IBM Opens Cognitive Business Unit, Buys Storage Firm Cleversafe

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What happened to Smarter Planet? New consulting unit to help clients tackle ‘cognitive business’

IBM has launched a dedicated cognitive business consulting unit and has bought Cleversafe, which provides object-based storage software and appliances.

The new practice at the company is officially called IBM Cognitive Business Solutions and it aims to build on IBM Watson, the firm’s deep learning artificial intelligence supercomputer. This will be combined with IBM’s business analytics expertise.

Cognitive Business

IBM Watson 2IBM has been making a big push with Watson of late and has been fine tuning its new cognitive computing capabilities. It officially launched the dedicated IBM Watson unit in January 2014, and pledged more than $1 billion (£608m) for the Watson Group. That business unit is dedicated to developing and commercialising the cloud-delivered cognitive computing technology.

Before that, IBM touted its Smart Planet strategy, which promoted the idea that computing will be integral to everything in the future.

Last month IBM also expanded the available APIs for developers who are creating products, services and applications embedded with Watson. And earlier this year IBM also acquired a cognitive computing company called AlchemyAPI. That acquisition allowed IBM to take on board a pool of more than 40,000 developers that have worked on the AlchemyAPI platform to build cognitive-infused applications.

“Cognitive represents an entirely new model of computing that includes a range of technology innovations in analytics, natural language processing and machine learning,” said IBM. It pointed to IDC research that predicted that by 2018, half of all consumers will interact regularly with services based on cognitive computing.

“Our work with clients across many industries shows that cognitive computing is the path to the next great set of possibilities for business,” said Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president of IBM Global Business Services.

“Clients know they are collecting and analysing more data than ever before, but 80 percent of all the available data – images, voice, literature, chemical formulas, social expressions – remains out of reach for traditional computing systems. We’re scaling expertise to close that gap and help our clients become cognitive banks, retailers, automakers, insurers or healthcare providers.”

The company said that its own research indicated a demand for cognitive applications, and the new business unit will help clients “get started” and “create low-cost entry points to begin the journey to become cognitive enterprises.”

“Before long, we will look back and wonder how we made important decisions or discovered new opportunities without systematically learning from all available data,” added Stephen Pratt, global leader, IBM Cognitive Business Solutions. “Over the next decade, this transformation will be very personal for professionals as we embrace learning algorithms to enhance our capacity. For clients, cognitive systems will provide organizations that adopt these powerful tools outperform their peers.”

IBM said that it is already working with clients including a major retailer, consumer insurance provider, healthcare organisations, financial services firms, and education specialists.

“The new practice will also draw upon the exclusive computational reasoning and learning capabilities of IBM Watson, which represents a $1 billion investment to advance cognitive innovations across industries,” said Big Blue. It also promised to train another 25,000 IBM consultants and practitioners on cognitive computing this Autumn.

Object Acquisition

IBM has also announced that it will acquire Cleversafe, a Chicago-based developer and manufacturer of object-based storage software and appliances.

IBM sees the deal as boosting its storage and hybrid cloud, as well as helping support customer wishes to develop next generation mobile, social and analytics applications.Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Once the deal closes, IBM will integrate the Cleversafe portfolio into its IBM Cloud business unit.

“Today a massive digital transformation is underway as organizations increasingly turn to cloud computing for innovative ways to manage more complex business operations and increasing volumes of data in a secure and effective way,” boasted Robert LeBlanc, vice president of IBM Cloud.

“Cleversafe, a pioneer in object storage, will add to our efforts to help clients overcome these challenges by extending and strengthening our cloud storage strategy, as well as our portfolio,” he added.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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