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IBM jumps into water, long-term infrastructure markets

IBM is tapping into the Obama buzzword: Infrastructure. And it's a move that could prove lucrative not only during a sour economy but for generations thereafter.
Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive

IBM is tapping into the Obama buzzword: Infrastructure. And it's a move that could prove lucrative not only during a sour economy but for generations thereafter.

In this case, it's water that the company is diving into. The company is launching a new line of water services today, according to news reports. The company said that the water-management services market could be worth $20 billion in five years.

I don't claim to be an expert in things like water management, power grids, traffic patterns and so on. But I do know that there are some processes - even something as simple as reading residential gas, electric and water meters - that could definitely benefit from a tech makeover.

In terms of what IBM is doing with water, CNET's GreenTech blog has some good insight. Blogger Martin LaMonica writes:

Managing fresh water is increasingly becoming a concern for governments and industries around the world, with the ongoing droughts in Australia and California being prominent examples. IBM expects water conservation can be improved by using sensors to gather data and then analyzing data on high-end computers. It has developed a suite of water-management offerings that combine consulting services and computing, including water metering for utilities. The SmartBay research program around Galway Bay, for example, monitors wave conditions, marine life, and pollution levels and uses IBM's "cloud" computing services to predict water conditions.

He goes on to note that there hasn't been a lot of investment in water-related technologies, in part because municipalities that manage water have long been cash-strapped and unable to invest in infrastructure. President Obama, however, sees an investment in infrastructure as a means of creating jobs and reigniting the economy, so money could soon start flowing in.

In a statement, CEO Sam Palmisano said that IBM is being aggressive in core areas like water and power to give the company an early start in these markets - which usually involve long-term rollouts and even longer need for support. "We will not simply ride out the storm," Palmisano said. "Rather, we will take a long-term view, and go on offense."

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