Over the past year and a half, life has been a massive and challenging challenge for business technology providers and their customers and partners. Because the COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to rethink fundamentally the way workers, managers, and executives performed essential tasks, providers responded with innovative solutions and services.
Organizations adopted and deployed these offerings at unprecedented speeds, achieving in weeks or months what would once have taken years. The result led to unusual or unique successes. As IBM CEO Arvind Krishna pointed out during his IBM Think 2021 keynote address last week: “I dare say that 2020 was the first time in history that spending on digital transformation it accelerated despite the decline in GDP ”.
As vaccines control the pandemic and things slowly return to normal, how will companies preserve or expand the transformative solutions they adopted? At IBM Think, Krishna and his leadership team offered valuable information and new solutions to consider.
Practical innovations in AI
Think 2021’s announcements focused primarily on areas that have long been IBM’s focal points (and some of its competitors): hybrid cloud, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing. What was different this time was the practical and business value that the new solutions and features offer.
Take AI, for example. Many, if not most, AI projects and efforts are focused on or have been designed to support large-scale efforts that support the visionary vision and willingness of their owners to meet major challenges. This can be dramatic and problematic, given the frequency with which the complexity of these projects leads to setbacks, delays, and failures. There is also a trend toward the confusion of the “forest for trees” that manifests itself in confusing the results of complementary efforts, such as machine learning for AI itself.
During its decades-long involvement in AI R&D, IBM has been involved in its own involvement in moon projects. However, the AI solutions announced at Think were more suited to the line of practical innovations designed to maximize reliable business profits. For example, AI enhancements drive the new AutoSQL feature in IBM’s Cloud Pak for Data that allows customers to receive data queries in multi-cloud hybrid environments (local, private clouds, or any public cloud) up to 8 times more quickly and at half the cost of previous solutions. Cloud Pak for Data’s new smart data tissue will automate complex management functions through AI to discover, understand, access, and protect information in distributed environments.
Another new AI-driven IBM solution is Watson Orchestrate, which is designed to increase employee personal productivity in sales, human resources, operations, and other business functions by automating and simplifying business processes. The Watson Orchestrate Artificial Intelligence Engine automatically selects and sequences the pre-packaged skills needed to perform tasks and connects them with associated applications, tools, data, and historical details. No computer skills are required for users. Instead, they can use natural language collaboration tools, such as Slack and email, to get the job done. Watson Orchestrate also connects to popular applications, including Salesforce, SAP and Workday.
Similarly, the new Maximo Mobile solution uses Watson AI to improve the performance and productivity of field technicians working on bridges, roads, production lines, power plants, refineries and other industrial and infrastructure physical assets. Users can use Maximo Mobile virtually anywhere, even in remote locations, to access operational data, human assistance, and digital twins (virtual representations that act as real-time digital counterparts to physical objects or processes) to complete vital tasks.
Complementarity of AI
The practical combination of AI and automation to better manage or perform complex processes was one of the deepest topics of IBM Think. In his lecture, CEO Krishna noted that automation is nothing new: “It has been around for centuries. Industrial automation has given manufacturing companies economies of scale and advantages in the cost of manufacturing things such as “Deepest economies of scale are no longer just about manufacturing. It’s about producing innovative ideas from people who take advantage of technological automation to leverage their knowledge.”
Krishna addressed a common concern: that automation with technology can damage or eliminate traditional jobs. “The future is not about how AI will replace jobs, but how it will change jobs by incorporating what I call‘ complementarity of AI. ’What I mean by that is that artificial intelligence is very good at achieving things we don’t particularly like and vice versa. “
Krishna also noted that AI-compatible automation can have a noticeable impact on both workers and companies. “Research shows that high-power automation can help you recover up to 50% of your time by focusing on what’s most important. IDC predicts that by 2025, artificial intelligence-driven companies will experience a significant increase in customer satisfaction.Let me put a number: up to 1.5 times higher net promoter scores compared to the competition.The technology of leveraging human ingenuity is what will generate today a competitive advantage ”.
This is a profound message for IBM customers and partners, many of whom have been negatively impacted by Covid-19. As the pandemic subsides and companies work to regain momentum, the significant improvement in both process efficiency and customer satisfaction would be hugely beneficial.
Other classified ads for Think 2021
Of course, AI-infused automation was not the only issue highlighted at IBM Think. The company also announced other new solutions focused on making life easier for business IT professionals, such as Project CodeNet, a large-scale open source dataset consisting of 14 million code samples, 500 million lines of code, and 55 programming languages. Project CodeNet is designed to enable the understanding and translation of code by AIs and includes tools for source-to-source translation and the transition from legacy code bases to modern code languages. Another new AI-enabled solution, Mono2Micro, is a WebSphere Hybrid Edition capability designed to help companies optimize and modernize hybrid cloud applications.
Not in vain, IBM announced major advances in its quantum computing efforts. Qiskit Runtime is a new software solution contained and hosted in the hybrid cloud. In combination with improvements in software and processor performance of IBM Q quantum systems, Qiskit Runtime can increase the speed of quantum circuits (the basic blocks of quantum algorithms) by 120X, greatly reducing the time required to perform complex calculations, such as also chemicals. modeling and analysis of financial risk.
Think 2021 featured testimonials from numerous business customers, including Johnson & Johnson, Mission Healthcare, NatWest Bank and CVS Health, who highlighted the benefits they are reaping with IBM solutions, including hybrid cloud, Watson’s AI and modernization. of IT. IBM also unveiled new skills and training in areas such as hybrid cloud infrastructure, automation and security. These were developed as part of the $ 1 billion investment the company has pledged to support its partner ecosystem.
So what were the latest IBM Think 2021 takeaways? First, the company and its leadership focus on helping customers and business partners survive the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and prepare them to thrive as business and daily life resume.
In some cases, companies will expect to return and recover their past trajectories and the IBM solution portfolio should serve them well. But in many other cases, companies will be pushing for a “new normal” by adopting new and emerging innovations, including AI, advanced automation, and hybrid cloud computing. These organizations should have come out of Think 2021 knowing that IBM has its back, either by providing the offerings they need immediately or by investing in new solutions and services that support future growth.
One last point about IBM’s efforts in AI: Think 2021 messaging doesn’t mean the company is abandoning large-scale projects or long-term goals. But instead of focusing mostly or entirely on remote projects, IBM’s new solutions with “AI complementarity” show that the company has its feet firmly on the ground. This business-focused message should match IBM customers and business partners.