Cognitive Computing

World Rail Festival 2017: From digital disruption to digital reinvention

Key international railway leaders gathered for the first day of World Rail Festival in Amsterdam to discuss the digitization of the rail business model, how commercial growth can be achieved and how the rail industry can prepare to meet the demands of the travel ecosystem of the future.

To win in the marketplace today, simply becoming a digital enterprise is no longer enough.Today’s disruptors are powering their digital reinvention with industry-led cognitive and cloud technologies.

IBM’s Travel and Transportation industry expert, Keith Dierkx, shared several valuable insights during the opening keynote speech about what the path forward for railways striving to be successful in a world of mass disruption might be.

New technologies such as Internet of Things, Blockchain, Cognitive and Cloud have emerged and changed the game altogether.

Technology is decomposing industry structures and processes, traditional value chains are being replaced, ecosystems are reshaping enterprises, industries and economies.

15 years ago, people were talking about infinite bandwidth. Because of technology advancements, the impact of infinite bandwidth is playing out now. Essentially everything is now connected, which has a profound impact on business ecosystems.

Cloud technology and Data are changing the IT landscape.

Data is now becoming the real source of competitive advantage. Traditional systems cannot keep up with the amount of structured and unstructured data that exists, which drives the development of cognitive AI and machine learning. Technology advancements will continue to cause disruption, as it is estimated that there will be 20 billion connected devices worldwide by 2020.

By leveraging innovative technology  to cut costs, rail operators will be able to invest more in strategic growth imperatives. Major sources of cost reduction for enterprises mainly include:

  • infusing cognitive into core processes
  • modernizing or eliminating legacy application systems
  • simplifying and driving efficiency in assets and infrastructure
  • enhancing skills and capabilities of the workforce.

Keith’s speech also provided four key take-aways for the railway operations to tackle core challenges as their businesses are being reinvented:

  1. Undertake a full-fledged digital transformation that impacts multiple aspects of their current business models.
  2. Reinvent customer engagement along the multiple touch points of a newly configured digital and social customer lifecycle.
  3. Re-imagine the core processes that drive the business, leveraging cognitive capabilities, deep analytics and applied insights.
  4. Innovate and migrate the application suites and broader technology architectures that enable the business, leveraging the flexibility and agility of the cloud.

For more information on our involvement in the railway industry, explore




Content Marketing Manager, IBM Europe

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