As social features become standard in traditional IT products, companies must consider new security and training challenges.
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In advance of its Connect2013 conference this week, IBM has announced new software and cloud-based services with a decidedly more social bent. The new offerings extend IBM's own social platform in the enterprise, but they also point to the increasing integration of social networking-based features in traditional business applications.
Kevin Cavanaugh, VP of business and technical strategy for IBM social business, told The BrainYard that the company's new announcements are focused on bringing social business into two classes of solutions: "One around smarter workforce and one around smarter commerce and exceptional customer experiences," he said. "We're continuing to expand our social business platform with social networking and content and analytics capabilities."
Among the rollouts is the next generation of IBM's social networking platform, IBM Connections 4.5, including social analytics capabilities that can access and analyze big data from both inside and outside the organization.
IBM is also announcing IBM Employee Experience Suite, software that integrates IBM's social business platform with Kenexa's recruiting, applicant-tracking, on-boarding, learning and performance management solutions. IBM completed its $1.3 billion acquisition of Kenexa in December.
"To a degree, this is the coming out-party for Kenexa," said Cavanaugh.
The product is also relatively late to the game, said Constellation Research's Alan Lepofsky, VP and principal analyst for collaboration software. "SAP purchased SuccessFactors, Oracle purchased Taleo, and Salesforce has Work.com, which is the evolution of their Rypple acquisition," said Lepofsky. "That said, very few organizations have implemented any of these solutions yet, so it's still very early in this market's lifecycle."
IBM is announcing new capabilities in its IBM Customer Experience Suite that will make it easier for marketing teams to develop and publish social content, as well as to improve engagement with clients accessing websites or applications on mobile devices. IBM also announced it expects to ship IBM Notes and Domino Social Edition 9, which the company calls "the industry's first truly social email client."
IBM and other enterprise technology vendors are weaving social capabilities more tightly into more products and services, a trend that IT and business managers will need to consider when evaluating and implementing new technology.
"With social now being part of core business applications like ERP, CRM and HR, social no longer has to be thought of as separate project," said Lepofsky.
He added that businesses will need to think about which use cases warrant open sharing of information, as well as how social integration will affect deployment decisions. The integration of social capabilities will also bring new security and training challenges.
"By definition, being more open and transparent means more people can see and respond to content being shared," said Lepofsky. "Better search tools along with analytics and recommendation engines make it easy for colleagues to discover information, so employees need to think about what they post, where and who has access. ... Employees also need to be taught how, and when, to use social tools. New business processes need to be explained, such as when to post information in a community vs. when to use email or instant messaging. Social is not a replacement but an addition to the tools employees can use to get their jobs done."