IBM’s influence in Germany is epitomised by the levels of R&D and technological innovation being driven across the country, subsequently attracting some of the biggest names in global business as they begin their own digital transformations
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Jamie Sutherland
IBM is focusing on the most modern and pressing of strategic technological trends as it looks to expand its solution portfolio and its progressive transformation vision to become a holistic cognitive solutions and cloud platform provider.
Focusing on growth initiatives such as business analytics, cloud computing, mobile enterprise, social business and security, the goal is to do what IBM has always done in the tech era: to assist companies with their own digital transformations and to harness the potential of digitalisation.
In Germany, such innovation emanates from the Company’s Research & Development Centre in Boeblingen; one of the largest of its kind outside of the US.
“Established in 1953, the Centre runs IT development and research projects for the global market,” introduces Managing Director for the Daimler Group, Christian Klezl. “Today, around 1,800 computer scientists, electrical engineers and physicists from more than 30 countries operate on site as well as in other cities in Germany. All-told we are working on more than 70 hardware and software projects in close cooperation with other IBM research & development centres around the globe.
“The project topics range from cloud computing to data analytics; from software for business process management and data centre optimisation to Web 2.0 technologies; and to hardware, firmware and operating systems for IBM systems.”
In addition to its core portfolio of cutting-edge hardware and software, IBM has long been known for its niches in the market and its ability to deviate from the ordinary, and its Global Business Consulting Services arm furthers the Company’s remit to this end via aspects of business design, process design and operations, enterprise applications, security and resiliency, HR, and cloud application services.
“IBM Global Technology Services provides mobility services, networking services, resiliency services, system services and technology support services,” Klezl adds. “Moreover, there is IBM Financial Services and Industry Expertise Services supporting enterprises in their transformation, for example in the banking and insurance industry, automotive or retail.
“While IBM usually draws from a globally consistent portfolio of capabilities, specific services differ from the wider global model if and where markets and industries differ.”
A poignant example in Germany specifically alludes to the ever-strong manufacturing and automotive sectors, which IBM has worked hard to capitalise on. And its appeal as a provider then derives not just from such a customisable, turnkey offering, but its ongoing role as one of the world’s pioneering tech entities.
“Earlier this year, IBM opened its worldwide headquarters for Watson Internet of Things (IoT) in Munich, Germany,” Klezl offers as a prime example. “Assembling global expertise across R&D, consulting, sales and delivery under one roof - and in close collaboration with key clients - the headquarters allows IBM to develop, design and deliver state-of-the-art solutions addressing the business opportunities arising from IoT (Industry 4.0).”
Shifting to the next generation
Every transition and evolution of focus for IBM derives from its dedication to its clients’ success, taking personal responsibility in the relationships formed and driving innovation that matters in each specific case.
Subsequently culminating in an R&D-driven portfolio that is second to none in the private sector, IBM - over more than a century - has addressed some of the most pressing business problems and societal challenges through this approach to technological solutions.
“Recently the Company has led the industry in shifting to the next generation of insight and solutions driven by data, leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities,” Klezl details in reference to a more modern example. “Those “cognitive solutions” usually require a scalable, distributed and secure infrastructure architecture. Therefore, cloud solutions and services are one of our strategic topics and data security and data privacy play an essential role in the decision for a supplier.
“Thus, we not only opened a Cloud Data Centre in Frankfurt at the end of 2014 that allowed German companies and clients to benefit from in-country data storage - a requirement in many industries to comply with German data protection laws - but we are also one of the founding members for the European Union Code of Conduct for Cloud Services Providers and are consequently certifying each of our cloud Services.”
In December, 2017 IBM will go one step further and launch the EU-Managed Cloud, a combination of technology and process improvements to IBM cloud, designed to allow EU clients to store and process their most sensitive data in Europe.
Inevitably, such considerations and influences become all the more attractive as a partner or provider proposition; especially in Germany where numerous high profile relationships have been formed as a consequence.
“In June, IBM became a pilot partner of BMW CarData that will allow up to 8.5 million BMW ConnectedDrive customers globally to make use of third party services in a secure and transparent way,” Klezl explains. “As a pilot partner, IBM has integrated its cloud platform with the BMW CarData platform. Vehicle data will be enhanced by IBM Watson IoT, using cognitive and data analytics services to enable third parties, such as automotive repair shops or insurance companies, to develop entirely new customer experiences.
“IBM’s cloud platform also gives developers access to the entire service catalogue from IBM and its ecosystem partners to build and run innovative new service offerings. Customers will have to actively agree to share their encrypted telematics data when they want to use a specific service from a service provider.”
Shape and improve the future for all
A blockchain technology-based initiative alongside UBS has encouraged similarly standout operators to call upon IBM in Germany - in Bavaria, and in the finance sector in this case - including Bank of Montreal, CaixaBank, Commerzbank and Erste Group.
Helping to transform global trade, ‘Batavia’ is a further indication of the Company’s attraction to the global business elite, and indeed its own dedication to the ever-changing business world.
“For a long time IBM has been investing more in R&D and advanced technologies than any other private sector business, generating a constant stream of innovation and for many years the world’s strongest record of patents, including several Nobel prize laureates,” Klezl emphasises. “For example, we are investing US$3 billion to bring Watson to IoT - allocating $200 million in our new Munich Watson IoT Center alone - which represents IBM’s largest investment in Europe in more than two decades.
“And we are continuously investing in new cloud data centres. Right now we have 60 across 19 countries so that clients around the world can take advantage of a secure cloud that is tuned for cognitive and big data workloads while offering flexibility to store data however and wherever they choose.”
IBM’s 106 years in the industry is unmatched by most in the business world, let alone in the IT domain, but the vision ultimately remains the same. Constantly leveraging the latest technologies through unmatched R&D resources for its ever-growing client base’s benefit has been a winning combination throughout the Company’s tenure; and in the digital world of today, IBM will continue to apply its global expertise to the German market by identifying, building and enriching networks and platforms that span entire markets and industries.
Klezl concludes: “IBM is rapidly transforming itself into a cognitive solutions and cloud platform company and is well advanced on this journey. Our major goal is to shape and improve the future for all of us; for instance by providing advanced solutions for the health sector, energy, global mobility or environmental protection.”