It started with a phone anchored to your car or your briefcase—"walking-around" communications that freed you from searching for a pay phone in order to talk outdoors.
Now telecommunications has morphed into movies on your phone, banking on the fly, an office wherever you go. Communication isn't just about people talking to people. It's about things talking to each other.
On a smarter planet, almost anything can become digitally aware, instrumented and interconnected. We have the connections, processors, analytics and capabilities powerful enough for trillions of devices to talk to each other and improve the way the world works. Smart houses can be programmed remotely. Smart cars talk to home base. Smart phones can practically replace your wallet. Smart highways can regulate traffic flows.
A busy signal is not an option
But the deluge of data from the trillions of smart objects is creating an insatiable demand for bandwidth. The infrastructure has had to grow up and keep up, sometimes at great struggle when you consider that:
- Half of the world still lacks solid communications services.
- Less than 20% of all connected users have access to third-generation (3G) mobile and high-speed communications services with seamless, ubiquitous, secure connectivity.
The growth in bandwidth means greater potential for online identity theft, stolen intellectual property and malicious attacks such as spam, which by many estimates accounts for about 80% of transmitted e-mail.
Realizing the potential of smarter communication technology will require the infusion of new capabilities and models into our systems to make it easier for devices to transmit and interpret data, provide more secure connections, and protect identities.
More than just talk
A fisherman in India can use a mobile phone as he approaches the dock to check current prices across multiple marketplaces and get the best price for his catch, boosting his income by nearly 50%.
A children's hospital in Australia reduces stress and confusion in the emergency room by replacing a loud overhead paging system with a hands-free, wireless voice network.
And two college students in different cities can use their mobile phones to log onto Facebook and organize a party with a group of friends for their upcoming holiday break.
Creating smarter systems to handle increasingly demanding applications takes leading-edge communications technology, forward-thinking business and industry expertise, and innovative research and development. IBM has joined forces with numerous telecommunications clients to make business smarter:
Bharti Airtel asked IBM to help them create a highly flexible infrastructure, realizing an astounding 1.5 million new customers per month.
Norway's Telenor teamed with IBM to develop a new communications technology revenue stream: offering RFID capabilities to small and midsize business.
T-com Croatia redesigned business processes and incorporated best practices to capture a bigger share of the vibrant Eastern European market.
Reach out and touch someone—online
People used to keep in touch with a call. Now they are using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter—dramatically cutting into telcos' share of communications services. But there are opportunities. Read the new report The Changing Face of Communications.