IBM Buys Watson-Based Expert Personal Shopper

IBM Interactive (IBM iX) has acquired the Watson-based cognitive shopping assistant, Expert Personal Shopper, from Fluid.

personal shoppper

IBM continued its acquisition spree, this time of a partner the company helped to establish. IBM's Interactive Experience (IBM iX) unit acquired the Expert Personal Shopper (XPS) division of Fluid, a provider of digital customer experiences.

The Expert Personal Shopper (XPS) is a dialogue-based product-recommendation platform developed by Fluid that uses IBM's Watson cognitive computing system to personalize the customer experience and improve product discovery. XPS uses natural language to interact with and provide personalized shopping experiences for customers.

In 2014, IBM invested in Fluid, drawing from a $100 million fund Big Blue had set aside to invest in Watson-based businesses and applications. Earlier that year, the IBM Watson Group made its first investment in Welltok, developers of the Watson-based CaféWell Health Optimization Platform.

Fluid was among the early partners IBM trotted out to showcase how Watson had become available to developers to build apps around. IBM and Fluid worked to accelerate development of XPS at the time.

"Three years ago, Fluid, in collaboration with IBM Watson, developed the very first commercial example of conversational commerce," said Kent Deverell, CEO of Fluid, in a statement. "Since then, we've been hard at work developing Fluid XPS, a leading platform for intelligent, dialog driven product recommendations, and are very excited about its future as part of IBM iX."

XPS is delivered as a service and provides tailored recommendations on a business' site, across online and mobile experiences, and can be incorporated into social channels, IBM said.

"We look to incorporate the Expert Personal Shopper platform into the customer engagement and commerce solutions that we create for our retail clients," said Paul Papas, global leader of IBM iX, in a statement. "By adding XPS into digital experiences, IBM iX aims to make online discovery simpler, smarter and more personalized for consumers. In addition to retail, we believe, XPS can be leveraged and applied to the digital properties for brands across a variety of industries."

As part of the acquisition, the XPS solution and several key members of the XPS team will become part of IBM iX. In addition, two key XPS accounts, The North Face and 1-800-Flowers, will become IBM clients.

IBM iX's acquisition of XPS caps a busy year of acquisitive activity for the unit. In January, IBM iX acquired Resource/Ammirati, a creative agency that paired digital marketing pioneer Resource with advertising firm Ammirati. In February, IBM iX acquired German digital marketing firm Aperto and ecx.io, a German digital agency. And in April IBM iX announced plans to acquire Bluewolf Group, a Salesforce.com consulting partner.

The XPS acquisition comes just days after IBM announced its intent to acquire Sanovi. When the deal closes, which IBM officials said they expect before the end of this year, IBM said it will integrate Sanovi Technologies into the IBM Global Technology Services unit.

"Our clients are embracing a digitized world where applications need to be 'always-on,'" said Martin Jetter, senior vice president of Global Technology Services at IBM, in a statement. "As a cloud-native company, Sanovi will strengthen our resiliency portfolio to manage the broad range of applications, data, and IT systems of our clients balancing digital and hybrid cloud transformation with increased regulatory compliance."

Moreover, in addition to offering Sanovi’s capabilities as part of a managed resiliency service, IBM said it will make the Sanovi disaster recovery management offering available as a stand-alone software license for partners and customers.