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Harmon.ie, IBM Partner On Microsoft Outlook Integration

Social email developer focuses on email-based collaboration tools for business users.

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Harmon.ie, a developer of social email software, on Tuesday revealed that it has partnered with IBM on a cross-platform product that provides Microsoft Outlook users with access to IBM Connections directly from within the popular email application.

Since many business users spend much of their day working within Outlook, the integration with IBM’s social business solution increases productivity and encourages collaboration, said Jeffrey Schick, vice president of social software at IBM, in an interview. Because this social interaction occurs within their traditional email interface, employees don’t need to change their work habits, nor do they need special training to adopt IBM Connections via Harmon.ie’s integration, he said.

"A huge wealth of clients are leveraging social technologies to connect people with people and people with information," Schick said. "You need to deliver these technologies in context of the way people work. We have wanted to deliver into the context of email social capabilities … [and] we also recognize we have to be a first-class citizen for folks who have deployed Microsoft technologies."

Enter Harmon.ie, which has been integrating with Microsoft applications and has worked with IBM since 2008. Although many employees are comfortable with today’s collaboration tools such as wikis and social network sites, many others prefer to center their daily work around email, Yaacov Cohen, co-founder and CEO at harmon.ie, told The BrainYard.

[ There's a lot to love about enterprise social networking--and a lot not to love. See Our Love-Hate Relationship With Enterprise Social Networking. ]

According to a uSamp survey, 78 percent of respondents were more willing to use collaboration and social business tools if they were accessible through an email environment. The report also found that almost 90 percent of those polled publish documents and/or emails on a collaboration platform when they can do so from within email.

"This social-for-all strategy, this people-centric approach to social, will enable Harmon.ie and IBM to deepen penetration into existing accounts," Cohen said, noting that it will also allow the companies to reach out to new prospects. "Social is being served on a silver plate to mainstream business users."

IBM and Harmon.ie are involved in joint sales and marketing initiatives, Schick said.

"We definitely are embedding the Harmon.ie technology in our solution set, so that as we sell into an organization that has Microsoft technology, we really show them we have excellent integration characteristics," he said. "With that said, Harmon.ie does other things. That presents an opportunity for Harmon.ie to expand their footprint of some of the other technologies they build. They’ve been very aggressive in partnering their sales teams with ours."

Harmon.ie is also pursuing new accounts through the release of an upgrade to its freemium software, which includes additional capabilities, such as document updates. According to Cohen, this feature eliminates the need for endless emails to check on the status of a document since the software automatically informs users about any changes to the document, its whereabouts, and other details.

The Enterprise Connect conference program covers the full range of platforms, services, and applications that comprise modern communications and collaboration systems. It happens March 26-29 in Orlando, Fla. Find out more.

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