IBM boosts Connections portfolio

  • New version of IBM Connections offer expanded feature sets
  • Targeted at ‘front-office’ space of HR professionals and marketers

IBM boosts Connections portfolio
THE first day of IBM Connect, the company’s rebranded annual Lotusphere conference, in Orlando, Florida, saw several announcements and additions to its software portfolio, with new social offerings that it claims would help companies gain deeper insights into big data generated through the use of social networks.
In the opening session of the conference, Alistair Rennie (pic), IBM’s general manager of Social Business, told attendees in his introductory speech that “as humans, we love to combine community with a little bit of competition to drive our performance.”
“Does that sound like anything you would want for your business? I think of this as the ‘purposeful use of social.’ Winners in social are getting smarter, driving customer engagement and business results.
“We’re past the era of thinking about tools and are now about the platform, and we’ve added some amazing capabilities to ours,” he proclaimed.
Research firm Forrester identified social business as an emerging business category, with the social technology industry predicted to growth to US$6.4 billion by 2016.
At Connect 2013, IBM announced the next version of its social networking platform, IBM Connections 4.5, which is expected to be available in March.
The new software is intended to further enable users to access and analyze big data from inside and outside the organization, including Facebook, Twitter, audio and video.
It also includes embedded document management capabilities for members of a network to access, analyze and act on wide ranges of data types in the context of their work, to improve decision-making and business results, IBM claimed.
The IBM Connections' Content Manager feature will allow teams and communities to harness an organization’s collective intelligence to solve business problems, increase productivity, and drive profit.
Connections clients have also have access to new social features in the cloud, including blogging and ideation in Communities and access to information.
In addition, IBM Connections will include enhanced integration of social capabilities in the Microsoft Outlook client, allowing users to access their social data such as profiles, files, and communities directly in Microsoft Outlook. 
Last December, IBM expanded its social business platform to include social document editing on-premises and in the cloud.
The recently released IBM Docs, available on-premises and as part of the IBM SmartCloud for Social Business, allows browser users to simultaneously collaborate on wordprocessing, spreadsheet and presentation documents to improve productivity.
In addition, the company announced that it expects to ship IBM Notes and Domino Social Edition 9 in March of this year. IBM Notes and Domino 9 will be the industry's first truly social email client and delivers a social experience to users, whether using a browser or on the broadest range of mobile devices, IBM claimed.
According to the company, IBM Notes and Domino is used by more than half of the Fortune 500. It also manages and supports a variety of mobile platforms, including Apple (iOS 6), Android, Microsoft Windows operating system, including Windows and Blackberry smartphones (including BlackBerry 10).
Redefining the front-office space
In line with the company’s vision of empowering a “smarter workforce” the rollout of new software and cloud-based services are mostly targeted at chief marketing officers (CMOs) and chief human resource (HR) officers, to help enable the transformation and adoption of social business technology within their organizations.
According to a recent IBM CEO study, 70% of companies surveyed cited human capital as the single biggest contributor to sustained economic value.
Following IBM’s US1.3 billion acquisition of Kenexa in December, 2012, IBM has announced a new Web-based social networking environment that is expected the integrate its enterprise social networking platform with Kenexa’s recruiting, on-boarding, learning and performance management solutions.
The IBM Employee Experience Suite will be integrated with Kenexa’s Applicant Tracking System and is intended to help HR professionals attract, empower and motivate talent to address skill and resource gaps while enabling their workforce to delivery better results.
The rise of social-savvy consumers has also prompted organizations to improve the customer experience via leveraging on social business and analytics capabilities.
A recent IBM CMO study found that 82% of CMOs plan to increase their use of social media over the next three-to-five years to communicate with their clients.
The company also announced new capabilities that allow marketing teams to easily design, test and optimize sophisticated advertising campaigns.
One key feature is the Social Media Publisher capability in IBM’s web experience software that allows CMOs to push content, such as ad campaigns or promotions, to leading social networks with one simple click and without involving specialized IT teams.
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Gabey Goh reports from IBM Connect 2013 in Orlando, Florida, at the invitation of IBM.

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