3 ways companies are embracing digital transformation and changing their industries

By Ian Robinson

Digital transformation is a hot topic these days. You'd be hard-pressed to find even one organization that hasn't devoted some resources to navigating this area. As it stands, businesses are still reconciling their analog processes with the potential opportunities of digitized versions and working to determine both the benefits and costs of doing so.

Though many are just now timidly dipping their feet in the transformation waters, industry leaders such as IBM have been all-in for some time. Here are a few examples of how IBM's cloud and cognitive systems are enabling clients to reach their bold, forward-looking commercial goals and objectives:

NASA, robots and Watson

When enterprises started making this transformation, most billed it as the savior of efficiency. After all, computers are generally much faster at processing than the typical human. What wasn't as obvious to the average bystander was its effect on safety.

It makes sense when you think about it. It's true that computers are much faster thinkers, but they're also infinitely more expendable. It's on this premise that NASA, Woodside Energy, and IBM teamed up for a new kind of transformation.

IT News reports that as a part of a five-year trial, Woodside Energy will leverage the brawn of NASA Robonaut and the brains of IBM Watson to "improve safety, reliability and efficiency in the high-risk and remote environments where Woodside Energy operates." The humanoid robot will be able to perform up to 300 different tasks. While Robonaut will be deployed to hazardous environments such as offshore platforms, Watson will be safe in the office doing its own mining — of data — to ensure fluid operations across the board.

In a sense, Woodside Energy's investment in Watson and Robonaut exemplifies the pinnacle of going digital by removing unnecessary, manual processes and replacing them with safe, highly efficient alternatives.

A royal bank

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is one of the largest financial institutions in the world. As impressive as that may be, its stance on transformation is even more eye-opening. As RBC's head of technology and operations Bruce Ross says, RBC is a technology company that happens to have a bank sign on the front door.

It's this mindset that has led RBC to innovate in incredible ways — so much so, in fact, that it won Global Retail Bank of the Year for the third time in a row. What's driving this success? Digital transformation.

With the help of IBM Cloud and Bluemix, RBC has capitalized on its unique vision of modern banking, becoming a leading player in the business-as-a-service (BaaS) market. It has some 30 Bluemix apps deployed and takes advantage of modern digital opportunities such as the IoT and blockchain.

RBC was the first to announce Siri Pay in Canada and has sustained growth of mobile demand from customers, demonstrating the value the movement to digital has brought the company. RBC has proven that going digital is not just about speed — it's about doing things differently.


Beekeeping is probably not the first industry that comes to mind when talking about digital transformation. However, as it turns out, bees hold many surprises when it comes to their importance in modern business. Agriculture, in particular, depends on their pollination abilities to keep foods such as apples and broccoli on the dinner table.

Read how Watson is helping farmers make strategic business decisions

How would an industry as organic as beekeeping find digital solutions useful? For the same reasons you flip on the morning news: weather tracking. Honeybees are sensitive to temperature changes. It’s estimated that weather has a $500 billion annual impact on the economy.

Clearly, putting a finger to the air is insufficient for predicting weather changes and adjusting beekeeping strategy accordingly. It's for precisely this reason that Adee Farms and similar companies have employed digital, cognitive solutions such as IBM Watson.

Watch how Adee Farms uses IBM Watson for beekeeping:

IBM has moved from providing basic forecasts to leveraging analytics and cognitive technology to emphasize decision support for organizations such as Adee. In doing so, beekeepers not only have the ability to better understand oncoming weather patterns, but they now know where their bees will perform best based on variables from bloom conditions to daytime temperature.

While some organizations may be hesitant or simply ill-prepared to go digital, finding the right partner can help ease the burden. Fortunately, IBM has been at this for some time now.

This article was originally published on Mobile Business Insights.