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When IBM has a problem, it throws money at it. We already saw this with the skills shortage around big data and analytics. It is taking a similar approach to customer experience and designing engaging interfaces.

In case you didn't know, IBM has an experience design consultancy for clients to help them develop the most effective customer experience for their business. To improve that service, IBM is pumping $100 million into the service itself, is employing an extra 1000 people and is opening 10 new IBM Interactive Experience labs around the world.


IBM’s Customer Labs

According to IBM, the new labs will offer IBM customers the possibility of working with researchers and consultants in experience design across all channels customers are doing business in including mobile, and particular across the digital marketing space.

IBM also says that these new teams will be at the cutting edge of innovation in the social, analytics and cloud computing areas and will work on integrating current and developing IBM technology. As IBM is developing a large chunk of technologies in the analytics and big data space, this claim has some weight to it. 

The new customer labs will be located in Bangalore, India; Beijing; Groningen, the Netherlands; London; Melbourne; Mexico City; New York; Sao Paulo; Shanghai and Tokyo, giving them a door to some of the established global economies, as well as those described as emerging and which will be providing huge customer sets in the coming years.

IBM explained the decision to make this investment by pointing out that distinctions between business strategy and user experience design no longer applies. Either the two interact, or they don’t work at all.

The last best experience that anyone has anywhere, becomes the minimum expectation for the experience they want everywhere, and the quality of that experience is entirely dependent on the use of individualized information,” said Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president of IBM Global Business Services.

The developments that emerge from these labs will also feed into the MobileFirst portfolio. This combination will capitalize on new innovations in mobile technology and design elements which emerge from the labs resulting from data analysis.

Data Initiatives

To coincide with the launch of these labs, IBM has also announced the development of some new data driven initiatives that will offer businesses deeper insights into individuals.

According to a statement from IBM, a number of recently developed new algorithms can give better insights into this data. The new capabilities include:

1. Intelligent Customer Profiles

This analytics driven solution allows consumers to manage the personal information that companies use to provide personalized services. It also enables companies to ask the right questions of customers based on a learning model, while still respecting privacy constraints. The result improves customer profiles.

2. Influence Analysis

This approach goes beyond simple social media scoring to identify individuals who influence other individuals around a particular subject or product.

By knowing which people influence others’ opinions of products and services, clients can optimize interactions in customer communities down to the specific target topic. Combined with existing enterprise data, this capability allows clients to develop their own customized influencer analysis.

3. Customer Identity Resolution

This rules based toolkit helps enterprises build a broader understanding of who their customers are by connection information across different data sources like customer relationship management, records and social media accounts. This is particularly useful for companies when trying to develop profiles of customers that they have very little information about.

All this is on top of the capacities that IBM already has in its portfolio like Life Event Detection, Behavioral Pricing and Psycholinguistic Analytics.

The new labs also join a small, but significant number of other labs in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago and Toronto, and the other research labs that IBM already has focusing on data, data management and analytics.

IBMs track record with these kind of projects has been good, with new products and projects spilling out of them from an early stage. It will be interesting to see what will result from this latest launch.