The key to business success is Hybrid Cloud + AI.
If it had to be all be summed up in one single sentence, that was the key takeaway from Italy’s Think Digital Summit.
The virtually-enabled convention explored numerous themes, many of which have taken on additional importance due to the unprecedented situation we’re all experiencing.
In the new paradigm discussed, it’s innovative technologies that will guide the choices of individuals and companies to lay the foundations for a solid and sustainable economic recovery.
And the most effective of those innovative technologies are those based on open, secure, automated platforms, enabling the building of solutions that can be easily deployed anywhere from on prem to the edge, without restriction or lock in.
RedHat OpenShift is leading the way, working together with an increasingly sophisticated blockchain and ground-breaking computing capabilities.
The Opportunities unveiled by Remote Working
One of the key topics up for discussion, as you’d expect, was smart, remote working.
Expanding on the need to draw up new priorities, Laura Nalon, Talent & Engagement Practice Leader IBM Italy, explained that, “With the lockdown, business continuity and people have become the priority of companies…New formulas and approaches have become necessary to enhance all those nuances of remote coordination and collaboration.”
The answers lie, she added, in “further evolution, adequate management of the impact of change, including cultural and not only technological change.”
Setting out “the need to take structured paths to continue to innovate”, she went on to describe IBM’s approach to reorganising the remote work system:
“We focused on three elements: accelerating culture and collaborative working methods that improve ingenuity and productivity; spreading the skills of the future by promoting online coaching of agile practices and remote leadership; developing continuous and personalised virtual assistance systems for the entire distributed corporate population to provide certified, immediate responses.”
Giorgio Anselmi, IBM Italy Technical Sales Manager, detailed the new technologies and tools being made available to support Smart Working, “enabling, strengthening and monitoring the activities carried out.”
The workforce, he added, “must be made more flexible but above all adaptable to rapid change; the activity must be rethought digitally, through collaborative support tools – contents, workstreams, virtual and digital assistants, and the support of Artificial Intelligence in decisions.”
Tools for real-time control of the operations carried out (such as KPIs monitoring) are necessary in order to scale and respond quickly to changes in the workload, he said, concluding that “the machine’s activity must be an enhancement, an aid, to human work.”
A key element enabling remote work is digital infrastructures, a subject explored by Martino Bedani, Associate Partner IBM Italy.
“When we talk about Smart Working, technological infrastructures play an important role, a role of enabling the transformation. The fundamental elements of this transformation are certainly, first of all, flexibility of place and flexibility of time, together with the rethinking of spaces and new services for users.”
IBM has adopted a new methodological solution named Persona Assessment, he revealed, where “person” refers to a user profile with specific IT needs enabling enhanced job performance. “A series of questionnaires takes a sort of photograph of the use of technology in the company and from here we start to build a road map of implementations with the user at the centre.”
And speaking from the stage of his Solomeo theatre, the enlightened entrepreneur CEO Brunello Cucinelli actually sees our need to work from home as an opportunity to find a more satisfactory balance between work and private life.
In a highly inspiring speech drawing on quotes from saints and philosophers, he said, “I believe we will have a great balance between technology and humanism…we must find a balance between Smart Working and live work.”
The Merging of Human Capital and Digital Environments
IBM Italy President and CEO Enrico Cereda similarly declares that “smart working is working”.
There are two main areas that should be improved, however: Workflow and Workplace.
Optimising Workflow will come through the digitalisation of processes for all companies and enterprises, via technologies such as Cloud, hybrid cloud and AI.
While enabling people in the Workplace will be achieved mainly through utilising Augmented Intelligence: “AI is ‘machine + human capital’, used to grow, thrive, and overcome challenges.”
He also introduced the informative economist and columnist Carlo Cottarelli, who expanded on the need to leverage the EU recovery fund to optimise the “human capital” of people and the “physical capital” of infrastructures and digitalisation.
Stefano Rebattoni, Vice President Enterprise Sales IBM Italy, similarly included a well-known businessman in his own segment – Benoit Hanssen, CTO WindTre, the famous Italian mobile phone company.
As we learned from Benoit Hanssen, WindTre is a concrete case study describing how Watson Cognitive solutions are crucial when it comes to improving the efficiency of company processes, along with granting more value to customers.
Stefano Rebattoni went on to expound on how the “personal environment” has now indelibly merged with the “professional environment”.
“Now more than ever, ‘human capital’, human beings, are linked and connected to digital environments.”
Lessons we’ve recently learnt include three major “dimensions of work”:
“Digital business models adoption… we understand that the end user…is the centre of everything and the ‘engine’ that drives the economic recovery.”
“Agility and speed…the new society and new reality are built on slim and agile models.”
“Operational efficiency…AI to replace the ‘old’ models based on statistical forecasts that can no longer be applied because they were based on old trends.”
He added that “more consumers are now buying on-line; the 75% of people who had never bought anything on the internet are now doing so.”
Facilitating the Necessary Transformations
Cloud is at the heart of any company transformation, according to Alessandro La Volpe, Vice President of IBM Cloud & Cognitive Software, IBM Italy
He stipulated that “it should be hybrid”, one reason being that “you shouldn’t drive the mechanical arm of a company through cloud because in this particular situation the application and data should be in the same place – where the mechanical/robotic arm is.”
The other “paramount” is AI, for “in future every company will be an AI company, like in the past we used to say that every company would have become an Internet company.”
Amongst a series of announcements regarding new innovations being made accessible, he also mentioned that the Public Cloud launched last year for banks and financial institutions is now also available for other industries.
Partner Experiences: the Case Studies
One of the emerging start-ups in the clinical and technological sector, PatchAi has drawn on Machine Learning, AI, and IBM Watson Assistant natural-language capabilities to create a cognitive platform for the collection and predictive analysis of data reported by patients in trials.
A virtual assistant supporting both patients and clinical research, it already has Novartis Italia among its first customers.
Through similarly utilising Machine Learning, in combination with Analytics Network technologies, Banca Alpi Marittime has optimised the credit process, enabling the automatic approval of over 50% of current account credit lines.
Methodologies-leader Nodes has also leveraged Advanced & Predictive Analytics, in this case to help UMBRAGROUP SpA to reduce production waste by 30% and improve efficiency and process governance.
Addfor has unveiled yet another role for AI, developing an automatic-detection platform for video surveillance and public and private security that has extra applications in monitoring social distancing violations.
Bringing Something New to Life
The CMO IBM Italy, Luca Altieri, brought in a personal note to his own speech when his son asked him if he wanted to be “contento” (that is, stay in his comfort zone) or “felice” (bring something new to his life) in the future.
And they both agreed that they would prefer to be “felici”: and we have the tools, resources, and people to work with to make this happen.
Are you and your clients part of this new, imperative transformation?