‘The new workplace will build on remote work platforms’

TE Raja Simhan | Updated on June 08, 2020

Ajay Mittal, Chief Digital Officer & Director - Digital Sales & Commercial, IBM ISA

With the Covid-19 pandemic disrupting the global economy, digital transformation is going to be the buzzword in the IT industry with companies, including small and medium-sized businesses in all sectors, implementing it. Most SMBs in India are already experimenting with Cloud, and Artificial Intelligence and IBM is helping them scale up and prepare for the complexities of technology adoption in future. IBM is witnessing a double-digit growth in the segment, said Ajay Mittal, Chief Digital Officer & Director - Digital Sales & Commercial, IBM ISA, in an interview with BusinessLine. Excerpts: 

Following Covid, how keen are SMBs in India to move to Cloud, and why?

Even before the Covid crisis we were seeing increased adoption of public cloud by SMBs. This will be further accelerated as businesses now need core infrastructure that can address multiple issues, without making large upfront investments. To adapt to the new normal, SMBs will apply technology in two key areas — to strengthen their IT infrastructure and to help with business transformation. 

Companies will face multiple challenges and will look for partners who can give them the relevant technologies and help address them. 

The new workplace will build on the platforms for remote work and increase agility and efficiency through multi-cloud management. This will lead to a shift from a traditional services model to self-help/self-healing tools in which automation will play a highly critical role.

How has the IT need for SMBs differed before and during Covid?

Before Covid, 97 per cent of mid-market firms considered technology to be important for business success and most were already experimenting with cloud, AI and emerging technologies. 

We were witnessing double-digit growth in this segment. Post Covid, they are revamping their IT set-up to fix the gaps that could hamper remote working capabilities and we expect several transformational discussions here.

How is IBM reaching out to work for SMBs?

For instance, during Covid precaution lockdown, we enabled ‘work from home’ for 500 employees of Mother Dairy and ensured 100 per cent monitoring of Mother Dairy’s infrastructure, all devices, successful back-ups and device physical health report and security compliance during the lockdown. 

We built a blockchain platform for iQuippo — India’s first construction equipment sales and finance firm — that enables their customers and agents to aggregate financing from different financial institutions, allows customers to get financing from their preferred institution and negotiates with them on their behalf and provides customised solutions.

Did IBM make any unique offerings for SMBs during Covid? 

We offer no-cost options to migrate to remote work environments, including IBM Cloud Virtual Server configurations. 

IBM Aspera is offering new clients free, 90-day access to its cloud service for high-speed file sharing and team collaboration. 

For auto and manufacturing industries, we offer solution approaches like workplace and worker safety, touch-less retail, supply chain agility and data security. Cyber security threats related to data, device, applications and remote-managing SOCs (security operations centre) can be done with our offers on IBM’s security solutions.

How is the pricing strategy for SMBs?

IBM engages with mid-sized companies from their very early stages of the digital journey, helping them prioritise and evaluate the potential business impact of the digital transformation. 

We offer industry-specific bundled Cloud, AI, IoT solutions that address specific needs of clients across various sectors. 

Modern SaaS-based cloud solutions offer a pay-as-you-use option, which is most conducive for SMEs. 

We also offer flexible payment plans and payment options via our Global Financing service.

Published on June 08, 2020

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