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IBM, VW team up in 'garage factory' to build more personalized services

It sure beats waiting half a day for an email to get answered for something important.


Automakers and suppliers are closer than ever before, especially in the tech space where constant communication and improvement are necessary to build the kind of neat services new buyers will want. That's why IBM and Volkswagen have shacked up -- literally.

IBM and Volkswagen have both set up shop at an IBM office in Berlin to help develop VW's "We Experience" system, which uses IBM's cloud services to create a more personalized experience for VW's digital platform. It's part of a five-year partnership that was announced last September.

Co-working doesn't exactly make for compelling photos, but that's because everybody's busy working.


The co-working space uses what's called the "Garage Factory" setting, which basically puts the two companies in the same space to boost efficiency. That way, both teams can work together from beginning to end, whether it involves pitching, prototyping or production. There's no need to wait on emails or get together for annoyingly dense monthly meetings to share goals. A VW employee can just get up from their desk and wander over to the IBM side to get answers.

The first fruit from this relationship is called We Experience. Part of Volkswagen's We mobility services, We Experience offers drivers and passengers relevant recommendations based on what they're doing. Currently available as a pilot in parts of Germany, the service includes coupon codes that users can redeem at local retailers, including gas stations and restaurants. And once you start grabbing offers, the system will get a better idea of what you want and try to make sure its suggestions will actually be of use.

We Experience is based on Volkswagen's connected-services platform, but it relies on IBM's experience in cloud computing and machine cognition to ensure the offers actually make sense -- you probably wouldn't use a restaurant coupon for a place that's miles away from your parking spot, for example.

As the service expands and grows to include more locations and more retail partners, VW will need We Experience to scale up quickly. That's why the "Garage Factory" idea has legs -- when it comes to scaling up quickly, putting both teams in one location makes the most sense. We Experience is only the beginning of this partnership -- with years left to go, it'll be interesting to see what comes out next.

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