Paul Maglio, a senior manager at IBM’s Almaden Research Center in San Jose, says his services group has grown from nine people in December 2002 to more than 70 now. He estimates that 550 of IBM’s 3000-plus researchers are working on services, either directly with clients or as part of teams running company projects. Maglio says the skill mix of IBM research will continue to shift as the labs hire ever more anthropologists, sociologists, and economists.
IBM isn’t alone. Last year Intel Corp., in Santa Clara, Calif., announced that it, too, was hiring anthropologists and social scientists to help in its product development.
IBM has been aggressively promoting a new academic discipline it calls services science, management, and engineering (SSME).
IBM’s research in business consulting “tends to be much more mathematical,” tailored to specific industries and involving supply-chain optimization, logistics optimization, data management, and data analytics. All of those, he says, are “aimed at helping our clients improve their business processes and their approaches to markets.”
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