IBM says use of Adobe AI tools in marketing boosted productivity

GSMA's 2023 Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) - International Business Machines on Wednesday said that its initial testing of generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools from Adobe has resulted in productivity improvements.

IBM said it was using Adobe's tools, which can generate images from text-based prompts, to help with marketing campaigns. It is an early test of Adobe's strategy to create AI systems trained on its own proprietary data with legal guarantees against lawsuits, a strategy that Adobe hopes will lure in large businesses.

Billy Seabrook, the global chief design officer for IBM's consulting arm, said that the 1,600 designers in his unit used Adobe's tools to help generate ideas quickly and create variants of them to be used in different parts of marketing campaigns.

"What typically would take us two weeks for an end-to-end cycle, we've gotten down to two days," Seabrook told Reuters.

Overall IBM said it expects a 10-fold increase in the productivity of designers, who will be able to devote more time to brainstorming and creating storyboards instead of generating minor design variants.

Seabrook said that in the short term, the most likely impact to design industry employment from use of the new tools will be to use existing teams to do more work.

"There's typically a rule of prioritization of what big bets you are going to go after and what staff you're going to put towards a problem. Theoretically, you're opening up more headroom to focus on some of those other problems," he said.

The long term impact on employment is less clear. Seabrook said recent IBM survey data showed most business leaders think designers are more important than ever.

"They have to be almost the tastemakers and the quality checkers of the output of the generative AI, as well as a little bit of the empathy in the room that helps train and fine-tune and curate that AI," Seabrook said.

But in other parts of the survey data, "everyone agrees there are going to be fewer jobs," Seabrook said. "We're waiting to see what happens."

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Michael Perry`)