5 minute read 26 Mar 2019

How EY and IBM are driving advances in security, analytics, AI and more

By EY Global

Ernst & Young Global Ltd.

5 minute read 26 Mar 2019

The combination of world-class services and disruptive technology demonstrates the power of our global strategic alliance with IBM.

Cloud, cybersecurity, cognitive – these are three overarching themes dominating the thoughts of C-suites across sectors all over the world. And they were among the key topics discussed at IBM Think 2018, IBM’s flagship global business and technology event, which EY, as a leading IBM strategic partner, attended.

Our global strategic alliance with IBM can help organizations navigate the digital challenges of today and tomorrow with confidence, agility and adaptability. Here is a snapshot of how this can work.

What are boards doing about cybersecurity?

It’s safe to say that most organizations have moved beyond the approach of building a “brick wall” so no one can get past it; this only results in a panic when an attacker breaches the wall. Instead, boards are thinking ahead and thinking smarter about how to respond when a cyber breach happens.

However, there is only so much learning that organizations can take forward after they have been breached, and the change process can be slow. This is exactly why EY and IBM are harnessing the power of IBM Watson®, the artificial intelligence (AI) platform for business, to help clients improve the tracking of and response to cyber attacks.

Thousands of the world’s leading companies operate on IBM cyber platforms. While no cybersecurity software company can guarantee 100% bulletproof security, IBM’s suite is world-class and its three-pillar approach of prevent, detect and respond is perceived to be one of the best in the market. Combined with EY’s leading cyber and risk practice expertise and Watson, organizations can be more confident that their cyber approach will get better and smarter over time.

Harnessing the power of IBM Watson, EY and IBM can combine business and technology to help organizations to learn, respond and adapt faster. This is because almost immediately after a breach, Watson learns what happened, how the organization reacted and what it can learn to shut a breach down faster next time. It also patches up holes caused or exploited by the breach – effectively healing itself.

What are boards doing about cognitive and analytics?

Organizations need to wake up to a stark fact: data is overwhelmingly the new prize. They must harness and understand data across the organization, whether it’s found in texts, emails, Instagram or reports. This is the new norm, and companies that only access and analyze structured data from finance are getting just 20% of the full picture.

Organizations need to wake up to a stark fact: data is overwhelmingly the new prize.
Thomas Hever
Global IBM Alliance Leader

Why? Because 80% of the world’s data is unstructured – in emails, social media posts, PDF documents and so on. Through the power of IBM Watson, EY and IBM can bring together structured and unstructured data to glean insights from it, and act on them to improve decision-making and bring many other benefits to the enterprise.

For example, EY and IBM can revolutionize how companies do due diligence: Watson can scan thousands of tweets about a company to conduct a sentiment analysis, as well as mining annual reports, and then EY can deploy its change management expertise to handle the impact on people, policies and process.

This really brings the technology to life in a unique way, and represents a fundamental change in how to do business in some areas.

What are boards doing about AI?

AI has been described as “analytics on steroids” – but it’s much more powerful than that.

Organizations in every industry – whether it’s power and utilities, telecoms or public sector – have to be preoccupied with digitalizing themselves in order to survive. This is tied in with core robotics process automation (RPA) – deciding what can be automated. And with AI, platforms that handle automated processes can teach themselves over time, becoming smarter and smarter about the business they’re supporting.

EY deployed Watson in exactly this way to solve a people problem. Every year, EY recruits between 25,000 and 50,000 new people. How do you onboard them all in the same way, globally, and cost-effectively? To address this challenge, we created Buddy: an onboarding chatbot that can immediately anticipate and answer questions that new recruits may have.

Fed on hundreds of thousands of questions, Watson learns what the priorities are for the new recruits and updates itself to give information to recruits before they even ask. For example, Watson learned that the top question is about holiday entitlement – so when a new user logs on, Watson asks if they want to know about holiday, or about any of the other top 10 topics it has ranked from interactions across the world.

As an organization, we can therefore improve the way we handle the onboarding process, and learn better ways to serve our employees.

Further applications of IBM Watson

As we heard at IBM Think, IoT is another big trend that can be augmented with Watson – for example, using a “digital twin” virtual model of an aircraft engine, engineers can predict when maintenance is needed before the plane lands, perform the work and have it back in the air within several hours.

Similarly, a power distribution company was having frequent problems with the performance of massive transformers in hot and cold conditions. Now, as part of an EY-designed system, Watson will predict when these assets were most likely to fail, and therefore when they should be repaired or replaced.

In addition, EY helped the client understand the financial and tax implications of buying new parts or new transformers as a whole, augmenting the technology solution to make the entire engagement more value-oriented.

Another hyper-trend is blockchain. IBM is forming large consortia in particular business areas such as supply and logistics and food safety to advise the members about the adoption of blockchain. And EY is bringing its expertise to these consortia to help answer questions such as how blockchain transactions should be audited.

Making innovation a mindset

The potential advances that can be made through innovations of the EY and IBM alliance have to be embedded not only in systems but also in ways of working. And to truly embrace the potential of these exponential leaps, organizations need the support of the technology and services delivered by this alliance, and a complete shift in thinking – making innovation a mindset.


To truly embrace the potential presented by the Transformative Age, organizations must make innovation a mindset. And to support that shift in thinking, they also need a well-integrated blend of technology and services , which the EY/IBM alliance can help deliver.

About this article

By EY Global

Ernst & Young Global Ltd.