The word “incubator” inspires thoughts of young hungry startups working with mentors to deliver a minimum viable product and snag venture capital funding. But IBM’s Bluemix Garage is just as much about letting large enterprises loosen up a little to innovate.
The company recently opened a cloud-focused developer environment embedded within Ryerson University’s DMZ incubator to help developers from both startups and enterprises build apps on its suite of cloud technologies – the first location in Canada.
The Bluemix Garage model is also aimed at connecting enterprise-level businesses with startups so they can take more of a lean startup-style approach to building apps through IBM Design Thinking, pair programming and agile processes.
Online banking firm Tangerine sees the Bluemix Garage as a sandbox to try out new things without impacting its usual processes, schedules or resources, said CIO Charaka Kithulegoda. “What the IBM Bluemix garage gives us is all of the good things of an incubator in a structured way.”
Kithulegoda said the benefits of an incubator is it doesn’t have the same constraints of a large organization, while at the same time, Bluemix is a great toolkit for doing iterative development work. The Garage also allows Tangerine to tap into other minds, he added, and the online bank has the infrastructure and resources to integrate an app when it’s ready to be taken to the next level. “It gives us more room to move in our thinking and how we work.”
The approach to development is already a part of Tangerine’s culture, said Kithulegoda, although it does take effort to keep the mindset. He has some advice for large organizations who want to leverage the IBM Bluemix Garage and the startup mentality that comes with it.
“If you’re trying this, you have to leave your constraints and rules at the door.” He likens the shift to that getting people to put away their smartphones and laptops during a meeting. As with any large organization, Tangerine has governance issues, policies and procedures that must be observed during regular operations, but Kithulegoda said if you bring all of the traditional thinking into the Bluemix Garage environment you end up doing something that’s highly unlikely to succeed.
“Failure is expected,” he added. But it can also be rewarding if you learn from it and move on quickly. Successful projects can be then integrated into your existing processes and infrastructure.