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7/16/2007
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Melanie Turek
Melanie Turek
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Social Networking in the Enterprise: Examples at Work

I recently attended a briefing by IBM on its Lotus Connections software, and I’m happy to report that the vendor offered several case studies as proof points of the value of the technology. (Connections is a suite of five Web 2.0-based components: social book marking, or tagging; rich directories; activity dashboards; communities; and blogging capabilities.)

This is good news for those of us in the media and analyst sphere, who think we understand the value of Web 2.0 in the enterprise and want examples to support it; and for IT and business managers looking for clear use cases to justify the spend. Here’s a look at a few of them:

I recently attended a briefing by IBM on its Lotus Connections software, and I’m happy to report that the vendor offered several case studies as proof points of the value of the technology. (Connections is a suite of five Web 2.0-based components: social book marking, or tagging; rich directories; activity dashboards; communities; and blogging capabilities.)

This is good news for those of us in the media and analyst sphere, who think we understand the value of Web 2.0 in the enterprise and want examples to support it; and for IT and business managers looking for clear use cases to justify the spend. Here’s a look at a few of them:

• A global financial services firm is using Connections to help employees locate and collaborate with experts across the company. The company found that it was constantly “reinventing the wheel,” rather than identifying and then using best practices. With Connections, the company has created a corporate white pages that lets employees find experts with specific skills and expertise; use blogs, bookmarks and communities to share ideas and gather feedback; and use the Activities module to manage projects and see results faster.
• A telecommunications company is using Connections to tap its own employees as well as partners and even customers for ideas on new products and services. The goal: increase the number of new services offered by the company, accelerate the vetting process, speed time to market, and grow the business through innovative product offerings.
• A network communications provider wanted to enhance employee productivity by driving collaboration among project teams. In deploying all five components of Connections enterprise-wide, the company sought to work smarter and in more innovative ways—and was happy to see resulting knowledge transfer between the engineering and contact-center teams, for instance. The company says it’s improving its collective intelligence and better supporting its customers.
• A Federal agency dealing with disaster recovery wanted to be able to share electronic documents across teams without employees’ having to proactively post files to a Web site. Using Connections’ Activities, the agency is letting disaster response teams capture and save reports and other information quickly and easily. As a result the teams and other responders don’t lose valuable information and can learn form their experiences.

Lotus Connections 1 is now available for download, with a list price of $110/user. Companies that want to test the waters with a single component can do so for $55/user, then upgrade to all five modules for another $66/user. Those firms looking to share the software with partners or suppliers will be interested in the vendor’s Processor Value Unit License ($450), which doesn’t require them to name users. And Connections integrates with Sametime, Notes and WebSphere Portal, for a more seamless communications experience.

If I sound bullish on Connections, well, that’s because I am. The software is elegant and easy to use, and it comes from a company enterprises can trust. Best of all, IBM employees are finding all kinds of cool ways to use the technology inside their own organization, which can only lead to more innovation for customers down the road.

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