IBM investing $3 billion to tap IoT's full potential

Wed, 2015-04-01 06:00 -- SCC Staff

Smart cities are an important subset of the Internet of Things. In the early IoT days, many of the big players focused on building applications of their own. Since then, we've all realized that it will take an army of solution providers to code and customize all the things we need. 

So as cities select the companies they want to work with, they should be looking for those that have a strong partner network. And how do you evaluate that? One method is to inquire about the support the company provides to those partners, both in terms of marketing and in terms of technical help.

Consider this newly formed initiative from Council Lead Partner IBM by way of example. They are putting powerful, industry-specific tools up in the cloud to make it ultra-easy for developers to use those building blocks to construct solutions. -- Jesse Berst

IBM will invest $3 billion over the next four years to establish a new Internet of Things (IoT) unit. The company is also building a cloud-based open platform designed to help clients and ecosystem partners build IoT solutions.

IBM’s pioneering work in smart cities was based on practical applications of IoT in the enterprise and led to a broad set of solutions, ranging from water management to alleviating traffic congestion. Its implementations combine and analyze data from a wide variety of sources. For example:

  • Miami-Dade County, Florida is working with IBM on a Smarter Cities initiative to improve services for residents and help agencies share information among the 34 municipalities within the county.
  • Dublin, Ireland is working with IBM to identify and solve the root causes of traffic congestion in its public transport network.
  • Southern Ontario Water Consortium is working with IBM using sophisticated tools to understand watershed dynamics, safeguard drinking water and forecast the impact of growth. The new platform analyzes data collected every 15 minutes and assimilates 600 data points per hour from more than 100 sensors.

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.

Most data is never analyzed
IBM, a Council Lead Partner, estimates 90% of all data generated by smartphones, tablets, connected vehicles and other connected devices is never analyzed or acted on – and as much as 60% of this data begins to lose value within milliseconds of being generated.

“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. “IBM will enable clients and industry partners to 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.”

New offerings
IBM announced several new offerings to address these challenges:

  • IBM IoT Cloud Open Platform for Industries: This platform will provide new analytics services that clients, partners and IBM will use to design and deliver vertical industry IoT solutions.  
  • IBM Bluemix IoT Zone: New IoT services as part of IBM’s Bluemix platform-as-a-service will enable developers to easily integrate IoT data into cloud-based development and deployment of IoT apps.
  • IBM IoT Ecosystem: Expansion of its ecosystem of IoT partners – from silicon and device manufacturers to industry-oriented solution providers – such as AT&T, ARM, Semtech and newly announced The Weather Company – to ensure the secure and seamless integration of data services and solutions on IBM’s open platform.

For more information on IBM’s Internet of Things business, visit


Jesse Berst is the founding Chairman of the Smart Cities Council. Click to learn about the benefits you receive when you join the Council for free. Follow @Jesse_Berst and connect on LinkedIn.