At this year’s Shibumi Virtual Summit, viewers welcomed Tom Ivory, VP and Global GM for IBM Automation to speak to towards how IBM is enabling their customers to reach scale and deliver results for their programs.



Hey everyone. I hope everyone is doing well out there. Welcome to the Shibumi conference. I wish we were all in person but hopefully {we can be} next year. I really am excited to be here to talk to you about thinking big with extreme automation.

My name is Tom Ivory, I’m the Vice President and Global GM for IBM Automation and before we dive into automation I want to step back and talk about the concept of innovation and the discipline that is required in order to bring innovation across your organization.

Innovation does not happen ad-hoc unlike what many people may think. There is a lot of collaboration, transparency, and failure that comes with innovation. One of my favorite quotes is from Thomas Edison who said, “I did not fail, I only found 10,000 ways that didn’t work”.  And that resonates with me as I engage with my clients on automation initiatives and the challenges and opportunities that we have in order to create a new digital workforce.

The collaboration and transparency that needs to happen with my clients in order to see where we need to invest, and where we need to look at opportunities across the organization for what makes good automation – where we can have the biggest impact. That’s where we were lucky to find Shibumi as a technology partner for us. [They] could establish that platform that could help us drive innovation with automation, ai technologies and start bringing that governance, that discipline of innovation within our customers.

So, getting back to automation specifically now, and what are the risks that are happening today around the world and what are the risk that are making automation more of a priority and bringing it into the spotlight? We’ve been trying to create more productivity across enterprises for a while. It started with lean six sigma and trying to eliminate standardized processes. We’ve looked at outsourcing destinations in order to bring more low-cost offshore models to handle our business processes and operations and now we’re reaching this next evolution. Where automation will bring that extra degree of productivity in order for us to handle the lightning-quick adaptability that is required with this pandemic.


There’s no secret that supply chains are being rewired. Logistics you know have been disrupted. The volatility and demand that are being placed on our retailers, our banks, our government agencies with new products or that they need loans, mortgage fund refinancing, or unemployment that’s required for governments this is all shaping up to be an overwhelming burden on customers and employees of these organizations. Automation is a solution in order to help bring efficiencies, productivity and that extra capacity that’s needed in this time. We also look at this as an opportunity to shift automation from only a productive cost discussion-point with our customers to one with more of a growth mindset one that can be linked to revenue opportunities to enhance customer operations to use automation to fuel better product innovation. To look at finance transformation, or overhauling your HR processes to provide more engagement, more value from your employees as a digital workforce can help augment them and free them up to use their human ingenuity and creativity which they were intended to do.


Second is data and there’s a staggering statistic now that we are creating two megabytes of data per person every day on the face of the earth which is an astonishing fact that we are going to have more data than we know what to do with. If we want to unleash the value of that within the enterprise, we need to use automation as the way to execute. And use the arms and legs that automation can provide to move that data around and make use of it and make it a valuable commodity within the organization.


Third is the cloud. There’s no secret that cloud adoption is in hybrid growth right now and a lot of that you know as a result of the pandemic. We’re seeing an acceleration in cloud adoption that we would have seen in the three to five years from now, happening in months and that’s going to be an opportunity for automation to move workloads around between a hybrid cloud environment.


Clients that maybe have some applications in business processes on premises versus those who move into a public or private cloud and this heterogeneous environment will enable automation to play a significant role in moving that workload around. So in order to get started a lot of our clients are grappling with how do we just start digitizing the work. Let’s make sure that we’re documenting our processes and then apply things like robotic process automation in order to do tasks and basic automation to start bringing that productivity to realization. Then [we can start] applying intelligence and infusing data and optical character recognition, natural language processing and machine learning capabilities to that digitized and automated work.


We’ve started the journey to maintain the workforce having this hybrid digital and human workforce where handoffs are occurring in real time. Those digital workers are treated like an employee that was doing an administrative task or a project management operation and that’s a seamless environment where business outcomes can come to fruition. With that right combination of people in technology and what we’re seeing here from a study IBM just conducted in recent months is – mission critical work is going to be more and more expected to get automated over the next few years. IBM surveyed over 1,500 C-level executives on how they were adopting automation and we called out what we refer to as “automation achievers” and who those “automation achievers” will be over the next three to five years. As you can see now, today most of the workload that we’re automating is in administrative work but slowly moving to more departmental work. Moving outside of these islands of automation and cross-enterprise across your finance, supply chain, procurement, HR, IT, customer operations and enabling automation to take on more of that expert work as we call it.

Now, one of the other things this study pointed out is that 80% of our customers are automating right but only 7% are doing that scale and there are significant reasons why they say they’re not doing it. At the same time, they have a desire to do so especially in this climate with the pandemic right now. They not only want to go to scale but if you see this quote here before you from our chairman Jenny Rometty earlier this year when the pandemic was coming into full swing she said we’ve started a lot of work with people who want to automate things that maybe they had it before because they want that flexibility but now it’s almost called extreme automation.

What we mean by extreme automation is creating these new workflows, these workflows that are automated, digital, and smart. There are three pillars of where we see extreme automation evolving. One is, through the, you know, I mentioned earlier that there’s an explosion of data that our companies need to take advantage of. There’s data that can help you identify where, when, and how you can automate. Automate anything and everything you possibly can, and then there’s data that you can use post automation to optimize those processes and operations in real-time and adapt them as such.

And then two, the exponential technologies, at the root of it, automation AI analytics technologies. These software capabilities in order for us to drive those workflows to be more intelligent, to be transformed in such a manner that they can be automated and enhance those revenue-producing opportunities that I was talking about earlier. And then third, we’re looking at extreme automation that is powered by a hybrid workforce where there’s a seamless orchestration between the people and the technology through the use of platforms.

So what’s changing? There are five areas where things are changing from yesterday’s automation program to extreme automation. One is the scope automation, it’s no longer about silos. It’s a center of excellence that drives automation pervasively across all facets of the organization. Two is process. It’s no longer about just task automation or creating bots in order to do simple process automation for minute activities. It’s about intelligent workflows, that transformation you know, of a finance workflow or a supply chain workflow through the use of automation is two. And three is technology. Technologies that are fueled by data. That’s where AI is going to play a critical role into making these bots, these digital workers smarter than they have been before, and talent this hybrid workforce at scale. Before it was bots supplementing humans but now we’re really going to see a digital workforce and a human workforce working together for business outcomes and driving growth. This growth mindset versus productivity only that I mentioned earlier.

So what’s impeding the journey to scale? Three issues; executive sponsorship, the increasing technology landscape, and the lack of trust in making informed decisions. In order to move past these obstacles; one, we want to create alignment. We want to create a science and a transparent way of identifying opportunities where to automate in the organization. Two, use it to drive transformation, don’t look at just cost takeout or FTE reduction or replacing humans. This is to augment human work. This is the drive transformation. Then you got to track the benefits you got to ensure that you’re measuring and providing goals. Executing this is transforming workflows within days and weeks, not months and years. Infusing that intelligence where can we create a data lake and use that data to ingest in your automation platform that’s driving your digital workforce? Then you want to have scale and speed. This doesn’t need to be a clunky process driven by spreadsheets and PowerPoints, especially in a virtual world. We want to do what we call an IBM dynamic delivery completely virtual delivery of your automation programs, your bots, your digital workers. And finally, build trust. You need a reliable way of delivering the automations. You need that transparency. That ability to quantify, score, measure your automations hosted securely with all of your bots, your digital workers and then optimize those operations over time.

That’s where Shibumi comes into play. We have built our IBM digital CoE to be powered by Shibumi and this is a flywheel of innovation that enables us to provide the governance and reporting. It allows us to highlight which platform and technologies are used for the automation initiatives across this digital center of excellence. Opportunity management; we use the IBM quotient. Which is a secret sauce where we have provided algorithms in order to score and bring that methodology to our customers for them to isolate what processes are good for automation and where will they get the biggest impact. The design, development, testing, the staging, and the qualifications all the way through the hyper care and the testing of those automations so it’s very visible to the organization. And the operations management you know who are the key stakeholders that are required to provide that attention to the change management, and the communications, and the engagement, and the training that needs to go out there in the market when they bring those automations into production.

This flywheel of innovation contributes to this digital CoE so that it’s pervasive across the organization. Shibumi brings it to life with their cloud-based SaaS-based platform. Speaking of platforms, the digital CoE is an essential accelerator within our extreme automation platform. Our extreme automation platform, if you start from the bottom of this chart, sits on the cloud but it could also be delivered on-prem, or in a public cloud of your choice. On this extreme automation platform we host our RPA tools; partners like UIpath, Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism, as well as the IBM Robotic Process Automation Software. We also provide automation and AI software for OCR natural language processing, external partners from our ecosystem, but again IBM software as well. It’s very extensive extensible and customizable for our clients and which software they like to use.

Finally the automation and AI apps that we build on the platform. We build applications that can drive project management, SAP administration, and so on. Then on the platform that’s where we derive all of our digital workers. Digital workers that are responsible for order catch, or it-based digital workers for SalesForce, Workday, Oracle, and more. Industry-based digital workers for banking operations, and mortgage, or healthcare-based digital workers. Then on top of that, we have our process-assessment tools. We work with process mining and process discovery tools out on the market in order for us to provide that x-ray into what types of processes would make best for automations. Finally is our control tower and that’s where Shibumi and the digital CoE resides as a part of this platform. This platform takes into consideration a control tower to manage your automations that are live out on production but also provides Shibumi as that digital CoE to streamline and bring that governance like I mentioned earlier uh to an automation program. The end goal all of this on top of this platform is to transform workflows make them more intelligent. We transform these workflows across industry processes and operations, as well as domain functional areas like supply chain, procurement, HR, finance, accounting and more.

When we look at how this is being brought out to the real world and into our clients’ requirements – one that really comes to mind is the VA, the Veterans Affairs Department of Veterans Affairs here in North America here in the United States. This is a very exciting use-case where our extreme automation platform and our digital CoE is being put to use in order for us to create a new digital environment for engaging the agency. The department between the vets and how they’re interacting for health care requests, or insurance opportunities, or other benefits that come from the VA. There’s a lot of regulatory issues that they need to keep up to date with as a vet, you know depending on where they are in their state of life.

Our automation capabilities in this digital CoE was able to look at where we can start patients and bring clean intake, reduced from 15 days to one day so that is an incredible impact that’s having a customer experience enhancement like nothing I’ve never seen before. Second, we looked at a UK based global media firm and saw that there was a definite need for a digital CoE and extreme automation to be brought to them around their operations in finance and accounting. They looked to see where can you take our employees that are focused on finance and accounting and start applying automation. We implemented the digital CoE to look at 34 use cases that ended up driving one million dollars in savings just in the first 12 months.

We have a lot of opportunities to grow from there but that digital CoE gave us that opportunity identification and applied the IBM quotient like we said before and helped them take them on that journey with that governance and that discipline to drive innovation across their organization.

Finally, we have a European payment solutions company that wanted to transform their customer experience with extreme automation and transform the workflows that were involved with their customer operations. Here we were able to look at a 20 million dollar further savings after an initial three million dollar savings. The key factor here is that by bringing a disciplined automation innovation approach the organization not only were they able to recognize these cost savings but it allowed their employees to free them up in order to spend more time with customers, look at how they can identify new innovative payment solutions that they can provide to their client base.

So with that as I wrap up this presentation, I’ll end on another one of my favorite quotes out there for Mr. Charles Darwin that says, “It’s not the strongest of the species that survives nor the most intelligent that survives it’s the one that is most adaptable to change”. When we look at our digital CoE powered by Shibumi, it is giving us that mechanism and enablement to help our customers adapt in these challenging times. When you have one work from home, working virtually, the demands and volatility that are placed on our customers require this concept of extreme automation. Our digital CoE brings that clarity, brings that trust, that level of engagement and executive sponsorship across their organization to drive hyper-automation in a way that would not have been able to take place prior to this partnership that we have.

So we thank them and we wish everyone the best out there and enjoy the rest of the conference. Thank you.