IBM doubles down on IoT and Watson with new Munich IoT HQ

16 Dec 2015

IBM is taking the internet of things (IoT) very seriously indeed with its decision to spin off its IoT tech and Watson supercomputer into an entirely separate division, starting with its new HQ in Munich.

The decision by IBM to get serious about IoT was clear back in March when it announced it was to invest $3bn into the technology over the next four years to create a dedicated business unit for it, known as the Watson IoT business unit.

Now, according to the company, it has opened its first dedicated headquarters in the German city to house 1,000 IBM developers, consultants, researchers and designers and it will also be its innovation lab for data scientists, engineers and programmers.

The headquarters is a considerable statement of intent by the company with 67,000 sq ft of office space in the multi-storey Highlight Towers skyscraper, and is IBM’s largest investment in Europe in more than two decades.

To complement its major IoT powerhouse in Munich, eight additional Watson IoT Client Experience Centres will be opened in major cities in Europe and Asia, as well as both North and South America.

The company has also said that as part of its move into the office complex, it will partner with the German electronics company Siemens, which will also have its staff there to work on IoT technologies relating to the digitisation of buildings through advanced analytics capabilities.

Expanding Watson

Also, according to ZDNet, it will be delving into connected car technologies with the new that it has added Citroen Peugeot as one of its IoT customers.

Watson, too, is getting an upgrade, with four new API services being offered by IBM, including natural language processing (NLP), machine learning, video and image analytics and text analytics.

IBM’s next step in its IoT plan is to finalise the deal, which will see it acquire the weather analytical service B2B, which provides data for The Weather Channel, which IBM says will serve as the foundation for its Watson IoT Cloud Platform, as well as other new services.

“IoT will soon be the largest single source of data on the planet, yet almost 90pc of that data is never acted upon,” said Harriet Green, general manager of Watson IoT and Education on the new office announcement.

“With its unique abilities to sense, reason and learn, Watson opens the door for enterprises, governments and individuals to finally harness this real-time data, compare it with historical data sets and deep reservoirs of accumulated knowledge, and then find unexpected correlations that generate new insights to benefit business and society alike.”

Highlight Towers image via Lars Nilse/Flickr

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic