Category Archives: social-computing

How Social Business relates to the Smarter Planet narrative

On a presentation today, Scott Neuman from IBM Collaborative Solutions showed how Social Business fits in with the key tenets of the Smarter Planet:

Instrumented

How are we getting more instrumented? As an example, smartphone shipments will outpace PCs by 2012. Technology is closer to us than ever before. For instance Location-Based Services allow us to share information directly related to our current location. Devices play a more integral role in our lives than ever before.

Interconnected

Beyond the proliferation of devices, we are seeing more of these devices being network-enabled. As a result, social networking accounts for 22% of all online time. Through Social Business, enterprises can realize more value by creating linkages across the ecosystem. Whether this involves tying up customer feedback to product development to fuel product innovation, or sharing information across a global sales organization, business operations can be more agile, customer-facing and inherently more valuable.

Intelligent

We are seeing increasing use of social data to help shape business decisions. Business Analytics and Optimization plays heavily into this area. Whether this be analysis of front-end data from social media monitoring or an examination of product forum threads to expose customer pain points, the Social Business is a smarter business.

This fits in neatly with the recent launch of the IBM Social Business site in the Smarter Planet area of IBM.com. You’ll find a number of resources, including the IBM Social Business Jam which I recently blogged about and a notable mention of IBMer Luis Suarez Rodrigues, who has been a major advocate of internal social networking here.

Social Business webcast series kicks off next week

Want to understand more about social business and IBM’s role in this emerging space? Some of the major practioners will be presenting latest thoughts, concepts and applications in a webinar series that kicks off next week.

From May 17 to June 14, topics covered will include a definition of social business (a hot topic given the latest round of presentations by Deloitte’s @ChrisHeuer), the implications of taking applications into the Cloud, and producing applications that can be deployed across mobile and other platforms.

Taking into account the fast-paced nature of the social business world, each of these webcasts will delivered in a punchy 20 minutes:

Date: May 17, 11am EDT
Title: IBM Social Business Overview
Presenter: Charlie Hill
Abstract: IBM’s Distinguished Engineer and CTO, Charlie Hill will define what it means to be a Social Business and the benefits organizations can gain with successfully transforming into a Social Business. Charlie will talk about how to build social applications and embed social capabilities into existing business processes and applications. After attending this webcast, you’ll be ready to get started in building the social applications that will drive businesses for years to come.
Check out the recording

Date: May 24, 11am EDT
Title: The IBM Social Business Toolkit
Presenter: Philippe Riand
Abstract: Adding social functionality to business applications brings productivity to a whole new level.  Learn how to use the IBM Social Business Toolkit to bring your applications to a whole new level.  Social business applications leverage the collective wisdom and discover a wealth of relevant information in the context of the current task.  Learn how to make your applications do that!
Check out the recording

Date:
June 7, 11am EDT
Title: Lifting Applications to the Cloud
Presenter: Mike Masterson
Abstract: Everyone is talking about the cloud.  Customers want to know if your application runs in the cloud.  Find out how IBM can help you to answer "yes" by integrating with IBM’s premier cloud solution, LotusLive.
Check out the recording

Date: June 14, 11am EDT
Title: Social Applications Go Mobile
Presenter: Tyler Tribe
Abstract: People need to access your application from anywhere, and it’s no different for social business applications.  Learn how IBM’s strategy allows you to write once and run everywhere, whether on a PC, smart phone, or iPad.  Find out how to build Websphere Portal applications that can be accessed from your favorite mobile device.
Check out the recording

We’ll use crowdsourcing to come up with future subjects to provide insights from subject matter experts.

IBM unveils the Social Business Toolkit: the dawn of the ‘everything inbox’

What if your company inbox could show you a lot more than just emails? What if you could see all the recent blog posts by those in your network. And the presentations they’ve recently posted? What if you could also see updates from that revenue tool you check every week to see whether you’re on-target to hit that all-important quarterly quota? Oh, and voicemails: can they be added to the stream too?

Such dreams (and more) can be realized with the launch at Lotusphere this week of the IBM Social Business Toolkit. This package includes a set of APIs that can be used by developers to feed updates into the Lotus Connections Activity Stream (effectively a corporate version of the Facebook Wall). The big news here is that whilst in the past this was restricted to activity that took place within the Lotus Connections environment (blogs, groups, tasks, etc.), the toolkit cracks open this functionality, allowing for updates from any application. With APIs based on all popular web development frameworks, exactly what gets pumped into the Activity Stream is limited only by a developer’s imagination. Integrate this stream into your email client and you have an inbox that goes way beyond showing just your latest emails.

What bloggers are saying about the Social Business Toolkit

Dan Burger, writing in the IT Jungle puts the toolkit in the context of IBM’s wider social business play. With Lotus Connections now becoming available on every major mobile platform, the Activity Stream becomes a central repository available anywhere:  

"An example of this could be a report from a sales analyst prompting a team meeting, or other business systems on premise or in the cloud. It conveniently allows a user to view and interact with the Activity Stream from a central location. IBM has indicated it will integrate the Activity Stream into the next version of social collaboration products accessible from mobile devices."

Meanwhile, Alex Williams on ReadWriteWeb sees the Social Business Toolkit is an implementation of a technology which is gaining widespread adoption in the consumer market, suggesting "Developing a tool kit is a smart, natural step and a necessary one for IBM."

Over ten days ago, the prescient James Governor alluded to this announcement when stating the need of IBM to produce solutions meaningful to developers as well as the line of business crowd:

"The winner in any tech wave is the best packager- so far no enterprise company has nailed and packaged the web development wave."

With the social business toolkit, are we seeing the first iteration of such a package?

IBM’s own Luis Benitez does a good job of summing up the Social Business Toolkit:

"The idea is to take all your existing apps (and even those from 3rd party vendors) and merge all the activity and information across those existing silos into a single, unified view (or stream)"

and goes so far as to show an early-stage mock-up:

Interested in learning more about creating an ‘everything inbox’ with the Social Business Toolkit? We have more information on developerWorks.

#LS11

Lotusphere 2011 opening session: mobile, social business has arrived

Lotusphere Opening General Session So IBM’s premier social business event, Lotusphere 2011, is now fully underway.

Who better to get things started than Hollywood legend Kevin Spacey: few have done a better job of capturing the zeitgeist. Whether it’s a portrait of middle-aged, middle-America ennui in American Beauty or producing the Aaron Sorkin-scripted dissection of the rise and rise of Facebook (‘The Social Network’), Kevin Spacey is a man with his proverbial finger on the pulse. (If you missed it, I can recommend his recent appearance on the Colbert Report). “Stay open and listen to other’s points of view” is one of his takeaways.

Key themes from this year’s opening:

Marketing page creation

The energetic Brian Cheng shows off some of the powerful new features of Lotus Connections 3 (LC3) for building an external web presence. Drag-and-drop functionality allows a marketer to build a web landing page on the fly – fully incorporating those social features demanded by the market today. You can even see how the experience will be for someone who is logged in to the community (eg. maybe they see their network connections and have the ability to comment on specific parts of the page) versus what a new visitor will see. Full integration with Coremetrics and SugarCRM means you have can see instantly just how well the page is performing.

Interesting development from Lotus Connections given its general perception as an intranet tool. Will we see a further crumbling of the iron curtain that separates the intranet from the external presence of an organization? 

The mobile experience

As mobile usage continues to soar, we demand more of our web applications to be accessible from our smart phones as we wait in line for our Chai Tea Latte. This morning we see multiple demonstrations of just how LC3 performs in the mobile space. Cheng shows how marketing pages created with the Customer Experience Suite can have a specific look for a specific device (in this case demonstrating how the site will appear on an iPad). We also see how presentations shared within LC3 can also be viewed via a Blackberry app. The Sametime messaging system will have mobile support, making it easier to get on the phone when your Sametime instant-messaging chat conversation goes south.

Video support

During the demo, the Lotus Connections team show new web-based video capabilities integrated with enterprise communications systems like Polycom. For instance, video conferencing a la Skype can be embedded directly into the page of a presentation, creating a more interactive experience. The team showcases web-based video so there is no need for the installation of any plugins. Not quite sure what technology underpins this but there is the announcement of a big commitment to HTML5 in the later press conference (yey!). 

Sub-communities

So you want to organize your communities by brand, function, department, etc. LC 3 now supports sub-communities so that you can group together related networks. All settings (including permissions) can be defined at the sub-community level. So, for instance, you can use one sub-community to surface part of a project for external stakeholders whilst keeping the internal workflows more private.

Integration of mail and social

Activity streams can be woven into the mail experience (regardless of mail server) so a user can see all conversation in a single interface. No doubt this will continue to grow and form the segue of modern corporate communications, especially amongst the younger workforce who relate to email the way I relate to fax technology.

So, a lot to look forward to in the next three days in Orlando as IBM’s vision of social business unfolds.

Be sure to check out the live stream recording and live blogging from ReadWriteWeb.

Photo courtesy of Jacques Pavlenyi.

#LS11

Lotusphere 2011 is coming to a social network near you

Collaboration, social networking, disruptive technologies, social media… the list goes on. Lotusphere is IBM’s premier event dealing with this emerging space where technology intersects with people intersects with business.

The event takes place from Jan 30 – Feb 3 in that last vestige of sunshine at this time of year: Orlando, Florida.

As you’d expect for a conference covering all things social, there are a number of ways to connect if you can’t make it down there this year.

Definitely check out the social media aggregator pulling together relevant content from blogs, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. If you are planning on generating one iota of content around the event, register and remember to use #LS11 or #LotusKnows  in your blog posts/tweets to bask in the social glow this aggregator provides.

For the big announcements, keep an eye on the Livestream channel which will be broadcasting highlights from across the conference.

For the extended community (albeit in Twitter, YouTube, Facebook…), the developerWorks team have done an excellent job of putting together a community page.

Let’s face it, Orlando’s a fitting place for a conference on social business: this has to be one of the ‘hottest’ areas of the tech industry right now.

#LS11

Could IBM be the Facebook of the enterprise?

Colette Martin over on the Forbes blogs picked up on a thread which has been floating around the net for the last couple of months: whether IBM can be to the enterprise what Facebook is to the consumer space. That is, can IBM be the social network du jour for company intranets?

IBM has been an early innovator of the internal use of many web-based technologies: email, instant messaging and intranet technologies. The question is whether it can extend that innovative thinking into the social networking space.

What would this platform require? Colette suggests:

“The ability to selectively connect, to share information, to respond/comment on information, and to be able to integrate with other company data and systems”

adding:

“The concept of groups would be key – with the ability to create sub-groups within groups, and groups that bring other groups together”

I’d heartily agree with all of these features. On the subject of sub-groups, some years ago I was ready to execute our social networking strategy across the Ning network, only to find that we couldn’t create relationships between groups (hierarchical or otherwise). This was a major hurdle given that we would not be able to link different product sub-groups across a product line group, so we were forced back to the drawing board.

Social email

Another feature I would like to see in an enterprise social network is the ability to make email more ‘social’. By that I mean highlight emails from those with whom you have a relationship on a social network. I’d prefer to see emails first from those in my team and with whom I frequently work. Both Facebook and Google have recently implemented social emailing capabilities. In the enterprise, where email can be such a resource drain, social email capabilities offers the potential for a considerable increase in productivity.

The extra-intranet

As a social media marketer, I spend a significant amount of time trawling our intranet for content that can be exposed externally. This can include product walkthroughs produced for the sales teams or partners, deeper technical information on our customer case studies, intra-departmental communications. Obviously some care has to be taken to ensure nothing confidential seeps out of our walls, but I’m constantly surprised at the amount of content we have that can be exposed. I’m also woefully aware of the duplicate effort our marketing teams go through to make sure their external marketing campaigns are also promoted within the company.

Now, wouldn’t it be great if we could post relevant content simultaneously externally and internally? If I have a blog post talking about a new product release, what if I could just check a box so that this message is pushed across both our internal and external social networks? I’m not suggesting this be the default setting(!), but I can see considerable value in having the ability to share content both internally and externally.

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant

If you are interested in learning more about the enterprise social networking space, I recommend checking out the 2010 Gartner report on Internal Social Software.

IBM, along with two other vendors, make it into the visionary/leader quadrant: potentially giving them the best shot at becoming the Facebook of the enterprise.

More on IBM social computing solutions

Read Colette Martin’s post on Forbes

Read the source post from Drew Neisser on Fast Company