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IBM has successfully moved to a contactless delivery model: Usha Srikanth, VP, Sectors- IBM India Client Innovation Centre

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The COVID-19 pandemic was a global challenge that impacted organizations across industries, putting business resiliency and the need to be built for change as the topmost agenda of discussion among C-Suite. IBM transformed its delivery model, its offerings and methods to a holistic model called IBM Services Dynamic Delivery to cater to a more virtual-first, agile services delivery model for its customers

IBM spokesperson, Usha Srikanth, VP & Sr. Partner, Sectors- IBM India Client Innovation Centre shares industry perspectives on how businesses are adapting digitally and how IBM is building a next generation delivery model

Some edited excerpts from the interview:

How has the pandemic changed the delivery of IT services? What were some of the most significant challenges?
The pandemic has significantly changed the delivery of IT Services touching on various dimensions ranging from operating models to tool adoption to driving new ways of collaborative working. The industry has gone through a complete re-invention of how IT Services are delivered, and this has come through finding solutions to multiple challenges which were experienced in the pandemic times. Today, organizations want their IT and business service delivery to be able to accelerate digital transformation despite disruption.

Some of the significant challenges faced across industries:
• Ability to drive predictability in delivery (quality and timelines) with a remote, distributed workforce
• Adoption of new ways around security and resilience to handle the nuances of the new normal
• Designing new ways of remote communication and collaboration with advanced tools which ensured ideation and discussions were as effective as the pre-pandemic days
• Ability to operate with a dynamic approach to Business Continuity Planning
• Ability to skill the workforce at scale to handle the huge demand coming from end clients as the end clients exponentially increased their pace of digital Re-invention & cloud adoption
• Ability to drive effective automation across distributed set-ups
• Protecting the health and safety of employees and clients
• High level of engagement within the ecosystem to drive better teaming and collaboration

What are the core tenets of IBM’s Dynamic Delivery model? How does it address some of the challenges?
IBM Services Dynamic Delivery is a holistic model of service delivery. It integrates technology foundations with virtualized, agile methods and practices, enhanced with AI and automation to help clients pursue their transformations and anticipate, adapt with speed and resilience as business conditions shift. It leverages the IBM Garage to help clients co-create, co-execute and co-operate at scale

The three main tenets are as follows:
• Contactless Delivery
At the heart of the model is enhanced, automated processes tailored for contactless delivery, regardless of whether the delivery scenario is 20%, 40% or 100% virtual. AI and automation can be applied to workflows to help improve employee efficiency and rapidly scale delivery. And at the same time, teams can use “virtual garages” that apply design thinking, Agile principles and DevOps tools and techniques to innovate and create new methods in response to shifting needs. Strong governance across all processes can help mitigate risk and enhance timeline confidence.

• Humans in the Network
The model goes much beyond the processes alone. It requires leading, engaging and enabling the humans in the network to work wherever they are, with virtual skills development and communities of practice. It means building in the capability to rapidly mobilize expertise via virtual squads who can quickly innovate or resolve issues. It also includes global talent standards for access to flexible and available expertise and ubiquitous knowledge management.

• Delivery Foundation
Finally, the model requires a delivery foundation that starts with a resilient, scalable infrastructure. It comprises a robust network that can support work from home, non-traditional locations or physical co-location at sites based on changing business conditions. It also includes virtualized, pervasive and AI-enabled platforms and common tools for employee collaboration and innovation, as well as embedded security and privacy practices and policies to help protect proprietary data and reduce risk exposure.

Taken together, these components have the potential to accelerate delivery speed and scale, enhance timeline confidence, improve access to expertise and build business resiliency and security.

When compared to the traditional model of delivery, what are some of the most significant differences?

The COVID-19 pandemic was a global challenge that impacted organizations across industries, putting business resiliency and the need to be built for change as the topmost agenda of discussion among C-Suite. We transformed our delivery model, our offerings and methods to a holistic model called IBM Services Dynamic Delivery to cater to a more virtual-first, agile services delivery model for our customers. We saw this as an opportunity to re-imagine our delivery model, envisioning an even more optimized way of working that would provide the deeply resilient, agile, AI enabled flexible services delivery our clients would need to survive and thrive in today’s environment.

In terms of impact, how has the Dynamic Delivery model helped — for your clients and for IBM?
We provide our clients with enhanced timeline confidence, an available, global pool of talent, and an advanced technology platform that accelerates delivery speed and scale using AI, automation and embedded security practices.
It simplifies and streamlines the day-to-day activities of partners and practitioners —through modernized and enhanced methods, tools, platforms and practices – all resulting in improved business outcomes and higher client satisfaction.

For an example:
• To help meet government requirements, a client in the insurance industry needed to automate its systems to quickly process claims for COVID-19 testing. The solution was designed and implemented in a span of three weeks with a virtual team.

• A leading retail brand boosted its infrastructure to support an unprecedented spike in e-commerce orders. 24/7 support and on-time virtual delivery enabled the client to dramatically increase its application availability.

• The pandemic brought pressure for a client in the oil and gas industry to ensure adequate fuel availability and avoid supply chain problems that might result from panic buying in the market. We helped in the quick creation of a multi-channel help desk, as well as automated their processes, enabled the company to increase order processing and reduce downtime.

Companies with strong digital foundations will lead the way in adapting, and technology partners like IBM are helping navigate that path forward. It’s no longer enough to enable a remote workforce –businesses must quickly determine how technologies like AI, automation and the hybrid cloud can achieve better outcomes both now and after the pandemic.

Can you give some examples of your clients or examples of use cases where this model has helped?
Since the start of the pandemic, IBM successfully moved to a contactless delivery model in numerous client engagements across industry verticals, enabling them to accomplish in months what they had previously envisaged would take years. IBM’s relationship with clients has in many ways been strengthened during the COVID-19 situation because of the Dynamic Delivery that was deployed to support organizations and applications. In many instances, clients needed our support with additional capacity in the cloud computing environment to enable the computing power needed to support the delivery of their services, enabled by intelligent workflows, automation capabilities, and agile tools for the end-to-end services delivery.

Driving speed, agility and transformation in engagements have been key through the experience and the focus have been different for different clients based on industry dynamics.

• For several banking clients, this was about helping them accelerate digital transformation to expand on the services being provided online moving away from the branches
• For the consumer industry clients (Retail, consumer products) this model drove extensive digitization of the supply chain and also a considerable redefinition of online shopping experience powered by AI and Hybrid Cloud adoption
• For the government industry, the focus was around citizen care
• For pharma industry clients this was about helping them expand and scale their supply chain for drug distribution as well as later for vaccinations

What is the future of this dynamic delivery model?

As we come out of the pandemic, we expect the industry and our clients to want to operate in a Hybrid Model which has become the new normal. The future of this model will further evolve with a focus on the following areas:

• Extensive leverage of AI to drive predictability and quality in delivery
• Automation where we will start to have BOTS coexist and handle work with the humans
• Advanced levels of security which will be AI based and drive proactive alerts
• New approaches to driving productivity and efficiency which is automated and focused on being multidimensional (individual, team/squad as a combination)
• Extensive leverage of Cloud in the Work environments having more on-demand services
• Continued emphasis on employee wellness & innovative approaches to employee engagements and further evolving to be more family centric providing a holistic experience

The workplace will get redefined as an option where employees come together for networking & driving closure to specific deliverables that need intense collaboration while the regular work would be remote. The future of service delivery will be an even more optimized way of working driving innovation, resilience, agility, and flexibility.

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