Highlights From IBM’s Think 2021 Conference

IBM announced advances in AI, hybrid cloud and quantum computing at its flagship event Think Conference, 2021, on May 11. Chairman and CEO Arvind Krishna said, “In the same way that we electrified factories and machines in the past century, we will use hybrid cloud to infuse AI into software and systems in the 21st Century.”

IBM plans to invest in partner ecosystem to facilitate deep industry collaboration, he added. 

Lindsey Lurie, CMO at IBM Cloud and Cognitive, said, “The innovations highlight IBM’s role in helping its customers and partners so they can accelerate their digital transformations, return to work smarter and build strategic ecosystems to help drive better business outcomes.” 

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Here are the key announcements from Think 2021: 

Watson Orchestrate

IBM Watson Orchestrate is a self-serve, interactive AI tool to help an organisation perform mundane and mission-critical tasks faster. These tasks may include something as simple as scheduling meetings and sending emails to more complex tasks such as preparing sales pitches and procuring approvals. 

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Unlike a static bot programmed by IT, Watson Orchestrate works in a human-like fashion. It uses collaboration tools such as Slack and emails to initiate work. Dinesh Nirmal, General Manager of Cloud Automation at IBM, said that Watson orchestrate will specifically help employees automate everyday work; operate in one tool, interacting with all the data that they need; and get the complex mission-critical work done swiftly and efficiently. 

Auto SQL 

IBM has announced a capability to its IBM Cloud Pak for Data– a new AutoSQL technology. IBM had introduced IBM Cloud Pak for Data three years ago to help its clients expedite data-driven and predictive outcomes. The recent generation of IBM Cloud Pak for Data will help customers operationalise AI swiftly while removing complexity by connecting the right data to the right people. 

Auto SQL is a high-performance, universal query engine that will simplify customer’s data landscape by enabling them to use the same query across dissimilar data sources– including data warehouses, data lakes, and streaming data. This will enable customers to save time and resources that would otherwise go into moving data and maintaining multiple query engines. 

Steven Astorino, VP of Development, Data and AI at IBM, said, “In conjunction with the platform’s existing data and virtualisation capabilities, AutoSQL empowers users to easily query data across hybrid, multi-cloud and multi-vendor environments.”

The AI-backed technology will be used to automate access, integration and management of data for AI, irrespective of where and how the data resides and is sorted. AutoSQL also includes pre-integrated data governance capabilities, assuring the quality and validity of the data to consumers. 

“AutoSLQ capabilities will be one of the key technologies underlying a new data fabric from IBM in the Cloud Pak for Data,” Lindsey said. 


Available with IBM WebSphere Hybrid Edition, Mono2Micro will help enterprises apply AI to help modernise applications for hybrid cloud. It will use AI capabilities developed in IBM Research to scan and analyse enterprise applications and offer recommendations on rewriting the application for containers and microservices. 

Project CodeNet 

IBM Project CodeNet is an open-source dataset comprising 14 million code samples and close to 500 million lines of code, in more than 55 different programming languages, starting from COBOL, Pascal and FORTRAN to more modern languages like C++, Java, Python and Go. 

Chief Scientist at IBM Research, Ruchir Puri, said, “Given its wealth of programmes written in a multitude of languages, we believe Project CodeNet can serve as a benchmark dataset for source-to-source translation and do for AI and code what ImageNet dataset did years ago for computer vision.” 

Maximo Mobile 

Maximo Mobile is an easy-to-deploy mobile platform built on next-generation mobile technology. 

What Watson Orchestrate does for business professionals, Maximo Mobile does for professionals in the field. Maximo Mobile will help technicians with intelligent enterprise asset management (EAM) to manage critical physical assets. 

Maximo Mobile can be deployed on any cloud environment or on premise. It helps technicians scale their expertise, improve asset reliability, and streamline business operations. Even in the remotest of locations, Maximo Mobile allows technicians to use AI, intelligent workflows, expert human assistance, digital twin information and in-depth organisational knowledge to solve complex issues. 

Qiskit Runtime 

A product of IBM Quantum, Qiskit Runtime is a containerised service for quantum computers. It streamlines computations requiring many iterations. IBM reported that it demonstrated a 120x speedup in simulating molecules. Qiskit Runtime is currently in beta.

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