Hybrid cloud is a $1-trillion opportunity: IBM

Apart from the recently-announced initiative to spin off its managed infrastructure services into a separate entity, IBM is increasing its focus on India business. In an interview with BusinessLine, Sandip Patel, Managing Director of IBM India, shares the company’s plans. Excerpts:

How do you see the IT landscape evolve in India with Covid-19 pushing the boundaries of digital adoption in industry?

The pandemic has significantly accelerated the digital transformation journey of companies of all sizes and industries; what we would see happening in five or six years will now happen in a year or less. The question for enterprises is not “if” or “when” – it is “how fast”.

The IT landscape in India has also leapfrogged in the last one year with emerging technologies helping clients take advantage of the data paradigm and reshape standard business models. In fact, the increased push for digitisation has had a direct impact on hybrid cloud adoption. In the next couple of years, IBM believes that every company will become an AI company, not because they can — but because they must.

What is IBM India’s strategy for its various businesses this year?

Our cloud business is worth $25.1 billion primarily focused on as-a-service offerings, with AI capabilities to enable the power of data, and high-value cloud software and solutions generating more than a third of our revenue. Hybrid cloud is a $1- trillion opportunity. As a partner of choice, we will bring to the fore a new model of engagement that will enable us to create highly-experiential journeys through value selling for our clients — both digitally and through IBM Technology Garage sessions. A key element to our strategy is to win the architectural battle in the cloud. We have 2,800 clients (globally) using our platform, a direct positive impact of our focus in our hybrid cloud business. We also plan to elevate our ecosystem of partners with the ‘One Ecosystem’ mission. We believe that clients benefit most from an ecosystem of partners working together to co-create and co-innovate to offer the best platforms, products, and services.

With NewCo, how do you see IBM’s business growth in India?

The market for both IBM and NewCo is huge in India. We are confident that the joint business of IBM and NewCo will continue to grow as the client benefits from the added degree of focus that each company will bring. Co-creation and co-innovation will be key, and ecosystems will be important for both NewCo and IBM as we focus on client value. To that extent, in 2021, we will accelerate our investments to ensure we have the right capabilities needed to develop the next generation of infrastructure services. As an independent company, NewCo will be focused on what we do best — next-generation infrastructure services powered by lean AI and automation — we will drive growth and create new opportunities for clients, partners and employees and we are already seeing that happen. For example, our work with Vodafone Idea and Airtel. The spin-off allows us to take a very strong foundation and drive growth across the two fundamentally distinct business models.

What are some of the engagements IBM has with the government and how are you looking at expanding this in 2021?

IBM has been engaged with both the Central and State government for years now. We are working with the government in the areas of digitisation projects leveraging technologies like hybrid cloud, IoT, data & AI and security. We helped the India Council of Medical Research and the Andhra Pradesh government build AI-enabled chatbots to enable frontline workers during the pandemic. Today, 11 out of 13 public sector banks are running their mission-critical workloads on IBM Power Systems. In addition, with the Government of India announcing the amalgamation of 10 public sector banks into four megabanks, the banks had to refresh their compute and storage to address the increased transaction load and enhance the customer experience. Of these four resultant entities, three banks are running their core banking systems and all four banks run their mission-critical workloads on IBM Power Systems.

Banking is another big area of focus for IBM. How do you see banks evolve in the adoption of tech, specifically with Covid changing the customer behaviour more towards digital?

Today, the banking industry faces a rebirth by necessity. In India, we see changes are occurring on a few fronts. First, there is a clear acceleration in cloud adoption. The increased digital consumption of banking services has forced financial institutions to build capabilities around rapid scalability and resiliency. Second, leveraging insights to drive more personalised services and deliver it through digital channels more effectively and at scale. IBM is instrumental in designing and implementing the data warehouse capabilities at SBI. In the case of the private sector, ICICI Bank’s LiGo — a virtual assistant, is powered by IBM Watson AI to converse with policyholders addressing their queries and providing personalised account-specific information.

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