The internet of things is a household term for many, and for some it conjures fantastical notions of refrigerators that talk to pens that communicate to tablets that alert you as to what you need at the grocery store. But, aside from the devices that are emerging onto the consumer scene — many of which debut at shows like Mobile World Congress and the Consumer Electronics Show and are not generally available for purchase yet — the enterprise sector is taking a fervid look at how to leverage the pending growth of the internet of things to improve business operations and what it will mean for the next era of tech.
To that end, IBM has announced that it will be investing $3 billion into creating an internet of things (IoT) unit, and over the next four years “building a cloud-based open platform designed to help clients and ecosystem partners build IoT solutions”. The tech giant is going to provide cloud data services and developer tools to help manufacturers create more connected devices — specifically ones that are designed to connect over an internet-of-things network.
IBM has been partnering and developing platforms and tools designed for the internet of things for a few years, but tech is not the only sector looking at how to leverage IoT. The U.K. government just issued a report examining how government should play a role in incorporating IoT into country-wide operations, and how the future of connected devices can aid in policy and expand economic opportunities. The report, issued by the U.K.’s Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Mark Walport, notes that encouraging the development and implementation of the internet of things will “deliver significant economic and societal benefits over the next 10 years”.
While all eyes seem to be turning towards IoT, the buildout of IBM’s work spells big opportunities for companies and manufacturers to gain a foothold in the internet of things. However, the jury is still out as to how all of the disparate devices of the future will actually connect. Coalitions have formed over the last few years to work on establishing platforms and languages through which devices will communicate. IBM has been working with ARM to that effect, and other tech giants like Qualcomm have been on the IoT wagon for some time now; Qualcomm launched its framework dubbed AllJoyn in 2013 to target creating a communications network for devices on the internet of things. Raco Wireless revealed last August that it developed a platform designed to make the creation of applications for the internet of things easy by using its personalized application programming interface (API).
Other groups and services abound, so IBM is in a competitive market, but the company is no stranger to the IoT industry. It just appears to be paving a more specific road for itself and expanding its role in the market.