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James Clardy
May 2, 2017
The IIIoT – The Intelligent Industrial Internet of Things – A New Triple Play?
Hannover Messe is at least as overwhelming as the Consumer Electronics Show and Mobile World Congress, and for the NetFoundry team, last week we were like kids in a candy store of fascinating, large scale, “industrial grade” innovations being demonstrated by humans – and robots.

At the Hannover Messe, IBM and ABB announced a new partnership in industrial artificial intelligence that will combine the power of IBM Watson with ABB’s comprehensive digital offering ABB Ability to unlock new value for clients in a utilities, industry, transport and infrastructure. Harriet Green, General Manager Watson IOT, Customer Engagement and Education, IBM and Guido Jouret, Chief Digital Officer, ABB discuss the future of cognitive and industrial machines.

One of the announcements that caught our attention the most was last week’s announcement from IBM and ABB, announcing a “strategic collaboration that brings together ABB’s industry leading digital offering, ABB Ability, with IBM Watson Internet of Things cognitive capabilities to unlock new value for customers in utilities, industry and transport & infrastructure.” This makes all the sense in the world, applying AI to the data ABB collects to make that data more meaningful, actionable and profitable for enterprises seeking big gains in factory productivity, safety and efficiency.

Last month at IBM’s InterConnect conference, NetFoundry announced our own partnership with IBM, combining NetFoundry’s connectivity network solutions with IBM’s new voice gateway delivering sessions to IBM Watson on behalf of “cognitive contact centers” enabling Watson to instantly analyze a quality transcription of a live voice conversation to assist agents in helping consumers. While this solution is impressive and attracted a lot of attention, we know this is just the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to IBM Watson “enhanced” solutions.

ABB gets it, and are focusing first on bringing real-time cognitive insights to the factory floor and smart grids. ABB is one of the world’s leading companies with over 70 million connected devices, 70,000 digital control systems and 6,000 enterprise software solutions all in the industrial space.

IBM gets it, too, and offered up this quote from Ginni Rometty, IBM Chairman, president and CEO. “The data generated from industrial companies’ products, facilities and systems holds the promise of exponential advances in innovation, efficiency and safety. Only with Watson’s broad cognitive capabilities and our platform’s unique support for industries can this vast new resource be turned into value, with trust. We are eager to work in partnership with ABB on this new industrial era.”

“Together, IBM and ABB will create powerful solutions for customers to benefit from the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

–ABB’s CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer

We’ll continue to follow the progress of this significant coming together, including ABB and IBM will applying Watson’s capabilities to predict supply patterns in the power grid, a vertical industry we are also very actively serving. Data and analytics on electricity generation and demand from historical and weather data will enable utilities to optimize the operation and maintenance of smart grids.

“Forecasts of temperature, sunshine and wind speed will be used to predict consumption demand, which will help utilities determine optimal load management as well as real-time pricing,” according to the companies’ news release. IBM’s at the time stunning announcement about their acquisition of The Weather Company in late 2015, is now starting to make more sense. We went back to that announcement and noted IBM made their case early on:

“The combination of technology and expertise from the two companies will serve as the foundation for the new Watson IoT Unit and Watson IoT Cloud platform, building on a $3B commitment made by IBM in March 2015 to invest in related offerings and services.”

The new triple play may in fact be IIIoT – the Intelligent Industrial Internet of Things – further reinforcing the notion that the greatest value the hyperconnected world of things will be driven not only by data but by analytics and automation based on that data, insights turned to actions that have the potential to support a more sustainable planet – simply by improving the efficiency of our evolving energy grid.

That’s smart.

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