A new arm of IBM Research, called On Demand Innovation Services, will be staffed with 200 IBM researchers worldwide and supported with investments of $1bn (£640m) over the next three years.
The researchers will work with IBM's Business Consulting Services unit to help customers with business transformation and technology consulting. The announcement marks a major shift for IBM Research as it is the first time the unit has provided a formal customer-facing organisation, according to IBM.
Through the On Demand Innovation Services team, IBM's consultants can tap into other parts of IBM's research organisation, which includes some 3,000 researchers. IBM claimed the expertise should help customers quickly seize opportunities presented by innovations, changes in the market and unanticipated developments.
The industry is entering a services-led, on-demand era, according to IBM, and the role of IT researchers and the problems they should be solving must change accordingly.
Initially, the On Demand Innovation Services will cover four areas: Advanced Analytics, modelling scenarios to solve emerging problems; Business Process Transformation, aligning business strategy with IT investments; Information Integration, and Experimental Economics.
The on-demand vision is about using information technology to increase businesses' flexibility and responsiveness, according to IBM president and chief executive officer Sam Palmisano. An enterprise should extend beyond its borders, integrating fully with customers, partners and suppliers, he said at the presentation of IBM's on-demand computing initiative.