IBM Worldwide Catalog Integration

Reinforce your brand’s image with worldwide consistency.


The Problem/Opportunity: In the mid-1990s IBM was investing in integrated telephone and web sales channels worldwide. These channels were being supported by printed catalogs so IBM wanted to change its diverse catalogs into a consistent presentation among all its catalogs no matter what product group or country of origin.

The Challenge: This project presented several major challenges because of the unique requirements and cultural differences represented by each country. Add to this the fact that the experience in catalog production among the direct marketing groups within each country varied significantly. We were given nine months to implement a plan that delivered locally produced catalogs with a consistent appearance and layout worldwide.

The Solution: First we articulated the requirements of each country producing direct marketing catalogs including their dependencies on other organizations within their countries and in other countries. Next we charted the various catalog production steps for each country to identify redundant efforts and areas for cooperation. For example, most of the imagery developed for the catalogs in the United States could be used in each of the other countries rather than duplicating these efforts. Similarly the language used to describe products in one country could be used as the basis for translated versions in each of the other countries. Then we developed a graphic design and style that could be implemented worldwide while providing for individual country customization. Lastly, we investigated ways to manage these shared content elements so they could be easily retrieved and reused by various organizations over the company’s intranet.

The Results: Within six months, three months ahead of schedule, we were producing similar catalogs in each of the participating countries. In addition to these we had defined a content management and catalog production system that facilitated the sharing of catalog content among each of the country’s direct marketing organizations.

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