IBM to Invest $100 Million to Digital Marketing

In response to what it sees as  “a global demand for data driven experiences,” IBM announced yesterday that it will commit $100 million dollars to expand its Interactive Experience data and design consulting division.

IBM will add 1,000 employees and will more than triple the number of its Interactive Experience Labs, which provide clients with the opportunity to work side-by-side with researchers and consultants as well as experts in experience design, mobile and digital marketing.  Ten new locations are set to open in Bangalore, Beijing, Groningen, London, Melbourne, Mexico City, New York, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, and Tokyo. IBM currently runs four labs in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, and Toronto.

IBM’s move is calculated to bolster the capabilities of its MobileFirst portfolio, which aims to enhance marketers efforts in the channel by leveraging information on individual decisions, choices, preferences and attitudes. 

“At its core we’re bringing a great management consulting capability together with our digital agency and our systems integration and data capabilities together in one team,” says John Armstrong, North America leader of Interactive Experience. “Having a great design aesthetic that isn’t informed by good insight that is unique to the individual results in consumer engagement that is  too shallow. We need data and insight that informs the interaction.”

Researchers at the labs will continue to develop digital marketing technology that enhances customer experiences. In New York specifically, IBM Interactive Experience will share office space with Watson, IBM’s natural language artificial intelligence engine.

Through the new investment, IBM Interactive Experience aims  to improve marketing capabilities in three key areas:

Intelligent customer profiles:  Employs a learning model to determine the next best question to ask individuals to gain a clearer picture of their preferences, while respecting privacy constraints.

Intelligent customer profiles:  An analytical approach that goes beyond basic social media influencer scoring to identify individuals who influence other consumers related to a specific topic.

Customer identity resolution:  A rules-based matching tool that connects data from CRM, social media and other profile information to allow businesses to build a more broad understanding of their customers.

Despite the overlap in capabilities, Armstrong asserts Interactive Experience is neither an agency nor a strategy consultancy. “Is it a pure agency? No. Does it have elements of great creative and design that an agency would have? It certainly does. Is it a pure strategy consultancy? It certainly has strategy consulting as a part of the proposition, but strategy alone wouldn’t solve the problem here,” he explains. “It’s a much more holistic approach to deliver on an imperative in the market to deliver a distinctive experience.” 

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