IBM CEO: Every company will be an AI company

Arvind Krishna wants to arm businesses with AI and hybrid cloud for the post-coronavirus world

IBM is "pivoting hard" to help its customers accelerate digital transformation and the adoption of artificial intelligence, its executives have said. 

The tech giant kicked off its Think Digital virtual conference this week and the key themes so far have been AI, edge computing and hybrid multi-cloud

While the coronavirus has been disrupting business and putting greater emphasis on cloud computing services, IBM has not only been adapting to the challenge but also making changes at the top. Ginni Rometty announced she was stepping down just a before the pandemic hit and her replacement, Arvind Krishna, has been at the helm for a month - taking over mid-crisis. 

Think Digital is the first major event under Krishna's stewardship and during his virtual keynote on Tuesday, he set out his vision for both IBM and the future of business.

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"More than 20-years ago, experts predicted that every company would become an 'internet company'," Krishna said. "I'm predicting today that every company will become an AI company, not because they can, but because they must."

At the very beginning of the event, IBM launched AIOps, its automated cloud protection system, along with an edge computing service built with Red Hat. Krishna touched on both of these new offerings and also spoke about life after the pandemic. 

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His belief is that there will be no going back, companies will need to change for the 'new normal' that awaits them. His comments were backed by Michelle Peluso, IBM's SVP of digital sales, who said that the company was "pivoting hard" to provide customers with the capabilities they need now. These were technologies to help supply chain and business continuity and, also, essential transformations. 

Gartner analyst, Chirag Dekate, agreed that the coronavirus is forcing companies to accelerate digital transformation journeys. "CIOs today are faced with two choices, they can either reboot to their previous state and do business as usual, or they can use this opportunity to rethink their ecosystems and devise a new strategy to go forward," he told IT Pro. "What we are seeing at Gartner, is that most organisations are choosing to use this time to rethink their infrastructures and accelerating their cloud adoption and AI journey." 

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Dekate has been impressed with the new IBM CEO, particularly in this challenging period but also with his involvement in the company's biggest acquisition to date, Red Hat. "Krishna was the brains behind it," Dekate said. "He was a key IBM leader, who was shepherding the process and integrating these companies together. So he's had a leadership role at IBM, quite extensively, prior to him taking over.  "A lot of the portfolio announcements since he took over, you can clearly see themes around hybrid multi-cloud, customer AI transformations and edge computing."

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