A wave of digital transformation driven by exciting new technology like artificial intelligence (AI) cloud computing is now spreading across every industry. The result of this is that a more diverse market of customers is increasingly implementing more complex infrastructure projects. This means that their technology providers need a higher level of expertise and deeper insights into industry-specific use cases.
In this piece I want to focus on one alliance which exemplifies this synergy: The long-standing partnership between IBM and Amazon Web Services (AWS).
For IBM, this has meant developing expertise across all of the AWS core offerings from generative AI to hybrid cloud architecture, taking in contact center transformation and digital twinning along the way. This knowledge is then built into its teams with specialized, industry-specific expertise to enable them to take clients from piloting and MVPs to scaling transformational deliveries that drive new business outcomes.
How Does The Partnership Work?
At the recent AWS Summit in London I caught up with Mark Fitch, IBM’ client partner for AWS in the UK. He was able to talk me through some of the insights he’s picked up working on AWS implementations for his clients. At the forefront of his responsibilities is enabling organizations to achieve change and growth through migration to cloud infrastructure. Today, this is a journey that involves navigating a wide range of delivery architectures covering multi-cloud (several providers) and hybrid-cloud (a mix of on-premises and cloud infrastructure) deployments.
Getting it right though, means they will benefit from AWS powerful, flexible and enabling suite of offerings, with the help of IBM’s industry-specialist sales experts and experienced system architects. These teams also work as a catalyst for expanding the growth of potentially transformative technologies like AI and hybrid cloud within their clients’ organizations.
Fitch tells me "So we partner very closely, we work with AWS on all their core offerings, everything from AI and digitalization, modernization, contact center transformation...
“Often we will get involved with very innovative, creative projects to help them work out their business case or their operating model, or we'll go and do minimum viable product work to get them started."
The Race to Net-Zero
One of the major catalysts for the migration of customers into the cloud is sustainability – AWS has stated that its companies typically reduce their IT infrastructure carbon emissions by 89% by migrating an on-premises system to their cloud. With companies increasingly seeing that improving sustainability drives growth and profit, this is a hugely important driver.
Fitch says “A lot of customers are trying to help the UK get to their 2050 net-zero objectives... we help them within a year to actually move from their existing contact center to a new contact center on AWS Connect."
As an example he cites work completed with the energy provider eOn. Their business is increasingly centered on delivering sustainable technologies including solar, EV charging and heat pumps. All of the new knowledge required to provide sales and customer services around these technologies meant a whole new contact center infrastructure needed to be developed. IBM managed this transition, involving the training of 1,000 agents across five business units, undertaken and completed within a year.
Fitch tells me “That’s really transformed the customer experience, improved their first-time-to-call-resolution metrics, made them more responsive and reduced costs – it’s been very successful.”
Another driver behind the move to the cloud is the increasing need for security solutions robust enough to stand up to the ever-growing dangers of cybercrime and attacks.
The big cloud service providers are widely considered to have achieved a high level of cybersecurity preparedness through their consistent and ongoing investment in this space.
Fitch says “We’re very conscious of issues around IP, ownership, privacy, misinformation, hallucination, security … so we have a very strong consulting proposition around helping customers with their operation model, and … embedding that in their organization in a safe and effective way.”
It’s hard to think of an industry where the need for cybersecurity is as intense as it is in healthcare. The IBM and AWS partnership was chosen by Genomics England, specifically for its strengths in this area, as the software developer partner. At the core of the partnership is the translation of very personal, biological and genomic data into information that can assist researchers around the world as they attempt to develop treatments for many different diseases and conditions.
The Future of the Partnership
Moving forward, fitch is particularly exited about the transformative potential of generative AI, and in particular the possibilities it holds for his customers. He expects that an increasing share of his workload with involve deploying AWS’s own solutions such as its Titan foundation model deployed on AWS Bedrock.
“We’re looking forward to working with AWS across these industry groups and helping our customers exploit generative AI”, he tells me.
“We will combine our world-class software, generative AI and automation, with AWS’s fantastic tech platform, to really help those industries transform – reduce their costs, grow revenue, and really reshape the customer experience. We’re really excited about that.”
Cementing its confidence in generative AI as an agent of change, IBM has recently invested in establishing its own Center of Excellence for the technology. More than one thousand consultants have been trained specifically in the use and deployment of generative AI, and are already engaging with clients across the globe. Success stories that have already been achieved include automated AI commentary delivered to millions of fans at The Masters
It has also recently announced a new service based around its Watson cognitive computing platform. Known as WatsonX, it is described as a “new data and AI platform” designed to allow businesses to quickly scale generative AI across multiple use cases, enabling them to train, tune and deploy models using IBM, AWS or open-source foundation models.
These all serve as good examples of ways in which even the biggest of tech companies can benefit by joining forces in order to share expertise and resources with their client. Combining deep industry-specific expertise with a world-class tech platform enables businesses of all shapes and sizes to prepare themselves for challenges they might face tomorrow.
This is reflected in the metrics – Fitch tells me that working together they have achieved the “highest NPS scores in the business” – “Customers love the outcomes from working with us.”
You can watch my webinar conversation with Mark Fitch here, where we dive deeper into the relationship between AWS and IBM, and what it means for their clients.