IBM OpenPages experience design blazes the trail at the Risk Markets Technology Awards

The product won the best user interface innovation category

Arin Bhowmick
IBM Design
3 min readFeb 1, 2021


Designers at IBM pride themselves in having both top-tier design skills and advanced technical knowledge. The risk management industry recently validated and honored this critical combination of skill sets in our designers. I’m excited to announce that IBM OpenPages with Watson won the best user interface innovation category in the Risk Market Technology Awards.

The Markets Technology Awards, part of the Risk Awards, recognizes the achievements of technology vendors, trading platforms, law firms, clearing houses, and all of the people who help make the industry run. The Risk Awards is the longest-running and most prestigious awards competition for global derivatives markets and risk management.

OpenPages democratizes risk management

Most employees aren’t risk and compliance experts, but they still interact with risk and compliance issues in their work. This means that nearly every employee should be involved in governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) — not just risk and compliance professionals.

However, the OpenPages design team discovered in their research that non-expert users find risk and compliance activities tedious. Furthermore, time-intensive training can be disruptive to other responsibilities and often forgotten due to infrequent use of the system.

In redesigning and adding new functionalities to the solution, they took these needs, along with those of their more advanced users, into account.

Taking a zero-training approach, design created a highly intuitive, user-centric UI, to help reduce onboarding time and raise productivity. They removed the thousands of pages of training by leveraging natural language processing (NLP) and Watson Assistant.

The team also infused OpenPages with what our organization calls a “Watson Moment”: highlighted Watson features that appear in IBM Cloud & Data Platform products as cards, modals, drawers or highlighted content. Their Watson Moment examines the user’s written description of the risks they want to assess and suggests the most relevant set of categorizations, controls, and policies that they need to test for.

OpenPages also enables collaboration and mass communication. Users can find precise and timely answers from their data or from content built by others. They can also create dashboards and reports through visualizations, which can easily be distributed to thousands of other users in their organization.

In short, simplifying the navigation for the end user, who has limited experience in risk and compliance, increases adoption and efficiency.

Working together works better

If you want to imitate success, always look at a team’s process. The OpenPages team prioritized a couple of key initiatives that elevated their product.

First, they created a model called ‘innovating in the open’ where the product management team hosted sprint reviews with customers on new GRC features developed in the last two weeks for early review and customer feedback.

Second, they made a plan to adopt Carbon X, the latest version of IBM’s open-source design system. This adoption ensured that the IBM OpenPages platform is usable and accessible for all users, for example, accessible for colorblind users, in addition to being contextual and interactive. It also provides users with a familiar user interface: similar user flows, patterns, and principles across other IBM software, which makes getting acquainted withOpenPages much easier.

This convergence of user experience and technical innovation is leading the risk management industry toward better outcomes. I couldn’t be prouder of this design team.

Winning team

Design Leader: Brad Neal
Design team: Adam Zhang, Jaesik Han, Zach Nilsson

Winning Product Experience: IBM OpenPages with Watson

Arin Bhowmick (@arinbhowmick) is Vice President and Chief Design Officer, IBM Cloud, Data and AI, 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