IBM Offers Its Take on IoT Opportunities for Partners
In our continuing search and analysis of Internet of things-related channel opportunities from vendor-partners, IBM skipped right past the "sensors and controls" that others talk about and focused on the data and the analytics behind those sensors.
Sandy Carter, IBM general manager for cloud ecosystems and developers, sees four foundational areas where the Internet of things (IoT) will deliver value to customers: new business models; operational optimization; value in connecting what matters, not just sensors for sensors sake; and the most important thing is the data and the analytics.
"I don't think the sensor guys are going to be what really makes the difference," Carter said. "I think it's going to be around the people who can take the data and interpret it, and then dynamically make changes based on the data."
IBM continues to expand in that space. Earlier this year, IBM purchased The Weather Company, including cloud-based Web-properties including Weather.com, Weather Underground and WSI.
"That is really integrating real-time weather insight into making business decisions," explained Carter. "They have 100,000 sensors and 2.2 billion forecast points. That's combining data to create more valuable insight. If you're an insurance company, or a retailer, that can really help your business."
Carter characterized the most valuable processes coming from the Internet of things as the integration of systems of record with systems of integration to yield systems of insight.
IBM describes this as cognitive computing. In a white paper titled "The Internet of Things in the Cognitive Era: Realizing the Future and Full Potential of Connected Devices" Harriet Green, general manager of IBM Watson IoT and education, wrote:
"Rather than being explicitly programmed, cognitive systems learn from interactions with us and their experiences with their environment. This enables them to keep pace with the volume, complexity, and unpredictability of information generated by the Internet of things.
When cognitive computing is applied to the Internet of things, the result is what we call Cognitive IoT, which we define as systems that infuse intelligence into, and learn from, the physical world. The end result is deeper, more meaningful insight into the world around us—our context—from how variations in weather affects your business in unexpected ways to the hidden patterns in how people are talking about your brand."
Cognitive Computing Opportunities for IoT Solution Providers
Where do IoT solution providers fit in?
IBM's Carter sees three categories of channel partners: the third that "get it" and are using it; the third that say "teach me about it" and the third that just won't make it
According to IBM's document "Watson IoT: Welcome to the Era of Cognitive IT," the first group is currently represented by more than 350 Watson ecosystem business partners taking advantage of more than two-dozen Watson APIs, including four designed to accelerate cognitive IoT, powered by 50 different cognitive technologies.
For the second group, Carter recommends that they look around the world to see what's happening and how the world is changing. Having just returned from touring 78 countries, Carter is clearly speaking from first-hand experience.
Carter predicts that these partners will come out realizing that they need to make a significant transition from reseller to integrator. Carter points out: "According to IDC, cloud partners who are dipping into the IoT and cognitive have higher revenue than those staying still, and [they] are enjoying 2x growth."
Then, partners are encouraged to visit the IBM Watson Ecosystem Partnerships page, which more thoroughly describes Watson Services and partner access to the IBM Network and their community of expertise.
Partners Already Marketing Intelligent Solutions
An IBM announcement from May 2015 describes the expansion of the Watson Ecosystem with new partnerships and cognitive computing apps and services for media and entertainment, oil and gas, veterinary medicine, travel and hospitality, mental health, engineering and personalized health. In an October 2015 announcement, IBM described applications developed by Watson partners for call center support, content marketing, social data analysis, survey analysis and risk management.
IBM sees cognitive computing as heralding a new age of computing.
IBM's Green intones the opportunity in her white paper: "We need the Internet of things to be smarter. We need to get more value from data it produces. And we believe that cognitive computing—systems that learn at scale, reason with purpose and interact with humans naturally—is our best, and perhaps only, opportunity to fully exploit this burgeoning resource."