Delivering Innovation in Practice

At IBM, Client Technical Advisors (CTAs) play a pivotal role in the company’s relationship with its customers, helping them to develop innovative solutions to improve their businesses.

It’s a complex role, combining technical ability and the ability to innovate, bridging between IBM and its clients, and drawing on expertise from within IBM and other sources. As IBM created 600 new CTAs in 2009, it asked us to work with them in developing and defining the role to make every CTA as effective as possible in brokering innovation.

We were the perfect partner for IBM as alongside our recognised academic leadership in information technology, our own research into open entrepreneurship had begun in 2005, led by our then Head of Development and Innovation, Professor David Gann, along with Dr Linus Dahlander and his team.

IBM invited Professor Gann and Dr Ian Mackenzie to run a consultancy project with them to look at how their research findings could be applied to shape the innovation capabilities and technology brokering roles of CTAs at IBM. The first stage of the process was to examine exactly how IBM’s CTAs were carrying out their roles, and what barriers there were preventing them from being fully successful.

Our blend of skills delivery and a deep commitment to opening up people’s ability to question, analyse and create imaginative solutions based on hard evidence has led to real change in the CTAs’ effectiveness. As a result, IBM has enhanced its capability to foster radical innovation that is led by its clients, and IBM continues to lead the way in its sector.

It has improved the way we work with clients. It has improved the way we actually engage with clients. It has helped the people themselves and the architects to broaden their skills and to innovate in the way they engage with clients.
Kem Ferag
Sales Leader, Europe IOT and UKI, IBM