IBM lands Watson IoT contracts in Spain, Italy and the Netherlands

23 July 2018

Technology giant IBM has landed three new clients for its Watson IoT service in Europe. Spanish electricity grid operator Red Eléctrica de España, Italian elderly care provider Cooperativa Sole, and Dutch telecommunications operator Tele2 have all committed to using IBM’s cloud-based Internet of Things (IoT) technology platform as they embrace connectivity in their digital ambitions.

The convergence of several new technologies is lifting the Internet of Things to new heights. Smart devices connected to the internet and other devices are reinventing the way consumers live their lives and businesses run their operations – the potential of IoT is touted as one of the next major disruptors in the technology landscape. According to one estimate, by strategic consultancy McKinsey & Company, the total economic benefit of Internet of Things could hit up to $11 trillion by 2025, which would in that year equate to a staggering ~10% of the globe’s GDP. 

Connecting devices such as environmental sensors, wearables, machinery in factories or devices in homes, buildings or cars for instance, builds on complex software infrastructures, including systems and applications that facilitate processes such as information exchange, but also data analysis and security. One of the largest players in the realm, IBM, supports hundreds of clients globally with IoT landscapes and software through its Watson IoT suite of solutions. Among the firm’s client base are elevator manufacturer Kone, household appliances player Whirlpool, French national railway company SNCF, and three companies that more recently joined the firm’s roster: Red Eléctrica de España, Cooperativa Sole and Tele2. 

Three new clients in Europe

Red Eléctrica de España (REE), the sole transmission agent and operator of the national electricity system in Spain, has selected IBM Watson IoT technologies as part of its Intelligent Asset Management initiative project. The electricity system operator’s objective is to plan and optimise the maintenance and replacement activities of their strategic transmission assets (like substations and transmission lines) with the support of the IBM Watson IoT platform.IBM Watson IoTThe deal comes against a backdrop of growing pressure for large asset-heavy companies, such as utilities, to transform their assets portfolio. Many of Europe’s largest utilities companies have an ageing infrastructure, and are therefore facing major asset management replacement questions: how to best maintain assets? When to replace them? And what strategy is optimal in terms of costs, safety and service? 

Through using IBM’s Watson IoT solution, Red Eléctrica de España will gain better insight in the state of assets and operations, allowing for the design of enhanced optimisation plans and asset degradation models. A team of IBM Global Business Services (GBS) – the firm’s consulting arm – is currently working with REE on the implementation of the platform.

Sole Co-operativa, an Italian elderly care provider and provider of assisted living facilities, has implemented IBM Watson IoT at Oasi Serena, its residence in Rimini, Emilia-Romagna on Italy’s Adriatic Coast. In a pilot project, a variety of ambient and wearable sensors that detect the motion, heart rate, location and more of each resident have been installed throughout the facility, collecting and analysing data that is turned into insights which are used to alert nursing staff in real-time when residents' daily activity deviates from the norm. This way, nurses can easily prioritise visits to residents who are in urgent need of assistance, day and night.

According to IBM’s engagement team for Sole Co-operativa, the IoT-based solution has already increased operational efficiencies by 15% to 20%. “Caregivers are now increasingly more able to focus on core tasks. In addition, these new data insights enable Sole Co-operativa to reduce risk factors and improve personalised patients' assistance,” said a spokesperson of the firm.

Meanwhile in the Netherlands, telecommunications provider Tele2 has used IBM’s platform to build a new self-service app for its customers. The app was launched across the company’s customer base after a pilot showed that 82% of the users embraced the app’s functionality and value-added. The app allows customers to ask the app questions about their account, mobile plan, data usage and allowance as well as upgrades through a chat function. Leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning – powered by IBM Watson Assistant – Tele2’s app is capable of becoming smarter every day.

Last year IBM’s Watson IoT Platform was named a leader in the market for IoT software and solutions. “Cognitive analytics, innovative technologies and the ability to help transform organisations help place Watson ahead of the competition,” explained IDC’s chief researcher for the benchmark study.

Top digital marketing | e-business consulting firms in the Netherlands

10 April 2019

New research has identified which consulting firms in the Netherlands provide the best services in the area of e-business, e-commerce and digital marketing. A select group of thirteen consultancies lead the pack, headed by local player SparkOptimus, followed by strategy giants McKinsey and BCG, and the Big Four firms Deloitte and KPMG. 

Data sourced from Emerce, a Dutch platform which surveyed over 1,000 decision-makers that have in the past year hired consultants, outlines the consulting firms regarded as the country’s top e-business consultancies.

Amsterdam-based firm SparkOptimus, founded in 2010, received the largest number of plaudits. A rapidly growing client portfolio and stature has seen the consulting firm grow to a team of over 80 consultants, specialised in digital strategy and implementation. “The acknowledgment is further proof that our pragmatic and ‘getting it done’ approach to digital transformation and disruption is widely recognised,” said Tom Voskes, Managing Partner of SparkOptimus.

The presence of McKinsey & Company and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in shared second position is no surprise – the pair have consistently ranked in the top echelons of the list for several years now. McKinsey provides its digital marketing services through its Marketing & Sales and Retail (responsible for the firm’s e-commerce and omnichannel propositions) practices, while digital support is provided by McKinsey Digital. BCG has similar practices, with its digital capabilities bundled in the firm’s BCG Platinion (technology build and implementation) and BCG Digital Ventures (incubation and prototyping) arms.

Both Deloitte and KPMG also rank among the leaders in the Dutch consultancy space for e-commerce and digital marketing. They have similarly grown to be regular names in the ranking, with the duo of Big Four firms making the top 10 for the past three consecutive years. KPMG offers its digital marketing and e-commerce services from its Customer Advisory practice, which is part of KPMG Management Consulting, a unit within KPMG Advisory. The service line offers six main propositions, including Customer Experience, Marketing, Customer Data & Analytics, and Customer Centric Organisation. At Deloitte, the relevant services are provided by the Customer Strategy and Sales & Marketing units, both part of Deloitte Consulting. Technology and creative support falls under the responsibility of Deloitte Digital.Top digital marketing | e-business consulting firms in the NetherlandsHot on the heels of the top ranked digital marketing consultancy players is a group of six consulting firms. EY and PwC complete the presence of the Big Four, with Accenture another global giant that has made the cut. EY has several service lines that cooperate to cover its e-business portfolio, including Customer, Strategy, Program Management, People Advisory Services and Technology. At PwC, strategic work is picked up by Strategy&, while PwC Consulting houses the expertise around implementation and technology. Accenture meanwhile uses its Strategy division to provide management consultancy to its customers, while Accenture Interactive and Accenture Digital take on creative and technology work respectively.

Also on the list, Boer & Croon is a management consulting firm and provider of young executives with a track record of over four decades in the Benelux, DigitalWorks is a specialist in the field of digital marketing, branding and campaign management, while Online Dialogue specialises in conversion optimisation from digital channels and marketing campaigns.

Completing the list of the Netherlands’ top consulting firms for e-business and digital marketing are EY VODW – formed late last year when EY acquired local player VODW, a leading marketing & sales and digital consultancy – and Cognizant, a US-headquartered technology firm that has a strong presence in the digital customer experience landscape. 

The ranking comes at a time when investments in the field are booming. The rapid digitisation of business models, the rise of new consumer demands, and the emergence of online as the mainstream channel for business means that organisations face a burning need to adjust – or else risk losing their competitive edge. From the development of new online strategies and business models to the integration of e-commerce within a broader brick-and-mortar approach, or the optimisation of the customer journey to the implementation of supply chain systems to ensure on-time delivery to clients, external consultants are playing a key role in helping clients successfully navigate the challenges. 

Related: The 25 best management consulting firms in the Netherlands.