The Big, Bold Theme of IBM Think 2019

IBM Think 2019 was as inspiring and ambitious as ever. Attendees got to experience IBM’s Project Debater debate ‘for’ subsidised preschool against champion debater Harish Natarajan. IBM Research shared their ‘5 in 5’ predictions centred around transforming global food supply chains to be simpler, safer and far less wasteful than they are now.


CEO Ginni Rometty declared that ‘Chapter 2’ of IBM’s digital transformation was about scaling AI and creating hybrid clouds. The era of AI experimentation in Chapter 1 has to make way for the hard stuff – creating true transformation with speed and scale. Whether it was watching the debate or watching a technical talk on ‘accelerating the journey to AI’, Think 2019 was about Cognitive Enterprise.



Cognitive enterprise, to put it simply, is a next-generation business model harnessing the power of AI and other exponential technologies for competitive advantage and differentiation. This includes chat bots guiding customers through product issues to utilising Decision Optimisation in helping organisations assess strategic moves involving thousands of complicated choices.


A lot of the material covering AI, machine learning and quantum computing can be incredibly cerebral and complex, which is why IBM brought customers back to the forefront at Think 2019. Executives from AT&T, Hyundai, and Geico were brought out on stage with Rometty to share how they use standardised IBM technology and products, opening up on their implementation processes and providing practical inspiration to IBM partners and clients alike.


How does Think 2019’s focus, building cognitive enterprise, relate to the realm of corporate planning? Well let’s take a look at the 7 key success factors of digital and cognitive transformations:


  1. Create platforms to unleash Digital Darwinism: utilising design-thinking, co-creation and agile approaches to accelerate the build of winning business platforms.
  2. Leverage the incumbent advantage in data: integrating and curating proprietary data and analytics to drive business platform performance.
  3. Architect your business for change: developing practical frames to make progress, relating to workflows, data, AI and computing.
  4. Redesign company workflows around AI: adaptive operational processes and workflows that continuously learn and are self-aware.
  5. Get agile, change fast and build things: removing bottlenecks in workflows
  6. Reinvent your workforce to ignite talent: up-skilling for new tools and workflows
  7. Win with trust and security: secure both the human and machine elements along key workflows and data sources.


While these success factors apply to the wider business ecosystem, we can easily apply them to corporate planning too. Corporate planning requires agility, the right tools such as Planning Analytics and Cognos. Data integrity coming in from multiple departments is critical for accurate forecasting and budgeting. Leaders need to develop culture of learning and adaptability to embrace AI, new tools and workflows.


So while Think 2019 highlighted some of the more exciting aspects of Cognitive Enterprise thinking, we can take inspiration and apply tools, thinking, and strategies into corporate planning today.

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