April 20 (SeeNews) - The latest hybrid cloud and AI-based technologies, combined with agile methods, allow companies to fully explore a technological solution without making a significant financial investment upfront, Ivan Vulev, chief technology officer at IBM Central Eastern Europe (CEE) Territory, said.
"One of the main challenges businesses are facing today, whether they are operating in financial services, government, telecommunications or other industry, is the need for personalised solutions that are tailored to their specific industry needs, fast to implement and outcome-focused. The time has come for a different approach that leverages the latest open technologies in hybrid cloud and AI combined with agile methods which help companies test market fit quickly and expand solutions using real-time data," Vulev told SeeNews in a recent interview.
"Technology selling has changed," Vulev said. "Clients want to experience the technology in the context of their infrastructure, cloud choices, and environment. They expect a solution created from an outside-in, hands-on approach that is centred around their business problem."
In response, IBM has been investing in experiential selling, client engineering, customer success management, expert lab services and deep technical expertise.
In 2021, the company announced the expansion of its client engineering team for customers and business partners in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Today, that team operates out of three locations – Prague, Warsaw and the new squad in Eastern Europe, established in autumn 2022. The Eastern Europe team is dedicated specifically to co-creating solutions with clients and IBM business partners from Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia.
The IBM client engineering team co-creates solutions with clients and IBM ecosystem partners in real time, to speedily solve their industry challenges. The team of engineers, developers, architects, data scientists and designers is helping companies digitally transform with hybrid cloud, AI, automation, sustainability or security technologies. The team is providing services either on-site, at IBM or client premises, or remotely to clients across various industries, including some of the most highly-regulated industries. Its clients include Bulgaria's Energy and Water Regulatory Commission, the Pension and Disability Insurance Institute of Slovenia, ZPIZ, and Slovenian IT company Bilumina, among others.
For the Bulgarian regulator, IBM worked out a solution that enables it to visualise trends in the energy market and obtain insights into fraudulent activities, using automated algorithms to flag potential manipulations. At ZPIZ, the IBM client engineering team and technical sales ran a Proof for Value (PoV) for IBM Process Mining based on a selected business process challenge from the company's environment. The PoV resulted in a successful solution evaluation, bringing valuable information for future optimisation and improvements to the process. For their part, Bilumina built a retail Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution using IBM technology and later moved it to the IBM Cloud.
One of the key benefits of the IBM client engineering model is that it allows customers to directly engage with the technology and fully explore its potential without having to make a significant financial investment upfront. The IBM engineers and developers work side-by-side with the company's clients to identify specific pain points and solve critical business and technical challenges from the users’ perspective. Finally, the team designs a solution that is tailored to each client's needs - in most cases, within six to eight weeks - which clients can test.
LEVERAGING THE POTENTIAL OF HYBRID CLOUD
Hybrid cloud and AI have been at the centre of IBM's strategy over the past years, in line with market trends. A recent study by IBM showed that 77% of global respondents reported using a hybrid cloud approach.
"As we look to 2023, leaders are now shifting to focus on leveraging the full potential of hybrid cloud," Vulev said.
The IBM CIO Study revealed that CIOs in CEE see cloud, IoT, automation, 5G, and AI as their top investments over the next three years. A similar set of focused areas is observed as IBM engages with its clients in Eastern Europe.
"Businesses in Eastern Europe will continue to focus on solutions that will result in cost savings, efficiency, increased security and opening new business opportunities. Companies need a strong technology core and moving ahead, they’ll need to re-evaluate how they manage their assets, infrastructure, and talent," Vulev said. In addition, sustainability continues to climb up the corporate agenda – with nearly half (48%) of CEOs citing sustainability as one of the highest priorities for their organisation.
The CEOs in CEE identify sustainability as their greatest challenge over the next 2–3 years. However, only one in five CEE CEOs already drive sustainability through open innovation with business partners and only 38% of them report having in place a strong digital infrastructure prepared to scale and deliver value from new investments.
Large Language Models (LLMs), on which the ChatGPT technology is built, too hold a lot of promise, especially in conversational AI and by adding value to enterprise workflows, Vulev said, adding that IBM has been using them over the past few years.
"Our offerings like Watson Assistant and Watson Discovery leverage LLMs to provide natural language processing and understanding capabilities. IBM also offers embeddable AI libraries that utilize LLMs, which business partners and customers can use to build and deploy AI applications," he noted.
IBM has developed a set of principles for use of AI in ethical, secure, and responsible manner, guiding the development and deployment of enterprise grade AI solutions, Vulev also said. He also noted that IBM will continue to search out opportunities to incorporate and wield technologies of this sort into its offerings when it can ensure they are utilised in a fit-for-purpose way, ready for enterprise adoption and are ethical and trusted.