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IBM Boosts Social Media Software, Services

Lotus Connections 3.0 adds analytics, mobile capabilities to the enterprise collaboration platform.

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Looking to help organizations improve business performance, IBM Monday released IBM Lotus Connections 3.0, a social networking platform with advanced analytics capabilities, as well as new services that use the social collaboration tools to improve productivity and return on investment. IBM made the announcement at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, which runs through November 11 in Santa Clara, Calif.

The latest version of Connections -- an update to version 2.5 -- features analytics tools that let users drop applications such as wikis and profiles into Notes. IBM also now allows mobile devices such as Android, iPhone, iPad, and Nokia S60 devices to communicate with blogs, wikis, bookmarks, files, communities, and forums, and Notes users can easily and speedily find a sender's profile in order to start an instant messaging exchange. These enhancements improve productivity, according to IBM.

"Social business helps organizations transform the way they work by connecting people and accelerating decision-making," said Alistair Rennie, general manager, collaboration and social software, at IBM. "IBM is at the forefront of enabling social business, and driving a new generation of organizational productivity, with a secure and compliant social collaboration platform."

In addition, users can expand their network based on peoples' recommendations based on prior connections or interests based on their interests, according to IBM. Version 3 helps users build networks to reach new resources and experts, the developer said. The analytics capabilities were developed at IBM's social software research lab in Haifa, Israel.

Using LotusLive Connections, the cloud-based version of Lotus Connections, organizations can more easily collaborate both internally and externally. Bayer Group company Bayer MaterialScience, for example, is using Lotus Connections to improve the way in which employees communicate, collaborate, and process information around the world, using the technology to easily and quickly find experts that specialize in specific business topics and who can collaborate on particular projects in various regions, according to the international conglomerate.

"The power of Connections is that the knowledge sharing process is totally embedded in the tool," said Kurt De Ruwe, CIO at Bayer MaterialScience. "When a person adds a piece of information, it is automatically linked to other information available in communities, wikis, or blogs. Connections 3.0 has increased these capabilities even more so. You can now see what areas of interest you have in common with other people, what communities you share, and what people and information topics you are following. Connections 3.0 comes with other enhancements that empower users to share and find relevant information even better."

Professionals from IBM's strategy and transformation consulting practice, coupled with experts proficient in supporting vertical industries and resolving people-management issues, will deliver IBM's new social software services. These services will focus on helping businesses understand how they can use this software throughout their organizations, how they can identify a roadmap to embed these tools, and how they will benefit from this technology.

The services group will use IBM's social collaboration platform for strategy, assessment, and implementation programs; social network analysis, readiness, and maturity modeling; leadership and skills development in a social workplace; and governance, policy, and privacy management, according to IBM.

Through October 2010, IBM had spent $14 billion acquiring 24 analytics companies in the past four years. Revenue for IBM's business analytics and optimization unit is expected to double over the next five years to $16 billion from this year's $9 billion, according to the vendor.

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