Executive Insights: On transformation, cloud and automation with Brenda Harvey, General Manager, IBM APAC

The rate of innovation is set to accelerate further, and with that comes opportunity to improve productivity and more deeply redefine job

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Research indicates that enterprises have accelerated their adoption of technology innovation in response to events over the past 18 months. McKinsey survey suggests that the pandemic has accelerated digitization of customer interactions by several years. Successfully accelerating digital transformation will rely on the adoption of technologies such as hybrid cloud, AI and automation. We expect the CIO to play a major role in accelerating this transformation across the organization.

Brenda Harvey, General Manager, IBM, Asia-Pacific, sat down with us to share her thoughts on transformation, automation and cloud.

How are people thinking about business automation?

Brenda Harvey: Throughout the pandemic, we have seen our customers focus their resources on creating seamless experiences and launching new products and services to deliver those experiences. This has created an urgency to accelerate digital transformation.

As organizations look to serve their customers even better, technologies such as hybrid cloud, and AI and automation, are becoming critical. By leveraging these technologies organizations are able to connect various business operations, redefine processes, and unlock value.

In fact, we saw that by leveraging  AI-powered automation and hybrid cloud, our customers found ways to deliver enhanced value for customers – from 6x faster turnaround time for bill payments, to reducing process completion times by 90%. Businesses are seeing an increase in operational efficiencies, reduction in manual processes, and overall incremental transformation. Our customers are seeing hybrid cloud and AI-powered automation as core to their competitive advantage.

What role does a CIO have in developing a strategy around this?

Brenda Harvey: Transformational CIOs understand how they can deploy technology solutions that support business and accelerate business outcomes. From an IT perspective, the design and deployment must be synergetic to the existing real estate and help unlock value from investments that have already been made.

By leveraging hybrid cloud, CIOs can build their processes and workflows once, and run them anywhere to support desired business outcomes. For example, take a manufacturing company whose data needs to be processed at the edge. By adopting a hybrid cloud approach, they could leverage the data at the point of capture and relay that back securely to help make better decisions.

To help CIOs and business leaders accelerate digital transformation, IBM has developed IBM Cloud® Paks. These are AI-powered software for hybrid cloud that can help customers fully implement intelligent workflows in their business. Built on Red Hat® OpenShift®, they can develop applications once and deploy them anywhere on any cloud.

IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation specifically helps achieve better business performance by applying intelligent automation to help transform core operations. It includes the broadest set of AI-powered automation capabilities in the market – content, capture, decisions, workflows and RPA.

With IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation, CIOs looking to drive better business performance can discover critical business processes, automate tasks, optimize and create a cycle of improvement.

Can you give me an example of all of this in motion?

Brenda Harvey: One example we can point to is ENN Energy Holdings, a utility company in China. When working from home became mandatory, requests for VPN permissions, password and resets skyrocketed. By taking half a day to set up a virtual agent leveraging IBM Robotic Process Automation (RPA), we enabled 1000s of employees to work remotely. Previously, handling this volume of requests would have taken days, if not weeks. This translated to millions of dollars in savings and is an excellent demonstration of automation at scale.

Just at the rate that things are changing, organisations are going through that transformation process taking the first steps in AI and automation. What will they be looking at, in the next stage?

Brenda Harvey: We are going to see more automation at the edge. 5G networks are going to add significant amounts of data by enabling capturing of information at distributed locations, so AI and automation are going to play a big role. For example, fortifying your typical threat detection with zero trust will be a key focus for CIOs. This requires a broad portfolio of security capabilities and experience. Essentially automation will help rapidly solve and iterate on security issues that occur as part of a zero-trust practice with orchestrated actions and common playbooks.

You will also see instances of self-service automation. Imagine initiating work in natural language, with a powerful AI engine then combining pre-packaged skills, on-the-fly and in-context, based on organizational knowledge and your prior interactions – all in tools like email and Slack – to increase productivity.

Finally, what is the one thing you will like businesses keen on AI-powered automation to act on immediately?

Brenda Harvey: A deep dive into what constitutes intelligent automation could be a good starting point.

I can recommend the buyer’s guide to intelligent business automation from IBM. I would also encourage businesses looking to identify and prioritize high-impact, quick-win automation projects, to explore a free half-day Automation Solutioning Workshop with experienced automation subject matter leaders.


IBM Transformation, Cloud & Automation Series

Please read the 1st article in the series, “Executive Insights: On transformation, cloud and automation with Brenda Harvey, General Manager, IBM APAC”, here.

Please read the 2nd article in the series, “The Starting Point for Business Transformations: Start Small and Win Over Stakeholders and Customers Alike”, here.

Please read the 3rd article in the series, “Automation in action; it’s not just hype” here.

Please read the 4th article in the series, “The Proof is in the Numbers: AI-powered Automation Driving Measurable Outcomes”, here.

The final article in this series will be coming up soon, bookmark and stay tuned for more.

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