The month of February was frigid in my part of the world but it was red hot at IBM. There was a flurry of announcements in hardware, software, services, acquisitions, and strategic alliances. The complete index of IBM Happenings (by year and month) is here. One of the major focus areas for IBM in 2009 will continue to be related to a “smarter planet“. See Sam Palmisano’s letter to investors for the full story on why the company is so optimistic.
The Internet has made the world much smaller and “flatter” and now the next turn of the crank will make the world “smarter”. IBM is not using a metaphor — they are not talking about the “knowledge economy” or the spread of education throughout the world. The company has a vision about introducing intelligence into the way the world actually works — not into people but into the systems and processes that enable goods to be developed, manufactured, sold, bought, transported, and serviced.
The concept of making things smarter lies in pervasive instrumentation, sensors and powerful computing — enabling the control of what things do and how they work. A simple example is a garage door sensor. If a bicycle is left on the driveway, the door senses that something is in the way and stops the door closing process. A more sophisticated example would be a node on the power grid sensing that power consumption is increasing in one location and decreasing in another. As a result the node switches the delivery of power from the surplus area to the area in need thereby avoiding a brownout. Likewise a smart web server might notice an increase in demand and shift workloads to idle servers and power down servers that are idle. A hospital gurney being transported down the hall is sensed and causes a message to be posted to the patient’s electronic patient record and a message is sent to their primary care physician notifying the doctor that their patient has moved from the ER to a medical floor at the hospital. Take a look at the following YouTube video clip called “IBM Smarter Planet: Electronic Health Records for Evolving Healthcare“.
The potential is boundless. Stockholm’s intelligent traffic system, created by IBM, has resulted in 20 percent less gridlock and a 12-percent drop in emissions by sensing how many vehicles are moving in a particular part of the city. In Norway IBM built a system for the country’s largest food supplier that uses RFID technology to trace meat and poultry from the farm, through the supply chain, all the way to supermarket shelves. Smarter water? A collaboration between IBM and The Nature Conservancy is using computer modeling to simulate, monitor — and potentially manage — the behavior of river basins in the U.S., China, and Brazil.
There are countless projects of an urgent nature that can take advantage of IBM’s Smarter Planet vision to make the world more instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent. The result will be improved productivity, efficiency, responsiveness, profitability and huge societal benefits.
IBM is well positioned to continue delivering on large complex projects around the world. The financial results from this should be significant. Take a look at the IBM 2008 Annual Report for more insight about what they are doing.
List of Announcements for February 2009
IBM unveils Tivoli Storage Manager 6
IBM announces energy and environment validation program
IBM to build 20 petaflop supercomputer
IBM delivers new talent management service
Suntel selects IBM Lotus Unified Communications
IBM unveils building blocks for 21st century infrastructure
IBM advances enterprise cloud computing
IBM announces SPDE 3.0
IBM to deliver software via cloud computing
1-800-FLOWERS.COM grows business with IBM
IBM helps clients set CO2 reduction strategy
IBM helps HFCL go green
IBM, IBEC initiate rural broadband access
IBM study recommends biopartnering
University of Louisville supercomputer advances research
IBM completes acquisition of ILOG
IBM releases “Building Smarter Retail Systems” podcast
Sara Lee, IBM sign services agreement
IBM helps Bank of Chengdu build banking system
IBM signs IT infrastructure deal with Kotak
IBM reports 2008 fourth-quarter and full-year results
IBM announces LotusLive
IBM and SAP announce Alloy
IBM to acquire Outblaze’s e-mail service assets
Korea Exchange Bank migrates to IBM System z10
BNP Paribas, IBM sign services agreement
Hospitals choose IBM to build electronic medical records
IBM joins project to build smart grid for electric cars
IBM launches health record system for Guang Dong Hospital
IBM sheds light on the smart energy consumer
Scientists discover oldest words in the English language
(‘I’, ‘we’, ‘who’ and the numbers ‘1’, ‘2’ and ‘3’ are amongst the oldest words.)
Pro Bono Partnership recognizes IBM as outstanding volunteer