My IBM Design Bootcamp Experience—Foundations for the Future

By Eytan Davidovits & Rachel Sibley

This is part  5 in a 6-part blog series by (and about) Eytan Davidovits, a Visual Designer who joined IBM Design in December 2015. In January 2016, Eytan embarked on IBM Design Bootcamp, an intensive 3-month onboarding experience for early career design talent, and decided to chronicle his adventures. Take a peek inside Eytan’s world; you’ll learn skills and practices at the heart of IBM Design Thinking. Eytan is one face of the future of IBMand of Design itself. 

 Design bootcamp post it notes

Defining and Refining 

“This is so slimmed down; it’s great you didn’t throw in useless things for people to click on.” — Dan Zaharia

After catching up to the other incubator groups, we finally solidified our personas and hills. Our project began to take shape, and our group regained its stride. We began to iterate upon our concepts. Following each user-testing call, we documented our users’ reactions and assessed what needed to change based on their feedback.

Since our product would live in or around IBM Bluemix, we used their existing style guide, based on the IBM Design Language, which freed us from choosing typesets and setting gutters. Instead, we were free to focus on the experience and flow, pulling in UI elements as necessary.

Important questions flew across the room—Is this the best way to solve this problem?  Are we keeping the user’s best interest in mind? These questions focused our energies on the essence of our problem, and we worked relentlessly to distill the experience to its simplest form. Anything deemed superfluous to our project goals was cut.

Looking back over the course of our proposed designs, we can see how far we’ve come. We made difficult decisions, eliminated features, and shifted the actual flow. Our final design has a direction and focus that could only be achieved through many iterations.

Foundations for the Future

“This is the ideal experience that we heard our customers asking for. We now turn this challenge over to the engineering team to make it happen.” — Abdullah Shaikh

As I’ve mentioned before, the goal of the incubator project is to come up with a Version X — a projection of the future that is beyond what is being shipped today. Our stakeholders, upon reviewing our final work, agreed that the concepts were great —and that they also seemed super futuristic. How could we eventually implement this? How can we create technology that will lay a foundation for the future?

A well documented example of this is Apple’s foray into multitouch technology, which was initially developed for an iPad-sized device. There was no market for that device at the time, so they put the project on hold and released the iPhone first. They modified their project roadmap and laid the groundwork for the future; that’s exactly what we have done in our incubator project.

When asked whether our solution is feasible now, our answer is: yes and no. Nothing we created is beyond the limitations of today’s technology, but the opportunity is IBM’s to tackle.  The work we presented will be a guiding star for the product team that inherits it—helping them set the foundation for the future. In 18-36 months, we hope our solution will be fully designed and implemented, and also that the market timing will be right.


“If you sit down, you’ll talk about it. If you stand up, you’ll do something about it.” — Greg Storey

A printout that designer Theresa Phelan crafted for her Stakeholder team

When you unleash a group of bright-eyed designers into an established company, you get astonishing results. When I attended other incubator teams’ final playbacks, I was amazed at the vast areas of exploration. The projects are diverse and forward-thinking—proof that IBM is positioning itself well for the future.

The incubator experience is creating a paradigm that encourages new talent to put forth their wildest, most unrestrained ideas. We gain inspiration from projects that are just being released and build upon emerging technologies.

I think it’s essential that the incubator experience happens this early in our career, because we’ll offer solutions that don’t hinge on the question, “can we build this?” For this project, that’s out of scope. How often in your career are you given a blank sheet of paper and told to design the future without worrying about feasibility?

For our Microprojects, we solved the problems of today. For our Incubator project, we began to solve the problems of tomorrow.


If you are a passionate problem-solver, able to empathize with users and turn that empathy into design insight,  join IBM Design and help us create exceptional experiences.

Learn more about IBM Design Thinking

Connect with IBM Design on Twitter and Facebook.

Read previous installments of Eytan Davidovits’s IBM Design Bootcamp experience here.

Eytan Davidovits


Eytan Davidovits is a UCLA graduate and current member of the IBM Analytics team. He specializes in Visual Design. Connect with him on twitter @eytand.



Rachel Sibley

Rachel Sibley is a communications maven who loves to tell great stories. She has served as a communications consultant to executives in international tech, the Los Angeles and New York art worlds, and leading international publications. Her current delight? To source and share design-centric discoveries as lead storyteller for the global IBM Design studios. Connect with her on twitter @sibleyspeaks.



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