Mobile Visions: IBM’s Plans for AI, Cloud Computing, 5G Networks

I attended the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month to learn more about how the wireless industry is leveraging AI and intelligent cloud technologies on the road to deploying 5G networks.  Among the many software and hardware companies leading the AI revolution, I was most impressed by IBM which has aligned with its major operator clients and partners to showcase the cloud and AI technologies that will underpin the 5G era.

IBM is uniquely positioned to help companies bridge their on-premises systems to different cloud platforms and vendors so that they can manage data, workloads, and processes across the breadth of their IT systems—from the enterprise, to the cloud, to the device, to the edge of the network.  The recently-acquired Red Hat is now at the heart of IBM’s hybrid cloud strategy and the company’s push to make Watson available anywhere.

IBM has also established partnerships with leading telecom companies like Vodafone to help companies like KONE, Volkswagen’s SEAT, and Japanese textile manufacturer, Mitsufuji deliver on the promise of “Intelligent Connectivity”.

Convergence of AI and Cloud Computing in 5G Wireless Networks

The convergence of 5G, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence has begun to transform businesses around the world.   Cloud and high-speed connectivity help companies tap a plethora of powerful IT services such as AI, augmented reality, and blockchain providing highly-contextualized and personalized experiences for customers and employees.  However, getting everything to work together in a secure and optimized way is a major obstacle. The average enterprise using up to 15 clouds and multiple types of AI.

IBM and Vodafone last month signed a landmark $550M partnership to address this challenge by bringing together connectivity, cloud, and AI technologies to help companies remove complexity from their digital transformations. This new venture leverages the combination of Vodafone and IBM capabilities to address the “full stack” of real-world multi-cloud concerns in all layers of their organizations.   Under this agreement, IBM will supply Vodafone Business with managed services in the areas of cloud and hosting.  Vodafone Business and IBM will also together work to build and deliver solutions in areas like AI, cloud, 5G, IoT, and software-defined networking to enterprise customers. Vodafone Business and IBM will help to drive innovation and transform user experiences by providing the open cloud, connectivity, and portable AI technologies that companies need to manage data, workloads, and processes across the breadth of their IT systems across multiple industries—from retail to agriculture.

5G and AI Transform Urban Mobility, Proactive Maintenance and Worker Safety solutions

The Spanish carmaker SEAT, a member of the Volkswagen Group since 1986, launched “Mobility Advisor” proof of concept powered by Watson AI running on the IBM Cloud.  This new solution is part of SEAT’s “micromobility” strategy to provide personalized and eco-friendly choices for drivers—from the car to the eKickScooter designed to transform driving in cities.  SEAT presented its concept car Minimó, promising to revolutionize urban mobility, integrating Mobility Advisor, which uses IBM Watson AI to help citizens make informed decisions about their daily transportation options: from cars, to scooters, bikes, and public transport.  Mobility Advisor uses IBM Watson Assistant to learn a user’s preferences and make personalized recommendations for how best to complete a journey.  The SEAT Mobility Advisor is Connected to the IBM Cloud and designed to run as a mobile app on 4G/5G networks to provide users with a conversational interface to plan, suggest the most suitable transportation options and optimize routes taking into account weather forecasts, traffic reports, and things happening in the city that day.  With the roll-out of 5G networks in cities in the coming years, the possibilities for transforming the driver experience are limitless.

Ultimately, 5G and AI can also transform IoT, the factory floor, proactive maintenance, and worker safety solutions.  Using IBM IoT and Cloud technology, KONE, a leading manufacturer of elevators and escalators, is moving from reactive to proactive to predictive services to keep more than one billion people around the world on the move every day. Working with IBM IoT technology, KONE can constantly monitor up to 200 critical parameters of a single piece of equipment, achieve a 25% improvement in first time fix and bring a totally new experience to maintenance services.

IBM also announced a partnership with Mitsufuji, a Japanese company that provides worker safety solutions including connected garments, IoT technology and AI to alert workers to high-risk situations. Mitsufuji is using IBM’s Maximo Worker Insights as a scalable SaaS solution along with IBM’s IoT Platform, advanced analytics and cloud capabilities, to help organizations monitor worker safety, spot trends and potential problems, and react to changing environmental conditions.

After a week at MWC19, and briefings with leading mobile operators and major vendors such as IBM, I am in a better position to better understand the potential ROI from AI, cloud computing and 5G wireless networks.

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