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IBM's digital services organization has more than 25 studios worldwide. Courtesy of IBM

Another Day, Another IBM Digital Acquisition

Feb 03, 2016

IBM (ibm) wasn’t kidding when it declared its intention last week to add more digital design professionals.

The technology giant on Wednesday disclosed plans to buy German firm ecx.io, its third acquisition of a digital marketing agency in less than one week. The deal will add another 200 creative design specialists to IBM Interactive Experience, a services division dedicated to digital marketing and analytics projects.

Between this buyout and two other planned acquisitions of Resource/Ammirati and Aperto, IBM will add another 800 designers to the 10,000-person organization. It already had about 1,100 such specialists on the payroll (up from the 1,000 that was previously reported). So, that’s a substantial increase in design expertise.

“The customer experience has become a new priority in modern business strategy,” said Paul Papas, global leader for IBM iX, in a statement. “Together with exc.io’s distinct expertise, we’re raising the bar for experience-led, digital marketing and commerce.”

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The ecx.io client list includes Austrian Airlines, industrial coatings company Axalta, textiles supplier JAB Anstoetz, and OPEC.

Matt Candy, the European leader for IBM iX, said the agency is one of Europe’s leading specialists in installations of digital technologies from Adobe, Sitecore, and SAP hybris. IBM ix is already a huge Adobe partner—it signed a global alliance focused on the Adobe Marketing Cloud in March.

With the two German acquisitions announced this week, IBM iX now has a European presence in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, and the Czech Republic. Eastern Europe is a fast-growing market for digital marketing and customer experience software, Candy said. In September, for example, Poland’s Alior Bank hired IBM and Apple to develop a mobile banking application that will enable its private banking employees to interact more easily with their clients.

Are more acquisitions in the offing? Candy wouldn’t say. Mergers between digital marketing experts and traditional IT consult firms began picking up several years ago, since both skill sets are important for delivering on digital business strategy. IBM rival Accenture has also been on a buying spree, with two buyouts disclosed in December alone.

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