IBM CEO Arvind Krishna Think Digital 2020

Key Takeaways from a World-First Digital Event, THINK DIGITAL

The world’s very first digital-event experience, IBM THINK DIGITAL 2020 brought together a global audience of 90,000 people.

Taking place between Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th May, THINK DIGITAL focused on artificial intelligence, Cloud and 5G wireless technologies. It included more than 250 labs and sessions on business, digital transformations, and ways to use innovative solutions to tackle COVID-19 and accelerate recovery in its wake.

IBM’s new CEO, Arvind Krishna, opened up the event by addressing the unusual times we’re living through, regarding them as a “turning point” for many companies.

The disruption and uncertainty caused by the crisis has accelerated the digital transformation that for many was already underway, he said, adding:

“There is no question that this pandemic is a powerful force of disruption and an unprecedented tragedy. 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.”


More forward-thinking healthcare

Arvind Krishna was later joined by Rajeev Ronanki, Senior Vice President and Chief Data Officer of the giant health insurer Anthem.

AI and hybrid cloud are helping Anthem transform U.S. healthcare, Ronanki said, expanding on this by explaining how the pandemic has revealed the “significant shortcomings” of the current system.

He further explained how Anthem is using data and AI to make healthcare more forward thinking and less reactive.

“The opportunity that we have in front of us,” Ronanki said, “is to reshape healthcare into a more predictive, more proactive and more personalised holistic solution.”


Being more human in a world of high-tech

IBM’s executive chairman, Ginni Rometty appeared with businessman and Grammy-winning musician in a discussion entitled, The Need for Digital Inclusion.

“The world is super fragile,’’ answered when Ginni Rometty asked him what he thought might be the greatest lesson to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis.

“You took for granted the people at the supermarket, the people that clean the streets and took out the garbage,” he continued. “And it turns out those people are the most important people in society. That’s what I learned. And now in this digital age, what I learned is that we have to be more human. Everyone matters.”

Rometty agreed, saying that despite the current troubles, she remains optimistic.

“There is a way to make this digital era not only human,’’ she said, “but inclusive for everyone.”


Flexible architecture for the digital era

According to IBM President Jim Whitehurst, developing open architecture is a key objective.

The disruption caused by COVID-19 has shown why it’s so important for businesses to be capable of moving IT workloads whenever, wherever they’re needed, Whitehurst said.

“Now, more than ever, we see a dire need for speed, agility and flexibility.”

The global pandemic has provided a stress test to organisations everywhere, he added, underscoring the critical need for open technology architectures to help them come safely through even the most challenging business environments.


Caring and tech working hand in hand

Opening a session called Adapting to Emerge Stronger, Bridget van Kralingen, IBM Senior Vice President for Global Markets, called for compassionate leadership as business begins to bounce back from the pandemic.

Recognising that the recovery will be progressive and take time, she urged attendees to engage clients in new ways and to lead with empathy and courage.

“There is adapting to survive, and there is adapting to emerge stronger,” van Kralingen said as she discussed the importance of building business resilience and agility at scale.

“Adapting to survive is about grit. Adapting to emerge stronger is about resilience. And IBM will be with you every step of the way.”

Pointing to IBM’s partnership with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, van Kralingen explained how IBM enabled citizens and employees to access important COVID-19 information in less than one day, via Watson Assistant for Citizens.

With the aim of freeing Children’s Healthcare professionals to focus on patients, IBM also deployed a Watson paediatric assessment tool with pre-trained content to help parents identify children’s COVID-19 risks.


A five-point strategy to ensure cybersecurity

Addressing New Cybersecurity Risks is top of the agenda at all times, but all the more so in these unusual times of increased remote working.

Since February, there has been an 84% increase in the use of remote working tools such as video conferencing and virtual private networks (VPNs).

Mary O’Brien, General Manager of IBM Security, divulged that over that same period, IBM’s X-Force Security Intelligence team reported a 14,000% increase in phishing and spam attacks.

She was joined by Wendi Whitmore, Vice President of IBM’s X-Force Security Intelligence team, who outlined a five-point plan for making sure organisations stay safe and resilient during COVID-19 and beyond.

The five points include rehearsing incident responses, protecting devices, using multi-factor authentication, backing up critical data at an offline location, and protecting email.


Eight principles to better tech ethics

Entrepreneur and tech investor Caterina Fake explored The Tech Effect on Humanity.

“Humanising technology is an art and not a science,” she said, going on to set out eight core principles that will ensure technology products and services are both commercially viable and culturally inclusive.

Among them were empowering employees to speak up and “bring their ethics to work,” encouraging “cognitive diversity,” making sure that the “right people are in the room” when creative decisions are being made, and a willingness to make corrections, even if a project is well underway.


An evolving PartnerWorld, enabling greater agility

The new PartnerWorld programme and ecosystem initiatives announced at the event are specifically designed to grant partners the flexibility to engage in one or more pathways to success

IBM PartnerWorld now includes clearly defined routes for IBM Business Partners that create applications, develop code, integrate their intellectual property (IP), or deliver services with the IBM Cloud.

It’s an evolution that expands the programme framework to three specialised tracks: Build, Service and Sell.

Each track consists of tailored offers aligned with Competencies created to enable Business Partners to deepen their technical expertise and achieve customer success across the industries and workloads that matter most to their businesses.

With 58% of partner revenue now coming from their own IP, adding the new Build and Service tracks alongside the existing Sell track allows them to expand on models integrating and delivering cloud-based solutions and services.

David La Rose, GM, IBM Partner Ecosystem, said, “Our partners’ success is dependent on their adaptability and ingenuity when it comes to helping clients overcome these challenges, now more than ever. We’re counting on them to use IBM’s open, hybrid cloud approach to help clients discover new ways to solve problems during these uncertain times.”

To explore the numerous advantages resulting from the changes, visit PartnerWorld today.


New ways of working and a new optimism

In his opening address, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna spoke of the present circumstances as being a defining moment when the digital transformation of business and society suddenly accelerated.

“I’m predicting today that every company will become an AI company,” he confidently declared, “not because they can, but because they must.”

Are you and your clients seeking to differentiate yourselves by creating more innovative, responsive user experiences that are adaptive and readily available?

Then follow the continuously innovative development of IBM solutions designed to serve as building blocks of transformation and recovery, resilience and discovery.

You can also access and listen into a series of on-demand sessions specially created to ensure you can continue to benefit from the numerous highly-informative discussions that took place at THINK DIGITAL.

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