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Service innovation

Checking out some of my Innovation resources, I hit Business Innovation from BusinessWeek. "IBM" jumped out at me, leading me to:

I knew that the Almaden lab was doing service research (excuse the legacy page design). The news here is the announcement of the Service Research & Innovation Initiative. Their first big activity appears to be a symposium on May 30th.

Jim Spohrer, the IBMer involved with this, used to be active in HCI. Nice to see him move into the "business research" area.

I see this as the natural progression in The Experience Economy (a book in my UX Zeitgeist). Stages of economic value: Extract commodities, Make goods (product innovation), Deliver services, Stage experiences.

So when will we get the "Experience Research & Innovation Initiative"? I am kinda surprised "Experience Innovation" was NOT listed as a "next realm of business" in the NextD slash at IA.

Innovation for everyone

One of the US home page features this week is Innovation for everyone. Instead of building a world which people (are forced to) adapt to, let's have the world adapt to human differences and special abilities.

(While the Flash version is acceptable for getting an overview of the topic, I personally find the plain-old HTML version easier to read in depth. The audio version is more than just a nice touch in this case.)

There are 3 major themes to the article:

  • Shades of ability: Going from a black-and-white "normal/disabled" model, to shades of ability, to the social focus on access, to a complex model that takes into account environmental context. The innovation happens when we take down the barriers within an experience designed for certain abilities.
  • Open standards open doors: Examples where open standards enable user customization, so people can make an IT environment that matches their unique abilities.
  • Designing for everyone: Universal design principles as "good business design."

IBM home page executive editor Derek Baker also interviews John Kemp.

I chatted with Derek briefly while he was working on this feature - about how universal usability fits in nicely with innovation for everyone. Nothing specifically about UU made it in, but it still turned out to be a very good Idea from IBM.

IBM and the local economy

IBM's engagement with RGP to build an "economic identity" database for the region is over and it sounds like it was a success. (See my earlier blog post on the announcement.) This is the only coverage of the final result that I have been able to find:

Leave a comment if you find any other news of this.

I do not know if this is related or not, but IBM has a classified ad in the jobs section of the Toledo Blade this morning.

IT - IBM Corporation. Maumee, OH, surrounding locations and various locations throughout the U.S. We are looking for experienced Technical Professionals, including but not limited to Engineers, Software Engineers, IT Architects/ Specialists, System Analysts/ Administrators, and Business Consultants. Competitive salary and benefits. Preferred experience in Java, C++, Unix/Linux, AIX, SQL, UML, or SAP, etc. Bachelor's or Master's degrees required, or equivalent.....

In IBM HR lingo, I am one of those "IT specialists." Good to see IBM interested in this area. Maybe, since they built the database, they saw a trend that this area was an untapped market for IT professionals? Or maybe this is just part of a normal sweep for applicants.

The ad listed a PO Box for resumes, but of course you can also search online.

  • US jobs for an overview of employment at IBM
  • Search for IBM jobs - "Powered by peopleclick" so it does no good to send me usability problems you encounter (^:

I did a search for all IBM jobs associated with the major cities in the area (not just Toledo but also towns like Lima, Upper Sandusky and Archbold) and got 937 results. I did not see anything specific to the area - all of the locations were "Flexible". Still, if you live in this area, IBM could have a job for you - I have been a happy employee for almost 6 years now....

IBMers in latest <interactions>

Jim Lewis (a usability practitioner with IBM for over 20 years - here are some of his publications) has an article on Sample Sizes for Usability Tests in the November-December 2006 issue of <interactions>. His article is part of the special edition on "Waits & Measures" (aka "measuring usability").

Do not let the subtitle of the article scare you ("Mostly math, not magic") - the math is not that difficult to follow. I expect to see replies to Jim's article from several places. User Interface Engineering (note that Lori Landesman, one of those UIE authors in 2001, is now an IBMer too). And Jakob. And PeterMe / Dennis Wixon to remind us that asking "how many users" is pointless.

The other article in that issue by an IBMer is the regular column "Pushing the Envelope" by Fred Sampson. Fred sets the stage for a future issue about the user experience challenges with Web applications / Web 2.0 / social computing (or something like that) - Whither the Web?. This will also be our internal-IBM topic for World Usability Day on Tuesday.

IBMer's blogs

IBM's stance on blogs is getting more attention. One of the lead space items on the US home page is Blogs go to work which talks about how blogging helps IBM connect with its customers.

This is tied to the launch of the new IBMers' blogs page to make it easier to find blogs by IBMers. I was a small part in making the directory happen and am listed as one of the bloggers.

Attending CASCON 2006

I will be attending CASCON in Toronto in the middle of October. An IBM-sponsored conference and a trip to my favorite Canadian city (home of the greatest hall of fame ever).

I am part of the Humane agile workshop and might help out with the Social computing workshop. Not sure if I will have time to attend any other sessions, but I hope I do.

If you are going and want to meet up with me, leave a comment here - I won't publish the comment but will contact you.

Here is my Technorati tag [] to get this added to the CASCON blog.

Presenting at NEOUPA

I am presenting Wednesday evening in Cleveland, Ohio, at the local UPA chapter, Northeast Ohio Usability Professionals Association (NEOUPA).

  • - Experiences of the User Experience Design team

My colleague on the User Experience Design team Will Smith is joining me. I am driving 2 hours from Toledo and he is driving 4 hours from Cincinnati.

This will be similar to the talk at IUE earlier this year with updates since February. We will keep it very informal and discussion-oriented. I have found people like to hear how IBM manages its web site and tell us stories how things work at their companies.

The official blurb:

How did one of the world's largest corporate web sites get where it is today? Where is it headed next? has millions of pages of content, generated by many business units, serving many countries, describing many products and services, and supporting many tasks on its site.

The User Experience Design team is the group that manages the design standards, works on strategic projects like personalization and new navigation schemes, and guides day-to-day improvements to the user experience.

Hear stories from Keith and Will on what it is like working in this environment. Find out what works (and does not work) for IBM.

Keith and Will look forward to hearing you share your stories of what works (and does not work) within your company to compare with their experiences at

If you are in the area, hope you can attend.

CIM Forum

I just discovered the Customer Interaction Management Forum. It appears to be just a few weeks old - at least late July was when the press started talking about it.

I am not really sure what it is or what it is about, but with a tagline "Sharing best practices for an exceptional customer experience" and sponsorship by IBM, I felt obligated to join. (^: Their description:

Combining extensive Customer Interaction Management (CIM) experience with knowledge and insight gleaned from millions of customer interaction sessions, The CIM Forum explores thought leading topics, proven best practices, technical infrastructure, and key performance indicators associated with creating consistently positive customer experiences.

It looks like the IBM Content Discovery people are behind this, since that is the IBM product mentioned on the site.

After I joined the site, I got access to additional resources. The one that popped out at me was "How Findability Can Drive Business Growth: IBM WebSphere Content Discovery Server and the IBM Content Discovery Foundation" by Susan E. Aldrich, Sr. VP and Sr. Consultant, Patricia Seybold Group, April 2006. It has some intro sections on "What Terrific Search Does for the Business" and their search evaluation framework. Then a lot on Content Discovery Server (because the report was prepared for IBM).

Good report overall, but PSG missed the boat on findability - using the term in the title but otherwise ignoring it, in essence equating "findability" with "search technology".

By the way, you can get this white paper from lots of different places, including on Registration appears to be required most places.

Anyway, I will track this CIM forum and see where user experience, information architecture and user-centered design come into play.

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IBM ITG likes Drupal

I have been using Drupal for over 3 years now - this site is built with it, we built the World Usability Day 2005 site with CivicSpace (which is based on it). I used it for the Computer Science HCI class I co-taught in the spring. And so on. I have also used it a few times on "concept sites" - in a weekend I can install, set-up and populate a mini-site to show a concept (I take the concept site down later). Drupal is an awesome piece of software.

The buzz now (at and is the first part of an IBM developerWorks series Using open source software to design, develop, and deploy a collaborative Web site by Alister Lewis-Bowen, Stephen Evanchik and Louis Weitzman (all senior software engineers in IBM's Internet Technology Group). The article causing the excitement:

Part 2: Design for an effective user experience is about the design process for this fictitious web site. More articles specific to Drupal are coming up next in the series.

So hurrah for Drupal - this is yet another high-profile example where Drupal was chosen over its competitors. To be precise, however - "IBM" did not choose Drupal, just 3 guys in our Internet Technology Group chose Drupal. That does make at least 4 IBMers who like Drupal, and I am sure the numbers will keep growing.

If any IBMers who are interested in Drupal make it this far in my blog entry, they are welcome to join me in a Drupal group I just created for IBMers.

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Innovation and user experience

Jared's article Innovation is the new black struck home for me. Not just because he quotes IBMer Eric Tsou from the @issue conference, but because "innovation" has quickly permeated many things within IBM.

For me personally, I have worked on The Innovation Value and won an "Innovation clients can feel" award for a different project. If you have been watching, you will notice a lot on innovation. I cannot count all of the messages tied to innovation any more.

I'd say "Innovation is the new blue". (^:

My first glimpse into the business world's obsession with innovation was last year's International Workshop on Accelerated Radical Innovation. There I started to pick up the innovation lingo and, like Jared, saw how important experience design was going to be. None of this user experience work is new, it is just becoming a lot more valuable. If this is because CEO's are obsessed with innovation, then I am quite happy to share my background and experience to help them innovate.

Innovation: "It's the user experience, stupid".

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