Founded in 1911 as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company in New York and renamed International Business Machines in 1924, IBM is a multinational technology corporation which operates in over 170 countries. Its origin can be traced back to the 1880s and the invention of punch card data processing machines. Its development as a corporation shadows the history of modern computing.

Today this international giant is organised into distinct segments of which three of the most significant are Cloud and Cognitive Software, Global Financing and Global Business Partners and Midmarket.

IBM has long supported the idea of partnerships with mid-market companies, traditionally defined as those with fewer than 1,000 employees. Businesses that have worked with IBM analytics tools such as Cognos, SPSS and TM1 have experienced some difficulties in dealing with IBM’s turnover of account executives which is why the company developed its IBM Business Partner programme.

The IBM structure is complex, each client account serviced by several people performing discrete functions. Typically there are at least four: an account executive, two analytics reps and a renewal rep. IBM simplified this structure for Midmarket clients who can now expect to have all their questions answered by just one person.

more than 4000 short educational videos

The Challenge

IBM Midmarket consists of thousands of providers who supply their clients with systems and solutions using IBM technology and expertise. This streamlined approach is highly effective but where it can fall down is in that part of the sales process which requires the partner to educate clients in the more complex benefits of certain products. If the client is not technologically inclined, this can create significant obstacles in reaching the buying stage.

IBM’s general manager of Global Business Partners and Midmarket expressed the view that the business partners market was underserved and that IBM needed to do more to leverage its opportunities. The problem was identified as two-fold. Not only were mid-market decision-makers difficult to reach, but it was not always easy to get sales prospect to engage with IBM’s tech solutions. Whether this was as a result of indifference, caution or comprehension, the problem needed to be addressed.

IBM Midmarket was familiar with the success of Logicc’s video learning platform and this prompted them to call on us for help to solve this problem of communication and education. Logicc was commissioned to create a bespoke video portal for IBM. The objective was to design a resource in which members of the Global Business Partners network could serve up easily comprehensible and digestible pieces of information to demystify the technology, communicate its value and develop new client contacts. This would present both a short-term solution to the difficulties of engagement with current prospects and a longer-term nurturing of future leads.

The Solution

The idea of developing a video channel may not in itself seem unusual, but the scale of the ambition, together with the fact that this had never been done before in even remotely comparable circumstances made it ground-breaking. IBMUK could see the potential of the idea and were determined to become the world leader in this technology.

Logicc spent three years working intensively with the IBM Midmarket team and its network of business partners to devise, film and publish more than 4,000 short videos to disseminate essential knowledge, some of it relatively rudimentary, much of it complex. The format we chose for the videos was Q&A which we found to be the most accessible for IBM’s purposes.

We then promoted the video service across all marketing platforms, from traditional marketing channels to search engines and social media. The first aim was to identify the participating partners as ‘thought leaders’ who would immediately be associated with their areas of expertise. The second was to build a new stream of contacts who could be carried into the nurturing process. Not only would the programme make complicated issues accessible, but it would also use this accessibility as a marketing lever for potential new clients.

We created a dedicated IT channel within our own service which would have the effect of giving the IBM video collection the benefit of a high-profile third-party endorsement. The carefully limited length and scope of the videos would maximise engagement and ensure we held the attention of viewers long enough to explain the core subject and to encourage them to watch more. The resultant exposure alone would boost the profile of both the individual business partners and the programme as a whole.

The video channel strategy incorporated several elements. First and foremost was the stand-alone IT channel itself, with design, content and reporting systems customised according to the requirements of IBM and its partners. Secondly we were engaged in the creation of a vast archive of video films on an exhaustive range of tech subjects. Thirdly we employed the most advanced digital marketing techniques as well as more traditional methods of promotion.

The Result

One measure of the IT channel’s success was the widescale exposure we achieved for both IBM partners and internal IBM experts. A second was the impressive volume of whitepaper downloads inspired by the video content. Still another was the number of views notched up, running into the hundreds of thousands.

Perhaps the most satisfying measure of the project’s success was the fact that IBM loved it. It more than met their expectations. They were so pleased with what we created that they bought all of the IT channel content, which is still in widespread use throughout the world years later. Many businesses have adopted this model because, although it represents a substantial commitment of time and resources, Logicc and IBM have shown that it works.

*Logicc was the previous business name of ISKU

new web-based management system

Aktrion provides inspection and containment duties at goods-in or at the point of assembly to ensure the continuation of quality production. However, the service also encompasses on-site reworking, quality liaison, engineering and problem solving, site auditing, supplier development, training and project management to ensure full support for both the supplier and the OEM.

Aktrion’s Logistics division provides primary and secondary trunking services to major regional and national newspaper publishers.

web-based management system

The Problem

Due to rapid growth and large daily volumes, Aktrion Logistics had an urgent requirement for the automation of management and logistics processes as the business was largely being operated via complex spreadsheets and reports. Daily routing information needed to be fed into a management system which then outputs paperwork and reporting for Aktrion administrator, suppliers and the client.Processes were very well defined but operating via a range of linked spreadsheets, the administration quickly became a bottleneck in the business.

The Solution

We were commissioned by Aktrion on a development basis, our consultants helped Aktrion produce a technical specification of requirements and then we were tasked with developing the information systems & software to deliver a new web-based management system that would enable the client to handle significantly higher volumes of business with the same level of administration resource as well as providing detailed reporting systems to clients and profiling data to Aktrion.

Our solution delivered a fully bespoke database management system that offered the following facilities:

Online Management System – role based web application offering logins and various functionality to Aktrion administrators, suppliers and clients.

Route Control Screen – colour code route control screen so Aktrion could easily manage suppliers, routes, drops and material volumes.

Supplier Portal – private area for suppliers to obtain daily documentation as well as submit reporting information back to Aktrion which was subsequently auto-processed

KPI/Reporting Suite – admin and client reporting tools

Services Deployed

- Technical Specification Creation
- Development
- Support

institute of export
emerged after several years of determined work as a world leader in the provision of video technology

The IOE (The Institute of Export & International Trade), was founded in 1935. It is a professional body whose purpose is to support the interests of UK businesses involved in import, export and all forms of international trade. The idea of the institute was first proposed in 1923 and by the time of its formation, the world had undergone the shock of the worldwide depression. By the 1930s the traditional drivers of the UK economy - industries such as textiles and engineering – were suffering from the increasing domination of capital goods and consumer durables. By 1945 the UK’s exports were at a third of their 1939 level.

Today the IOE has some 2,750 members and reaches more than 100,000 exporters via the international trade media. Since the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the IOE has assumed increased responsibility to help businesses develop the sophisticated skills needed to prosper in international trade. It is the UK’s leading association of exporters and importers. Core IOE functions are to provide education and training as well as the establishment of UK standards and processes on the world stage.


The Problem

In order to maintain its invaluable position within UK trade, the IOE decided it needed to overhaul its profile, increase its visibility, expand its membership and modernise its structures and processes to make it fully fit to contribute to the 21st-century international trade model. This was far more than a rebranding mission or PR exercise. The IOE was determined to transform its systems by introducing modern management thinking and emerging technologies.

Lesley Batchelor OBE was the Institute’s Director General from 2007 until 2019. She brought with her a wealth of immensely varied experience in international trade and successfully steered the IOE for 12 years, getting the voice of UK importers and exporters heard and obtaining representation for the industry at the highest levels of government. Her influence has shaped the IOE’s determination to continue the progress she set in motion.

The Solution

The problem that the IOE presented to ISKU was complex and demanding. It envisaged a transformation that would take place over several years and involved devising an entirely digital solution which would put the IOE in the vanguard of the revolution in visual communications.

ISKU's essential first step was to take the time to ask questions, listen and understand the core values of the Institute. Only with that empathetic connection would it would be possible to deliver effective results. Once the team members were satisfied with their knowledge of the Institute’s procedures and aspirations, they were able to begin exploring opportunities for growth and, in particular, the potential for digital transformation that would make the IOE the equal of any other professional or industry body.

Since the IOE has an essentially collaborative role, it made logical sense to reposition the brand through high-level partnerships with leading businesses and their leaders.  ISKU targeted UK private sector organisations such as RBS and the Post Office, public sector bodies including HMRC and UKTI (now the Department for International Trade) and international corporations such as Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc.

ISKU took the lead in this realignment. While we understand the vital importance of technological solutions in all our work, we prioritise creative thinking. The kind of transformation the IOE were asking us to deliver can only be achieved with imaginative, innovative ideas. In this sense, we ask our clients to take an intellectual and philosophical leap before even thinking about technology. Every business and professional body is driven by the quality of its controlling minds. We are happy to declare ourselves technology agnostic. Technology is the servant, not the master.

We established the ground rules, designed the framework, brought in the key partners and implemented a new commercial dynamism. Our expertise in the implementation of bespoke video delivery platforms enabled us to construct an entirely new digital portal offering advice on international trade. We made it possible for the IOE to reinvent itself as the leading resource for guidance, support and inspiration.

The Outcome

ISKU carried the IOE on a remarkable journey. Weighted down by the baggage of 20th century custom and practice, only tentatively engaged with cutting-edge technology, the Institute emerged after several years of determined work as a world leader in the provision of video technology. Our strategy of establishing strategic partnerships with government bodies and multi-national companies gave the IOE the reach, reputation and authority to reinvent itself at the highest level.

The Industry Reaction

Now that the Institute of Export has been reborn, we’ll leave the last word on its new incarnation to Finextra, the leading independent news and information source for the worldwide financial technology community:

“All advice on the site is delivered by experts from many participating organisations including HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), the CBI, UKTI, Business Link, The Middle East Association, the Intellectual Property Office and the China-Britain Business Council.”

“Sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland, the project is the first time such a comprehensive resource has been offered free of charge and reflects the Institute's role as the leading authority in best practice and competence for businesses trading globally.”

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new web-based management system