Acceleration Economy practitioner analyst and Paragon Films CIO Kenny Mullican was on location at IBM Think 2023 in Orlando last week. In this special interview, Kenny is interviewed by Acceleration Economy Chief Content Officer and Founding Analyst Aaron Back about top takeaways from the two-day conference, which focused heavily on artificial intelligence (AI), generative AI, hybrid cloud, co-creation, and a new data and AI platform, watsonx.
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01:27 — IBM has been in the AI business for a while, says Kenny, showing an early aptitude for the technology by featuring Watson as a competitor on Jeopardy in recent years, but had been relatively quiet in recent months around generative AI and ChatGPT in comparison to Microsoft, Google, and Amazon. “I was hoping IBM would fill that void at this conference, and it did not disappoint,” says Kenny. “In fact, I think it’s kind of in IBM’s character to be a little bit more deliberate about bringing a product and not rushing things. One thing I’ve learned from the sessions, including the keynote, is that IBM never stopped working on AI.”
03:01 — To that end, IBM showcased its new enterprise-ready AI and data platform watsonx, which is made up of three products that tackle AI, data, and governance, respectively, at the conference.
03:17 — Kenny was also fascinated to learn about IBM’s AI Center of Excellence, which has more than 20,000 consultants, including 1,000 experts in generative AI alone. Kenny says that many partners and customers showed up to demonstrate, and allow attendees to see and interact with, the technology resulting from co-creation with IBM in the area of AI.
04:38 — Kenny recalls hearing that double the amount of partners showed up to Think than originally expected. He has been talking to customers, IBM partners, and IBM employees themselves who are part of the whole ecosystem, and has appreciated hearing their varied perspectives and ideas. “I heard from someone that they’ve been under a lot of pressure with all the things that have come out with ChatGPT and generative AI,” he says. Face-to-face discussions add a unique and enjoyable dimension that cannot be replicated.
06:01 — Aaron asks Kenny which, if any, of the customers or co-creation initiatives stood out.
06:41 — Kenny quickly mentions that hybrid cloud was one of the overarching topics that stood out at the conference as well, particularly relating to AI. And that’s before even getting to the cybersecurity.
Which companies are the most important vendors in AI and hyperautomation? Check out the Acceleration Economy AI/Hyperautomation Top 10 Shortlist.
07:05 — In terms of co-creation standouts at Think, Kenny mentions Delta Airlines and SportClips as companies that have benefited from co-creation initiatives, and that IBM’s open-source approach allows it to easily collaborate with the community. He has a newfound appreciation for this approach as a competitive advantage for IBM.
09:20 — Kenny says that the launch of watsonx signifies what he sees as a new positioning for IBM, which reduces the prominence of “Watson” as a brand name or specific product in favor of providing platforms and tools for organizations to build frameworks that prepare them better for future challenges. As a CIO, Kenny focuses on this extensively. It’s not always about immediate returns or solving present problems; it’s about establishing a foundation so that organizations are prepared when the next challenge arises.
10:07 — Transitioning directly from legacy applications to a new approach isn’t always feasible. Building blocks must be put in place. This is a key lesson Kenny says he has taken away: the importance of finding a suitable framework for the organization, identifying a platform and provider that offer it, and finding a partner who can guide in implementing these elements gradually.
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