IBM is to invest $3bn over the next four years to create a new business unit focused on the Internet of Things (IoT), including plans for cloud services and a developer ecosystem to help businesses make use of the streams of data generated by modern equipment such as mobile devices.
The IT services giant, which pioneered initiatives such as Smart Cities that have already fed into the IoT, said it intends to build on its expertise to help customers and partners integrate and act on data now being generated by an unprecedented number of sources.
Specifically, IBM said it will offer a new IoT Cloud Open Platform for Industries that will provide analytics services and support the development and operation of industry-specific vertical solutions.
It will also offer a Bluemix IoT Zone, providing IoT services as part of its cloud-based developer platform that will enable developers to add real-time data and embedded analytics functions into applications.
The firm is also looking to expand the ecosystem it has already built up with key partners such as chip designer ARM. The two companies launched a line of jointly developed IoT Starter Kits in February based around ARM hardware and backed by cloud services such as the IBM IoT Foundation service launched in 2014.
IBM asserts that most organisations are doing little to make good use of the data assets available to them. The firm claimed that 90 percent of all data generated by devices such as smartphones, tablets, connected vehicles and appliances is never analysed or acted on, representing a huge wasted opportunity.
"IBM will enable clients and industry partners to apply IoT data to build solutions based on an open platform. This is a major focus of investment for IBM because it's a rich and broad-based opportunity where innovation matters," said Bob Picciano, senior vice president for IBM Analytics.
The move is just the latest large-scale technology investment from IBM over the past few years. In 2013, the firm disclosed a $1bn fund for an ecosystem backing its Power architecture for the data centre, followed by a $1bn investment in its Watson artificial intelligence platform last year and $1.2bn for an initiative to push cloud services.
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