IBM Officially Launches IoT Unit

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The company said it plans to invest £2bn in IoT over the next four years as it appoints Harriet Green as general manager

IBM has formally established an Internet of Things (IoT) business unit, establishing Harriet Green, former chief executive of Cambridgeshire-based Thomas Cook Group, as its general manager.

The company also said it plans to create an education division, also under Green’s supervision.

IoT investment

IBMThe unit, originally announced in March, will bring together IBM’s efforts to help companies draw useful information from the data obtained through Internet-connected devices using IBM’s cognitive, analytics and cloud resources, the company said. It is planned to employ more than 2,000 consultants, researchers and developers.

The rapid growth in Internet-connected devices, ranging from sensors to home appliances to smartphones, has led to a vast increase in the amount of raw data companies need to analyse, creating business opportunities for those with the expertise to manage and parse this data.

IBM said in March it plans to invest $3bn (£2bn) in the new unit over the next four years. Green, 53, was named vice president and general manager of the division. IBM has separate business units centred on its Watson cognitive-computing technologies and big data analytics, both of which are closely linked to its IoT plans.

IBM’s recent IoT ventures include an agreement with ARM earlier this year intended to make it easier for engineers to connect devices using ARM’s embedOS operating system to IBM’s IoT Foundation cloud service, itself launched last year.

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Internet-connected technologies

Two years ago the company introduced a graphical user interface for programming IoT devices called Node-RED and a physical gateway and protocol for IoT called MQTT. IBM also has several deals in place that apply its cognitive and analytics technologies to help companies take advantage of data from sensors and other IoT devices.

IBM has been looking to capitalise on high-growth areas such as data anlytics and IoT, even as it has sold off lower-margin businesses such as PC and x86 server manufacturing.

Green has previously been chief executive of Premier Farnell, a distributor of technology products, and was an executive at distributor Arrow Electronics.

She is the third former chief executive hired by IBM in recent months. The company last week appointed former Philips Healthcare chief Deborah DiSanzo as general manager of its Watson Health unit, and last year hired Jeff Smith, former chief of Suncorp Business Services in Australia, as its chief information officer.

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