IBM plans to shift $100 million investment over the next five years into a major Research effort which aims to advance mobile services and capabilities for businesses and consumers worldwide.
IBM is investing to create technology in its labs that bring easy-to-use services to the millions of people who have bypassed using the personal computer as their primary method of accessing the Internet, and instead use their mobile devices for managing large forces of enterprise field workers, conducting financial transactions, entertainment, shopping, and more. The company is aiming to drive new intelligence into the underpinnings of the mobile web to create new efficiencies in business operations and people’s daily lives. The three focus areas for IBM’s research investment are: mobile enterprise enablement, emerging market mobility and enterprise end-user mobile experiences. Analytics, security, privacy and user interface, and navigation will be concentrated on across the Research effort.
Low cost, high bandwidth, wireless access, and PC-like information processing power are accelerating the promise of the mobile phone as a compelling platform for accessing information services. IBM’s first-of-a-kind (FOAK) program uses a technology named “BlueStar” to develop automated mobile devices and application management services for insurance claims processing. The program pairs IBM’s scientists with clients to explore how emerging technologies can solve real world business problems.
The pilot enabled an insurance enterprise to reduce the amount of time required to process claims by leveraging mobile technology to locate and dispatch the most appropriate and available claims adjusters for each case. The right agents were identified through a combination of GPS location technology, presence awareness capabilities and an analysis of all candidate agents’ calendar availability. Once agents were selected, the state of their mobile phone’s configuration and security status was acquired by BlueStar, and updated, if necessary. BlueStar then assisted with preparing and formatting necessary claims case information for the specific mobile device configuration, and securely transmitted all data to the device. This policy-driven approach to configuring information for on-the-go staff simplified the maintenance of mobile service products. The BlueStar pilot demonstrated how to deploy and manage mobile devices and applications to a large force of enterprise field workers. The approach enabled not only smarter device management, but a smarter way for the mobile field force to work.
For the 83 percent of the world that does not have easy access to the Web via PCs, IBM is helping mobile phone users become more productive. In these locations, there is a dearth of skills, such as technological and language literacy; a lack of infrastructure, such as reliable electrical power; as well as limited availability of smartphones.
IBM Research has established a pilot program in southern India that allows people, including farmers, repairmen, small business owners, and consumers, to post, retrieve or exchange timely information via voice on cellphones. Content – such as weather and ocean conditions, grain prices, advertisements, bus schedules, news, class schedules, product catalogues, health information and available services appointments – is created and updated by entrepreneurs and municipalities. Inputting and accessing information, as well as processing transactions, such as reservations or payments, is as easy as speaking into a mobile device.
“Mobility and the associated analytics will change virtually every enterprise business process,” said Paul Bloom, chief technologist, IBM Telecom Research. “It will change the relationship between enterprises and their customers, their employees and their partners, enabling them to do business in more intelligent, efficient ways.”
One example of how mobility will change the relationship between enterprises and the end user can be found in a project at IBM Research – Haifa with Taiwan Mobile, the second largest telecommunication company in Taiwan. Here, IBM is analyzing customer information to get manageable business intelligence based on evolving user preferences, users context and transaction history. This FOAK solution can be used by telecommunications companies and retailers alike to allow them to customize mobile portals and recommend the right products to the right customers at the most opportune time that will optimize the probability customers will complete the transaction.
The technology also enables product managers to analyze the habits and segments of existing and potential customer populations, and to then tailor effective online mobile marketing campaigns to those audiences.
Enterprise mobility will allow people to more closely monitor the energy consumption of their workplace and home; receive more personalized offers and discounts from stores; research more thoroughly and pay more conveniently for purchases; and stay in closer touch with social and professional networks. Portable, personal and precise information carried by the mobile Web will enable emergency responders to be more effective, and allow healthcare providers make more informed, effective and safer medical decisions.