To date, IBM’s internal digital agency Interactive Experience (iX) has flown under the radar, through quiet, organic growth – reaching a global headcount of 10,000 employees.
That changed Thursday when IBM iX – not to be confused with IBM’s consulting unit Global Services – revealed its first-ever acquisition: the digital/creative agency Resource/Ammirati, which has 300 employees and serves clients like Sherwin-Williams, CVS Pharmacy and P&G. Terms were not disclosed, and IBM iX’s global leader Paul Papas said that Resource/Ammirati will keep its name.
So why is IBM iX, which has been around for nearly 20 years, making its first acquisition now?
“I wouldn’t call it an anomaly,” Papas said. “Even as we’ve grown organically, we keep our eyes open for more things that will help us add value. We felt the opportunity to add value here was so great, it was something we couldn’t pass up.”
The attraction, according to Papas and Resource/Ammirati CEO Kelly Mooney, was that the formerly-independent agency was experienced in brand building. IBM iX positions itself as an agency that combines creative design and tech and mobile expertise to drive enterprise transformation.
“We have always focused on how brand building activities create experiences for people that are useful, transformative, and add value in their ways,” Mooney said. For IBM, the acquisition was more about finding synergies rather than filling holes in its portfolio. Meanwhile, Resource/Ammirati can tap into iX’s ability to execute on a global scale.
There’s also overlap in the customer bases, Mooney said, noting that the very first ecommerce site the agency launched – for Victoria’s Secret in 1998 – happened in partnership with IBM.
“When we stepped back and looked at our client base, 75% are engaged with IBM in some way,” she said.
Jordan Edmiston Group represented Resource/Ammirati on the transaction.