IBM invests $200 mn to boost Watson IoT operations

IBM opens headquarters for Watson in Germany

IBM announced a $200 million investment in its Watson Internet of Things (IoT) business headquartered in Munich, Germany.

This is one of the company’s largest ever investment in Europe and it is part of the $3 billion global investment designed to bring Watson cognitive computing to IoT.

The Watson IoT headquarters will be home to new – hands-on industry labs where clients and partners can work together with IBM’s 1,000 researchers, engineers, developers and business experts to drive collaborative innovation in the automotive, electronics, manufacturing, healthcare and insurance industries.

IBM said the investment is in response to escalating demand for IoT and Artificial Intelligence technologies from the region.

Currently IBM has 6,000 clients globally who are tapping Watson IoT solutions and services, up from 4,000 just 8 months ago.

“IBM is making tremendous strides to ensure that businesses around the world are able to take advantage of this incredible period of technological transformation and develop new products and services that really change people’s lives,” said Harriet Green, Global Head of IBM’s Watson IoT business.

“Germany is at the forefront of the Industry 4.0 initiative and by inviting our clients and partners to join us in Munich, we are opening up our talent and technologies to help deliver on the promise of IoT and establishing a global hotbed for collaborative innovation.”

IBM also shared some new engagements from Europe with regard to Watson IoT.  German automotive and industrial supplier Schaeffler, the Netherlands-based designer and producer of unmanned aircraft systems Aerialtronics and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital are some of them.

Schaeffler has signed a multi-year partnership agreement with IBM to accelerate the digital transformation of its entire operations and customer solutions using Watson’s cognitive intelligence.

Schaeffler taps the connectivity and analytics capabilities of IBM’s cloud technologies and Watson IoT platform.

At the same time, Aerialtronics announced the first commercial drones featuring cognitive computing capabilities from the Watson IoT Platform on IBM Cloud.

Through high definition cameras and Watson Visual Recognition analytics, Aerialtronics drones offer a 360-degree view of the surroundings and help to avoid traditional risky ways of inspecting.

It can be used to city traffic monitoring, inspecting wind turbines, oil rigs and cell tower optimization.

On the other hand, Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals is working with IBM to launch cognitive hospital rooms powered by IBM Watson IoT.

With this partnership, the hospital aims to enhance the patient experience and bring deeper levels of personalized, agile and responsive care.

Also, part of its Watson IoT project, the enterprise IT major announced a number of new offerings aimed at IoT customers and developers.

These include – a new capability that connects IoT data to Blockchain through the IBM Watson IoT Platform, a new set of IoT Security Solutions and Services to help identify potential risks, a natural language interface, and a cognitive IoT cookbook to guide developers.

IoT is gaining popularity in new generation business landscape. IDC’s Global Decision Maker survey found that 55 percent of respondents saying that IoT is strategic to their business.

“In our research, IBM came across as a major player in nearly every aspect of the IoT market with clear leadership for its IoT platform, software and systems integration,” said Vernon Turner, Senior Vice President of Enterprise Systems and IDC Fellow for the IoT.

“IBM’s investment to bring its Watson cognitive computing technologies to the IoT is clearly gaining traction with companies around the world which are launching their own IoT solutions,” Turner added.

Latest developments from Europe indicate that global IT leaders are increasing their focus on the region’s IT business.

Monday, Microsoft said it has more than doubled its cloud capacity in Europe in the past year and has invested $3 billion to date in the region.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Brad Smith were sharing the company’s cloud policy with business leaders, developers and entrepreneurs in Dublin, Ireland

As part of the cloud momentum, Microsoft announced plans to offer Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365 from multiple datacenter locations in France. Initial availability is anticipated in 2017.

Currently, Microsoft offers cloud services to its European customers from data centers in UK and Germany.  The Netherlands, Ireland, Austria and Finland also host Microsoft data centers in the region.