IBM Driving Efficiency For Cars

IBM’s research division unveiled new software that helps car

manufacturers and fleet owners sift through a glut of data about their

vehicles, sniff out trends and improve warranty coverage.

Called Quality Insight Solution, the software helps workers in the automotive industry search for

structured and unstructured data stored on anything from corporate databases

to personal computers.

This is a bigger task than it may seem.

Information about vehicles and fleets is gathered in various forms, as

warranty claims, maintenance records, call center logs, repair requests and

in online chat rooms and blogs.

The problem is that such information, 90 percent of which is text-based, is


put into a central repository and must be searched manually. This is

time-consuming and sets users up for mistakes, said Larry Lieberman,


manager for IBM’s automotive industry division.

“If you could somehow mine through the unstructured data and combine it with

the information from structured data and do analytics against that, you

could discover some new insights,” Lieberman said, explaining his group’s


Quality Insight will bring together information from a

variety of sources into a common database, and then develop a sort of

dictionary of terms that will help

the system find specific files or recurring patterns, said Lieberman.

Ultimately, this will help automakers and fleet owners, which deal with a

lot of money, better predict the performance of their vehicles. For example,

automakers might identify which parts are most likely to fail given the

expected wear and tear on a particular vehicle model. This is one way the

software can help solve some problems in the supply chain.

The new software comes at a time when warranty claims are costing the market

nearly $14 billion per year in the U.S., according to Linda Ban, global

automotive lead for IBM. This works out to $700 per vehicle and shaves off

one to 3 percent of total automotive revenues.

“That has a ripple effect on the total automotive industry, because the OEMs

are now pushing some of those warranty costs they have to pay down to the

suppliers and vendors that provide them with design, development and

production for components that go onto the vehicle,” Ban said in an


The product, which will be priced based on deployment size, is a combination

of IBM’s WebSphere Information Integrator OmniFind Edition and the

Unstructured Information Management Architecture (UIMA). UIMA is IBM’s


to create applications that can process text within documents and other

unstructured content sources, interpreting their facts.

The software is being sold through IBM’s Business Consulting Services, and

will include perks from Big Blue’s DB2 Content Manager and DB2 Warehouse,


with WebSphere Portal middleware.

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