer service agent working in a different city, state or country.  It can be a refrigerator repair technician remotely reading output from the refrigerator's sensors and chips to access parts needed for your new refrigerator before actually leaving the office.

Dr. John Barrett gives an excellent explanation of IoT in a TED talk.

The potential commercial and medical applications are vast.  It is for this reason that IBM, over the past 18-24 months, has invested $10 billion in IoT and Analytics.  Analytics is an essential component to make sense of the data coming from diverse devices.

According to a recent CMS Wire article by David Roe, "IBM has Aggressive IoT Ambitions",  IBM's strategy for capitalizing on IoT  is a "4-Pronged Attack."  This strategy consists of:

  1. Technology to support connected devices and networks;
  2. Technology to build and manage IoT platforms;
  3. Applications and solutions to provide a service to businesses looking to mitigate risk to the company and business;
  4. Strategic consulting and business process change 

A visualization of IBM's IoT strategy which appeared in the CMS article is reproduced below.

IBM's Investment in IOT and Analytics as reported by IT Thru The Prism of Time

Some of the reason's IBM's strategy might work include (1) IBM has deep pockets (2) IBM has over 700,000 patents (3) it has a broad developer network (4) it has brand recognition (5) it has reliable software (6)  it has stable management.

Some of IBM's weaknesses which work against its success in the Internet of Things market, as reported in the CMS article include: (1) products and services are perceived to be too expensive (2) decline in quarterly revenue and year over year earnings casts doubt on IBM's ability to execute on strategies.

Being a well-known, established company does afford IBM some comfort.  However, some of the internet of things companies, IBM's competitors (Oracle, Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, SAP and SAS), are not resting on their laurels but are steadily moving ahead.

The race is on to connect all devices and networks.  At the end of the day, regardless of who takes first place, the consumer wins.

Bye for now,

Brenda J. Christie