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Pandemic putting ‘further strain’ on systems banks use: IBM Hybrid Cloud SVP

Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous and Howard Boville, Senior Vice President of IBM Hybrid Cloud, discuss IBM’s cloud strategy.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: IBM continues to beef up its growing cloud division, buying up a digital payments company just yesterday. In an interview you'll see only on Yahoo Finance, I want to welcome in Howard Boville. He is senior vice president of IBM's Hybrid Cloud.

Howard, good to see you. I want to start with that acquisition announcement. You're buying the Canadian fintech company, Expertus Technologies. This is a digital payments provider. Tell us how that fits into IBM's overall cloud strategy.

HOWARD BOVILLE: Hi there, Alexis. Thank you for having me. The strategy ties very much into the focus that we have for our large enterprises and their mission critical workloads, their mission critical business processes. Expertus brings a huge amount of experience across 1,000 different companies in terms of helping them simplify their business processes. And any business now that's digital is always thinking about how it makes these experiences frictionless and convenient. And Expertus will bring that to the capabilities that we have here in IBM.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: And I know this is a very important area of growth for the big banks, many of whom are your clients. And I know you come from a background in banking, having come from Bank of America. How have you seen the transition among the big banks to digital payments. And has the pandemic really forced their hand, if you will, to speed up that transformation?

HOWARD BOVILLE: All of the financials have been moving at a great pace, and also, the ecosystem of partners that allow financial transactions to work around the world, whether they're for institutional clients as a consumer. But certainly within the pandemic and with more of the population moving to digital mechanisms of actually buying goods and services, there's been further strain on the systems that the banks use, and therefore, a need to further accelerate the actual work they already had to do with. And this acquisition that we have here, we feel it will be able to help in terms of companies on that digital transformation to move at a quicker pace.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: You know, when I spoke with CEO Arvind Krishna a few months ago, he talked about his laser focus on cloud and on AI. And on the recent earnings call, he talked about the company's commitment to acquisitions to that end. Can you talk to us a little bit about the commitment IBM is going to make in terms of acquisitions that will help the cloud grow next year and beyond?

HOWARD BOVILLE: So we're very focused in the acquisitions that we're making that targeted against the large enterprises that we have served for many, many decades. And the complex business processes and the mission critical business processes they run, that's pretty much the heritage of what IBM does. We make the world's mission critical processes work with the technology that we provide. So the acquisitions that we make are focused in that dimension.

So we're not providing a general purpose cloud capability that meets every single industry and every single developer. We're very focused on the core markets that we've always operated on and always looking to help them in terms of driving out complexity for their operations. So that will drive, essentially, the investment thesis that we have and the types of acquisitions that we make.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Aside from the acquisitions, I know there are strategic partnerships at play as well. IBM recently announced it's teaming up with Amazon's cloud arm, AWS, Amazon Web Services, to improve cyber security for customers. Can you talk to us a little bit about IBM's role in that partnership?

Yeah, we have a very strong cybersecurity practice on a standalone basis. But the way that we see the world in terms of our large customers consuming cloud-based technologies is they all buy from multi-cloud providers. They'll buy from the industry specialist cloud that we have here at IBM, but they'll also consume services from Amazon, from Microsoft, and from Google. And therefore, we have partnerships with all of those providers at a very deep technology level, again to actually make the user experience for our customers far more frictionless and convenient.

But in the context of large enterprises, security is clearly at the forefront of every chief executive, so thereby embedding the actual unique and specialist security practices that we have and the offerings into the cloud. So we can actually make the consumption of cloud far more secure.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: I know that IBM, I mean, in addition to the banking industry, is involved with other industries. And some of them have been slow to just sort of join the digital revolution, if you will. Oil and gas comes to mind there. What are your plans for working with those kinds of industries and to bringing them up to speed when it comes to cloud services?

HOWARD BOVILLE: I would certainly say that the pandemic has been the actual biggest accelerant for every industry to think about how it actually becomes digital in an appropriate context relative to its business. So in oil exploration, how do you actually get digital images back to an environment where you can determine whether an oil field actually has an opportunity for you?

So we're helping many companies across many industries in terms of either the consulting services that we provide to help in how they think about going through a digital transformation right, actually, into many of the core technologies. And then, in addition to that, to the point you've made, Alexis, also then bringing the partners together. So there's a complete, complete solution.

And the important point around that is that the technology that we provide is redundant without it being actually applied to a business problem. And that's the unique differentiator we see that IBM brings because we saw deep in our understanding of these industries, that we can see these problems on a horizontal basis around the world, and then apply the appropriate levels of technology to actually give business value back to our customers.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right, we're excited to continue to see the growth there for IBM Cloud. Howard Boville, senior VP of IBM's Hybrid Cloud, thanks for being with us.

HOWARD BOVILLE: Thank you for having me, Alexis.