The Internet of Things is changing the world

By | 4 minute read | October 25, 2016

leadspace image for IoT at World of Watson 2016

Today at World of Watson Harriet Green, General Manager, Watson Internet of Things, Commerce, and Education, introduced the theory that the Internet of Things will change the way we all live and work.

It’s a big statement – but not an over-statement, and she used her WoW keynote speech to explain why.

Sensing the change

Over the last few years the Internet of Things has come to the forefront, with sensors and actuators becoming more common. Elevators, cars, trains, planes, floors, pipelines – they can all be connected – sharing crucial information on their condition or use.

There’s already over 29 billion things connected, and recording, and processing data. Which is why the IoT is well on its way to generating $11 trillion in economic activity by 2025.

From the factory, to the family room

It’s not just industry that will benefit – IoT is already changing the way all of us interact with the physical world. The IoT will dramatically enhance interactions with the things we rely on in our daily lives, so we expect that within ten years, the Internet of Things will be present in nearly every aspect of our lives and work.

But this assumes our ability to harness not just IoT data, but all kinds of data, which is where artificial intelligence comes in.

Watson IoT

Watson’s ability to transform vast amounts of complex, ambiguous information into insights helps professionals in any industry, in any role, to work smarter. And it is this same capability that allows Watson to make the Internet of Things into a powerful engine of understanding, due to two specific technologies.

Machine learning

Machine learning is a critically important field of computer science. It is the lynchpin of any artificial intelligence. And it allows computers to learn without needing humans to program them. In relation to the Internet of Things, this means that Watson can manage the variability of IoT data.

It is this feature that enables Watson to learn when a product – or a part – might fail. This is called predictive maintenance, and it’s going to save billions of dollars in every industry from heavy manufacturing to healthcare to public transportation.

Natural language processing

Natural language processing is a huge change to the way computer systems receive, process, and share information. Watson’s natural language processing means the power of Watson is available to anyone, in any industry, with any level of computer literacy. It radically changes the way we interact with our physical surroundings. Take a look at the video below to see how Watson uses natural language processing.

How the IoT will bring about change: design

‘Design Thinking’ has put users at the center of all engineering efforts. And it has been furthered by the constant updating of the software we use every day. Together, these trends have set new expectations for our interactions with the physical world.

We now expect the ‘things’ in our lives to continuously improve. To learn from us. To anticipate our needs. And the Internet of Things plays a crucial role in making this possible.

Connected devices provide a constant feedback loop to designers and developers, which allows them to build better products, informed by the people who use them. And with cognitive capabilities built in, the things in our lives will come to understand how we use them, and adjust themselves to meet our very specific needs.

How the IoT will bring about change: manufacturing

The manufacturing industry has been one of the earliest adopters of IoT systems. But really industry 4.0 is just getting started. The benefits we’ve seen – like the dramatic increases in operational efficiency – are just a prelude.

What if you could train a cognitive system to “see” defects in your production line? Or better yet, what if a cognitive system could understand the root cause of those defects? And make suggestions on how to improve quality? And how to maximize yield? And what if even the smallest parts of an engine or a motor could sense pressure, torque or temperature?

IBM’s work with the Schaeffler Group is a clear example of how cognitive manufacturing is transforming manufacturing and industry right now.

How the IoT will bring about change: services

When we think about the Internet of Things, it’s important that we think about it in the same way we think about the Internet itself. Like the Internet, the IoT is a platform; a platform that sends and receives massive amounts of data; from people to devices; from devices to people; and from device to device. That constant exchange of data; that foundation of information; enables powerful new services to be built. Services that connect us to the physical world around us; Services that make the world work better. And services that enable entirely new revenue streams. In a recent poll we conducted, 69 percent of respondents expect that IoT will enable new business models and sources of revenue.

IBM is leading the change

With IoT changing and transforming the way we live and work, this change is driving IBM’s investment in the Internet of things.

It’s happening fast. Just eight months ago, IBM IoT had 4,000 clients around the world. Today, less than a year later, IBM has 6,000 clients, in nearly every geography, and every industry.

As IoT is gains momentum, IBM is leading the way, with a $200 million investment into a state-of-the-art Watson IoT Headquarters in Munich. The world’s first IoT collaboratory, where clients and IBMers can work together to solve problems and build IoT solutions.

And this is just the start. You can read more about IBM’s work with Internet of Things, and see how IoT could impact your business.

Harriet Green, General Manager, IBM Watson IoT, Commerce and Education
Harriet Green, General Manager, IBM Watson IoT, Commerce and Education