HANOVER, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 28:  A woman walks past the IBM logo at the CeBIT technology trade fair the day before the fair's official opening on February 28, 2011 in Hanover, Germany. CeBIT 2011 will be open to the public from March 1-5.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

IBM Doubles Down on Digital Agency Business with exc.io Acquisition

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IBM has announced plans this week to acquired German digital marketing company exc.io to add digital marketing, commerce and platform skills to IBM Interactive Experience (iX). The deal is the third by IBM in a week, following its acquisitions of German digital strategy and development agency Aperto and US-based digital marketing and creative agency Resource/Ammirati, as IBM iX expands rapidly.

exc.io is a top-level partner for Adobe, SAP hybris, and Sitecore, the three main commerce and customer platform vendors in the German market, one of only two such agencies, according to a blog post by IBM iX Vice President and European Leader Matt Candy and exc.io CEO Gerald Lanzerits. The nearly 200 employees of exc.io will join IBM iX (a division which has 10,000 employees), adding “specialized expertise designing and implementing experience-led solutions using agile techniques.” The acquisition will also help IBM iX focus on longer term client projects, according to Forbes. The European agency will continue to serve its clients.

Digital agencies have long been customers of hosting services, and often require a specialized set of solutions. Hosting providers like Rackspace have even created dedicated teams and divisions to ensure that the needs of these customers are met as CMOs have an increasingly active role in technology buying.

With an integrated experience that bridges “business, art, and technology”, IBM iX said it “think[s] bigger than an agency and more creatively than a consultancy, with the power to integrate the whole system.” As IBM pushes into the Internet of Things (IoT), most recently with its buy of The Weather Company, having an integrated agency that is able to design platforms for wearable devices and other experiences will surely fit in to its IoT vision.

Read more: Amid Poor Results Overall, IBM’s Cloud Business Growing

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

The expansion push by IBM iX closely follows the recent departure of several IBM executives, including its cloud unit CTO.

“For the last 20 years, we’ve fostered an open, agile and collaborative culture with a dedication to quality and innovation,” Christoph Mause, CCO and co-founder, ecx.io said. “Joining forces with IBM iX will provide us with a global network of talent with expertise in strategy, analytics, cognitive computing and innovation that will not only compliment our services offerings, but allow them to become more personalized. Together with iX, we will continue to provide clients with superior services and platforms for exceptional customer engagement and experiences.”

Financial terms were not disclosed for any of the deals, and the usual regulatory approvals and conditions apply, but all are expected to close soon.

Along with the acquisitions, IBM iX announced it will open new studios in Prague, Warsaw, and Dubai, to give it 25 worldwide. IBM iX says that Advertising Age’s 2015 Agency Report calls it the largest global digital agency.

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