IBM has announced the creation of its new Services Innovation Lab, a new global lab that will initially comprise about 200 technology experts hand-picked from around the company.
The lab will accelerate the expansion of real-time analytics and software automation in both IBM's technology services offerings and its global services delivery capabilities.
In an interview with eWEEK, Scott Hopkins, worldwide general manager for IBM Global Technology Services, said the SIL significantly expands IBM's nearly 10-year-old services research program by bringing together services, research, software developers and industry experts from around the company to focus initially on the creation of services software applications for cloud computing, analytics and mobility. IBM invests more than $6 billion annually on research and development and employs about 3,000 researchers worldwide, with about one-third of them focused on services and analytics.
"Our singular focus is to help our clients capitalize on technologies that solve problems and create new possibilities," said Mike Daniels, senior vice president and group executive for IBM Services, in a statement. "Creation of the Services Innovation Lab demonstrates how we at IBM differentiate our capabilities vs. competition. We harness the best of what IBM research and development can deliver in science and engineering to help our clients be more innovative."
IBM researchers, developers and other technical experts who will participate in the SIL have an array of credentials, including development and client experience in computer science, software, security and compliance, systems management, mathematics and business optimization, data mining, storage, computer systems, user interaction and cognitive sciences, Hopkins said. The central mission of these researchers and developers is to turn the intellectual property created during client engagements into software - thereby making it easier and faster to replicate a solution to thousands of engagements around the globe.
"The Services Innovation Lab is creating a research environment that leverages advances in services science, analytics and cloud computing to create innovation that matters for our clients anywhere in the world, said Mahmoud Naghshineh, vice president and director of the IBM Services Innovation Lab, in a statement. "Our efforts are focused on understanding the problems of service organizations from the perspectives of people, practices, information and technology to provide them new opportunities for revenue, cost savings and to foster innovation."
The SIL will operate out of IBM Research's Labs worldwide, including New York, California, China, Israel, India, Japan, Switzerland and Brazil. And the initial focus of the SIL projects will include cloud computing, advanced analytics, service delivery automation and enterprise mobilization and Smarter Planet.
Hopkins said the SIL will create both new cloud services and devise new methods for moving traditional computing environments to a cloud-based model. One of the initial projects will be the creation of dashboards that will enable an IT workers to more effectively learn what is happening inside a data center, where to apply resources and improve productivity.
The SIL also will invent new ways to integrate analytic services with business processes to create new types of services and applications that can be injected into client accounts more quickly. One example already in the market is IBM's Tax Collections Optimizer, which uses new IBM-patented analytics technology to help governments identify the most effective and efficient methods to collect taxes from delinquent debtors.
Indeed, IBM Research developed the analytics engine known as the "Tax Collections Optimizer" and in April 2011 the company announced that since this analytics technology was deployed in 2010 by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, the state has recovered $83 million in delinquent taxes. This eight percent increase from 2009 is double the average increase in prior years without the new technology capability.
Hopkins said the new Service Innovation Lab is focused on taking this "one-off" project, and the analytics innovation that resulted from it, and creating a "services application" that can be used by any government in the world. "It does not matter that the original technology we developed for New York state...through the work at the new Service Innovation Lab it will be able to be used by any government client in any part of the world at any level, state, municipal or federal," he said.
In addition, the new SIL will use data mining and real-time analytics software to create new delivery capabilities to improve the operation of a data center by enabling IT management to become predictive and proactive. For example, one project will more accurately predict if a data center will lose power. The new technologies will enable better monitoring and maintenance of data centers that will improve quality and reduce costs.
Moreover, capitalizing on technologies used in personal computing, the SIL will develop a set of technologies for the mobile computing marketplace. Key areas of focus are security, ease of use and enabling enterprise applications on mobile devices. For instance, the SIL will design a way to enable a mobile device to easily interface with enterprise customer reference systems or expense reporting applications.
The SIL is the latest example of the investments in research innovation and software capabilities that IBM has made over the past decade to create higher-value service offerings. IBM researchers have participated in more than 1,000 IT business process and consulting client services engagements.
"It's like what we did with semiconductors," Hopkins said. "We built a semiconductor research lab and we did much the same for software," he said.
With more than 15,000 services and software patents issued to IBM inventors in the last five years, patented services applications have played a major role in enabling IBM to deliver on its smarter planet vision - a world where technologies are increasingly interconnected, instrumented and intelligent -- by quickly moving an invention into client engagements around the world, from smarter health care and smarter water management to smarter buildings and smarter crime prevention.