IBM takes on digital agencies with $100m investment and new analytics products

IBM might be playing catch-up in the marketing cloud game, but it’s planning a big investment on the other side of the fence that will make it a powerful player in the digital agency field.

Yesterday, IBM announced plans to expand its IBM Interactive Experience consulting services with a $100 million investment. The goal is to open 10 new IBM Interactive Experience Labs around the world, adding 1000 employees to the division’s existing 5000. The Labs will provide consultation and digital marketing solutions for clients’ mobile, social,and advertising efforts. It will also offer the use of IBM’s existing marketing platforms for data analytics and design, as well as the services of IBM Research Labs.

“As our clients recalibrate what it means to engage with their customers or employees, we’re bringing them the full spectrum of world-class design and IBM Research, book-ended by strategy consulting and our strength in Big Data,” said Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president of IBM Global Business Services in a statement.

While it may sound like IBM’s taking on digital agencies, it’s less about the creative side of things and more about data. IBM is playing to its strength of offering analytics solutions for those seeking customer analytics. To that end, it’s offering three new products to serve the marketing data sector:

Intelligent Customer Profiles:

A service that helps brands digitally collect information on consumers, their preferences and demographics proactively, rather than building up data through third party or tracking. Sort of like digital customer service surveys, but with machine learning, so it automatically knows which questions to ask of different types of consumers.

Influence Analysis:

Analytics program that identifies potential brand advocates and consumers with social influence.

Customer Identity Resolution:

Quite similar to the “Master Marketing Profile” Adobe just launched a few days ago, this is a service that looks to create a single profile of a customer across all the enterprise data and marketing solutions. With this central data repository of a customer, it makes it easy to target them with personalized campaigns and specific lead-nurturing activities.

So while Big Blue isn’t taking on Mad Men in the true sense yet, it does have some very sophisticated data offerings that ad agencies and other consultancies are aspiring to offer themselves. Publicis has Annalect and Deloitte recently started offering its own analytics services to partner with its marketing consultants. As IBM continues to expand its already impressive global reach, there’s a distinct possibility that it could become the world’s biggest digital agency

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