Buying yet another digital marketing company, IBM today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire ecx.io—a digital agency headquartered in Dusseldorf, Germany.
IBM has been busy over the past week, announcing plans to acquire two other digital marketing firms over the last several days. The proposed acquisition of ecx.io extends the strategy and design expertise of IBM Interactive Experience (IBM iX) with new digital marketing, commerce and platform skills to accelerate clients’ digital transformations.
IBM said ecx.io is a leading digital agency in Europe and one of the few specializing in implementation services across three of the leading commerce and customer platform software providers: Adobe, Sitecore and SAP hybris. The hybris capability deepens IBM’s longstanding relationship with SAP, and brings the value of design thinking to the companies’ expansion in e-commerce.
“By bringing ecx.io’s consulting, design, digital marketing and technology skills together with the strategy, analytics and integration expertise of IBM, we will create a powerful combination,” said a blog post penned by Gerald Lanzerits, CEO of ecx.io, and Matt Candy, vice president and European leader of IBM Interactive Experience. “ecx.io is one of just two agencies ranked at the highest partner level for all three main commerce and customer platform software vendors in the German market: Adobe, SAP hybris, and Sitecore. ecx.io will add its nearly 200 employees to IBM iX with specialized expertise designing and implementing experience-led solutions using agile techniques.”
IBM customers will benefit from this range of capabilities, combined with the strategy, analytics, cloud and cognitive depth of IBM.
“The customer experience has become a new priority in modern business strategy,” Paul Papas, global leader of IBM Interactive Experience, said in a statement. “Together with ecx.io’s distinct expertise, we’re raising the bar for experience-led, digital marketing and commerce.”
ecx.io will continue to serve its roster of clients, including Axalta, SPAR, Hammer and JAB Anstoetz, from existing locations in Dusseldorf, Bracknell/London, Munich, Wels, Varazdin, Vienna and Zurich.
“For the last 20 years, we’ve fostered an open, agile and collaborative culture with a dedication to quality and innovation,” Christoph Mause, chief creative officer and co-founder of ecx.io, said in a statement. “Joining forces with IBM iX will provide us with a global network of talent with expertise in strategy, analytics, cognitive computing and innovation that will not only complement our services offerings, but allow them to become more personalized. Together with iX, we will continue to provide clients with superior services and platforms for exceptional customer engagement and experiences.”
The acquisition of ecx.io is the latest strategic move in a rapid-fire series of investments in the design and experience prowess of IBM iX. In the last week, iX announced its intent to acquire Resource/Ammirati, a U.S.-based digital marketing and creative agency, and Aperto, a digital agency with headquarters in Berlin.
Regarding the recent IBM digital marketing moves, the company seems to be on a tear to considerably expand its Interactive Experience (iX) organization, Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told eWEEK.
IBM Buys Another Digital Marketing Firm: ecx.io
“I think there are a couple of motivations for that,” he said. “First, the company believes that the future is bright for increasingly personalized, digitally-enabled global marketing and promotional services. Given the prevalence of mobile devices worldwide and the increasing interest in emerging wearable and related technologies, I’d have to agree. But services like those being developed and deployed by IBM iX also resonate across other company solutions. IBM’s Watson and other cognitive/analytics solutions will provide a foundation for new solutions and business opportunities but other company assets, such as the revitalized IBM Design organization and its Commerce business unit will also make solid contributions.”
That the three deals should be announced back-to-back was coincidental, John Armstrong, North American leader for IBM Interactive Experience, told eWEEK.
“These deals were pursued independently; these weren’t necessarily in the grand plan that we would see these all happen and be signed and announced in such close proximity,” Armstrong said. “But we’ve been on an all-out push to expand the influence and reach of IBM Interactive Experience globally. So most of that focus last year was exhibited in the opening of a number of studios globally and talenting those studios appropriately to compete and deliver great work in the geographies that they’re located in.”
Armstrong said IBM iX has seen a lot of organic growth, but the growth in demand for its services made it clear the company needed to consider non-organic means of growth.
“The deals announced in the past week should extend IBM’s already deep bench of iX solutions and service professionals,” King said. “Plus, the recent Aperto purchase and the ecx.io acquisition announced today will bolster IBM’s position in Germany and other European markets. Three deals in a week is notable for any company but when strong organizations with compelling technologies and other assets become available, a company would be foolish to pass up the opportunity. As we’ve learned over the past few days, IBM is not by any means or definition, a fool.”
Armstrong noted that although the timing of the acquisition announcements was coincidental, the fact that IBM focused on Germany is not. The company has been investing in Germany. IBM recently announced that the Watson headquarters for the Internet of Things was in Germany. Moreover, Germany is one of the largest economies in Europe. But these companies also have reach outside of Germany, he said. So while the companies are German-based, IBM intends to use these acquisitions across all of Europe.
“We intend to maintain a leadership position in this space on behalf of our clients,” Armstrong said. “And in doing so, we will continue to invest organically and we will continue to look at inorganic means of growth because we are committed to having the scale and breadth of capability that our clients require to successfully navigate the important transitions they’re undertaking in this space.”