IBM Launches Smart Chip Services

The offerings should put IBM Global Services ahead of a growth spurt in the use of the chips, which can be embedded on cards, inventory or equipment to gather data and make it available to a number of devices.

IBM Global Services today launched a new series of defined services packages to help enterprises exploit the benefits of smart chips.

After helping a handful of enterprises in early consulting engagements, including Shell Oil Co., IGS streamlined service delivery for a wide range of services, including consulting on new business models, methodologies, integrating smart chip applications with back end systems, new application development, payment systems and integration, asset monitoring, device management, security services, hosting and outsourcing, according to Amy Lipton, director of market development for IGS in Somers, NY.

IGS also announced the opening of two smart chip prototype/demo facilities in Zurich, Switzerland and Washington.

The services are intended to put IGS ahead of an expected growth spurt in the use of smart chips, which can be embedded on cards, inventory or equipment to gather data and make it available to devices that can read and transmit the data. Applications include cashless purchasing, automatic identification or transmission of inventory status or equipment performance. In the Shell Oil eShell application, Smart chips are used to monitor and remotely manage equipment such as gas pumps, car wash systems and HVAC systems, according to Lipton.

Both business and technology changes are converging to boost smart chip usage. Lower chip costs are one factor. "Now its coming down into the $10 ranged, and manufacturers are offering much less expensive cards," said Lipton. An increasing amount of bandwidth-especially in the wireless arena are also fueling interest. At the same time, "Authentication and security are top of mind to people now," added Lipton.

The new services will tap the expertise of about 5,000 consultants in IGSs wireless ebusiness practice. It is offered globally. IGS intends to expand the services offerings over the next year - especially in vertical industry segments.

As part of the services, IGS consultants will help clients understand how smart chips can be used in specific industries through one day workshops or through longer engagements. Another service will focus on creating ePurses or smart cards that hold pre-paid funds for buying goods. Device management services will simplify tracking and maintenance of larger smart card installations such as those in manufacturing. Security services include embedded encryption and biometric pass codes such as iris scans and thumbprints. For data-intensive applications that require large amounts of storage and processing, IGS will also provide hosting and analysis services.