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Monday, February 20, 2017

IBM teams with distributor Avnet on joint Watson IoT development lab

By Nick Flaherty

Distributor Avnet has teamed up with IBM to set up an Internet-of-Things (IoT) Joint Lab powered by the Watson supercomputer. The lab will be within IBM’s newly opened global Watson IoT Center in Munich, Germany. Avnet will use this to showcase, demonstrate, develop and sell IoT solutions from its product lines.

    “With almost 20 billion connected devices in the world today, the Internet of Things is rapidly becoming the biggest source of data on the planet,” said Harriet Green, global head of Watson IoT and a former chief executive of distributor Premier Farnell which Avnet acquired in October 2016 for £690m. 

    “There is no limit to how IoT can be used to improve the world. We’re already seeing tremendous potential in new IoT applications that we’re developing with our customers, which range from protecting our children to preventing Legionnaires’ disease,” said Patrick Zammit, global president of Avnet Technology Solutions. “Avnet’s latest collaboration with IBM will accelerate our ability to provide customers with the foundation they need to rapidly develop marketable IoT solutions.”
    It often takes 10 or more partners to create a single IoT solution, and it can be a challenging and time-consuming task to find the right partners,” said Mark Martin, Avnet’s vice president, IBM global supplier executive. 

    “We’re taking the guesswork out of this for our partners by continually building a solid ecosystem of known companies they can work with to develop their IoT solutions," he said. "The new joint lab will be a key place for customers and partners to come together to collaborate with experts to quickly advance their solution design, and it is a vital resource that will be a key asset of the Technology Solutions portfolio over the long term.”

    At the lab, clients from around the world will be able to engage with Avnet and IBM IoT experts to create working prototypes and solutions that draw on the business benefits of Watson IoT and the power of cognitive computing. They can also enhance their IoT technical expertise through hands-on, on-the-job learning in the lab. Additionally, Avnet and IBM will engage with clients on joint business opportunities.

    “With Watson cognitive computing, we have the opportunity to convert that data into meaningful insight to transform companies, industries and society," said Green. "With this agreement, we are pooling our shared deep history and expertise to deliver on the potential of the Internet of Things.”

    The joint lab will help enable new business models and explore innovative approaches to industry challenges. One way Avnet will achieve this is through Premier Farnell, which will use the lab to develop proof-of-concept electronic boards embedded with IBM’s Watson IoT and Bluemix services at the device level. The aim is to create a seamless experience for customers, allowing them to rapidly exploit new use cases for customers.

    “Our focus is on helping businesses to bring their ideas to market – proof-of-concepts are a critical aspect of that,” said Richard Curtin, senior director of strategic alliances for Premier Farnell. “In the lab, we will develop new electronic boards with enhanced cloud and software capabilities, giving our customers a huge boost in building smarter IoT solutions that can positively impact our world.”

    In addition to the lab, Avnet and IBM are actively collaborating to build IoT offerings to accelerate solution development with the IBM Watson IoT and IBM Bluemix platforms. This includes IoT starter kits from Avnet’s Electronics Marketing and Premier Farnell businesses. Clients will gain access to an extensive catalog of over 150 IBM Bluemix cloud services, including the IBM Watson IoT platform, DevOps, mobile and analytics services through the Avnet Cloud Marketplace. Additionally, clients will have access to in-depth technical training on the IBM Bluemix and IBM Watson IoT Platform through Avnet’s training and education services.

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