IBM as design consultant Khoi Vinh 12 May 2005

8 comments Latest by Joe

The evolution of IBM continues: now divested of their PC line of business, Big Blue has entered the fray of design consultancies, offering “strategic design, product design and customer experience design” through a methodology that’s “centered on a simple concept, one that’s only natural — the user experience.” It’s 2005 and IBM is more of a design consultancy and less of a product company than 37signals. How weird is that?

8 comments (comments are closed)

Anonymous Coward 12 May 05

Why is that weird? 37 sig is only a few years old, and changes on a dime, whereas IBM has been heading this way for many, many years (as anyone who works with them would tell you).

jk 12 May 05

I just heard a guy from IBM speak at the Museums and the Web conference in Vancouver. He described IBM’s involvement in the Eternal Egypt project, which was largely an effort to present the entire nation as a unified museum.

The project’s info is accessible via handhelds in museums, cell phones at historical sites and a website that among other things offers a pared down version of a 3D King Tut’s tomb, letting you see objects in their original setting.

Seems like IBM was a great partner to pull off a project of this scale with a wide range of technologies.

Bryce 12 May 05

IBM still sells plenty of product, jk. (Think servers, storage and software) And, yes, they’ve been pimping their professional services (including systems architecting and design) for years. Explicitly calling it ‘Design Consulting’ seems like a newer move for them, but it’s really just an evolution of what they’ve been doing for years.

It’s a nice .. ugh, hate the word.. synergy that they’ve got going. Design ‘solutions’ for customers that happen to employ.. you guessed it… IBM Products. (If they’re smart, which they are, then they turn these deployments around into smart requirements for future product versions.)

To claim that IBM is ‘less of a product company than 37signals’ is really kinda silly. C’mon now…

Brad 12 May 05

I wish they’d thought more about “the user experience” when they were making PCs. I like my ThinkPad, but would have liked it a lot more if they’d included a user manual. Cripes, even the $25 keyboard I bought to use with the laptop came with a user manual. The laptop came with a whole bunch of undocumented features, including a built-in microphone that wasn’t even mentioned in the product description on their website, and there are no instructions in their online “Access IBM” help utility that describe it…I still haven’t figured out exactly where the microphone is, and it took me a while to figure out how to turn it off.

Sorry for the rant, but this kind of stuff has always bugged me about IBM.

jENG 16 May 05

I used to work for Mainspring, the last in a long line of of the Internet bubble’s E-strategy companies to come out of the pen. We had a “fused approach” which combined Business Strategy + Customer Experience + Technical Architecture. We hung out around the Kendall Square T-Stop in Cambridge with the greats like Razorfish and Sapient.

We IPOd in June or July of 2000 and immediately lost our butts. The market continued to tank and by April 2001 IBM had bought us (HP bought Scient if I remember correctly). Us creatives in the CE group thought we’d end up in their Innovation Center down the road in the Lotus building. We thought this was good because we could bring CE to IBM. They even lumped us in “Strategy and Change” in their Global Business Services groups.

No luck. We all got laid off September 10, 2001.

Now I hear they’re doing CE? I think in some ways they’ve always been doing it… they just didn’t come out and say it. But it is kinda funny to hear this now, almost 4 years later.

I wonder how many CE groups they’ve harvested knowledge capital from and CE aquisitions they’ve laid off before they announced they’re doing CE. heheh.

Anonymous Reader 11 Aug 05

37S, IDEO, and others in this space shouldn’t worry much. I speak from experience on this one with the Blue boys. They should focus on R&D.

Also, I just finished up a contract at one of the telcos in the area. It made me wonder how cheap my cell phone service would be if they were a little more efficient. I estimate it would probably cost about a tenth of what it costs me today.

Have a great day all.