FIDM improves digital experience with portals powered by IBM

IBM Digital Experience software improves services to students, alumni and the public

Published on 14-Oct-2013

"WebSphere Portal is the primary gateway for students, staff, alumni and the public to get information from our IBM i system. We also use Web Content Manager to provide content across our three portals for a consistent message." - Roxanne Reynolds-Lair, CIO, Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising

Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising


Deployment country:
United States

Exceptional Digital Experience, Social Business for Information Technology, Social Business for Knowledge Sharing and Innovation, Social Business


The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) is a specialized, private college dedicated to educating students for the fashion, graphics, interior design and entertainment industries.

Business need:
The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) has stakeholders that include students, staff, alumni and prospects. With limited resources, IT staff was challenged to provide online information and apps.

FIDM developed three portals using IBM Digital Experience software including IBM® WebSphere® Portal software on their IBM i system, integrated with IBM software for communications, collaboration, content management and social business.

Ease of application development improved the IT staff's productivity, enabling them to deploy applications that delivered better service to students, alumni and the public.

Case Study

The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) is a specialized, private college dedicated to educating students for the fashion, graphics, interior design and entertainment industries. The college, which has some 1200 staff members and 7,500 students, has campuses in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Orange County, California.

A need for role-specific portals

With many thousands of students, staff members, alumni and student prospects, FIDM's IT department needs to provide stakeholders with information and applications suited to their interests and roles. As an example, a student applying for housing needs to view the different choices and costs, while an administrator reviewing the application needs to check availability, whether a resident advisor is assigned and other factors.

This suggests a need for multiple role-specific portals. Requirements include integrated communications and collaboration, and mobility of applications. Security and scalability are “must-haves.” Ease of application development is critical, as is ease of information posting and portal management. These are essential in an economy where IT staff is often asked to "do more with less.”

Enhancing the digital experience

In response to such requirements, FIDM has deployed the IBM i operating system running on an IBM Power System™, creating a business server with a rich suite of IBM software. With integrated relational database, security, Web services and system management capabilities, IBM i provides a scalable, easy-to-manage platform that preserves the college's legacy software investments while supporting the latest IBM software for communications, collaboration, workflow and social business.

The heart of FIDM's IT environment consists of three Web portals, one for the public, one for students and alumni, and one for employees. All are powered by IBM WebSphere Portal V8 software, an online solution that give users a single point of access to role-specific applications, services, information and social connections. WebSphere Commerce powers two ecommerce stores. IBM Web Content Manager provides content authoring and management for non-IT specialists. IBM Forms helps automate forms-based business processes. Email is provided by IBM Notes® and Domino®, and instant messaging and unified communications uses IBM Sametime® integrated with a VoiP system. Online team collaboration and social apps rely on IBM Quickr®, but are in the process of transitioning to IBM Connections and Connections Content Manager, Custom applications are developed using tools from the IBM Rational® Software family.

“WebSphere Portal is the primary gateway for students, staff, alumni and the public to get information,” says Roxanne Reynolds-Lair, CIO at FIDM. “We also use Web Content Manager to provide content across our three portals for a consistent message. The entire solution is easy to use and flexible and helps to extend our limited IT resources.”

Role-specific functionality is key to the portal's utility. Students, for instance, gain access to information about classes, library and lab hours, and schedules through their portal, while staff update details in their role-specific views. Students gain access on mobile devices as well as through email, which is provided by IBM SmartCloud iNotes®, a cloud-based email solution. IBM Notes Traveler delivers mobile email, calendaring and contacts for IBM Notes users.

The institutional Web site,, offers general information while hosting the college's two online stores powered by WebSphere Commerce. On the social front, the product enables users to post product reviews and other comments to external sites such as Facebook and to IBM Connections social software internally. FIDM plans to add this capability soon by integrating IBM Connections with its portal solutions.

“IBM Connections can add the glue that holds our portal environment together,” says Reynolds-Lair, who currently runs the software in a pilot project. “Its seamless integration with WebSphere Portal brings a softer, people-oriented side to the portals, rather than simply black and white facts. It's highly useful for collaboration, for brainstorming, for inspiration, and for letting people exchange views, locate expertise, and post action items for work in progress.”

She envisions social capabilities improving the college's engagement, helping to connect students with each other, faculty with students, and even admissions officers with student prospects. When students are accepted but before they matriculate, social engagements with staff, students and alumni could keep FIDM top of mind. And for students going on an overseas tour, Connections could introduce them online, offer inspiration, and make the tour a richer experience.

Improved services to all stakeholders

IBM Software products running on IBM i have benefited FIDM in a number of ways.

Ease of system and content management has improved IT productivity, freeing staff for more strategic work. IT productivity has further improved though use of the Rational Software family of application development tools.

Role-specific portals provide an enhanced, omni-channel digital experience, services and convenience for all stakeholders. Students particularly like the mobilization of information and email, and staff are more productive due to role-specific applications.

WebSphere Commerce integrated with WebSphere Portal has improved FIDM's ecommerce capabilities, important at a college that teaches retailing. Ecommerce will be further enhanced when users are able to post product reviews to their social networks.

For more information

To learn more about IBM Power Systems, IBM i, IBM WebSphere Portal and related products, IBM Content Manager, IBM Forms, IBM Sametime, IBM Lotus Quickr, IBM Connections, IBM Rational Software, and IBM Notes and Domino, please contact your IBM marketing representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following websites:

Products and services used

Legal Information

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