said it would spend a quarter of a billion dollars over the
next year and a half to grow its RFID
Big Blue launched Sensor and Actuator Solutions on Monday, a new division
under the umbrella of its Pervasive Computing division. The company said
this line of business grew 36 percent last year, generating more than $2.4
billion dollars in revenue in 2003. IBM said it sees the money as a strategic
investment in a high-growth, emerging business opportunity.
The Sensor and Actuator Solutions group will take software that the
services group has developed for individual clients and turn it into
“IBM now has a dedicated software group focused on developing software we
can bring to different industries for-industry specific solutions,” said
Sean Campbell, the IBM Business Consulting Services executive responsible
for leading RFID initiatives in the distribution sector.
“RFID represents a very good opportunity for IBM extends across all its
lines of business,” he said. IBM can profit from consulting with clients on
how and when to roll out RFID, from selling them software and also by
providing technicians from the Integrated Technology Services group to
install and maintain the applications and hardware.
Sensor and Actuator Solutions plans to release new WebSphere-based RFID
middleware product to collect, integrate and manage data obtained from RFID
tags and readers from customers’ distribution centers and stores before the
end of the year. The goal is to eventually sell systems that can provide
real-time virtual views of the complete shipping process, so that customers
can pinpoint the exact location of goods at any stage of the journey from
central warehouses to retailers’ shelves.
Since launching its RFID division a year ago, IBM has made steady
commitments to the industry. It’s also used RFID technology to improve operational efficiency in the company’s
Fishkill, New York plant.
In July, IBM launched WebSphere
Product Center, product management middleware that keeps track of the many
different attributes of a particular product, everything from the color of
its packaging to the standard weight to instructions for storage. The
middleware works with an Oracle
database to let
businesses share product information with internal users and external
customers, manufacturers, and suppliers.
In September, it launched a
suite of RFID services targeted toward smaller enterprises and vertical
sectors. The offerings are designed to be cheaper and easier to roll out.