IBM Buys Aperto, Takes Watson to India

IBM announces plans to acquire German digital marketing firm Aperto, as it also launches Watson in India with an emerging ecosystem.

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Less than a week after agreeing to acquire Resource/Ammirati, IBM today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Aperto, another digital marketing agency based in Berlin.

As with Resource/Ammirati, upon completion of this transaction, Aperto will join the IBM Interactive Experience (IBM iX) team, supporting IBM's growth in the largest economy in Europe.

Aperto's 300-plus employees will continue to serve its roster of clients, which currently includes companies such as Airbus Group, Volkswagen and Siemens.

"IBM iX is a global market leader in experience design, which is emerging as an essential element in all business strategy," said Paul Papas, global leader of IBM Interactive Experience, in a statement. "We're honored to be joining forces with Aperto and look forward to reshaping the future of business and digital innovation with our clients in Germany and beyond."

According to Advertising Age, IBM iX is the largest global digital agency, providing clients with a fusion of services spanning strategy, analytics and systems integration for digital, commerce, mobile and wearable platforms—including consumer apps for the Apple Watch. Its consultants co-create solutions for clients, including Nationwide, Jaguar's Land Rover, Citi and Wimbledon, in its 25 global IBM Studios.

"We pride ourselves on remaining at the forefront of the digital revolution," said Dirk Buddensiek, CEO of Aperto, in a statement. "After 20 years in the industry, we're proud to join forces with IBM iX, the largest global digital agency, to continue doing just that. Between the talent sitting within the iX team, and IBM's transformative work in the cognitive space, as well as leadership in cloud, mobile and analytics, this opportunity will open many doors for both our team and clients."

IBM has identified a critical and growing need for digital, strategy and design skills at the edge of business strategy. Demand for experience design is expected to accelerate as clients in all industries seek to deliver more consumerlike experiences to their customers and employees, and integrate the power of cognitive computing and analytics platforms, IBM said.

A blog post penned by Aperto's Buddensiek and Matt Candy, vice president and European leader of IBM iX, said both companies have "passionate employees who use strategy, creativity and technology to transform clients' businesses and craft amazing experiences grounded in deep empathy for the end user."

Yet, each company brings something unique to the table, the post added. "Aperto has distinctive features and strengths that will help IBM iX grow in Germany, the DACH [Germany, Austria, Switzerland] region and throughout Europe," the post said. "While Aperto will continue to be led and run by the founders of the company—who for over 20 years have gained the long-term respect and appreciation of their clients and the industry—it will have access to expanded strategic, analytic, technology and innovation talent from IBM iX. … When the right opportunity presents itself, we will combine teams."

This is IBM's second creative and digital agency acquisition in a matter of days. It follows last Thursday's announcement of IBM's intent to acquire U.S.-based agency Resource/Ammirati and demonstrates continued investment in Germany. In December 2015, IBM launched its global headquarters for the Watson Internet of Things (IoT) unit in Munich.

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016. Financial details were not disclosed.

In other IBM news, IBM also today announced InspireOne Technologies and TEXTIENT as the first two India-based partners to join the IBM Watson Ecosystem. The companies will begin developing cognitive computing solutions in the region.

The announcement comes out of the IBM Watson India Summit in Bangalore, which focused on how cognitive systems are transforming businesses and customer outcomes, and ways in which India is well-positioned to usher in this next wave of technology innovation. According to a Gartner report from November, India has the fastest growing IT market in the world—IT spending in India is forecast to reach $71 billion in 2016 and grow to $85.28 billion by the end of 2019.