IBM has announced plans to shift R800-million investments 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 that bring simple, 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 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.
A glimpse of the possibilities of mobility can be found in a recent pilot performed as part of IBM's first-of-a-kind (FOAK) program, which used a technology named "BlueStar" to develop automated mobile devices and application management services for insurance claims processing. IBM's FOAK 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 significantly 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.
For the 83% 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 programme in southern India that allows ordinary citizens, including 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, health information and available services appointments – is created and updated by entrepreneurs and municipalities. In nine months of operation so far, the pilot has won rave reviews from users.
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 analysing 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 customise mobile portals and recommend the right products to the right customers at the most suitable time that will optimise the probability customers will complete the transaction.
The technology also enables product managers to analyse the habits and segments of existing and potential customer populations, and to then tailor effective online mobile marketing campaigns to those audiences.