Is “services first” the new mantra of the cognitive world?

Clients from across almost every industry in Europe are taking advantage of the “Services First”approach to tap cognitive market opportunities, access cutting edge technology and skills. In doing so, they are improving security and flexibility, driving growth and sustainability.

With rapidly changing needs and accelerating business cycles, organizations look for consistent and reliable service delivery across a “supply chain”of services from multiple vendors. For the IT services industry, it means a shift from system integration to services integration.  Businesses and government agencies around Europe are quickly adopting services integration as an approach to integrate diverse workloads and platforms, not only to reduce costs and increase efficiencies, but also to improve business processes and capabilities, ensure greater data protection and security, reinforce relationships with clients and take advantage of new market opportunities.

Last year IBM announced details of several major deals as part of a move by key European industry leaders to benefit from recent advances in cloud and cognitive technologies.

The agreements with a combined value of well over $2 billion USD include several leading financial institutions such as UK’s HSBC, Spain’s BBVA, Denmark’s Danske Bank, Switzerland’s Banque CantonaleVaudoise, Bank of Cyprus, as well as CMA CGM, one of the world’s key shipping carrier based in France, major Italian airports operator SEA and many others.

Advanced services are helping to drive a wave of innovation across European industries. Connecting cognitive capabilities with vast amounts of data and cloud infrastructures enables organisations to achieve breakthroughs like detecting and resolving cyber-attacks, pre-empting problems or handling potential outages before they happen. These services underpin major digital transformations, improving the way organisations serve clients or reach completely new markets and new users.


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For example, key financial institutions, industrial service providers, oil & gas conglomerates and other industry players gain competitive edge over rivals when they embrace this new business model developed by IBM that provides an integrated services delivery approach to the modern multivendor IT environment, consolidating IT management more efficiently, and offering better visibility across discrete servers, networks, or applications.

Tapping cognitive business opportunities

  • The State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and IBM announced they will work together to accelerate digital transformation processes in the energy industry and across sectors. This strategic partnership will engage SOCAR’s industry expertise and IBM’s digital, cognitive computing and data science capabilities in building differentiated industry solutions and competencies in the region.
  • Working with IBM, HSBC has developed a new technology to help automate and simplify the processing of millions of documents used daily in international commerce.
  • Taking advantage of IBM’s new Watson-based services platform IBM and Danske Bank signed a 10-year IT infrastructure services contract leveraging the platform to develop and implement the first of a kind cognitive delivery platform. It will allow Danske to easily integrate existing systems and can be further used for development and deployment of new financial services. Danske Bank’s use of the platform will help ensure uninterrupted banking operations and a significant decrease of the number of incidents impacting business critical applications and end-users.

Designing for digital transformation

  • Golden Sand Bank is working with IBM Poland to build an end-to-end digital bank through complex financial services available remotely. By using IBM Bank in a Box service, IBM and Golden Sand Bank expect to provide a core banking system, multi-functional front end and a fully digital business process management to its clients. IBM’s solution fulfils all requirements imposed on banks by national regulators and the European Union.
  • Spain’s BBVA is stepping up its digital transformation process. The Group has signed a services agreement with IBM for the operation and optimization of BBVA’s current technological infrastructure. The agreement allows the Group to advance its ‘cloud computing’strategy through the optimization and transformation of its current infrastructure.
  • Bank of Cyprus selected IBM as a strategic partner to drive its digital transformation. It will utilize IBM iX capabilities to launch a large-scale redesign and will leverage IBM’s expertise to implement an enterprise wide process re-engineering program, digitizing and automating processes with a goal to achieve significant efficiencies while directing routine customer interactions to digital channels.
  • ActivTrades is a leading UK online broker with over 50,000 customers providing services in Forex and Contact for Difference. The company generates more than $87bn trading volume on average. ActivTrades have already completed the migration of its trading platforms MetaTrader4 and 5 to the IBM Cloud. The new IBM Cloud based platform helps their clients to use stable trading services and as a result make fast trading decisions. Because it is an open, scalable and flexible platform, ActivTrades could seamlessly migrate MetaTrader 4, MetaTrader 5 and its proprietary platform ActivTrader to the new working environment. Because of that, today they are able to deploy new services in days rather than months and can execute transactions significantly faster than with the previous system.

Driving Efficiencies and Greater Security

  • SEA, a leading Italian airports operator has engaged IBM in a seven-year service agreement to consolidate and manage its IT infrastructure on a hybrid IT environment that integrates the IBM Cloud.
  • CMA CGM Groupsigned IBM for a new seven-year extension of their existing services agreement. IBM will implement and manage a flexible cloud platform based on the IBM Cloud. The agreement also covers data center, integration and production services, network security management.
  • IBM and Banque CantonaleVaudoise (BCV)announced a multi-million extension of their existing services agreement until the end of 2020. IBM services will aim to streamline, secure and standardize BCV’s IT infrastructure and processes.

IBM Services offers end-to-end IT consulting and business services supported by an unparalleled global delivery network that is transforming its business to lead in an era of cognitive and cloud. As a cloud services integrator, IBM Services is managing the services and underlying infrastructure in an integrated and unified way. It is modernizing clients’IT environments to help them meet the increasingly complex customer demands.

About the author:

Bart Van den Daele, General Manager, Global Technology Services, IBM EuropeBart Van den Daele is the General Manager for IBM Global Technology Services in Europe, covering more than 50 countries and helping clients tap intonew cognitive business opportunities by rolling out transformational digital services and automating processes. He is responsible for a portfolio of services, including Mobility, Resiliency, Systems and Networking service lines, as well as Technical Support Services and Outsourcing.

Prior to this position, Bart was the General Manager for IBM’s Financial Services sector in Europe. He has extensive experience and deep industry knowledge across all parts of IBM’s services business. Bart has been the architect and lead senior executive on most of our large and transformation engagements on the European continent that make up IBM’s sourcing and managed services business.

Since joining IBM in 1999, Bart has held several senior leadership positions within IBM’s Software, Industry, Solutions and Services divisions. He is President of IS4F, Vice President of BP2I and board member of VTS, joint ventures for IT operations and innovations with Belfius, BNP Paribas and Unicredit Group.

Bart holds a Master’s Degree in Electromechanics and Automation.