Late last year IBM has announced new initiatives designed to bring together the power of its Watson machine learning with the Internet of Things (IoT) in order to help customers and partners, especially those in industry, to reap the potential benefits from insights derived from collecting and analysing data.
The firm also opened a global headquarters for its new Watson IoT unit in Munich, Germany, a facility that will also serve as the first European Watson innovation super centre to drive collaboration between IBM experts and clients. The Munich headquarters will be complemented by eight Watson IoT Client Experience Centres spread across Europe, Asia and the Americas.
Recently IBM hinted at a big development at its Watson IoT Cognitive Building Forum, held at The Crystal in London, on June 24th 2016. At the event, Deon Newman, chief marketing officer for IBM Watson IoT, spoke of how Watson “was built as a way of dealing with large amounts of unstructured, unpredictable data types and finding patterns in that data”.
Then on June 30th, IBM announced the partnership with ISS. Headquartered in Copenhagen, ISS is one of the world’s largest private employers with over half a million staff managing everything from concierge to cleaning, catering to technical maintenance for thousands of clients including Rolls-Royce, Nordea, Novartis and the UK’s Royal Air Force.
Through the new agreement, ISS will tap IBM’s Watson IoT platform, consulting and advanced facilities management technologies to transform the services it provides to building owners and users around the world with the goal of making buildings more personalised, intuitive and user-friendly.
Working with IBM, ISS will integrate and analyse data from millions of devices and sensors embedded into buildings including doors, windows, chairs, meeting rooms, dispensers and air conditioning systems. Data will be uploaded onto IBM’s Watson IoT cloud platform and cognitive computing technologies will learn from this data helping ISS optimise its services as well as furthering its understanding of how people use buildings, thereby creating new opportunities for innovation.
For example, sensors in doors and entrance areas can tell a real estate manager how many people are in a building at any one time and sensors on plate dispensers can inform kitchen staff of how many people are still likely to need to eat – helping staff to prepare the right amount of food and avoid wastage. Sensors in meeting rooms, chairs and tables not only help building managers better manage room occupancy and cancel unwanted room bookings, but also inform service staff when a room needs more refreshments or requires cleaning.
“In today’s highly competitive market, managing and servicing buildings should no longer just be about cost”, said Jeff Gravenhorst, CEO of ISS. “With a dashboard overview of key building metrics displayed on mobile devices, facility managers will benefit from an integrated, real-time view of the services and supplies within their buildings enabling them to adopt a more pro-active, flexible and responsive approach to building management and customised service delivery. Putting real time data into the hands of service staff will help to foster more attentive and service-minded employees, supporting our customers in achieving their priorities. Putting a ‘human touch’ in buildings helps to increase employee productivity, decrease absenteeism and makes a better impression on visitors”.
As a first step, ISS has already fitted its Copenhagen headquarters, which serves as an innovation lab for the service group, with hundreds of sensors connected to IBM’s Watson IoT platform and TRIRIGA facilities management software to help improve room bookings and catering services for the 250 employees based in the building. The next phase will be the implementation of the cognitive IoT technology at selected customer sites.
“With this agreement we are taking the power of technology and the power of service and putting those together to enable ISS to make buildings better for their users”, said Harriet Green, General Manager, IBM Watson IoT. “The key thing is to find out how people will work in the future. By analysing data from sensors we are helping ISS to uncover new insight that will help to ensure buildings are the kinds of places where people want to be, not just need to be”.
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