Big Blue to give car insurers IoT peeking powers

New US$3bn business unit promises connected cloudy capers

IBM has announced it will spend US$3 billion over four years on a new internet of things business unit.

The company reckons the internet of things label now applies to all the the smart city stuff it did for water and traffic management applications in recent years. The idea seems to be to take that work, sprinkle on a little cloud and/or Watson analytics and deliver what IBM's calling “an open platform to provide manufacturers with the ability to design and produce a new generation of connected devices that are better optimized for the IoT, and to help business leaders across industries create systems that better fuse enterprise and IoT data to inform decision-making.”

Which sounds benign. The company's plan to “introduce a cloud-based service that helps insurance companies extract insight from connected vehicles” may appear less so. IBM reckons this service “... will enable new, more dynamic pricing models and the delivery of services that can be highly customized to individual drivers,” but it's not hard to imagine something going wrong with that.

IBM's announcement has the whiff of bandwagon-clambering while at the same time representing a new spin on the company's current cloud analytics mantra. There's mention of 2,000 people being dedicated to the IoT effort, but little sign if the $3bn is net new money or a re-allocation of cash that those folks would have spent anyway.

Either way, IBM does have plenty of engagements with an IoT taint, so probably has a bit more credibility in the field than Microsoft. Redmond's efforts to convince world+dog that anything to do with Windows Embedded was really IoT long before anyone else dreamed up the idea don't seem entirely convincing, and Cisco's position that the IoT is a gold mine so long as you buy more routers doesn't bespeak enormous sincerity or gravitas. ®

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