Innovating customer connect, digital experiences and business value, with cloud – in focus at the IBM Cloud Innovation Forum

By Sindhu MV|9th Dec 2016
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The recently-held IBM Cloud Innovation Forum in Bengaluru saw over 300 companies, which included enterprises, medium scale industries and startups, see the impact of leading innovative technologies, and understand how IBM, through its new-age tech and industry partnerships, is enabling a new level of disruption.

Opening the event, Vanita Narayanan, Managing Director, IBM India, gave a brief overview of the culture of innovation at IBM. She explained how cloud and cognition will power India’s digital transformation and why building stronger customer relationships is becoming more relevant for companies today. Sharing a few statistics, she said, “81 percent of global CEOs want to use technology to develop a stronger customer relationship. 59 percent of Indian executives said that they believe new revenue models are critical for the future. That’s where cognitive technology, cloud, big data, IoT, will come into play. That’s not all, success today depends on how you bring together these technologies and the entire ecosystem to make a real difference. It’s not just about capability or capital, but coming together to outthink.”

IBM: Creating value through innovation

Taking stage, Bill Hartwick, Vice President, IBM Cloud, explained in-depth about how the IBM Cloud can help companies realise value. He said, “Today, data is the new currency and cloud is one of the most incredible things in the world. The cloud is a kind of accelerator, enabling businesses to redefine their customer relationships, business models, and systems of engagement. The question that businesses need to ask today is – what do I do with the cloud to derive more value? The IBM Cloud is all about helping your business derive the outcomes you want, faster.”

He then deliberated on how IBM focuses on customer value and understanding industry needs better, thus setting it apart from the competition. He spoke about why IBM made bold moves such as adopting open source and making industry collaborations –Java, Linux, among others. He reiterated that, "At IBM, our goal is not to replicate, but build infrastructure that adds value.”

The impact of innovation

The next session saw startups and enterprises sharing their experiences on how IBM technology has enabled them to unlock business value and drive growth in this new cognitive era. Ankit Ratam, Co-Founder, Signzy, shared how the startup, which is building digital trust infrastructure, benefited by moving to IBM cloud. On the enterprise side, K S Gopalkrishnan, MD & CEO, Aegon Life, shared how IBM helped in co-innovation, Arun Kumar Parameswaran, Managing Director, VMware, spoke about how the partnership with IBM is enabling organisations to tap into the advantages of cloud with ease, and Kaushik Bagchi, Vice President and Head, Digital Enterprise Platform Group, SAP, explained about how the partnership is enabling digital transformation, co-innovation through cognitive solutions, and enhanced user experience. Speaking about IBM’s focus on innovation, Ashish Kumar, Vice President, IBM Cloud, Asia Pacific, said, “At IBM, we invest in tools, products, and processes which enable customers to innovate. And, by innovation, it doesn’t mean just patents, but how you bring a new thought in action to bring value. Innovation is about collaboration and not silos. A key component of this is cloud, because it makes innovation possible in economies of scale, which until now was challenging.”

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Ray Wang and the art of digital disruption

There was a visible burst of energy when Ray Wang, Principal Analyst and Chairman, Constellation Research Inc., began his session on disrupting digital business and the role of cloud in a post-sale, on-demand, attention economy. He began his session with some stark statistics. 52% of the Fortune 500 companies since 2000 are gone. 55%of the Fortune 500 companies lost money. “This is a ‘winner takes it all’ market,” proclaimed Wang.

He shared his perspective on why data is just the foundation of digital business and how that must be translated into insights to create differentiation and transform business models. Wang also touched upon why business-IT collaboration within a company is key to digital disruption.

He also shared 5 steps that every business today must get started on:

  1. Design new experiences and outcomes
  2. Develop a culture of digital disruption
  3. Apply new business model and technology
  4. Move from gut to data-driven decisions
  5. Co-create and co-innovate with new partners

Demos of IBM solutions on stage

The day saw IBM experts showcasing demos on how to use IBM solutions. Vidyasagar Machupalli, Developer Advocate and Technical Offering Manager, held a session on how to use Bluemix and translate an idea into an app within minutes, without writing a single line of code. Magesh Rajaman, IBM Watson Services, showcased how Watson can help companies innovate and unlock distinct advantages. He also showcased a demo of the chatbot. Highlighting the key feature of Watson, he said, “You don’t need to be a technical person to use Watson. It’s user friendly.”

Shalini Kapoor, CTO, IoT Ecosystem Solution, IBM, shared customer stories (Whirlpool, Kane, Hilton, and Under Armour) of how IBM’s cognitive solutions have been a game changer for IoT and how Cognitive IoT has transformed value creation by companies. The session was followed by an introduction to Bluemix Garage by Suparna Menon, Head, IBM Interactive experience. The Bluemix Garage is a consultancy with the DNA of a startup helping companies design, build and deploy, smarter solutions. “We help companies connect with customers through delightful customer experiences, humanise technology and build an experience. Today, a number of companies no longer exist because they haven’t focused on the end-user and their experiences.” She added, “We take a lean and user-centric approach in empowering clients. Also, you need to find the right problem to find the right solutions and we can help here with our experience.”

New tech on the block

The second half of the day saw IBM experts take the audience through new IBM technologies and their benefits. Dr Natraj Nagaratnam, CTO, IBM, said, “Earlier, security concerns about the internet kept people from putting their applications on the web. But today if you are not a e-business, you are no longer relevant. And, it is cloud that fundamentally presents an opportunity to radically rethink and transform security practices on the internet.” However, he added, “Today, there is nothing that is 100 per cent secure. It is all about if it is secure enough to manage risks which are constantly evolving.” Dr Natraj explained how, with IBM cloud, customers can connect people, devices and applications securely.

The talk on API economy by Dinesh Shetty, Executive IT Specialist, API Connect and Gateways, IBM, saw the audience gain insights on how to power digital transformation with an API-led strategy. Dinesh said, “APIs are no longer just a technical term. APIs have taken a new form of that of a product, and that which is fuelling collaborative innovation. It is the API economy that has the power to disrupt industries.” He then spoke on the IBM API Connect along with a demo.

Vamsicharan Mudiam, Senior Cloud Advisor Leader, showcased the IBM Hybrid Cloud Brokerage Solution and how it supports the full cycle of IT service delivery. Dave Gambrill, Business Unit Executive, Cloud Video Services, Asia Pacific, IBM, session helped to gather insights on transforming user experience with IBM Cloud video services. Dave stated, “Video will transform every single industry, every single market. Combining the power of cognitive technology and video, you can address every issue on the ground.” From product launches, to corporate communications and sales training, or reaching remote massive audiences with quality content, Dave shared how they are collaborating with startups and enterprises across the globe and meeting their needs with IBM USTREAM – the company’s enterprise video platform.

The talk by Dr. Sriram Raghavan, Director, IBM Research – India and CTO, on making Blockchain real for businesses delved deep into how Blockchains can reimagine the world’s most fundamental business interactions and open doors to invent new styles of digital transaction. He highlighted through case studies how Blockchain helps reduce transaction time from days to mere seconds, removes overhead costs and intermediaries, reduces risks, tampering, fraud, and crime, enables business transparency and gives way for integrating IoT in supply chain. Apart from the IBM Blockchain offering, he also shared details of the HyperLedger project and how developers can contribute to innovation.

The day drew to a close with an interesting session by Dave Anderson, Vice President, Research Director and Region Manager, Forrester, who said, “To succeed, companies must master both side, the digital customer experience as well as digital operational excellence. But, one must also remember that automation should not kill personality, in other words, it should not kill the emotional connect with customers.”

He shared three key factors that must be the priority for companies in 2017:

  • Building a sustainable customer led digital business
  • Becoming faster with cloud computing and automation
  • Becoming an insight-driven business.

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