IBM said yesterday that it is launching a network of nine innovation centers across the country where consultants will help E-business customers develop strategies and implement technology for online businesses. By bringing IBM experts in business strategy, marketing, interactive design, application development, and system integration together in locations closer to clients, solutions can be implemented faster than before, said Neil E. Isford, VP of E-business Integration Services. "Customers find value in coming together with our experts," Isford said. "These centers don't replace our existing on-site consulting; the two approaches are really complementary. We're addressing speed and complexity issues associated with building E-businesses by putting people together to create solutions faster."
IBM's first center in Atlanta, Ga., started as an experiment in 1995. The company decided to expand the concept and has already opened centers in Chicago, Dallas, and Washington, DC. Locations in New York City, Boston, and Los Angeles will be opening in the next six months. Eventually, IBM plans to extend the idea globally by opening centers in the UK, Germany, France, and Asia.
Customers already working with IBM are encouraged by this announcement. "The creation of the centers gives me the confidence that IBM will stay ahead of the next technology age," said Brian Chapman VP of Strategy and Development for FTD.com, which has been a client of IBM Global Services over the last several months. Although FTD.com is very experienced at selling products on the Web since 1994, the company felt it was time to revamp its site. IBM has served as a general contractor of sorts helping the company redesign and enhance the site.
"When we took on this project we wanted to keep our partners close to us in the Chicago area," Chapman said. "We knew the value of face-to-face contact with our partners, and we needed to get the work done fast." FTD.com's new site will go live early in 2000 and will offer customers a wide range of new features, such as a personalized calendar, E-greeting cards, address look-up, new content, and easier access to purchasing.
Along with the new centers, IBM also announced eight new alliance partners: The Coleman Group Worldwide, OgilvyOne, Answer Think, Internet Research Group, RGA Interactive, net.Genesis, DoubleClick, and Net Perceptions.