IBM wants IT to make the world a better place

planet numbers

IBM wants to use IT to make the world smarter, claiming that efficient systems would boost sustainability and, potentially, help address the issue of world hunger.

The company outlined its strategy to get the most value out of IT, recognising that businesses now had available to them high performance microprocessors, mobile telecommunications, energy efficient batteries and embedded intelligence to use in devices. And they're cheaper than ever before, according to IBM.

Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive for IBM, speaking at the company's Information on Demand (IOS) conference in Las Vegas, said that this was due to a technology shift that had the potential to make the world smarter' and more effective'.

"There's something that we can do to fundamentally change the world that we live in, making it more efficient, more effective, more liveable, more durable and more sustainable for ourselves and generations to come," he said.

Mills said that the world had problems due to "enormous" inefficiency, even though we have built "incredible industrial systems with incredible capabilities".

"Think about the water supply," he said. "It's on its way to becoming the scarcest commodity on the planet. Think of the world's food supply. There is hunger in the world today, and yet we produce enough food on the planet to feed everybody."

"85 per cent of the computing capacity in the world is idle. It's underused. IT is the largest consumer of electricity now on the planet. All these great devices are consuming a tremendous amount of physical resource, and yet we're not using them to the fullest possible efficiency."

Mills didn't go into major detail about how IBM could turn this vision into reality, but he used the examples of sensors and metering, which gave businesses the control and visibility of issues and ways to solve them.

Data integration was also important, according to Mills. Here businesses could get their data in the right format, organise it properly, deal with events, and "filter out the noise."

"We have to recognise that we haven't done these things as good as we could in the past," said Mills.

"We are learning from our experiences, and recognising that a lot of what we are collecting will be unstructured information. We need to bring organisation and structure to that," he added.