IBM Connections enables organizations to harness the benefits of social networking internally. The new version of the platform, which is available on premises or in the cloud, adds a more interactive activity stream, the ability for users to tap into conversations and interactions in a more meaningful way, enhanced mobile device support, and integration with calendar and email systems.
Heidi Ambler, director of product management for IBM Social Software, told The BrainYard that the focus with the new version of Connections was on helping customers take social business to the next level.
"There is a big focus on social analytics," said Ambler. "There's so much data that we can now maintain. What we want to do is help customers find new people and discover new information." Ambler added that Connections now makes it easier for users to "stay in focus" and do everything in one place. "We've married the social piece with business process management," she said. "Embedded experiences allow users to quickly process information."
This single-pane-of-glass model may help organizations overcome one of their biggest problems with enterprise social platforms--getting people to use them. Indeed, many organizations struggle to, for example, get users off of email for tasks that are better suited to a social model. IBM's support for Microsoft Exchange and Domino messaging systems from within Connections will likely go a long way toward bridging that gap.
[ Are your collaboration efforts falling flat? See 5 Tips: Overcome Corporate Collaboration Challenges. ]
"This is a big release for IBM," Rob Koplowitz, Forrester VP and principal analyst, told The BrainYard. "The Connections Mail piece looks very promising. To some extent, enterprise social will continue to compete with email for knowledge worker attention, although the two workloads ultimately serve different content and communication needs. To the extent that Connections can create meaningful bridges and integrations between the two currently disparate worlds, the better the opportunity to drive adoption of enterprise social."
Along those same lines, IBM has boosted Connections' support for mobile platforms, including iOS and Android, and has configured it so that it better adapts to the form factor and features of the mobile operating system through which it is being accessed.
"We're continuing to turn the dial on what people can do on mobile by making good use of real estate, depending on the mobile OS, and taking advantage of the features," said IBM's Ambler. "Customers are really demanding that, and demanding it tailored to their device. [Mobile is] a place where we continually make modifications and add more details."
The updated IBM Connections is available immediately.
Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.
Social media make the customer more powerful than ever. Here's how to listen and react. Also in the new, all-digital The Customer Really Comes First issue of The BrainYard: The right tools can help smooth over the rough edges in your social business architecture. (Free registration required.)