IBM Design
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IBM Design

IBM App Connect Wins a Spark International 2017 Design Award

The IBM Cloud design team is delighted that our design work for IBM App Connect has been recognized in the Software Application Experience category of this year’s Spark Design Awards™. This is all the more impressive given that the 11th annual International Spark Awards program was the most competitive in its history, with over 500 entries submitted.

Following on from the prestigious Red Dot Design Award that IBM won for our IBM Data Science Experience earlier in the year, this latest award is further recognition of the world-class design work that is being produced by IBM Design today.

The application integration context

IBM App Connect is a relatively new offering, which has been designed from scratch over the last couple of years. IBM was already a recognized leader in the integration middleware space, but creating the hybrid cloud-based App Connect offering was the next logical step in broadening our integration platform, so that it continues to meet the vast and often complex integration needs of 21st century businesses.

The App Connect dashboard showing different data flows

Integrating existing applications has many benefits, including helping users make business decisions with more information and therefore greater confidence. Being able to quickly connect applications and data sources can also open up new business opportunities — which can now be realized much more quickly than was possible before.

Some of the many ways in which IBM App Connect is helping our customers day-by-day

Previously, businesses needed highly-skilled IT professionals to create custom code to connect their disparate applications. This was a major pain point for business leaders, as connecting applications one by one in this way was a difficult, expensive, and time-consuming process — and the job was never complete as there are always new applications being added.

Our multi-role based integration platform solution

IBM App Connect running on the IBM Cloud provides a fantastic solution for this problem space, as now a number of different user types can perform a range of integration tasks all within the one product. App Connect enables users to connect back-end systems, web, and mobile applications wherever they reside — whether on-premises or in a private or public cloud.

This means that a non-technical business user can simply pick one of the many pre-built connectors or integration templates to quickly connect data from one common application to another. For example, a business user might set up a connection so that new leads entered in the company’s Salesforce account flow directly into the company’s Marketo marketing database.

Some of the pre-defined integration templates available in App Connect

Then for more technical users, wanting to configure more complicated data flows and transformations, App Connect offers a large range of sophisticated integration capabilities. For example, the API flow editor enables more experienced integration specialists to define bespoke integrations, where data can be routed from one source to another, and transformed and enriched en route.

The versatile App Connect API flow editor, where integration power users can enrich and transform data as it flows from one application to another.

The design challenge

From a design perspective, the IBM App Connect project provided an exciting opportunity to re-imagine the integration experience for new users, often working in new business contexts. We firmly believe in the vital role of user research in achieving a great product design, so we invested heavily in conducting thorough user research into this particular business space. As the project progressed, we continued to apply the IBM Design Thinking framework and involve sponsor users to help us verify our hypotheses, and to gain valuable feedback on our designs.

It is in large part due to the design team’s diverse mindset, attention to detail and continued focus on delivering a great user experience for our customers that has enabled us to deliver this award-winning product.

My heartfelt congratulations to the fantastic team of IBM designers responsible for the design of IBM App Connect.


The IBM App Connect design team at work at IBM Studios Hursley. (Photo courtesy of Sam Winslet)

Finally, we are all also enormously grateful to our fantastic engineering and product management colleagues who have worked tirelessly to realize our designs for App Connect.

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



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Arin Bhowmick

Arin Bhowmick

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