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IBM, AT&T Hook Up on Internet of Things

By John P. Mello Jr. E-Commerce Times ECT News Network
Feb 19, 2014 8:53 AM PT

IBM and AT&T on Tuesday announced they were forming a global alliance to develop solutions for the Internet of Things. They will be combining their analytic platforms, cloud and security technologies -- all with privacy in mind -- to gain insights from machine-to-machine data collected by a variety of industries.

IBM, AT&T Hook Up on Internet of Things

Initially, they will focus on solutions for municipalities and utilities that gather massive amounts of data from such things as rapid transit vehicles, utility meters and video cameras. Potential benefits from those solutions include better urban planning and lower utility costs.

Bountiful Opportunity

In addition to its benefits to society, the IoT will be opening up an enormous opportunity for business. In 2012, spending on IoT technology and services created global revenues of an estimated US$4.8 trillion, and those revenues will grow at a compound rate of 7.9 percent annually to reach $8.9 trillion by 2020, according to IDC.

That burgeoning market has attracted the attention of heavyweights including IBM and AT&T.

"The Internet of Things has been on the map for the past several years, but it's gained much more momentum over the last six months," said Carrie MacGillivray, program vice president for mobile services, M2M and network infrastructure at IDC.

"We've predicted that in 2014 a number of acquisitions or partnerships would take place, so the fact that AT&T and IBM have joined forces, especially around municipalities and utilities, makes a lot of sense," she told the E-Commerce Times.

There appears to be abundant opportunity for players of every size in the IoT realm.

"This will be the next wave," said Mobeen Khan, M2M practice leader at AT&T.

"We went through a set of waves where we connected computers. Then we went to mobility and social engines, and now we're getting into connecting things, which will provide another layer of productivity and convenience that we haven't seen before," he told the E-Commerce Times.

"There's going to be a lot of opportunity for a lot of large companies and for new entrepreneurs who are going to build connected things and create applications that we may not have thought of before," said Khan.

Play Nice With Each Other

In building their IoT solutions, AT&T and IBM will be tying together some of their existing products. AT&T will provide connectivity through its global M2M network and Global Subscriber Identity Module, which are managed by its M2M platforms. It's a system designed to securely collect, organize, store and send data to applications.

IBM will provide analytics muscle with its Intelligent Operations Center and Maximo Asset Management products, as well as its MessageSight MQTT appliance, which -- in combination with IBM MobileFirst -- gives organizations the management, security and analytics capabilities needed to handle the increasing role of mobile devices in the IoT.

The IBM-AT&T alliance is good news for the SmartAmerica Challenge, a White House initiative to get players to work together in crafting IoT solutions. Both AT&T and IBM are participating in the challenge.

"Partnering is critical in the Internet of Things, because no one company builds every single device," Presidential Innovation Fellow and challenge co-leader Geoff Mulligan told the E-Commerce Times.

"IBM and AT&T have both been leaders in this field, and now they're joining forces to do something together, which is extremely important in this industry," added Sokwoo Rhee, also a presidential innovation fellow and co-leader of the challenge.

"The whole point of the challenge is to bring together different players from different industries and get them to work on something together," he told the E-Commerce Times. "AT&T and IBM joining forces is going to be very effective and impactful on the IoT world."

John Mello is a freelance technology writer and contributor to Chief Security Officer magazine. You can connect with him on Google+.

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