IBM Think 2018: a glimpse of the future

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas? Not quite. For the very first time, IBM brought all of its fields of expertise together at one location: the IBM Think 2018 conference in Las Vegas. And of course, Integration Designers was there as well.

The conference program looked impressive to say the least: 2768 sessions on topics as varied as cloud, customer engagement, data and analytics, human resources, IoT, security and Watson. As Integration Designers has a strong focus on IBM Integration solutions, we were mainly interested in the updates on IBM DataPower, IBM API Connect, IBM Integration Bus and IBM MQ. We spent the first day of the conference getting updates on IBM App Connect Enterprise, IBM DataPower, an overview of the IBM Integration portfolio, and a session on SalesForce connectivity. That last one appeared to be of good use for one of our clients. A follow-up meeting with the labs has been scheduled.

Smart as monkeys

Ginni Rometty’s keynote speech made clear how IBM is focusing on (hybrid) cloud and AI. Three customers joined IBM’s CEO on stage to talk about how digital transformation is changing their businesses and how IBM is helping them on that journey. Later that day, I got the chance to meet one of my heroes, Dr. Michio Kaku, the physicist. He shared his view on the future and the technological trends coming our way. According to Kaku, we still have to wait until the end of this century to see AI robots that will be as smart as monkeys. Progress is made, but not as fast as some hope – or fear. Kaku strongly believes that man and machine will collaborate more over the next decades, and that this will be beneficial to the human race.


In a session on Digital Business Automation, we learned about IBM’s view on how Robotic Process Automation, BPM and Case Management will help companies automate their processes. Together with our colleagues of RoboRana, we will start looking at this solution to address the Belgian market.

In-depth discussion

At the final day of the conference, my colleague Jef and myself attended a face-to-face session with Ben Thompson, Chief Architect of IBM App Connect Enterprise (formerly known as IBM Integration Bus). Originally planned to last 45 minutes, we ended up talking almost an hour and a half. We went through our well-prepared list of questions and Ben responded openly and with passion. We discussed a wide variety of topics: lightweight integration, mapping technologies, deployment models, best practices, future development and the features we believe are still missing. Needless to say that this was a very interesting session.

Looking back at the conference, it was definitely worth the effort to attend. New insights in the latest product development and interesting discussions about customer cases made it a worthwhile experience. It is clear that IBM continues its focus on cloud and AI. Within the IBM Integration portfolio, there are a lot of new releases coming our way. ACE v11 (new IIB version) and APIC 2018.1 are the two solutions to watch out for. These releases raise the bar for IBM’s competitors and will provide additional value to the customers.

Integration Designers: a unique combination of integration expertise, the cutting edge solutions of IBM,and our creative and innovative minds. Integration Designers is an Xplore Group company.

Author: Dirk Maes, 11 may 2018