IBM has announced that it’s going to invest $3 billion over the next four years into the Internet of Things. The computing giant will use the money create its own IoT unit, and will build what it calls “a cloud-based open platform designed to help clients and ecosystem partners build IoT solutions.”
It’s a massive investment and, coming in the wake of the British government’s plans to spend a great deal of money on the IoT in the UK, is another show of faith in the potential of the burgeoning field. In a press release, IBM emphasized its position as a pioneer in the related fields of smart cities and “Smarter Planet” programs, and announced more specific plans for its IoT endeavours beyond its IBM IoT Cloud Open Platform for Industries, which will focus on providing big data analytics to partners. Those other initiatives include the IBM Bluemix IoT Zone, a platform-as-a-service system to help developers channel IoT data into their apps; and the IBM IoT Ecosystem, an array of partner companies with whom IBM plans to work, most notably The Weather Company, which will take part in a strategic alliance with IBM via its global B2B division, WSI.
It’s a smart investment on IBM’s part, and probably not much of a surprise to anyone who has been watching the company over the last few years as it has pulled back from traditional computing to explore big data and AI with projects such as its IBM Watson system. Still, while there’s currently a lot of excitement about the IoT, there are also serious concerns about security and user privacy to be reckoned with. IBM’s cloud-based, open-platform approach is laudable for its technological progressiveness, and may have major payoffs down the line, but it also highlights the need to address these security and privacy concerns head on as we delve into the IoT rabbit hole.