IBM Study: Most U.S. Consumers Remain Unsettled About the Economy, Visiting Public Spaces and Returning to the Workplace Amidst COVID-19

ARMONK, N.Y., July 27, 2020 — The most recent findings from an ongoing IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) survey of U.S. consumers show that Americans remain concerned about returning to the workplace in the face of the ongoing pandemic, and expect further outbreaks of COVID-19 in the fall. The July research revealed a slight contrast in consumer attitudes compared to June, when there were emerging signs of public optimism about the direction of the pandemic and the economy.

IBM surveyed more than 7,000 Americans in July to understand how COVID-19 has affected their perspectives on issues including the economy, opportunities for remote work and the return to the workplace, and how they will visit businesses, use transportation, and more.

“The results from our ongoing survey underscore that consumer attitudes continue to shift as the effects of the virus fluctuate around the country, and consumers are preparing themselves for more permanent changes in behavior,” said Jesus Mantas, senior managing partner, IBM Services. “These new behaviors define the new preferences that business leaders need to be able to deliver to meet consumers where they are. This is no longer a question of competitive advantage, it’s a matter of business survival.”

Noteworthy findings from the July survey include:

Most expect the pandemic and economic uncertainty to remain for some time
Even as parts of the country cautiously reopen, the percentage of Americans surveyed who are concerned about personal and public health continues to rise. In July, 72% report that COVID-19 has made them more concerned about the safety and health of themselves and their families (68% in June). The same percentage of respondents also said they worry about a second wave of COVID-19 later in 2020 (65% in June), and 66% expect to see more global pandemic-like events in the future (60% in June). Only 13% of consumers surveyed believe that the economy will bounce back to where it was prior to COVID-19, a 3 percentage point drop from the previous month.

People are comfortable working remotely at least some of the time, and remain concerned about COVID-19 in the workplace
Once employees can return to their offices, 84% of respondents indicated that they would still like to work remotely at least occasionally, up 3% from June. A growing majority also said they want employers to take clear and active measures to protect them from exposure to the virus when they return to the workplace, while providing flexibility to help ensure mental health and well-being. 63% said there needs to be clear communication from employers about what is being done to sanitize the workplace (54% in June), and 58% say that employers should maintain social distancing protocols in the workplace (49% in June). 41% feel strongly that their employer should provide special accommodations for individuals to address childcare needs – up 6 percentage points since the previous month.

Americans are resuming some daily activities, but most public places and businesses remain empty
Americans are increasingly getting out of the house. 27% of respondents surveyed have already visited restaurants and bars (compared to 21% in June). There’s been a moderate increase in consumers who have already visited a salon or barber shop – 1 in 4 have visited a salon or barber shop in July (up from 17% in June).

However, there’s a growing number of Americans who have not visited public places or large venues during COVID-19, and likely will not visit for the remainder of 2020. 35% don’t plan on going to shopping centers or malls this year (compared to 27% in June). 66% said they would not visit an amusement park (up from 59% in June), and 64% won’t attend a live sporting event this year (55% June).

Telemedicine is on the rise
40% of consumers have already taken advantage of telemedicine services to seek remote care for less urgent issues in July (up 6 percentage points from June) – and 60% plan to keep using these services beyond the pandemic (50% in June), despite the fact that only 19% of those surveyed sought virtual treatment before. Meanwhile, about one-third indicated they have visited medical offices amidst pandemic restrictions.

Other findings:

  • Transportation: Consistently across June and July, consumers said that they planned to reduce their use of – or forgo entirely – ridesharing and public transportation. 53% said they will use public transportation like buses, subways or trains less or no longer at all (55% in June), and three out of ten said they would exclusively use their personal vehicle (26% in June). 70% of those without a vehicle said they would purchase one, up 6 percentage points from June.
  • Urban life: Despite the pandemic and recent social unrest, more than half of those surveyed indicated they want to stay in an urban area, the same percentage as polled in June. But for some, living in urban areas has become less desirable. Approximately 1 in 5 urban residents indicate they plan to move or will consider moving to non-urban areas as a result of COVID-19, similar to June.

The IBV has surveyed more than 54,000 U.S. consumers since April and plans to continue polling the public on these topics and more in the months ahead.

IBM Services Teams with CBRE to Deliver “Smart Maintenance” Services to Data Center Clients

ARMONK, N.Y., July 22, 2020 — IBM Services and CBRE, the largest commercial real estate services company in the world, are expanding their long-term relationship to provide technology support services for CBRE’s clients at select data center facilities it manages.

A new CBRE offering called Smart Maintenance is the latest addition to their existing suite of Converged Data Center Services. Powered by IBM Services, it leverages IBM’s AI, augmented reality technologies and deep analytics to provide vendor-agnostic, predictive and reactive hardware maintenance for CBRE’s data center clients’ technology assets.

As part of the agreement, IBM will work with CBRE technicians as an on-site extension of IBM’s Remote Technical Support. CBRE technicians intend to diagnose and maintain IT hardware from a wide range of manufacturers, leveraging IBM’s augmented reality and Watson enabled AI technologies while being supported by IBM’s global platform, which includes 57 call centers worldwide, tens of thousands IT support specialists and 585 parts centers carrying 1.3 million parts. It is anticipated that when a service call is placed, IBM AI technology will ask a series of questions to identify the problem and help find the quickest solution. If physical repair is required, CBRE site technicians can perform this repair under guidance from IBM’s central pool of expertise. Additionally, IBM analytics can provide lifecycle review for data center equipment and provide a predictive maintenance service plan.

In today’s hybrid, multicloud environments, many enterprises rely on a heterogeneous mixture of manufacturers and third-party vendors to provide maintenance and support for their IT systems. The solution is designed to reduce complexity and create a path to implement and maintain the next generation of hybrid workloads which can help reduce costs for CBRE’s clients, which include leading corporations across sectors including financial services, technology, media, healthcare, energy and utilities, life sciences, retail and real estate investment trusts.

“This opportunity was made possible by the history of success between CBRE and IBM,” said Jim Harding, President of Data Center Solutions for CBRE’s Global Workplace Solutions segment. “We’ve been exploring areas that make sense for innovative collaboration, and we’re very pleased to be backed by IBM Services and its leadership in AI and multi-vendor technology support.”

Additionally, a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, cloud adoption and software has become an essential business service for many organizations and has highlighted the complexities of managing cost and usage. It has also created the need for IT decision makers to look for ways to help reduce the costs and complexity associated with maintaining equipment from a variety of technology vendors. Recently named a “Leader” among seven other providers in the IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Support Services 2019 Vendor Assessment (October 2019, IDC #US45595819e), “IBM’s global presence and partnerships make the company a great fit for large enterprises.” The report continued that “… customers state that the partnerships IBM creates at the higher levels of the C-suite allow IBM to truly understand the business needs of the customer and, in return, the C-suite of the customer has access to IBM executives.”

“We’re pleased to provide multi-vendor services for CBRE with IBM’s diverse set of technology capabilities, software knowledge and predictive operational management,” said Mike Perera, General Manager, Technology Support Services, IBM. “IBM Services is committed to innovations in analytics, AI, AR and other technologies to enable organizations to manage the toughest of circumstances, minimize outages and secure their data.”

With this service, CBRE’s clients may be able to reduce maintenance and support spending. IBM’s advanced IT support management technologies can infuse automation into the support process, including predictive maintenance, cognitive capabilities, proactive monitoring, and asset and life-cycle management. Prior to this, without the advantage of Smart Maintenance’s analytics and predictive maintenance driving reduced downtime, CBRE’s data center clients would have used Original Equipment Manufacturers and other third-party vendors to help manage their equipment.

In addition, CBRE’s clients may benefit from reduced time spent on hardware support tasks. IBM’s proprietary asset management and support portal, which provides a real-time view of assets and support actions, will automate CBRE’s IT support processes, helping employees to further improve their productivity.

Furthermore, by consolidating IT support with CBRE, clients can minimize management overhead by no longer maintaining multiple support relationships, allowing them to shift their focus to more value-add tasks.

Analytics, predictive maintenance, fault avoidance and speed to resolution—for both data center plant (e.g., UPS systems) and IT equipment (e.g., servers, storage arrays)—will be provided through CBRE|Romonet and IBM Watson technologies.

This agreement between IBM and CBRE was signed in IBM’s Q1, 2020.

1850® Coffee Brand and Farmer Connect to Bring Coffee Lovers and Producers Closer Together Using IBM Blockchain Technology

Brand will be the first in United States to use Thank My Farmer app to make it easy for coffee drinkers to trace their coffee back to its country of origin and learn about efforts to help farmers in coffee-growing regions

ORRVILLE, Ohio – 1850® Coffee, a J. M. Smucker Company brand, in partnership with Farmer Connect, is pioneering a new era in coffee transparency through its 100% Colombian Coffee bagged offering. Leveraging IBM’s blockchain technology, consumers can now trace their coffee back to its region of origin on a platform designed to help increase traceability, efficiency and fairness in the coffee supply chain.

By easily scanning a QR code on the bag of coffee, their device will route them to the Thank My Farmer website, which provides information about where the coffee was grown, processed and exported, and the location of its roast. They can also learn more about Farmer Connect projects underway to support coffee producers and their families in Colombia such as providing clean drinking water for schools; coffee seedlings for smallholder farms; school supplies for local schools; and sustainable water and agriculture initiatives. This comes at a time when more consumers are taking a purpose-driven approach to their shopping patterns and purchasing products that more closely align with their values. According to the IBM Institute for Business Value, for those who say sustainability is very important, 71% surveyed are willing to pay a premium for sustainable and environmentally responsible brands.

“We know that consumers are increasingly interested in transparency in the supply chains for the products they enjoy and we have been committed to helping promote this as part of our coffee sustainability strategy,” said Joe Stanziano, senior vice president and general manager of coffee at The J. M. Smucker Company. “Our work with Farmer Connect and IBM not only helps connect coffee lovers to the producers who provide their favorite morning drink, it also gives them the opportunity to support these hardworking smallholder farmers and their families.”

The coffee supply chain is complex given that green coffee is produced by more than 25 million smallholder farmers, as opposed to the larger farms that are associated with delivering the majority of other commodities. Through the blockchain platform, consumers can have access to unprecedented transparency and can participate in a global circular economy where consumers can be directly involved in the agricultural communities that produce their food and drink through donations made to farmers and communities.

This transparency is achieved by using blockchain to record data about supply chain events in the coffee’s journey; including which beans were used, when they were roasted, ports they were shipped to and beyond. Information about these events is recorded on an immutable ledger, creating increased accountability for coffee producers and their supply chain partners and helping ensure products are what they say they are.

“Working with The J.M. Smucker Company has been a remarkable opportunity to shine a brighter light on the work of the farmers who grow the beans,” said IBM Food Trust general manager Raj Rao. “By combining blockchain and other technologies, we can give coffee drinkers the tools they need to feel connected to the region where their coffee comes from and even support the farmers and local communities through donations that impact local organizations and schools.”

1850 100% Colombian bagged coffee is a bold, yet smooth blend of premium Colombian Arabica beans. It has a lively and full-bodied taste that’s unique to Colombian coffee. It’s available at Amazon, Meijer and other retailers throughout the United States and Canada.

IBM to Acquire WDG Automation to Advance AI-Infused Automation Capabilities for Enterprises

– New AI-Powered RPA helps companies speed the completion of more types of work so employees can focus on higher value work

ARMONK, N.Y., July 8, 2020 — IBM today announced it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire Brazilian software provider of robotic process automation (RPA) WDG Soluções Em Sistemas E Automação De Processos LTDA (referred to as “WDG Automation” throughout). The acquisition further advances IBM’s comprehensive AI-infused automation capabilities, spanning business processes to IT operations. Financial terms were not disclosed.

In today’s digital era, companies are looking for new ways to create new business models, deliver new services and lower costs. The need to drive this transformation is even greater now given the uncertainties of COVID-19. IDC predicts that by 2025, AI-powered enterprises will see a 100% increase in knowledge worker productivity, resulting in shorter reaction times, greater product innovation success and improved customer satisfactioni.

When AI-infused automation is applied to business processes and IT operations, it can help shorten the time between identifying an issue and responding. This is critical as unforeseen IT incidents and outages, for example, can cost businesses in both revenue and reputation.

By embedding WDG Automation’s RPA capabilities into IBM’s existing AI-infused automation capabilities across business processes and IT operations, business leaders including Chief Operating Officers (COOs) and Chief Information Officers (CIOs) will have broader access to intelligent automation through software robots. The acquisition also will extend IBM Services’ ability to transform clients’ operations as RPA, analytics and AI bring more intelligence to the enterprise workflows that fuel adaptive and resilient businesses and helps to expand IBM’s capabilities for delivering automation pervasively across client organizations.

With today’s news, businesses will be able to efficiently re-engineer, optimize and standardize operations, while eliminating business processes and IT operations that are redundant or unnecessary. They can also quickly identify more granular opportunities for automation, including tasks that have many steps, as well as help ensure consistent and accurate data is being used across all tools and business functions, including customer service, IT, finance, HR, and supply chain.

“IBM already automates how companies apply AI to business processes and IT operations so they can detect opportunities and problems and recommend next steps and solutions,” said Denis Kennelly, General Manager, Cloud Integration, IBM Cloud and Cognitive Software. “With today’s announcement, IBM is taking that a step further and helping clients accelerate automation to more parts of the organization, not just to routine, but more complex tasks so employees can focus on higher value work.”

“Automation is crucial in the digital era, as businesses need to perform several repetitive or routine tasks, so that employees are able to focus on innovation. I’m incredibly proud of the role WDG Automation has played in the RPA market with a unified and integrated platform to help companies in Brazil increase their productivity,” said Robson Felix, Founder and CEO, WDG Automation.

“Joining forces with IBM will scale our capabilities to a wider audience, helping companies around the world accelerate their growth on their business transformation journeys,” said Kleber Rodrigues Junior, co-founder, WDG Automation.

WDG Automation’s RPA Capabilities Automate Basic and Complex Tasks

WDG Automation is a software provider of RPA, headquartered in São José do Rio Preto, Brazil. WDG Automation provides RPA, Intelligent Automation (IA), Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and chatbots primarily to customers in Latin America.

The WDG Automation technology is designed for business users to create automations using a desktop recorder without the need of IT. These software robots can run on-demand by the end user or by an automated scheduler.

IBM Offers Complete AI-Infused Automation Capabilities – Spanning Business Process to IT Operations

Today’s news will further extend the capabilities of the IBM Cloud Pak offerings on Red Hat OpenShift, starting with Cloud Pak for Automation. As part of the acquisition, IBM will integrate over 600 pre-built RPA functions from WDG Automation into Cloud Pak for Automation to help businesses turn insights from AI into automated actions.

Available on any public or private cloud, or on-premises, the IBM Cloud Pak for Automation offers clients a single set of AI-infused automation software and services, including data capture, workflow orchestration, decision management, monitoring and reporting, that helps companies design, build and run intelligently automated business processes and IT operations. With WDG Automation, clients will be able to more quickly identify more granular opportunities for automation, accelerate the deployment of bots, and streamline more end-to-end workflows. For example, during invoice processing, WDG Automation click-mining capabilities can help prioritize RPA deployments with WDG Automation pre-built scripts, integrated with the Cloud Pak for Automation, and can be deployed faster and smarter with infused AI.

Organizations including Banco Galicia, ENN Group in China, PNC Bank throughout the U.S., several Qatar government entities, and UK NHS Blood and Transplant, already are using IBM Cloud Pak for Automation capabilities to digitize and automate work.

In addition to business operations, IBM plans to integrate WDG Automation RPA into its capabilities for automating IT operations, specifically Watson AIOps and Cloud Pak for Multicloud Management. IBM Watson AIOps, for example, automates how CIOs self-detect, diagnose and respond to IT anomalies in real time. RPA can help close the loop and ensure consistent data across all tools that connect to Watson AIOps. This can increase data quality and improve the accuracy of AI, as well as the productivity of engineers involved.

IBM’s investment in AI-infused automation will help improve and redefine the workflows that drive the operations across an organization. IBM Services delivers fast prototyping, rapid scaling, and management of digital operations for business process and IT. For example, in a procure to pay process, the workflow engine determines that the best way to handle certain types of invoices is to route them to the bot. These intelligent workflows reduce response time and save time for the invoice processor to focus on other work by automating the entire process of requisitioning, purchasing, receiving, paying for and accounting for goods and services.

The WDG Automation technology will join the IBM Cloud Integration organization and be available through IBM Cloud Pak for Automation on-premises, and in public or private cloud environments.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions. It is expected to close in Q3 2020.

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna Keynotes IBM Think Gov Digital 2020

Krishna and other leaders discuss the need for business, society, and governments to respond to change with agility and unity

NEW YORK, — IBM CEO Arvind Krishna delivered a keynote presentation at IBM’s Think Gov 2020, a digital event, to more than 1,000 U.S. leaders, technologists, and developers from local, federal and state governments. Krishna’s keynote focused on the opportunity to lead change through innovation and the acceleration of transformative business opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Krishna called hybrid cloud and AI “the two dominant forces driving digital transformation today,” and said the IBM public cloud has been reengineered to be the best destination for regulated workloads like the data demands of government clients.

“We give clients the ability to retain control of their own encryption keys and the hardware security modules that protect them. This isn’t even a differentiator. It’s unique. And I know how important security is for the government.”

Krishna, who was the driving force behind last year’s $34 billion acquisition of open-source software leader Red Hat, said the combination of the two companies “is a game-changer” that allows clients to build mission-critical applications once and run them anywhere.

Krishna added, “More than 20 years ago, experts predicted that every organization would become an Internet organization. I’m predicting that EVERY organization will become an AI organization – not because they can, but because they must.  AI is the only way to scale innovation, insight, and expertise.”

“Moments of crisis almost always carry lessons and if there is anything the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s the critical importance of technology solutions that enable speed, flexibility, insight, and innovation.”

“As difficult as these times may be, we at IBM see plenty of light at the end of the tunnel. There is no question that this pandemic is a powerful force of disruption and an unprecedented tragedy.  But it is also a critical turning point.  It’s an opportunity to develop new solutions, new ways of working, and new partnerships that will benefit your organization and the people you serve — not just today, but for years to come.”

Krishna also disclosed that IBM has made more than $200 million in global donations of money and technology during this global health crisis, including joining the White House and the U.S. Department of Energy to spearhead an unprecedented consortium of supercomputing power to accelerate scientific discovery. IBM has also made more than 80,000 IBM patents free of charge to researchers fighting the pandemic.