SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- IBM Corp. is plucking 200 researchers and experts from its highly profitable services division to create a new laboratory focused on building new products for data mining, mobile computing, and "cloud" technologies.
About 1,000 of IBM's 3,000 researchers are currently focused on services and analytics, the company said Thursday. The new lab will help speed the time to get projects in high-priority areas to market, Mahmoud Naghshineh, the lab's director, said in an interview.
"It's a way of increasing our impact," he said.
Technology services engagements are wide-ranging and amorphous, and can include mundane tasks such as staffing call centers and maintaining servers to more complicated projects such as helping companies spot patterns in their digital records.
A previous collaboration between services experts and IBM researchers, for example, led to a technology that helps hospitals analyze the data surrounding premature births, Naghshineh said.
IBM is looking for ways to further differentiate its services offerings from a slew of deep-pocketed rivals that are encroaching on its turf, namely Hewlett-Packard Co. Research is one way it tries to do that.
Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM relies heavily in its marketing on the strength of its research division, on which it has spent nearly $60 billion over the past decade, at a time when other companies, specifically HP, have cut their research budgets. HP's new CEO, Leo Apotheker, has identified closing the gap with IBM on research as one of his key priorities.
IBM has a strong motivation to highlight efforts to innovate in services. IBM's services division brought in $2.17 billion in pre-tax profit in the second quarter, second only to the software division's $2.31 billion. Taken together, they account for more than 90 percent of IBM's total profit.