With new lab, IBM puts the CIO on notice

IBM's new Customer Experience Lab will help CEOs, CMOs, CFOs, heads of sales and other senior executives learn how to solve problems with technology. Ruh roh.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

This morning, IBM announced the creation of what it calls its "Customer Experience Lab," intended to help business leaders -- such as CEOs, CMOs, CFOs, sales heads and other senior executives -- use technology to solve problems.

One acronym that didn't make it into the list? The CIO.

It's no secret that technology buying power is increasingly filtering through the upper ranks of the enterprise; here, we can see a resource dedicated explicitly to helping address that. 

IBM's new lab gives its CxO audience access to "a virtual team of 100 researchers" and business consultants that will help "co-create" bespoke -- that is, customized -- systems using all the hot technologies of the day: mobile, social, cloud, analytics and big data.

(Do you feel engaged with all those buzzwords? I'm feeling so very engaged.)

The lab's mission dovetails perfectly with IBM's core mission to use data to help businesses make better decisions; that's not the news here. The notable aspect of this announcement is that the chief information officer is -- at least in name -- a waning part of that vision.

It's all about transforming the front office: technology touches everything now; it's not a departmental specialty anymore.

As businesses move to personalize their own activity in terms of their customers, so IBM is moving to personalize its activity with its somewhat new target customers. It all comes down to more cost-effective, engaged (see? told you!), and profitable business interactions.

The cross-disciplinary lab will be headquartered at IBM's Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., and its first clients will be the Nationwide Building Society in the U.K. and Banorte, a major bank in Mexico.

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