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December 22, 2015

“We will lead the IOT movement”, a force awakens, IBM’s GM for Internet of Things says its Watson platform gives it an edge

C-level briefing: Harriet Green, newly appointed GM of IoT at IBM says Watson based cognition computing will see it lead in IOT


IBM opened its Watson IoT headquarters in Munich in December.

Having recently joined IBM to lead its new IoT division Harriet Green told CBR how the company is applying cognitive computing to the Internet of Things.

CBR: How will IBM Watson IoT headquarters in Munich protect Europe’s leadership in the IoT space?

HG: For us is not ‘versus’, it is a global movement. We will have IoT centres in Beijing, Boeblingen, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Tokyo, Massachusetts and Texas. This truly is a global movement. The only thing that differentiates the region is what their indigenous industries are.

What these client emergence centres do is trying to share between the client and IBM how you get domain knowledge and come up with ways to transform your clients by working together to innovate.

One thing that has stuck [from talking to customers, partners and others] is that this is not about bits and bites and zeros, this is about thinking of new ways to transform your business and how cognition can play a part. The reason Germany and Europe so embraced this was to get closer to their consumers and this allows you to come up with innovative ways to do things."

CBR: Some believe IoT will bring back manufacturing industry to Europe from China. Do you agree?

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HG: I am not so sure manufacturing ever left Europe. There are huge rafts of amazing small, medium and large companies making the world supplies. What you will see with IoT, is that whole domains, whether it is retail, insurance, office automation, will start to think about, "if everything is now a computer, and we are gathering all this data, what do we use it for to innovate, to create new stuff".

The sort of Socratic method of learning with cognition and Watson is that you ask it something and it provides back data, and then you provide input back. This is truly woman and machine in a hybrid sense, doing much more than a human can do, or what a machine can do. It is the combination of the two that is so powerful, and no one else has Watson and cognition.

CBR: What makes Watson a differentiator for IBM?

HG: First is that most of the new data that is coming at us is unstructured. Unstructured data cannot be easily processed in the old bits, bites coded process method. There has to be a new way of assimilating, reasoning and making recommendations. 90% of the data that has been produced is unstructured.

Secondly, this whole ability to create correlations, patterns, they are way beyond. Thirdly, it is about man/woman and the machine together that creates a whole new era.

CBR: How far are we from seeing real-life Watson IoT applications?

HG: The reality is, Watson is only as good as the data that you give to it. It cannot go off on its own and learn. It is fed by the human and manages the data that way.

There are already prototypes of talking speakers; we are already using cognition in Beijing; working on some of the national grid in the UK, keeping the lights on, predictive and maintenance elements, and so on.

In the past, we forgot to ask people how they want their cities to look like. It is about improving society, but must definitely Watson is more than artificial intelligence; it is an entire cognitive platform. When it reasons back and you can query it, it does not require someone with a PhD in electronics to understand it.

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