IBM Services

How IBM Garage is Meeting the Accelerated Demand for Digital Transformation

October 22, 2020

Since the pandemic hit, companies around the world have accelerated their digital transformations, adopting cloud-based remote collaboration tools and seeking data-driven insights. Helping companies on this journey is IBM Garage—IBM’s approach to fast-tracking innovation, at scale, to transform organizations from the inside out. IBM Global Garage Lead Debbie Vavangas discusses the renewed urgency of digital transformation, and why the flexibility of a hybrid cloud architecture is critical.

Q: How would you describe IBM Garage?

Vavangas: IBM Garage is IBM’s unique framework for putting innovation at the heart of an enterprise and enabling innovation at speed and scale. To do this, multidisciplinary teams come together across Enterprise Design Thinking; Lean Startup strategies; development, security and operations (DevSecOps); and agile principles and practices to create an entrepreneurial “fishbowl” to deliver outcomes faster than would otherwise be possible. It’s fundamentally about delivering business value for our clients, while helping them infuse intelligence into their workflows.

Q: What’s behind the recent surge in Garage engagements—to over 1,500 now, up from almost 300 in January?

Vavangas: Our clients are in a world of massive uncertainty. They are hugely cost-constrained, and it’s no longer clear how they should invest their money and what kind of return they can expect. In some cases, they’re fighting to survive, and in some cases, they're trying to figure out how to thrive, and reemerge from COVID-19 as a different organization. This is exactly the type of holistic, end-to-end transformation that IBM Garage specializes in, which is why we’ve seen such growth in recent months.

Q: What does the IBM Garage experience look like from a client’s perspective?

Vavangas: Each Garage engagement has three phases: co-create, co-execute and co-operate. These are all “co,” because everything we do is a collaboration with our clients. This isn’t something we do to them.

During co-create, we leverage market research and Enterprise Design Thinking to consolidate around the hypothesis we want to test. We ask, “What is the return on investment? Where are we going to go?”

During co-execute, we build a minimum viable product (MVP). We then keep iterating on the product and moving it forward based on the research, insight, data and AI until it’s fit for market.

During co-operate, we take that product and accelerate its scale across the enterprise. That’s when the innovation becomes transformation and you start to see enterprise-wide results. In the end, innovation doesn’t become that thing on the side of your organization. It becomes the beating heart that sets the pace.

Q: How did IBM Garage navigate the shift from a hybrid of remote and in-person work to fully remote client collaboration?

Vavangas: IBM Garage is built on digital foundations. This includes the technology and digital platforms that enable collaborative remote work. It also includes the mindset, the culture and the ways of working. So, while every single one of our projects was operating in a physical or partly physical context one day, the next day we were fully virtual, without a drop in pace anywhere around the world. In some cases, we’ve seen up to a 40 percent increase in velocity in the productivity of our teams now that they’re in a fully virtual context. Because suddenly you’re able to access a completely different set of opportunities. You can bring people and expertise into the team from around the world. The only limitation now is time zone.

Q: What is the role of hybrid cloud and AI in enabling Garage teams to drive innovation at scale?  

Vavangas: One of the unique features of IBM Garage is that it brings together user experience, technology and business processes to take an end-to-end, holistic view of innovative transformation. We work with our clients to build workflows and use AI to drive intelligence into those workflows, and the hybrid cloud environment is what enables them to connect their different data sources to support those workflows. So instead of having a series of disparate intelligent workflows, you’re building a cognitive enterprise focused on business outcomes, with the ability to make quick decisions based on data-driven insights.