IBM Launches New Interactive Experience Consulting Group

At IBM Connect 2014, Big Blue announced a new consulting practice that combines strategy, data and design to provide top notch experiences for clients.

ORLANDO, Fla.—Highlighting its emerging design expertise, IBM announced a global consulting practice that addresses client demand for compelling user experiences as the point of entry to high-value relationships with their customers, employees, prospects and partners.

The new global consulting practice, IBM Interactive Experience, creates a next-generation services capability that integrates the leading design capabilities and user experience experts from IBM Interactive—IBM's digital agency—with the innovation and data expertise of more than 100 IBM researchers from the company's Customer Experience Lab. IBM announced the new consulting practice at the IBM Connect 2014 conference here on Jan. 28.

The practice will help clients create front-end individual engagements and assimilate massive volumes of data—including the information on individual decisions, choices, preferences and attitudes—then convert that insight into high-value outcomes, ranging from personalization to business model redesign, IBM said

Clients across industries are already engaging with IBM to create new models of individual engagement, including Australian retailer David Jones, leading Mexican bank Banorte, Peru's insurance company Rimac and Jaguar Land Rover.

"Our goal as a retailer is to provide an exceptional customer experience by taking full advantage of data-driven insights and technology platforms across our business," Paul Zahra, CEO and managing director of David Jones, a high-end Australian department store chain, said in a statement. "David Jones selected IBM's Interactive Experience practice because we were seeking a partner that could effectively combine global industry experience, customer strategy, analytical insight and design capabilities which would enable us to transform our customer engagement."

"Our clients understand that the experience any individual has with their brands, products, services or strategy is the new point of entry to sustainable business relationships," said Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president of IBM Global Business Services, in a keynote speech today at IBM Connect 2014. "That experience will generate the most valuable information any enterprise can ever possess—information on individual preferences. So as our clients' front-office agendas drive the next era of business transformation, we're going to see traditional distinctions between strategy, analytic applications, and the design of the individual experience disappear."

The practice will also drive innovation across IBM's Smarter Commerce and Smarter Workforce initiatives, where offerings like the IBM Kenexa Talent Suite are transforming how business leaders gain new insights into the data created every day by their workforce.

"We intentionally created this practice inside the broader consulting capability of our newly formed Strategy and Analytics Service Line, because the definition of high-value in business services is evolving across a continuum of experience design, data, and business strategy," Paul Papas, the newly appointed managing partner of the IBM Interactive Experience practice, said in a statement. "This level of integration anticipates that client agenda and creates the next-generation services organization—the first true digital agency, consultancy, and systems integrator."

Meanwhile, IBM also announced new data-driven capabilities for the C-suite, including life event detection, behavioral pricing and psycholinguistic analytics. Life event detection analyzes unstructured social media data to detect important events in customers' lives. For example, this technology can assess specific "life events" like a marriage and then make correlations to a range of financial decisions. Behavioral pricing features an algorithm that combines behavioral models on consumer response to pricing, such as 'surprise' and 'thrill of a deal,' with historical transaction data to help retailers design personalized pricing strategies that help consumers make purchasing decisions and improve their experience.

Psycholinguistic analytics features an algorithm that combines the psychology of language with social media data to understand inherent personality traits of individuals and identify their preferences. This technology goes beyond generalizations and recognizes the individuals to identify how they prefer to receive and consume information and offers.

Moreover, according to a forthcoming IBM study of in-person interviews with more than 500 chief marketing officers (CMOs), 94 percent of market leaders said they believe advanced analytics will play a significant role in helping them reach their goals. The study also indicates a significant increase in the number of CMOs who say their organizations are under-prepared to capitalize on the big data explosion—83 percent today, compared with 71 percent three years ago. The new IBM Interactive Experience practice is aimed at exactly that kind of gap—helping CMOs and other C-suite leaders make better of use of data to inform their design, customer interaction and business strategy, IBM said.