IBM Realizes the Value of the Industrial IoT

A recent report in Fortune magazine claims that one of the key areas for growth at IBM this year has been its Industrial IoT (“IIoT”) business.  In the past 9 months alone, the number of their IIoT customers shot up 50%, to 6,000.  The area of IIoT is one of IBM’s “strategic imperatives”, which contributed an overall increase in growth of 7% for the company.  In contrast, the more traditional hardware and services areas experienced a 14% decline year-on-year.

The report quotes a survey released last month from IDC (International Data Corporation) that found the trend towards IIoT implementation is increasing industry-wide. Over 30% of the companies participating in the survey have already launched IoT initiatives, and another 43% expect to do so in the coming year.  “This year we see confirmation that vendors who lead with an integrated cloud and analytics solution are the ones who will be considered as critical partners in an organization’s IoT investment,” said Carrie MacGillivray, Vice President, Mobility and Internet of Things at IDC.

Results of the IDC survey of 4,500 managers and executives from a wide range of industries in over 25 countries suggest that many companies have completed proof-of-concept projects, and are now moving towards pilot implementations and scalable IoT deployments.  This trend is acknowledged by Bret Greenstein, IBM’s vice president for IoT platforms, who commented in the Forbes interview, “There was so much tire-kicking a year ago. Now you are seeing adopters in every single industry actually building solutions.”

What is driving this demand for IoT among IBM’s customers?  The Forbes article didn’t say, but the IDC survey found that much of the value of the IoT is seen to be internal to the company itself, to become or stay more competitive.  Respondents cited boosting productivity, streamlining procedures, and cutting costs as reasons for implementing the IoT, rather than any direct services or other benefits for customers.

Although the IDC survey was for the IoT in a broad range of industries, including manufacturing, retail, utilities, government, health, and finance, its results correlate with the experience of IBM in the Industrial IoT.  The company plans to bring on 25,000 new people for IIoT-related projects and services worldwide, with 1,000 of them in their Munich global IoT headquarters alone. As we see it, both the survey results and the experience of IBM point to a common reality: the Industrial IoT is quickly moving into the mainstream.