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IoT: Interview with IBM ‘s Harriet Green – A new Era of Computing

Can we call you “Ms. Watson” now?
Ha – good question. As the leader of one of IBM Watson businesses, I certainly spend a huge amount of my time and energy on it – setting up this new business and putting in place the teams and technologies to best serve our clients. However, this is not just about one or two people, Watson’s significance and potential is so huge that it will become part of and improve many people’s lives.

Interview : IBM Watson Harriet Green

How so?
Watson is the first open cognitive computing technology platform that people can tap into and innovate on. It represents a new era in computing where systems understand the world in ways similar to humans. From hospitals to call centers, buildings to cities, airports to factories, Watson will transform the way that people interact with the world, enabling better decision making, more effective approaches and better outcomes for individuals and whole societies.

Why did IBM choose to locate its Watson HQ in Munich of all places?
First and foremost it is important to remember that the Watson IoT Center will be a global business hub recruiting and bringing together some of IBM’s most talented people and domain experts from around the world as well as tapping into local talent pools. Our decision to select Munich as the location was based on a number of important factors. Firstly, Germany – and Bavaria in particular – is globally recognized as a pioneer in IoT technology given a huge boost by the German government’s Industry 4.0 initiative. Some of the most innovative automotive, manufacturing and industrial companies – many of them IBM clients and partners – are based there including BMW, Allianz and Siemens. On the other hand, being located in Munich gives us access to cutting edge technology talent which will be crucial for shaping the future of our business. The Munich region is home to a number of important universities – such as The Technical University Munich which one of the largest and most notable German institutes of technology with over 150 degree programs in engineering, computer science, medicine, life sciences, business and economics.

The munich region is home to a number of important universities.

Harriet Green
General Manager, IBM Watson IoT

How many people will work here and what exactly will they be doing?
The new Munich Watson IoT Center represents IBM’s single largest investment in Europe for more than two decades. The 2000sqm facility will become home to over 1000 Watson IoT experts including researchers, developers, engineers, business and technology specialists. The center will benefit from a campus-like open environment enabling our clients and partners to access the talent, technology and tools they need to create products and services that deliver on the promise of cognitive IoT. It will feature a number of interactive spaces for clients and partners to work alongside IBM experts and experience, explore and learn about Watson IoT.

How will cognitive computing change the world as we know it?
Cognitive technologies are driving a whole new era of computing which will change the way we live, work, produce and consume. Their development has come in tandem with the rise of Big Data. 2.5 billion gigabytes of data are created every single day. That’s the equivalent of about 170 newspapers being delivered to every man, woman, and child on this planet every single day. Effectively making use of that data is a challenge almost impossible without technology. In fact, today 88 percent of data in the world is not utilized and remains dark or ‘unseeable’. We are literally throwing away huge amounts of valuable information because we don’t have the ability to process it.

How can Watson help us make sense of all this information?
That‘s where IBM’s Watson and cognitive computing comes in. Watson is IBM’s revolutionary technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data. It became world-famous in2011 when it successfully competed against human contestants in the general knowledge game show Jeopardy. Today it is helping businesses, hospitals, researchers and governments turn „dark data“ into actionable insight.

What does Watson mean in terms of IoT?
Watson cognitive technologies will help to realize the potential of the Internet of Things and help the world turn the streams of structured and unstructured data that it generated by a plethora of sensors and digital devices. IDC estimates that there will be 29 billion devices embedded in everything from cars, to buildings, to bridges to our homes and even the things we wear by 2020. Within the next few years this ’Internet of Things’ will be the single greatest source of data on the planet creating huge opportunities to transform how humans interact with the physical world. Fundamental to the viability of the Internet of Things is our ability to turn the massive amounts of data that it generates into insight – which is why we are investing $3BN to bring Watson cognitive computing to the IoT challenge.

2.5 billion gigabytes of data are created every single day.

Harriet Green
General Manager, IBM Watson IoT

Can we talk about your business model? How does IBM expect to make money with Watson?
Watson is a fully commercial business unit within IBM. In 2014 we announced a $1b investment for the development of cloud-delivered cognitive computing technologies that represent the commercialization of artificial intelligence across a variety of industries. We then went on to create Watson Health dedicated to improving the ability of doctors, researchers and insurers to surface new insights from the massive amount of personal health data being created and provide turnkey solutions to deliver personalized healthcare. And in 2015 we announced the formation of the Watson IoT which I lead which is focused on making sense of data embedded in billions of connected sensors and devices operating in the world today. The progress over the past few years has been immense. Already today, Watson is being used to expand expertise and improve decision making in over 35 countries and in more than 29 industries including– healthcare, financial services, law, retail, education, aerospace, transportation, manufacturing and smarter buildings.

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