IBM boosts services arm with research help

With a newly created virtual lab, IBM will augment services with help from the research department

Hoping to boost its services offerings, IBM is assigning 200 of its researchers to the help the company manage its customers' business systems with more scientific precision.

The company has created what it calls the Services Innovation Lab, which will look for ways to better use real-time analytics, software automation and other software and services in customer engagements.

"The Services Innovation Lab was put together to drive a much greater impact on our services business," said Mahmoud Naghshineh, the IBM vice president who directs the Lab.

Traditionally, IT services has been a field in which the service provider cuts the cost of an organization's business processes by automating and managing the processes themselves. This initiative will help IBM devise new ways of streamlining customer operations, using research from IBM's portfolio of patents.

The idea behind the partnership between the lab and the services unit is to "automate labor-based processes, make them more repeatable, more predictable, and work on business outcomes with our clients," said Scott Hopkins, an IBM general manager in global technology services

The lab will draw expertise from the its services research program, which IBM has pursued for the past 10 years. Services research is an interdisciplinary pursuit, drawing from expertise in computer science, security, compliance, systems management, mathematics, business optimization, data mining, storage, user interaction and cognitive sciences.

In the years to come, "Services will be driven more by science, and engineering focused," Naghshineh said.

The lab will not be housed in any physical location, but its researchers will use existing IBM facilities worldwide. In addition to helping the IBM services unit with customer work, the researchers will also create original software and services for cloud computing, analytics, service delivery automation and mobile enterprise devices.

In IBM's latest quarterly financial results, services revenue grew by 10 per cent, though it trailed the growth of IBM software and hardware sales, which grew at 17 per cent.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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