IBM is encouraging businesses to extend the use of its Tivoli integrated service management software into the entirety of a business' infrastructure, where even individual cattle can be a business asset.
"Everything is instrumented," said Joao Perez, IBM's vice president of worldwide Tivoli Software sales, in his keynote presentation at IBM's Pulse 2011 event in Melbourne this morning. "There are no more boundaries of physical and digital."
IBM's work with Brazil's ministry of agriculture (Ministério da Agricultura e do Abastecimento) is one example.
To sell beef into the European Union, the source farm and vaccination record for every single animal must be reported. This information was previously being collated by hand from Brazil's 2.5 million small farmers and faxed to EU authorities in Liechtenstein.
One year the country lost US$1 billion in export sales because it was impossible to narrow down the source of infected animals.
Now, every animal has a yellow RFID-equipped ear tag and is tracked as an asset in Tivoli.
"Technology is not a limitation any more, it's the business model and the innovation," Perez said.
IBM has also helped Indian telecommunications company Bharti Infratel Limited save US$50 to US$60 million annually by centrally tracking the energy usage of its mobile phone base stations. Each station uses US$10,000 worth of electricity per year, most of it as diesel fuel. Previously, each station's fuel tank was being monitored manually, requiring a visit by a technician.
Gogo, a company that provides in-flight Wi-Fi internet access for a number of US airlines, is using Tivoli for managing its network.
The US military is also tracking the location of individual tents and other assets in Iraq from Washington. In the future, it might be possible to track the amount of ammunition remaining in individual weapons, and whether the wear on a gun barrel indicates that it needs replacing.
IBM will be pushing the green credentials of service management, to judge by the initial presentations and forthcoming sessions at Pulse 2011.
Datacentres are shrinking, Perez said, but buildings are still using the most energy. "We can't manage what we don't see. If we want to manage energy down, I have to see the energy consumption," Perez said, before owing a slide of Tivoli's data presentation capabilities.
Stilgherrian is attending Pulse 2011 as a guest of IBM.