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IBM Bluemix Garages: Changing the customer experience through innovation

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A few years ago, I started speaking with several startups on how best to reach the new, cloud-native developer. Their response to me was that they simply did not see IBM in this space; neither a positive nor a negative view. It became quite clear that we needed to be a part of their community instead of on the outside trying to sell to them.

We came up with the idea of the IBM Bluemix Garages from there: co-locate with incubators that have an established presence within the startup community while directly bringing modern application development practices and innovation solutions to clients.

IBM commitment to NYC

Our most recent IBM Bluemix Garage opened today in New York City, specifically designed to help enterprises use Blockchain technology on the cloud. It’s co-located within Galvanize’s new campus in Soho. This is our seventh Garage, with others in San Francisco, London, Toronto, Nice, Tokyo and Singapore … with more to come.

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What we have found is that the Garages provide true melting pots for startups and enterprises, which help teams innovate faster using new technologies and methods. Yes, enterprises can learn to be as fast and customer-focused as startups. It’s a two-way street. Startups learn how to build apps and cloud services that meet the exacting demands of enterprise customers, which is a huge market. Plus, it is important to focus on the culture change of moving to the cloud.

The promise of Blockchain innovation has the potential to take an already thriving NYC fintech scene to new heights. Our newest Bluemix Garage in this entrepreneurial, co-working NYC community will deepen IBM roots in the city’s thriving tech scene in finance, design and other industries, building on top of IBM work with disruptive New York companies such as Alpha Modus, an investment tech firm.

An environment for innovation

If you have not been to an IBM Bluemix Garage, they are experience environments that harness face-to-face collaboration and offer clients a wide range of innovation disciplines.

IBM Bluemix is the obvious cloud platform of choice in which the technology environment enables rapid innovation based on open standards and open source software. It offers more than 140 tools and services, spanning Blockchain, big data, mobile, Watson, analytics, integration, security and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Our IBM Bluemix Garage Method helps clients navigate the innovation process, merging a variety of disciplines, including IBM design thinking, lean startup, agile software development, and DevOps, a discipline that’s increasingly critical for enterprise IT departments

The Garages focus on small projects. Then we run tests to ensure it is a successful idea and adopted by the users. Then we scale. By combining learning and doing, a team emerges with a transformational, new approach to innovation and their first application on IBM Bluemix.

For instance, a major retailer dipped its toes in the water by building an app for its corporate communications team in just four weeks. The app uses Watson Tone Analyzer, among other capabilities, to evaluate the initial drafts of executive speeches to gauge whether they will be well received by target audiences. Its assessments guide adjustments.

Focus on people and culture

There’s a temptation to focus on technology as the be-all and end-all, but our Garage experiences have proven that when our clients focus on people and culture, they succeed. They put in place the right people with the right mindsets and skills, which promotes a culture of open collaboration and teaches a set of innovation methods.

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When given a technology platform like IBM Bluemix that provides a wide range of choices, our clients can truly address the problems they’re trying to solve and to help the users they’re trying to serve at a pace they have never been able to before.

The critical factors we’ve learned in our first two years of running the IBM Bluemix Garages is that talent and culture go hand-in-hand. I believe it will be the guiding insight for thousands of companies and tens of thousands of developers who will journey through our Garages, physically or digitally, in the years ahead.

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