To Serve and Perfect
By Joe Maglitta
Over the years we’ve become a spoiled by new hardware, software and systems that, on whole, are faster, cheaper and better – sometimes astoundingly so. Now, an expanded global IBM Research initiative aims to speed similar gains in a less glamorous but no less crucial part of the technology success equation: services.
IBM’s new Services Innovations Lab (SIL) extends a decade-old effort to help companies reduce costs, improve productivity and optimize their IT infrastructure by teaming more than 200 hand-picked global researchers with service practitioners, according to a July 28 announcement.
“The lab will accelerate the expansion of real-time analytics and software automation in both IBM’s technology services offerings and its global services delivery capabilities,” explains Mike Daniels, senior vice president and group executive, IBM Services.
For customers, the new expanded initiative promises a new generation of practices, processes and tools to businesses run more productively and cost-effectively. By making Service R&D a smarter process, IBM hopes to maintain its commanding lead in space. According to Gartner, in 2010 IBM topped all vendors in $793 billion worldwide market with $56 billion in service revenues.
The new SIL will concentrate on improving business and technical delivery of services in cloud computing, advanced analytics, enterprise mobilization and various Smarter Planet initiatives and other hot new areas.
“There will be a lot of focus on cloud… as a basis of delivering services,” explains Stefan Nusser, IBM Research – Almaden and SIL Lead. He says researchers are looking closely at “different onramps for bring workloads onto cloud.”
While teams will build on delivery methodologies and templates originally developed by Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC) for specific industries, there are important new twists.
IBM research, development and production teams will work more closely,” Nusser says. Similar efforts to blend teams have worked well with database and semiconductor research, he says. “Meshing … let’s them really absorb each other’s knowledge.”
Also new: a focus on better understanding the human dimensions of service delivery, with an eye to improving productivity and automation.
The SIL will operate out of IBM Research’s Labs worldwide, including New York, California, China, Israel, India, Japan, Switzerland and Brazil.