January 17, 2012

IBM Connections Looking to Make the Enterprise More Social


IBM on Monday teased the upcoming beta version of its IBM Connections software, an enterprise-focused social networking platform loaded with more sophisticated analytics, real-time data monitoring and a host of new collaboration add-ons.

The goal of IBM Connections isn't to deliver Facebook to the corporate world, but rather to bring all business-critical applications and data under one roof and provide outlets for real-time collaboration. The software suite brings together email, wikis, blogs, calendars, activity streams and puts them alongside otherwise disparate products like predictive analytics tools and various third-party solutions.

Employees can then react to the data created by these tools in real-time through social networking, file sharing, instant messaging and online video meetings.

The crown jewel of the beta version seems to be the new activity streams, which aggregate any and all data that runs outside the firewall. This includes anything from Twitter posts to log files to SAP applications. The applications are all embedded, meaning users can interact with them all through a single interface.

"For example, an employee could share a document with colleagues, approve a transaction from an SAP system, act on a notification required in a business process like an insurance claim, and share content such as status updates and files, all from IBM Connections," IBM noted in a release.

Another addition touted by Microsoft is its improved analytics engine, powered by Cognos, which can now monitor both the quantity and quality of its data. The engine will also be able to monitor the performance of the social network as a whole, informing decision makers on how the platform is being utilized and by whom.

IBM picked a smart time to enhance its collaboration suite. Forrester Research says that the market for social networking apps will increase to $6.4 billion by 2016, up from $600 million in 2011.

IBM hopes to ship the beta version of Connections within the first half of 2012.

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Beecher Tuttle is a TechZone360 contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin




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