IBM bets on cloud, AI, IoT, blockchain to cater to businesses of all stature

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The combined impact of AI, automation, IoT and blockchain have started reshaping standard business and technology architectures.

Ajay Mittal, CDO & Director -Digital Sales & Commercial, IBM, shares the company’s go-to-market strategies, latest technology, digital transformation and much more

How are you leading the digital wave in the commercial segment across India/SA at your organisation?

The Digital Sales and Commercial Group of IBM is transforming the way it engages and partners with the ecosystem and lead customers on their digital transformation journey. As emerging technologies such as AI, automation, IoT and blockchain become pervasive, their combined impact has started reshaping standard business/technology architectures. Companies have piloted a lot of technologies and applications that created new revenue streams and built business models. IBM terms this as the first chapter of digital transformation.

Chapter 2 will be characterised by a shift towards a more transformative phase, where being digital is at the very core of the organisation. Most enterprises, whether large or midsized, today have only completed about 10 to 20 per cent of their cloud journey. The next 80 per cent of the migration must focus on shifting business applications to the cloud and optimising the entire business process from supply chain to sales. IBM helps our clients to build platforms of the future and move towards becoming cognitive enterprises leveraging hybrid, multicloud environments to deliver flexibility, agility, and cost-effectiveness. IBM has offerings across the lifecycle a business including cloud and AI solutions, world-class skills and expertise in various industries and multi-vendor environments.

As clients embark on their Chapter 2 journey, our strategy is pivoted on three key pillars of modern IT – AI, cloud and security – and that includes products, services and partnerships.

Artificial Intelligence: AI adoption in India is progressing rapidly on the maturity curve. Until recently, clients were still evaluating AI but in terms of “doing” something in AI they weren’t ready. The scenario has changed dramatically with clients rapidly adapting chat bots and voice bots as an external touch point as well as investing in their own data science and machine learning teams to write their own algorithms. In India, bulk of actual and advanced AI implementation is seen in smaller companies that are startups and SMEs. IBM is fully focused on providing AI to businesses so that they can transform and better serve their customers and employees. In 2019, we announced Watson Anywhere wherein we now make available the industry leading Watson AI technologies to run on any cloud, including competitors. IBM’s AI brings together latest technology, industry expertise, research capabilities and commitment to trust and responsible stewardship.

Cloud: As more companies start on their cloud journey a one-size-fits-all approach is no longer an option – they need to choose multiple cloud providers and clouds to best meet their needs. The IBM Cloud gives customers more ways to migrate, modernise and build innovative cloud apps—and easily connect them all. Hybrid cloud is estimated to be a UUS 1.2 trillion dollar opportunity and IBM has made big, bold bets to capitalise on this. This includes the launch of IBM Cloud Paks, the Cloud Migration factory, Cloud Application Innovation, IBM Garages, the IBM Cloud Integration Platform, etc. The acquisition of Red Hat significantly strengthens our position as a leading hybrid cloud provider, giving our clients the unique ability to build mission-critical applications once and run them anywhere.

Cyber security: When digital becomes the new way of doing business, so does the challenges and vulnerabilities. The 2020 IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index observed 80 per cent of ransomware attack attempts exploiting vulnerabilities of mid-size companies. AI in cyber security can consume billions of data points, generating deep insights and predictions which enables analysts to respond to security threats faster. IBM’s QRadar is now supported with Watson making it one of the best AI driven cyber security products and is now available in SaaS model.

How are you setting up the right skillsets to complement the technologies?

IBM has been creating and hiring “new collar jobs” – entirely new roles in areas such as cyber security, data science and artificial intelligence that requires the right skills, often obtained through vocational or on-the-job training. We have been investing in creating and scaling new programs that build skills through various initiatives along with the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Directorate General of Training (DGT), Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and Atal Tinkering Lab. In 2019, at the India Skills Summit, we announced number of initiatives

  • To train more than 1 million female students and provide education resources to more than 4 million teachers over three years.
  • Under these programs, to train 200,000 girls across India for STEM related careers – a comprehensive approach that combines technical capacity building with life and self-actualisation skills.

How are you empowering mid-sized enterprises for digital transformation by offering customised solutions?

97 per cent of mid-market firms now consider technology to be important for business success and most are already experimenting with cloud, AI and emerging technologies. IBM engages with mid-size companies from their very early stages of their digital journey, helping them prioritise and evaluate the potential business impact of the digital transformation. Mid-size customers are increasingly adopting cloud-based digital solutions. IBM offers industry-specific bundled cloud, AI, IoT solutions that addresses specific needs of clients in banking and financial markets, telecom, retail and automotive sectors.

We engage with clients who need a partner with strong technology capabilities as well as bring in an industry perspective to deliver a customised recommendation for their company. IBM helps clients in framework creation, identifying priority areas and building a solution framework around it as they move forward in their digital journey. Our capabilities extend from designing a client’s digital journey to its actual execution and post execution support that will modernise their business models, manage inventory, create innovative products and improve workforce productivity.

How are you engaging with customers of other verticals?

The Commercial business team is heavily invested in supporting our channel business ecosystem to drive broader engagements that plays essential roles in IBM’s strategy. IBM’s channel partners are a key entry point for mid-market companies looking to leverage our offerings in cloud, AI, IoT and blockchain. 75 per cent of IBM India’s business in hardware and software domain and 100 per cent of our commercial segment are channel-led. We are working with our partner community to accelerate the development and delivery of cloud and AI solutions to our clients and at the same time improve our partner end-to-end experience.

We also engage with the larger developer ecosystem to enable them in skills development and connecting them with other developer/open source communities around the world. Developers are a key influencer in decisions of technology usage in companies they work for. The IBM developer outreach combines a strongly connected, semantically linked network of code, content, and community and ensures that they are always up-to-date in IBM technology solutions – in turn enhancing their adoption across industries. We have seen more than a 300 per cent increase in active developers on IBM’s platform in less than two years and IBM India region has the largest developer base within IBM.


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