The marketing and customer engagement landscape is getting more crowded and enterprise firms increasingly find themselves competing with nimble startups that offer innovative solutions. As a result, enterprise companies are turning to innovation labs for a competitive edge.Agencies and enterprise firms are launching innovation labs and product incubators to keep up with the latest technology advances and maintain relationships with their clients. In fact, the number of agencies and client-side marketing firms with innovation labs and product incubators grew more than 28 percent year over year in 2014 to 50 percent, from 39 percent in 2013, according to an Econsultancy survey.
Yesterday, IBM said Facebook will be its first partner at a new ThinkLab that the company is building in San Francisco. IBM already has 12 ThinkLabs worldwide that focus on different areas from research and ecommerce to computational biology. Its San Francisco lab will be dedicated to customer engagement, says Jay Henderson, director of strategy within ExperienceOne, IBM's customer engagement solutions.
"As technology accelerates, you need expertise and resources that sometimes aren't available within your four walls and IBM is combining its data and its resources with Facebook experts to help brands find ways to better engage their customers," Henderson says.
IBM customers will also be able to buy Facebook ads using combined data from Facebook and IBM's Marketing Cloud. Other companies like SAP, Salesforce.com, Oracle and more already offer data integrations with Facebook's audience-targeting capabilities.
For Facebook, this partnership strengthens the social network's ties with enterprise tools and its role as a marketing platform. With its tailored Newsfeed, suggested pages, and targeted ads, Facebook is a well-oiled machine pumping out personalized content at a scale few companies can match. And with its video and voice capabilities, the company's reach is still growing.
Enterprises that want a direct connection to Facebook and other tech firms and startups are setting up labs where the action is, such as in Boston, New York, and San Francisco. Other notable organizations that have built outpost labs include Ford, Home Depot, Zappos, and Walmart.