Consumer electronics giant has opened on Thursday a new $200 million Internet of Things (IoT) headquarters in Munich, Germany. According to IBM, it is the company’s largest investment in Europe in over two decades.
The new IoT Centre will serve as a hub for collaboration between IBM and its clients and partners to drive innovation in what IBM Watson general manager Harriet Green called a “first-ever cognitive collaboratory.” The company’s Watson IoT business has over 6,000 clients around the globe.
“This is more than a ribbon cutting or a ceremony. It’s not even a trade show or conference. This is an industry moment. We think it is a turning point because at IBM we have always believed that there is only one way to fill the potential of this truly transformational technology, and that is together,” Green said during the Genius of Things Summit at the new Munich headquarters.
A number of companies, including Avnet, BNP Paribas, EEBus, Capgemini, Tech Mahindra and Vodafone, have announced they will collocate their teams to the centre to design new services. In December, BMW said its employees will work at the new headquarters to develop more intuitive driver support systems by using Watson voice control technology.
To underline its commitment to the IoT sector, IBM Watson has announced partnerships with a group of companies, including Visa, Indiegogo, French national railway SNCF and Bosch.
Visa and IBM have partnered to enable payments for any connected device enabled with Visa. The companies are going to combine Visa’s token technology and IBM’s Watson IoT system, what means any connected object powered by Watson IoT will be turned into a point of sale.
Bosch, meantime, will integrate its industrial IoT Suite with IBM’s Bluemix and Watson IoT platform to allow customers update their IoT devices. Users will be able to access “Bosch IoT Rollouts” via the IBM Cloud, which will provide security, scale and privacy while updating devices.
Under the deal with Indiegogo and Arrow Electronics, IBM will offer free cloud services to entrepreneurs working with these companies. While IBM will provide its IoT and cloud services, Arrow will offer design, technology and production expertise and Indiegogo will provide crowdsourced funding services.
SNCF, a French Railways operator with more than 13 million daily passengers, said it will use IBM Watson’s IoT platform to improve customer service, increase operational efficiency and provide an advanced rail safety. The company is going to deploy sensors on its trains to collect real-time data analytics.
IBM is also actively exploring blockchain, which is another promising technology. Last year, the company established its first blockchain innovation centre in Sinapore to create distributed ledger solutions that will help to improve business transactions across different industries.
According to IBM’s recent report, the technology holds a great potential for government sector and can be useful in contract management, regulatory compliance and financial transaction management.