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IBM is Recognized in the 2020 iF Design Awards

Musa karunde

Feb. 12, 2020

On behalf of our design team at IBM Cloud, Data and AI , we’re excited to announce that we’ve won iF Design Award’s in the Communications category for IBM AutoAI and IBM Watson Studio Desktop . We are thrilled to see these two products get recognized for their outstanding design work.
This year, the iF Design jury, comprised of 78 international experts, judged 7,300 products and projects submitted from 56 countries from around the world. The iF Design Award is one of the world’s oldest, most celebrated, and most competitive design competitions.
This is our third year in a row being recognized by this organization, and the first time that we have seen two of our products get awarded at the same time. It’s truly an achievement and an honor for us, and I’m so proud that our team’s hard work has paid off.
What is IBM AutoAI?
IBM AutoAI, part of IBM Watson Studio, automates the process of building machine learning models for users such as data scientists. Businesses looking to integrate AI into their practices often struggle to establish the necessary foundation for this technology due to limited resources or a gap in skill sets. The process of understanding how to use AI and generate machine learning models from data sets can take days or weeks. With a distinct emphasis on trust and explainability, IBM AutoAI visualizes this automated machine learning process through each stage of data preparation, algorithm selection, model creation, and data enhancement. The tool is able to teach and empower users to identify and apply the best models for their data in a matter of minutes, helping businesses save time and resources.
Designing for IBM AutoAI
One of the primary goals for the design team was making IBM AutoAI understandable for users with varying levels of expertise. It was a challenge for the designers to understand the AI and machine learning technology behind this automated solution, and then communicating the model creation process in a comprehensive but visually appealing way. The team set to create a software product that guided the user through these complex technological processes step by step.
The design team worked directly with IBM Research to understand the underlying technology and user expectations for this type of tool. The team also interviewed target users and conducted competitive research to increase their domain knowledge in artificial intelligence and better inform their design decisions. Based on deep user research , the designers found that users inherently didn’t trust an automated solution. The design team wanted to avoid this perception of an automated solution as a “black box”, where it is unclear to the user how a result was generated from the information that they input.
Throughout the design process, the designers placed emphasis on explaining all steps of the software tool’s process in laymen’s terms in order to build confidence and trust with the users. By leveraging the IBM Enterprise Design Thinking framework the design process also extended to development, content, and offering management teams, which helped create a product more aligned with all stakeholder goals.
What is IBM Watson Studio Desktop?
IBM Watson Studio Desktop is a data science and machine-learning software platform that provides self-service, drag-and-drop data analytics right from the user’s desktop. The software platform’s features include the ability to automate data preparation and modeling, data analysis, enhanced visualizations, and an intuitive interface that doesn’t require coding knowledge. It can integrate with on-premise, cloud, and hybrid-cloud environments.
Data analysis can be a painstaking process as users need to gather, clean, sort, and sift through the data while working with data scattered across several sources and locations. IBM Watson Studio Desktop is an end-to-end solution that helps businesses to get started with the data analysis process faster, giving data scientists all the tools they need to improve their workflow. This product is a desktop version of IBM Watson Studio , a collaborative cloud data analysis software.
Designing for IBM Watson Studio Desktop
The design team behind IBM Watson Studio Desktop conducted research on their target users, primarily data scientist, to understand their needs. The designers conducted interviews with sponsor users and corporations as well as on-site user testing. The team found that data-scientists primarily worked in isolation, and were looking for a more dynamic, collaborative workflow, where they had all of their tools in one place. The team aimed to design a tool and interface where data scientists were provided with an ecosystem of data analysis tools. They wanted to create a space for their users to collaborate, access all of their needed tools and information at once, and create a cohesive workflow between themselves and their peers.
Another challenge for the UX team was to design and implement all of these capabilities that were originally designed for the cloud version of the software into the desktop version. IBM Watson Desktop Studio was created for users who wanted to work offline as well as in an interface with more narrowed and tailored machine learning capabilities. The team wanted to design a desktop tool that translated well as an extension of the cloud tool, with a user experience that was more simplified and focused, but still familiar to users from the original cloud version. The team designed an interface that used similar design principles, as well as carried over key features from the cloud version that the users wanted to see in this new environment.
“IBM Watson Studio Desktop and IBM Watson AutoAI bridge gaps in skills and knowledge and make data analysis and machine learning more accessible for businesses in the modern age. We designed these products with empathy and a user-centered approach, so that our users could confidently integrate AI into their business workflows.” --Alex Swain, Design Principal at IBM Cloud, Data and AI
Designing Watson Products
As described above, designing software products with A I and machine learning capabilities is a challenging task that requires an in-depth understanding of the field and its challenges. AI has the power to impact businesses on a large scale, and understanding how to take advantage of these capabilities is essential for businesses to succeed and excel with their data strategy. Being recognized for the design work behind these products is a true testament, to how much user experience can play a role in shaping how this AI technologies can impact our lives.
Winning Teams
IBM AutoAI
Design Principal: Alex Swain
Design Team: Dillon Eversman, Voranouth Supadulya
IBM Watson Studio Desktop
Design Principal: Alex Swain
Design Team: Stevie Johnston, Leah Lawrence, Dillon Eversman, Jolie Durand
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