IBM has given its first response to Chinese government concerns about security issues with its Smarter Planet initiative. A company official said that "paying close attention to security issues makes sense."
Smarter Planet is a strategy for using technology to infuse intelligence into the systems and processes the world runs on. Its applications touch upon everything from energy and banking to health care and farming. Its realization will require a profound shift in corporate management and governance approaches.
China's tech industry regulator, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), has been working to reevaluate potential security issues associated with Smarter Planet. The chairman and CEO of IBM Greater China, Qian Daqun, said the company is cooperating with a number of research agencies to solve problems with the strategy, and that security is a major topic. Qian said: "The key is how to help the country complete its (IT) transformation."
If the Smarter Planet program is to succeed in China, IBM will need to bring the government on board. But that could prove difficult.
"Regarding these new ideas and strategies from abroad, we must be enlightened and vigorously develop strategic emerging industries, but also must raise our vigilance and cannot fall under the control of anyone," MIIT Minister Li Yizhong said. "The U.S. tries to use its information network technology, for things as small as controlling one computer or one generator, and as large as controlling a whole industry, to control every country's economy."
IBM says that Smarter Planet will not compromise national or information security. An official at the company said "it won't affect the control government has over vital information."
China is one of the key markets where IBM wants to institute Smarter Planet initiatives; just last week IBM held its largest ever Smarter Cities forum in Shanghai. Kingdee Chairman and CEO Xu Shaochun said yesterday that his company will work with IBM to develop the high-end enterprise resource planning (ERP) market in China. The announcement is another example of a concrete measure IBM is taking to move toward closer cooperation with China on using technology to streamline business processes.