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IBM, Palantir partner on AI offerings for business

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Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous,along with Rob Thomas, Senior Vice President of IBM Cloud and Data Platform, and Shyam Shankar, Palantir COO, discuss their new AI partnership.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Palantir is one of our top trending tickers on the Yahoo Finance site today. The stock was up about 9% earlier, after announcing it has partnered with IBM on some cloud applications for businesses. Joining me now for an interview you will see only on Yahoo Finance is Rob Thomas. He is senior vice president of IBM Software Cloud and Data, and Palantir's chief operating officer, Shyam Shankar.

Welcome to you both. Thanks for being with us. Rob, I'm going to start with you. I know that this partnership has to do with using artificial intelligence as it relates to the cloud. But tell us more about how this partnership is going to work and why was Palantir the right fit here.

ROB THOMAS: Alexis, thanks for having us. Great to see you again. This is a great partnership that will change how companies can quickly adopt AI in their organizations. As you know, IBM has really recommitted to being a software technology company surrounded by great services capability. And in this case, we've taken Palantir's foundry product, built it on top of our data platform, which is Cloud Pak for Data, on RedHat.

And now we can go to any customer in the world, and they can quickly get into production using AI. And it's easier than ever because Palantir brings a low code, no code, really easy interface that integrates right into Watson technology.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: So Shyam, I know that this is the largest partnership of its kind for Palantir. What does it mean for the company, and also as it relates to the reach of your salesforce?

SHYAM SHANKAR: There's no question that this is the largest partnership that we've done. And we're quite excited about what it means in terms of being able to bring operational AI to frontline users, the folks who are providing the vaccines, who are doing the allocation, the folks on the factory floor who are managing the upheaval during COVID. And by partnering with IBM, we have the ability to reach every customer where they are in 180 countries around the world to help them solve these problems very, very quickly. So it's a huge boost in that regards.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: And Rob, what kind of boost do you expect this to give IBM customers using AI? How much do you expect this to boost that business? And do you have any kind of a time frame for that?

ROB THOMAS: You know, we've had a really good run with Watson and our data platform, new companies adopting every day. Companies like PayPal, Lufthansa are recent ones. Over and over again, as we get into those engagements, they're looking to extend that to what we call intelligent workflows. How do they deliver better business processes using AI?

As we got together with the Palantir team, we saw a technology that could make it really easy for an analyst to start to build AI as part of their business. And this was going to transform financial services, retail, manufacturing, a bunch of different industries. We even had joint customers like Pfizer, who spoke out as part of the announcement, talking about how they're using that technology today to drive better outcomes in their business, which is great to see.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: I know, Shyam, that Palantir has got a lot of government contracts. I know that you're working with the government even with COVID-19 and the vaccine rollout. But the business for commercial contracts has been a little bit slower to evolve. Will this partnership with IBM help to hasten that a bit?

SHYAM SHANKAR: I anticipate it will. We're very focused on-- the partnership is focused on the commercial segment. And we're very focused on how we can go after these joint customers together to bring this transformation.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: I'm sorry. I didn't hear the back end of that. I apologize.

SHYAM SHANKAR: Yes, so the partnership is focused on the commercial segment, again focused on 180 countries, the commercial segment of our business. We're jointly investing and going after that very aggressively. We think there's just a tremendous amount of demand because it solves the customer's core challenges around, I need a product that can easily get AI to the breadth of my work force, easy to use, easy to adopt, easy to deploy, and I need a product that comes with a company and a commitment to the skills, transferring. So help me accelerate my time to value, but then teach me to fish along the way.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: OK, Rob, in order to expand IBM's cloud and AI business, which I know you are in charge of, are we going to have to see more partnerships like this?

ROB THOMAS: We've been public in our statements that ecosystem, working with business partners is a critical part of our current and future strategy, as we'll see more and more revenue come through partnerships. This is another good example.

But look, here's where I think the secret sauce is for any companies watching. We are able to take data that you have across a lot of different places that it's being stored, bring that together in one space, and we can do that because we have IBM technology that integrates data sources and Palantir technology that makes it really easy to utilize that data and put AI around that. That's what's really special here. And that could only happen through a partnership.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Do you think, Shyam, that this is going to have a material impact on the bottom line any time soon? I mean, can you share a time frame for us?

SHYAM SHANKAR: Of course, I can't share any kind of specifics here, but I would say that the customer response, just from today's announcement alone, has been absolutely huge. And we're very excited to go work with those customers to go implement this.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: And can you-- I'm just going to pivot for a moment to ask you, Shyam, about those contracts with the government as it relates to COVID-19. Can you tell us how you're working with them for the vaccine rollout?

SHYAM SHANKAR: Very much in the same way that we work with all our customers-- taking a look at the challenges they have, helping the-- helping them leverage our low code, no code technology to sort of solve their problems as they encounter them. If you think about something like the vaccine rollout, there wasn't even a supply chain for this COVID-19 vaccine, of course, before this crisis. So you have to build the supply chain while figuring out the allocation. You're building the airplane while you're flying it here. And that's what this software really was designed to help customers do.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Rob, any other partnerships that you can share with us that we might expect to hear about in the coming weeks and months regarding this part of the business?

ROB THOMAS: You know, no future looking ones, but this is something we've been at for a while. We work with great companies like Cloudera, like MongoDB, again part of integrating different data sources. So we've done a lot in the past, and we always have our eyes open for new partnerships. And I'm sure there'll be many more to come.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right, we're going to leave it there. Rob Thomas, senior VP of IBM Cloud and Data Platform and Palantir's COO, Shyam Shankar, thanks very much and good luck with the partnership.

SHYAM SHANKAR: Thank you.