’s New Look: More Than a Face Lift

Using Service-Oriented Architecture to Provide an Adaptive Web Experience

June 28, 2007

How do you deliver a unified online experience with your brand across multiple product lines, geographies, Web properties, and portals? In June 2007, IBM launched its next-generation Web site and the framework IBM will use to provide a unified online experience across all IBM’s Web properties. This new site architecture and approach embodies a number of best practices, including user-controlled pro-files, dynamic contextual personalization, distributed creation of cross-enterprise merchandising, and a seamless experience for customers across both public and private (account-specific) Web sites.


Imagine the challenge of migrating a global Web site with 3 million static html pages—all maintained by separate business units—to a modern, dynamic, adaptive Web site structure. This is an opportunity that many global e-business teams are eager to embrace.

IBM is one of many companies that has embarked on the journey of re-launching its Web properties to take advantage of a common service-oriented architecture. This report provides an overview to many of the best practices embodied in IBM’s new Web site framework.

These best practices include:

  • Using a unified information and technology architecture for both public and private (entitled) Web sites to provide a relatively seamless experience from public to private and back again.
  • Enabling customers to manage and control their profiles, interests and account information and customizing merchandising and information based on those customer profiles.
  • Using a services-oriented approach to provide complex, dynamic behavior with very simple requests to underlying services.
  • Providing a unified search across all sites, as well as content-specific search types, such as technical support search and people search.
  • Providing an enterprise-wide distributed, yet controlled approach for creating, managing and presenting personalized, context-appropriate merchandising information.

Like many other large enterprises, IBM has embarked on a “One IBM” experience initiative to ensure that customers and partners around the world have a consistent brand experience in dealing with IBM across channels, touchpoints, and geographies. Providing a consistent, yet context-appropriate online experience around the world is a big part of delivering on the “One IBM” experience.

Like most multinational enterprises, IBM has many customer-facing Web sites—at least one for each country in which IBM does business, plus thousands of “Easy Access” customer portal sites with content, products, and pricing targeted for specific accounts. Product-related content is updated and maintained by product and brand managers. Country-specific content is maintained by the Web site owners in each country.

Taking Steps Towards a Unified Online Experience

Since 2004, IBM’s corporate team has been gradually evolving the company’s Web infrastructure, policies, information, and technology architecture to deliver a more consistent, unified, yet highly adaptive and personalized Web experience.

This latest release of marks a major watershed for IBM and its customers. The new site provides a unified framework and blueprint for all IBM Web properties moving forward. All of IBM’s public Web sites in every country around the world will be unified with this common framework and architecture. All of IBM’s entitled sites for customers and partners will also be integrated into this common architectural and behavioral framework.


“One IBM” Site Goes Live

IBM’s global Web enablement team launched its next generation public-facing Web site(s) in 9 countries over the weekend of June 9-10, 2007. This first roll-out was for the G9 countries: Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, U.S., and UK.

In the second half of 2007, the new site will be rolled out across four more countries: Brazil, Russia, India, and Korea.

Over the next 12 to 18 months, most of IBM’s entitled sites—My Access customer portals, partner portals, online communities, and so on—will be integrated into this new common services framework.

BEST PRACTICES EXEMPLIFIED IN THE NEW IBM.COM. Updated site launches aren’t always noteworthy, but IBM’s new site highlights a number of current best practices in Web site design and deployment. The new site takes advantage of:

  • Improved, contextualized site navigation
  • A common set of user-managed customer profiles
  • A common set of forms that leverage customers’ profiles
  • A Cross-enterprise Web merchandising framework
  • A Services-Oriented Architecture to enable adaptive behavior

IBM isn’t alone in taking this approach to next generation Web site design. However, IBM’s Web design team, headed by John Rosato, the Director of Global Web Enablement for, has been very forthcoming in describing IBM’s approach and the principles that IBM has used.

Providing a Seamless Experience Across Public and Private Web Sites

One of the most interesting implications of this next generation of unified Web site design is that it smoothes the seams between public and private. You begin as an anonymous site visitor. As you return to the site, you’re recognized and welcomed back. Once you register on the site, you control the degree of personalized content and offers shown based on the amount of information you choose to enter into your profile.

NO SEPARATE CUSTOMER/PARTNER PORTAL EXPERIENCE. If you are an active customer or business partner, you’ll have access to additional customized account-specific information, such as custom product catalogs with customized account pricing, and/or service and support entitlements. But instead of going to a separate site to log on to your customer or partner portal, the site registration provides you with single sign on to all of your entitled and customized information and transactions. Perhaps even more significant is that the site look and feel and behavior will remain the same as you navigate back and forth between the public and private sites.


From a user’s point of view, the new site navigation is consistent and easy to find your way around. From the point of view of the IBM brand experience, it’s a vast improvement. Navigation, behavior, look and feel, merchandising, and personalization can now be much more consistent across all ...


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