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At IBM’s Watson lab, customers marry the power of AI with the IoT

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IBM formally inaugurated its Watson Internet of Things headquarters in Munich, Germany in February, and Computer Weekly went to meet the customers and partners who are using Watson AI to deliver on the promise of the IoT

At about lunchtime on an unseasonably warm February day, a small commercial drone hovered alongside Highlight Tower; a striking, angular glass block soaring 126m over a suburban Autobahn on the outskirts of Munich, with equally striking views.

Inside the building, Harriet Watson, general manager of Watson Internet of Things (IoT) at IBM, and Ilse Aigner, deputy prime minister of the state of Bavaria, linked hands over a big red button, watching the video pictures relayed by the drone.

As it climbed to the very top of the tower, the familiar, linear IBM logo swam lazily into view, and to applause from their audience, Watson and Aigner pushed the button, lighting up the sign and officially inaugurating the IBM Watson IoT Headquarters. Although, since it was midday and sunny, it is unlikely many people noticed it at first.

It is a little over a year since IBM first announced its intention to locate the global base for its Watson IoT platform in Munich, and since then it has been very busy, not only fitting out its new home, but advancing IoT technology and drawing businesses such as automaker BMW, outsourcing and facilities practice ISS, and ICT channel distributor Avnet to its banner.

At the inaugural event, which saw customers, collaborators and journalists descend on Munich en masse to find out more about what the IoT can deliver for enterprises, IBM announced a new round of enterprise partnerships at the Watson IoT lab, described by Green in her opening remarks as a “collaboratory”.

It would probably be fair to say that, despite its long history, IBM is not renowned for its expertise in networking, and nor has it sought to be. But it doesn’t need to, for what IBM is bringing to the picture is not connectivity, or a desire to push a proprietary network standard, but the growing power of Watson.

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