citi mobile challenge

by Joshua Whitney Allen

Customer successes, process, and promise kick start InterConnect 2015

IBM announces new innovations in hybrid cloud, Bluemix

Published February 23, 2015


IBM, its partners, and a good segment of its customer base flew into Las Vegas this week for InterConnect 2015, one of the biggest cloud and mobile conferences in the global IT calendar. Expectations of sun and warmth have been widely frustrated, as a steady Sunday rain met travelers and chilled the city. Yet as the show got started Monday morning with a dazzling general session, the thousands of attendees—poised to spend on cloud and mobile solutions— saw a slick, engaging exhibit of cloud’s usefulness as a business technology.

InterConnect 2015, Big Blue’s megashow covering cloud and mobile solutions, has drawn thousands of professionals to four days of keynote sessions, breakouts, networking, and parties. For the guests, many representing markets that are growing their IT spending plans, the show will be a moment to examine the worth and risks of mobile, cloud, and analytics investments. These professionals are ready to spend money on the concepts—if the concepts work. This willingness could scarcely present a more ideal opportunity for IBM.

The event comes as the tech firms that sell cloud technology, endlessly lauded as a transformative force, must demonstrate the concept’s real-world performance. The cloud and mobile conversation is entering a sophisticated stage, the heady slogans about the game-changing character of cloud seemingly losing their potency. Firms want to know exactly how the cloud can support their resources and realize their goals. Anticipating this bend in the arc of hype, IBM opened InterConnect with Robert LeBlanc, Senior Vice President of IBM Cloud, stating a theme that would appear again and again in the 90-minute general session: A new phase of cloud and mobile business has begun; whether just beginning or already underway, true disruption is happening.

InterConnect is a festival of huge ambitions and small touches. You register with a touch or two of an iPad, easy and fast, and then take your seat to hear a MD at the forefront of medicine discuss the possible end of cancer. The opening general session, “A New Way to Think,” aimed to profile these ambitions and augment the delivery with a band, facts splashed across the stage screens, and a whirling opening dance routine. A television pro, Mario Armstrong, hosted the session, bantering by digital feed with colleagues hosting viewings at the Mandalay Bay.

Each attendee at the MGM Grand Garden Arena (as well as those at Mandalay Bay) donned an electronic wristband, sturdy and ergonomic, which flashed soft blues and greens to signify the attendance stats Armstrong read off about the show—a “human data chart” that turned the darkened Arena starry. The crowd loved it, and by the time LeBlanc took the stage, the atmosphere carried the right weight of expectation.

Welcoming executives from leading global enterprises and research entities, the session personalized these days of increased tech budgets and surging data. The urbane Pascal Eymery, Vice President at Airbus, strode forward to explain how his firm uses predictive analytics to address maintenance issues—aviation’s key metric, where each hour of delay equals $10,000 in losses.

Working with IBM, Airbus brings hybrid cloud and mobile analytics to connect pilots with systems; maintenance people with their programs and the aircraft itself, a rich source of data points.

“We needed to aggregate all that [data] in the hybrid cloud and deliver it to all the line mechanics—and we accelerated the turnaround time and reduced delays,” says Eymery.

Heather Cox, Chief Marketing Officer at Citi, took the stage to explain how the multinational bank is looking to other businesses to reset its own mobile posture. Citing three core aspects of innovation—unleash, develop, disrupt—Cox notes that Uber and similar 21st century businesses are worth scrutinizing for ideas about technology deployments—not banks and financial institutions. She gave the conference its most noteworthy quote so far: In short, people need banking, but they don’t need banks.

IBM’s Watson brand commanded much of the general session’s final third, with Mike Rhodin, Senior Vice President of IBM Watson Group, and client executives describing some powerful implementations of the cognitive solution. 

“Even at a time when doctors have more data than ever about their patients, by 2020, data will double every 73 days,” says Rhodin, “clearly unsustainable to manage with current technology.

“Yet technology has now become the ultimate enabler. The cloud is providing the computer power to harness big data. Analytics is turning that data into information. And cognitive computing will turn that information into knowledge,” he continues.

Scott Megill of Coriel Life Sciences, which has partnered with the IBM Watson team, also took the stage to introduce a product that advances the use of patient genetic information to tailor a treatment plan to the specific needs of the individual. GeneDose LIVE assesses every data point available—the food a patient eats, the medicines they take, the particulars of their ailments, their entire medical history.

“What [doctors] can’t easily find is how that pill will react to all the variables related to their individual patient,” explains Megill. “Genetics, demographics, lifestyle are all taken into account…to tailor treatment to that specific individual.”

IBM announces new innovations in hybrid cloud, Bluemix
On Monday, IBM also announced several new innovations in hybrid cloud technology and investments posed to tackle challenges enterprises face as they adopt cloud and integrate existing applications, data, and services across the business.

According to IBM, more than 65 percent of enterprise IT organizations will commit to hybrid cloud technologies before 2016. As big data and mobile drive today’s cloud applications forward, IBM’s new offerings help businesses leverage hybrid cloud technologies to extend their business to the cloud.

On Monday, many of IBM’s announcements were around composable API-based services in Bluemix. Among the new initiatives is IBM DataWorks, a new, intuitive tooling and experience that finds, refines, enriches and delivers trusted data. This allows developers to subdivide and manipulate data sets from the treasure trove of public and private data.

IBM Enterprise Containers help developers rapidly build and deliver applications by extending native Linux containers with Docker APIs to provide enterprise—class visibility, control and security as well as an added level of automation. Solutions developed in a cloud environment could be brought to on-premises systems for execution, allowing many of the benefits of cloud computing to be realized for data that cannot be moved to cloud for processing for reasons of data sensitivity, size, or performance.

Developer productivity is key to a business’ success, and as such, IBM also announced a series of services that enable developers to more quickly, effectively, and securely connect apps, data and services across open and flexible environments, seamlessly weaving data and services with APIs to compose new apps and services. These include:

Secure passport gateway, which allows self-service to developers to securely connect data and services to Bluemix in minutes through a simple Passport service that keeps IT in control. API Harmony, which allows developers to find a perfect API match for a client’s application using the world’s largest knowledge base of APIs; and Bluemix Local, which extends Bluemix into a company’s data center with borderless visibility and management across Bluemix environments, including Bluemix Public and Bluemix Dedicated.

IBM Dedicated is a single-tenant version of Bluemix. IBM also announced Monday it has signed a strategic teaming agreement with Tech Mahindra, a specialist in digital transformation, consulting and business re-engineering. Through this partnership, a platform for the development of cloud-based apps will be built for Tech Mahindra clients on Bluemix Dedicated.

Natalie Miller, Editor of Insights Magazine, contributed to this report.



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