More and more, things that we think of as traditionally non-digital – a truck, a doorway, a rib eye steak – are becoming part of what we traditionally think of as digital – the networks and computers of our IT systems. Today's physical assets are becoming more instrumented, interconnected and intelligent – smarter. As a result, they are becoming an extension of IT systems as never before.
- Oncor Electric Delivery Company is replacing 3.4 million standard meters with smart meters and integrating its IT and physical systems to create a smart energy grid that will help customers better manage their energy use.
- UK-based Trafficmaster, a maker of navigational and route-planning tools for cars and trucks, is connecting on-board navigational and stolen car tracking systems to its IT systems to help people spend less time in traffic and improve transportation security and efficiency.
- The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is tracking information about its pumps, drainage and sewage systems and other physical assets to do more preventative and less corrective maintenance while reducing pollution.
IT is reaching beyond the boundaries of the data center into the real world, and it presents tremendous opportunities to help build a smarter planet. But there is also a tremendous responsibility placed on IT departments to manage all the new workloads and information. How can we meet the challenge of managing it all?
Oncor Electric Delivery Company is replacing 3.4 million standard meters with smart meters and integrating its IT and physical systems to create a smart energy grid.
From systems management to service management
The answer begins by broadening our idea of IT's role from systems management to what IBM calls service management. Service management looks beyond systems and servers to manage whatever is required for an organization to execute more efficiently. It could be a bank transaction, or a package delivery, and it includes providing products – from automobiles to health bars.
“The key is being able to pull this data up out of the asset silos and into some meaningful platform that can drive visibility, control and automation across the whole business and IT infrastructure. We refer to this as a service management platform.” – IBM Vice President for Service Management Marketing, Doug Brown.
“The key is being able to pull this data up out of the asset silos and into some meaningful platform that can drive visibility, control and automation across the whole business and IT infrastructure. We refer to this as a service management platform,” said IBM Vice President for Service Management Marketing, Doug Brown. “An effective service management platform is one that enables organizations to see, control and automate all the business and IT assets that underpin the delivery of a service or the execution of a key business process.”
Industry analyst, EMA, concluded that IBM is uniquely well positioned as both a “thought partner” and technology provider to help organizations build and manage a service management platform.1 In addition to its strengths in services and systems, IBM provides one of the most complete software portfolios in the key areas of service management, with the results to prove it.
- Asset Management: Gaining visibility into where assets are, who owns them, their condition and performance can improve service delivery while reducing costs. DP World Southampton, operator of the UK's second largest container terminal, uses IBM Tivoli® Maximo® asset management software to provide workshop technicians with visibility into IT's maintenance systems for the first time. DP is performing 10 percent more preventive maintenance and experiencing 10 percent fewer breakdowns.
- Service Assurance: IT departments commit to specific service requirements to their users through Service Level Agreements or SLAs. So it fits that this service assurance concept can extend to an enterprise-wide service delivery model. One industry where service assurance is critical is telecommunications. Imagine the impact of the communications networks of the world failing, even for just a brief time. IBM software has proven itself in this proving ground for two consecutive years and is ranked number one in service assurance software revenue.
- Security Management: Digitizing physical assets and connecting them to IT systems can increase visibility and control, but it can also increase security risks by broadening the exposure of IT. IBM was selected to conduct a proof of concept that tied together information from an airport's doorways, video cameras, access card stations and more with a centralized command and control center. The security solution uses IBM WebSphere® and DB2® software, as well as the IBM Smart Surveillance System and the airport projects that it could save US$2.2 million annually by streamlining access control and re-assigning human resources to higher level tasks.
For two consecutive year's IBM has been ranked as the worldwide leader in the telecommunications service assurance software market.
Look around and start a vision
Look around your business environment. Lighting systems, phones, computers, heating and air-conditioning systems, manufacturing equipment, office cubicles, and the list goes on. Are these things instrumented, intelligent, and interconnected? If not, they may soon be. We are heading toward a world of an expected one trillion connected objects.2 Can these physical assets help you reduce costs while improving the delivery of business services? Can they help you innovate and create new efficiencies and services to be more productive and profitable? According to the EMA report, IBM can help you lead in this brave direction, “while most of IBM's competitors are still focused on optimizing the IT environment, IBM has taken the bold move of extending its technology strengths into mainstream business operations.” IBM has the software, systems, servers and industry experience to help you every step of the way to achieving smarter service delivery for a smarter planet.
- Enterprise Management Associates White Paper, Enabling Real-World Business Transformation Through IBM Service Management, February 2009
- IBM Press Release, IBM Announces Sweeping Initiative to Address Major Shift in the Flow of World's Data, September 8, 2009