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Innovation Requires Commitment to Collaboration

April 29, 2008
Collaborate Openly, Partner Aggressively and Innovate Continuously

“We’re taking and using customers’ deep insight into their businesses because innovation is at the intersection of insight and invention,” began John Brantley, general manager of IBM’s global chemical and petrochemical industries, in his keynote address at ABB Automation World this week in Houston. “This also is changing the nature and scope of innovation because open, multi-disciplinary, global collaboration enables new product and service innovations.”

ABB and IBM reached an agreement to begin formally collaborating four years ago, Brantley continued. He said their joint efforts are helping oil and gas companies extract fuel from deep-sea and other hard-to-reach sources, such as Petrobras’ new field with an 8-billion barrel reserve that’s located under 7,000 feet of water, 10,000 feet of rock and sand, and 6,600 feet of salt.

“Collaborate openly, partner aggressively and innovate continuously,” says IBM’s John Brantley, sharing words of wisdom for responding quickly to a rapidly changing competitive environment.
Brantley added that the top internal/inside-out sources of innovation are general-population employees, sales or service units, and R&D, while the top external/outside-in sources are business partners, customers and clients—rather than consultants and competitors.

“However, many companies still find it difficult to collaborate,” said Brantley. “I’ve seen failures where the top of the business wasn’t committed to the interaction required for cooperation. You need strong leadership for collaboration.”

Brantley reported that IBM spends about $6 billion per year and employs about 3,000 people on R&D, and that these people are assigned to different industries and customers worldwide. So far, he added, IBM has worked with ABB to integrate control and IT functions in several municipal traffic control systems and to add intelligent and dynamic management capabilities to reduce traffic congestion. They also partnered to help with data, signaling and traffic management in the 30-mile Gotthard rail tunnel under the Alps between Zurich, Switzerland, and Munich, Germany.

In addition, ABB’s CPM@Metals software and IBM’s Production Design Optimization Scheduling (PDOS) software have been integrated at a Japan-based steel manufacturer to help improve production by 60%. Algorithms in IBM’s software were combined with ABB’s functions to greatly streamline production-run scheduling, equipment change-outs and maintenance.

ABB and IBM also further aided StatoilHydro of Norway by adding new sensing capabilities, networking and integrating information systems. In fact, Adolfo Enrique, StatoilHydro’s former integrated operations director, reported via video that IBM and ABB helped his company gather and organize many kinds of data from systems on its oil platforms. “Integrating these operations helped us optimize them, and so we’re expecting a 5% increase in production and 30% less in operating costs. Last year, our integrated operations gave us $1.5 billion in added reserves, and we’re expecting to save an additional $60 billion between now and 2015.”

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