IBM is putting its researchers to work for consulting clients, a move that builds on the "on demand" computing vision IBM unveiled last month.
A new arm of IBM Research, called On Demand Innovation Services, will be staffed with 200 IBM researchers worldwide and supported with investments of US$1 billion over the next three years, IBM said in a statement on Wednesday.
The researchers will work with IBM's Business Consulting Services unit to help customers with business transformation and technology consulting, IBM said. The announcement marks a major shift for IBM Research as it is the first time the unit has provided a formal customer-facing organisation.
Through the On Demand Innovation Services team, IBM's consultants can tap into other parts of IBM's research organisation, which is 3,000 researchers strong. The expertise should help customers quickly seize opportunities presented by innovations, changes in the market and unanticipated developments, IBM said.
The industry is entering a services-led on-demand era, according to IBM, and the role of IT researchers and the problems they should be solving must change accordingly. This change in IT research is as fundamental as when software became a critical research discipline more than a decade ago, IBM said.
Initially, the On Demand Innovation Services will be limited to four areas, IBM said: Advanced Analytics, modelling scenarios to solve emerging problems; Business Process Transformation, aligning business strategy with IT investments; Information Integration; and Experimental Economics.
The on-demand vision is about using information technology to increase businesses' flexibility and responsiveness, IBM president and CEO Sam Palmisano said late last month. An enterprise should extend beyond its borders, integrating fully with customers, partners and suppliers, he said at the presentation of IBM's on-demand computing initiative.