Delivering the best of IBM
Chip Schneider, partner in IBM Global Business Services (GBS), worked alongside T-Mobile to bring about what he calls a “cognitive process transformation” with data analytics, artificial intelligence and cognitive cloud.
IBM was chosen by T-Mobile as their strategic partner to deliver the programs and projects to propel T-Mobile forward with back-office functions like financing in supply chain.
“That’s a broad statement but it’s a pretty broad goal,” says Schneider. “T-Mobile have been really challenging us to bring the best of IBM to them, and especially for our guidance in supply chain transformation.”
IBM has been a partner with Sprint for a number of years so when T-Mobile and Sprint merged last year, it was an opportunity for IBM to showcase their expertise.
“We operate as an open book with our clients and especially key clients like T-Mobile,” says Schneider. “We share perspectives from our knowledge and experience in the telco and media industries worldwide.”
Schneider is enthused when discussing the working relationship between IBM and T-Mobile, saying there is “always an air of excitement” and “they’re so willing to listen”.
“T-Mobile asked us to make the work we do for them ‘palatable and meaningful’,” says Schneider. “That means bringing industry leadership, functional leadership in finance, supply chain customer management, and the technical aspects of hybrid cloud, cognitive and machine learning, data intelligent workflows, and blockchain. We had to make sure it's not just us talking to them, but us working together with them.”
Of course, the benefits of a close, collaborative relationship like this work for both parties, especially when digital transformation is accelerated by a pandemic.
“That changed everything,” adds Glenn Finch, Global Leader Big Data & Analytics at IBM. “2020 was a matter of survival for most companies with a focus on business continuity and cost reduction. So you saw this radical growth in back office transformation, in front office transformation, and then this this unprecedented growth in data. We are a hybrid cloud and AI company. That's exactly what the market wants right now.”
Finch explains how companies were faced with a critical cloud decision and turned to IBM as a trusted, reliable partner.
“When clients were having to bet their careers, they bet on us,” says Finch. “Our AI and hybrid cloud resonates so perfectly in a market like this.
“When we go into a process and we drive a bunch of AI into it, we're shrinking cycle time by 80 to 90%, we’re cutting costs by 50 to 60%, and NPS scores are going up by 10 to 20 points. Sometimes clients think that can’t be right as it sounds too good to be true.”
Schneider emphasises the importance T-Mobile placed on not only transforming the technology but also empowering individuals.
“T-Mobile are hyper focused on ensuring that not only their customers feel the human connection, but also employees,” says Schneider. “And so our job is to take the data – internal and external – and present it back to them and say, ‘Hey, here's what I found’. It's really like building a colleague for them to help drive their strategic decisions on their supply chain.”
Dark Wolf: accelerating security for USAF
As a small company whose biggest customers are the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community, Dark Wolf Solutions (Dark Wolf) is a triple-threat, specializing in Cybersecurity, Software and DevOps, and Management Solutions. Dark Wolf secures and tests cloud platforms, develops and deploys applications, and offers consultancy services performing system engineering, system integration, and mission support.
The break for Dark Wolf came when the Department of Defense decided to explore software factories. Rick Tossavainen, Dark Wolf’s CEO, thinks it was an inspired path for the DoD to take. “It was a really great decision,” he says, “Let’s pull our people together as part of this digital transformation and recreate what Silicon Valley startup firms typically have. Let’s get into commercial facilities where we have open windows and big whiteboards and just promote ideation and collaboration. And it creates this collaborative environment where people start creating things much more rapidly than before.”
It has been, Tossavainen says, “amazing to watch” and has energized the Federal Contracting Sector with an influx of new talent and improved working environments that foster creativity and innovative ways of approaching traditional problems.
“We originally started working with the US Air Force about three years ago. The problem was at the time you could develop all the software you wanted but you couldn’t get it into production – you had to go through the traditional assessment and authorization process. I talked to Lauren Knausenberger and she told me about Kessel Run and what eventually came out of this was the DoD’s first continuous ATO [Authority To Operate].”
The secret to Dark Wolf’s success – and its partnerships with USAF and Space Force – lies in a client-first attitude. “We’re not looking to maximise revenue,” Tossavainen explains. “We tell all of our employees, if you’re ever faced with an issue and you don’t know how to resolve it, and one solution is better for the customer and the second is better for Dark Wolf, you always do number one. We’ve just got to take care of our customers, and I look for other partners that want to do that. And let’s work together so that we can bring them the best answer we can.”
Rapid releases and constant evolution of software are common themes among USAF’s partners. Like many firms operating in the commercial and public sector spaces, Dark Wolf leads with a DevSecOps approach.
“Failure is tolerated,” says Tossavainen. “If it’s not going the right way in three months, let’s adjust. Let’s rapidly change course. And you can tell really quickly if something’s going to be successful or not, because they’re doing deployments multiple times a day – to the customer.”