The IBM Digital Badge Case Study

When we think of success stories about implementation of digital badges in corporate environments, one that clearly stands out is that of IBM

IBM, who is a leading multinational technology and consulting corporation, has innovation in its core strategy. They offer software solutions, hardware, security, cloud, IT infrastructure services, and operate in more than 170 countries. As one can imagine, IBM needs to attract the best talent to provide world-class service and consultancy to businesses, governments and non-profit organizations. And not just attract, but also retain the industry’s most skilled workforce. The IBM Global Skills Initiative organizes and delivers the most current learning opportunities to ensure the workforce of IBM and its partners keep their skills current and competitive in the fast-paced IT economy.


New technology requires new, agile approaches.

Emerging technology like cloud and AI require new skills and an ability to adapt quickly to the ongoing evolution of technology. By 2016, new technologies began to evolve and launch within just 12 weeks or less. IBM needed to adjust to those changes as quickly, if they wanted to find the best talent. 

Skills gap 

IBM realized that college degrees don’t necessarily deliver the specialized skills they were looking for, so they needed to become more flexible in their search for professionals with verifiable credentials. 

Keeping talent up to speed

Existing employees and partners needed to have the possibility to develop their competencies and skills to maintain customer confidence in IBM solutions and create a learning culture across the company. Research from IBM’s Smarter Workforce Institute revealed that recognition is an important component in a company’s ability to attract, engage and progress talent. 

Network coordination

 IBM has a network of training and industry partners, but it was complicated to coordinate learning, development and recognition programs in diverse global markets was challenging, and the availability of key performance data was inconsistent.

The Solution

To face these challenges, IBM created a new micro-credential system to signal and acknowledge its workforce’s competencies. The company looked to digital badges as the solution, as it allows IBM to:

  • Have its own verified, traceable and timely credentials
  • Track skills development at any level of detail and make them visible to HR and hiring managers
  • See a complete view of the individual employee’s broader competencies and abilities.

IBM + Acclaim

IBM partnered with Acclaim to design and implement an industry-leading digital badge program that would help the company recognize its employees’ development and empower continuous learning across its ecosystem. 

IBM’s badge program was designed with concrete business goals in mind: 


In the first six months of the launch of the digital badge program in 2015, IBM saw a fantastic performance from its investment. The results were aligned with IBM’s need to attract, retain and develop its employees in order to continue its mission of innovation and advancement. As of 2018, the program has more than 350,000 badge earners and 1 million badges have been issued. Because of the overwhelming adoption of the badging program, IBM’s learning and certification programs have generated an unprecedented awareness in digital badges. Because they are meant to be shared, IBM’s digital badges have achieved over 200 million social media impressions as of early 2018. According to a research by Hubspot, this organic social sharing is equivalent to $39,000 per month in marketing value.



“IBM is taking a leadership position within the IT industry by employing
digital badge technology to attract new talent, progress existing employees along
a career path, and match people to the jobs they were born to do.”
- David Leaser Sr. program manager, Innovation and Growth Initiatives at IBM