IBM today takes the wraps off its Watson IoT global headquarters, eight new ‘client experience’ IoT centres across the globe and Watson API services for IoT on the IBM Cloud. Here, Big Blue tells IoB about its grand IoT vision for a future connected world of cognitive computing.
In a press release published earlier today, but seen by journalists last week, the technology giant announces the opening of its global headquarters for Watson Internet of Things (IoT) in Munich, Germany, a centre that will come to serve as the home of the new Watson IoT team as well as the first Watson innovation centre in Europe.
This is no ordinary new office though; this campus environment is expected to bring together around 1,000 IBM developers, consultants, researchers and designers, with the sole purpose of driving deeper engagement around IoT with clients and partners. The innovation lab, meanwhile, will see data scientists, engineers and programmers build “a new class of connected solutions at the intersection of cognitive computing and the IoT.” IBM says it represents its largest investment in Europe in more than two decades.
The new headquarters, which is being unveiled at a two-day IBM conference in Munich this week, coincides with the company launching new IoT offerings, capabilities and ecosystem partners.
As of today, there are four new API families for the IBM Watson IoT Cloud, the company’s global platform for IoT business and developers. These API families are on Natural Language Processing (NLP), Machine Learning, Video and Image Analytics and Text Analytics.
These Watson APIs and services will be delivered on the Watson IoT Cloud Platform and, in short, this will see silicon device manufacturers and system integrated direct access to IBM’s open, cloud-based IoT platform “to test, develop and create the next generation cognitive IoT apps, services and solutions.” Automotive, electronics, healthcare, insurance and industrial manufacturers at the forefront of the region’s Industrie 4.0 efforts are among those most expected to benefit.
“The Internet of Things will soon be the largest single source of data on the planet, yet almost 90 percent of that data is never acted upon,” said Harriet Green, general manager, Watson IoT and Education, in a statement.
“With its unique abilities to sense, reason and learn, Watson opens the door for enterprises, governments and individuals to finally harness this real-time data, compare it with historical data sets and deep reservoirs of accumulated knowledge, and then find unexpected correlations that generate new insights to benefit business and society alike.”
The company has also announced it has opened eight new Watson IoT Client Experience Centres across Asia, Europe and the Americas. Locations include Beijing (China), Boeblingen, (Germany), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Seoul (Korea), Tokyo (Japan), and Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Texas (United States).
These centres are to provide clients and partners access to technology, tools and talent needed to develop and create new products and services using cognitive intelligence delivered through the Watson IoT Cloud Platform.
In addition, IBM partner Siemens Building Technologies has announced that it is teaming with IBM to bring innovation to the digitalisation of buildings. Siemens is working to bring advanced analytics capabilities together with IBM’s IoT solutions to advance their Navigator platform for energy management and sustainability.
Speaking to Internet of Business shortly before the announcement, Peter Karns, VP, Product Management & Design, Internet of Things at IBM, detailed the firm’s IoT strategy, explained the rationale behind Munich and the maturity of a nascent IoT market.
He explained that the firm chose Munich because of ongoing efforts with Industrie 4.0, a large and existing skills base and strong universities in the area, not to mention IBM’s infrastructure and staffing in the city. Nonetheless, he was keen to point out that interest in IoT has been global.
“It’s hard to name an industry not being impacted by IoT, or with the potential to be…We’re seeing a lot of interest [in IoT] across the globe” he told us, adding that the centre would help clients understand the early IoT steps they would need to take with connectivity, how to deploy at scale and do so securely and with the relevant analytics. He talked of ‘deepening engagement’ with deploying customers at an earlier stage.
“We’re bringing together different skillsets under one roof, so can we can bring clients and partners to the centre to do workshops, design sessions, and to break down the hard problems,” he added.
Karns went onto detail the importance of IoT working alongside cognitive learning – the concept that computers can learn and act on our behalf without human bias– and said that the newly released APIs will improve visibility into the data collected from IoT devices. For example, tone and sentiment from Twitter could be used when dealing with customers, or video analytics to see if machinery had suffered physical damage.
The IBM exec, unsurprisingly perhaps, sees a positive future for the IoT market, away from the hype.
“The market at whole looking for truth and reality, and looking to learn from others. What we see clients hungry for is ‘what are my competitors doing?’, where has there been success, where have there been challenges? We see a hunger for pragmatic knowledge.
“This is real. There has been some question if its hype or not, but this is not.” Karns added that deploying companies are scaling-up with their plans, and even crossing into other industries are IoT transforms them from products to services companies.
IBM, he says, are going to continue to help clients scale-up their IoT deployments, invest in Watson platform and target specific verticals. The firm will also look to establish partnerships at the chipset level.