Dual 2021 iF Design Award wins for IBM: IBM Watson Knowledge Catalog and IBM Automation Decision Services

Our teams were recognized for their stellar software and user experience design

Arin Bhowmick
IBM Design


I’m excited to announce that two of our design teams received well-deserved recognition from iF Design’s competition this year. IBM Watson Knowledge Catalog won in the app/software category, while IBM Automation Decision Services did so in the interface for digital media category.

For 67 years, the iF DESIGN AWARD has been used as the seal of approval for great design. Their famed iF World Design Guide serves as a voice of authority and inspiration across the industry. This year, their 98-member jury evaluated each project based on the strength of the idea, its aesthetic form, how well it functions, its differentiators, and overall impact.

Making data less overwhelming

Through multiple user interviews with data experts, the design team for IBM Watson Knowledge Catalog (WKC) (available as part of IBM Cloud Pak for Data) learned that they spent more than 2/3rds of their time answering these 4 questions:

  • Where is our data?
  • What is this data about?
  • Can I trust this data?
  • How do I get access to this data?

This leaves only a fraction of their time for their actual work, like building dashboards, reports, and AI models. WKC’s experience was designed as a direct result of the many pain points encountered during the data cataloging process with an emphasis on transparency, efficiency, and trust.

This process of finding data can take days to weeks, but with WKC users can automate the process of finding and govern data, reducing time spent to hours — sometimes even minutes. Through advanced filtering and searching, stewards can easily find their data, improving their overall productivity.

To help data workers bridge the gap between the technical assets and the business domain, the team built and leveraged a common set of terminology and descriptions to make it easier to understand data and provided more ways to collaborate using data.

Governed data catalog in IBM Cloud Pak for Data powered by IBM Watson Knowledge Catalog

Paving the way for no-code modeling

IBM Automation Decision Services (available as part of IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation) helps business users make the business decisions through a simple interface that requires no coding. Because conditions evolve, business users can also quickly change the way decisions are made and stay aligned with important business requirements.

In the latest release, users can make and test changes before they put them into production in just a couple hours with the help of an intuitive interface.

The design team made it a point to focus on quickly up-skilling users within the app, lowering the barrier to entry and saving countless hours. They did this through comprehensive onboarding that taught users key concepts and designed the experience with non-technical people in mind first.

Winning teams

I couldn’t be more proud of both of these design teams. They put in their heart and soul in leveraging the IBM’s Enterprise Design Thinking framework and rigorous user research, to craft some of the best product experiences in our industry. As a result, they’re pushing the boundaries of what knowledge workers can accomplish with enterprise software.

Watson Knowledge Catalog

Design managers: John Bailey, Ashwin Umathay
Design leads: Marion Bruells, Sammy Schuckert
Design team: Kathy Alvero, Robin Auer, Rebecca Urry, Justin Park, Andreas Reich, Michael Friess, Ellice Heintze, Jess Vergara, Oliver Kauselmann, Dimitrios Giannos, Philipp Brucker, Ashley Bock, Nicole Jones, Christopher Nunez, Conrad Schmidt, Susie Park, Andrew Smith, Ruben Fernandez

IBM Automation Decision Services

Design team: Fabienne Schoeman, Myriam Battelli, Aurélie Baton, Dave Clark

Congratulations to two other design teams at IBM, _Patterns and IBM z15 Mainframe, for winning an iF Award as well!

Arin Bhowmick (@arinbhowmick) is Vice President and Chief Design Officer, IBM Hybrid Cloud, Data and AI platform , based in San Francisco, California. The above article is personal and does not necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.



Arin Bhowmick
IBM Design

Chief Design Officer, @SAP | ex CDO @IBM |Cloud, AI and Apps I UX Leadership| UX Strategy| Usability & User Research| Product Design