IBM CEO Arvind Krishna’s call to ‘develop new solutions, new ways of working, and new partnerships’ was reflected in the venue where he made his important address.
His keynote presentation kicked off Think Digital, a two-day virtual conference that had originally been scheduled as an in-person event in San Francisco.
Arvind Krishna’s inspiring message was that the disruption and uncertainty we’re going through has actually accelerated a digital transformation that was already underway.
In other words, as he also explained, it has been transformed into the “turning point” for many companies.
Why digital transformation matters
“There is no question that this pandemic is a powerful force of disruption and an unprecedented tragedy,” Arvind Krishna said. “But it is also a critical turning point. It’s an opportunity to develop new solutions, new ways of working, and new partnerships that will benefit your company and your customers, not just today, but for years to come.”
Although many enterprises’ vulnerabilities have been exposed throughout this unprecedented period, many companies have rapidly responded by swiftly adopting artificial intelligence and hybrid cloud-based IT architectures.
This has added and accrued benefits in that it enables them to build a continuously invaluable agility and resiliency into their networks, while also preparing them to embrace emerging technologies such as 5G and edge computing.
“I’m predicting today that every company will become an AI company – not because they can, but because they must,” Arvind Krishna confidently declared.
The digital transformation drivers
“The two dominant forces driving digital transformation,” Arvind Krishna explained, are AI and hybrid cloud.
According to the market intelligence firm IDC, by 2024 the enterprises that use AI will be 50% faster than those that do not.
Digital transformation, Arvind Krishna explained, means putting artificial intelligence at the centre of workflows, and using the insights generated from that process to constantly improve products and services.
“We believe that AI offers tremendous productivity potential,” he added. “As we look toward moving more and more work to remote, there’s going to be a need for automation, and AI can bring that to bear.”
“AI for IT”
Arvind Krishna also revealed a number of new IBM offerings designed to help companies accelerate their digital transformations.
The first, “AI for IT”, gives CIOs the ability to automate IT infrastructures.
Utilising Watson AIOps to self-detect, diagnose and respond to IT anomalies in real time, this immediately reduces costs and ensures a more resilient network.
Built on Red Hat OpenShift to run across hybrid cloud environments, Watson AIOps works with collaboration technologies at the centre of today’s distributed work environment, such as Slack and Box.
As Arvind Krishna went on to explain, one hour of an IT outage can cost as much as $250,000. Across the industry, about $265 billion could be wasted due to lost productivity due to IT outages.
The Hybrid “Imperative”
The second of Arvind Krishna “two dominant forces” is hybrid cloud.
The hybrid cloud model has distinct advantages over other IT architecture – advantages he called the hybrid cloud “imperative.”
An optimised transformation is powered by a hybrid cloud architecture using open source software.
This not only makes companies more secure, but also enables them to quickly adapt to shifting customer demands and changing market conditions.
Unlike existing IT networks, Arvind Krishna said, hybrid cloud adapts to the infrastructure that enterprises already have. It also frees them from being locked into any one vendor’s offerings.
Hybrid architectures, which can involve a combination of public and private clouds and on-premises networks, have the flexibility to process workloads closest to where the data is generated.
This is now a necessity in high-tech factories, Arvind Krishna said, while also making it easier to comply with different regional regulations on data use.
“Edge Solutions for a 5G Era”
The increasing interest of clients in the future of AI and hybrid cloud technology has served to make the introduction of 5G all the more important.
Of course, we’re also passing through an unprecedented period, a time when rapid Internet speeds are crucial to society’s recovery.
Arvind Krishna unveiled a new set of services to help businesses and telcos make the most of the opportunities presented by 5G and Edge, including IBM’s launch of “Edge Solutions for a 5G Era”.
“Edge Solutions” is a set of capabilities, services and partnerships that will allow enterprises and telecommunications companies to benefit from 5G computing.
“The 5G and Edge computing generation is coming quickly and is poised to have as much impact on enterprise computing as mobile phones had for consumers,” Arvind Krishna said. Seizing this imminent opportunity, he added, requires making the right IT architecture choices now.
“5G offers the potential, not only for much better speeds, much better latency, but really new cases of how enterprise IT can get used,” he said, explaining further that it highlights the need for 5G in places that cannot afford latency, including “on a shop floor or a hospital or inside an enterprise”.
IBM solutions, services and partnerships will ensure businesses make the most of the opportunities presented by 5G and Edge computing.
With new offerings built on Red Hat OpenShift, enterprises can autonomously manage workloads across a massive volume of Edge devices.
As 5G adoption expands, telecommunications providers will be enabled to quickly orchestrate virtual and container network functions, helping them provide new services.
“Pivot to new marketing opportunities”
“Technology platforms are the basis for competitive advantage in the 21st century,” Arvind Krishna declared. “They will determine how quickly you can pivot to new market opportunities, how well you serve your clients, how much you can scale, and how fast you can respond to a crisis like the one we’re facing today.”
Amongst an array of other ground-breaking offerings, he also said IBM would reveal a technical preview of IBM Cloud Satellite, which extends IBM Cloud services anywhere a client needs them.
Solutions will also focus on the supply chain, IT infrastructure, and remote working, along with using AI in medicine and more.
He also announced a programme for independent software vendors and SaaS providers, designed to help them demonstrate they meet the compliance, security and technical requirements to operate on IBM’s financial services-ready public cloud.
Is this the kind of future you and your clients are eager to embrace?
“History will look back on this,’’ Arvind Krishna said, “as the moment when the digital transformation of business and society suddenly accelerated.”