IBM has opened a design studio in Austin and plans to add hundreds of jobs over the next five years. The company’s General Manager of Design Phil Gilbert called the studio “a broad ambitious new approach to re-imagining how we design our products and solutions.” He said the goal is to “modernize enterprise software for today’s users, who demand great design everywhere, at home and at work.”
For years, workers used to consumer products at home have wondered why their work technology can’t be as simple to use. In unveiling the facility, CEO Virginia Rometty cited the site’s mantra: “Be essential” – a nod to the need to remain relevant as the world goes increasingly mobile.
About 100 people already work at the site, with skills such as visual design, graphic arts, user experience and industrial design. IBM expects that number to grow to 1,000 by 2018. In addition to experienced designers already on staff, it has added experienced talent from outside the company as well as new college grads.
The office also serves as a training center for product teams across the country. So far 60 teams have completed “design camp” and gone off to work on a range of software products.
IBM’s software division has been in Austin since 1995. The company employed 6,239 workers there in 2012, making it Travis County’s fifth-largest private sector employer. In April, the company announced plans to cut 6,000 to 8,000 employees globally, though it hasn’t said whether jobs were cut in Austin.