IBM chief exec: Use pandemic as chance to develop new solutions

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Arvind Krishna, the Indian-born new CEO of tech titan IBM, said companies should take the pandemic as an opportunity to develop new breed of solutions and partnerships.

IBM chief executive Arvind Krishna

Krishna made the statement as he presided during the company’s flagship user conference – Thing Digital 2020 – which was conducted online for the first time. The event, held May 5 to 6, drew roughly 90,000 online attendees.

Prior to becoming CEO in January this year, Krishna served as senior vice president for IBM’s cloud and cognitive software. He led IBM’s 2018 acquisition of Red Hat for $34 billion – the biggest software acquisition in history.

Krishna succeeded Ginni Rometty, who became the first female CEO of IBM in 2012. He joins the ranks of Indian CEOs of major US tech firms which include Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Shantanu Narayen of Adobe Systems, and Sundar Pichai of Google.

At Think Digital 2020, Krishna said in his keynote presentation that companies should seize the opportunity to address the challenges brought about by the pandemic.

“History will look back on this moment when the digital transformation of business and society suddenly accelerated,” he said. “Technology platforms are the basis for competitive advantage in the 21st century.”

In a nutshell, Krishna sees two main drivers of innovation that companies can use in offering new services for their clients – hybrid cloud and AI.

With IBM’s financial services-ready public cloud environment, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and Software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers for the first time will be onboarding their offerings, both as a sign of trust with IBM’s platform and financial institutions participating with them.

Meanwhile, to enable Chief Information Officers (CIOs) in reducing costs and “future-proof” themselves through automated IT infrastructure, Krishna said IBM is introducing the AI-backed Watson AIOps offering built on Red Hat OpenShift.

In this manner, AI will be incorporated in self-detection, diagnostics, and real-time IT anomaly response across hybrid cloud environments.

By the year 2024, based on the predictions of market research firm IDC, companies can respond faster to customers and partners by as much as 50% compared to those who are not using AI. Without having the means to foresee IT incidents and outages, these organizations will not only lose reputation, but also revenue, according to IBM.

Analyst firm Aberdeen said that with automation introduced at an infrastructure level, CIOs can prevent loss not just through AI-powered predictions and real-time supervision but by having the flexibility to concentrate resources on higher-value work. 

Some of the new offerings are oriented towards 5G and edge computing, specifically, the emerging edge services heralded by the exponentially faster and extremely low latency of wireless 5G networks, IBM said.

These new offerings include enhanced emergency response, robotic surgery, and even connected-vehicle safety features — capabilities directly benefitting from latency brought down to a few milliseconds.

IBM Hybrid Cloud general manager Denis Kennelly said that IBM can help clients maximize the potential of edge computing and 5G. This involves hybrid multicloud offerings that combine the industry’s expertise and Red Hat OpenShift, and enterprise-ready open source container application platform based on K8s.

“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,” Krishna said.

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