IBM announced on Tuesday plans to invest $3 billion over four years on an Internet of Things (IoT) unit that will allow customers to collect and compute data from smartphones and sensor-equipped devices such as cars.
It also announced a related partnership with the Weather Company, the mother firm of The Weather Channel, which powers weather apps of Apple, Google and Microsoft.
“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.”
IBM’s IoT unit (a phrase used for data transmitted over a network by sensor-equipped devices and smartphones) is the newest entrant in an emerging sector that already has giants such as General Electric, Microsoft and Cisco.
Big Blue, as IBM is also called, estimates that 90% of such data generated is never analysed or acted upon; and almost 60% of this data begins losing value within milliseconds.
Companies can analyse this data to understand consumer behaviour, anticipate business outcomes and tailor products, and services accordingly.
Insurers in the US pay $1 billion in claims for vehicles damaged by hail. According to the New York Times, The Weather Company’s data, analysed by IBM’s artificial intelligence engine Watson, could enable insurers to alert policyholders about impending hailstorm and guide them to safer locations — saving $25 per policyholder in hail-prone regions.
IBM said its IoT clients already included automatic supplier Continental, Cummins, Pratt & Whitney, Silverhook Powerboats and Whirlpool Corporation.