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IBM signs multi-million services agreement with Fashion Research Institute to implement Virtual World PLM - Update

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10/9/2008 1:34 PM ET

Thursday, diversified IT services provider IBM Corporation (IBM: Quote) announced that it has signed a multi-million IBM global business services agreement with the Fashion Research Institute - FRI, to implement a Virtual World Product Lifecycle Management, or PLM, Enterprise System.

IBM said that the virtual world enterprise solution, which would be expressly created as a product design environment, offers a fundamentally new work flow addressing critical issues facing the design industry such as ensuring manufacturability of designs and decreasing substantial sample costs by two-thirds.

The first-of-a-kind system would allow fashion and consumer packaging designers to access and use 3-D tools with the Second Life client interface. Additionally, it will also connect to the OpenSim virtual world platform for creating packaging and fashion products, providing efficient workflow queues, and allowing groups with an interest in the product to collaborate and modify designs. The program will also generate virtual product samples and accurate factory specifications that enable high quality product mass-manufacturing in the real world, the company said. New York-based FRI maintains Shengri-La, a five-island complex in Second Life, and an OpenSim complex. The firm said that it will offer an IBM-backed and co-developed enterprise solution providing a simpler and more intuitive user interface than currently existing design-industry-oriented software including scalability for businesses of all sizes.

Users of the IBM-built technology could see product sample creation costs and time to market decrease dramatically, FRI noted.

The initial proof-of-concept solution expected to go live in 2H09 will be piloted with up to 20 international design houses. Ultimately, this solution will be offered as a design service or enterprise installation to creative industry design houses of all sizes globally. The initial agreement was signed in March 2008, but was expanded in August 2008 to include consumer package design.

IBM is currently trading at $92.42, gaining $1.87 or 2.07% on avolume of 10.8 million shares, with a 52-week range of $88.98 to 130.93 on the NYSE.

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by RTT Staff Writer

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