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Social Business is the new paradigm

At Lotusphere 2012, IBM infuses analytics into social media tools to make businesses more social. Announces next generation of socially-enabled products for a social-savvy workforce.

The workforce is getting younger and more mobile. Social media and high-tech mobile devices are a way of life with this generation. And organizations are adapting to their way of working by embracing social media tools and mobility. To keep up, IT vendors like IBM are infusing elements of social media into traditional enterprise tools -- to provide a more collaborative way of working, in an environment that fosters collective intelligence. IBM calls this new paradigm the Social Business and it believes this can make an organization more efficient and profitable. This was the overarching theme at Lotusphere 2012 in Florida, which is being held between January 16 – 18, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.

At Lotusphere 2012, IBM announced the next generation of its social networking platform, IBM Connections. IBM also rebranded all the LotusLive and cloud services under the new moniker IBM SmartCloud for Social Business. In addition, IBM announced that it will be launching the social edition of IBM Lotus Notes and Domino “sometime this year,” although the beta is now available.

Delivering the opening remarks at Lotusphere 2012, Alistair Rennie, GM, Collaboration Solutions, IBM, said, “We define social business as the application of social networking tools and culture to business roles, processes and outcomes. Social behaviour is not new. It simply implies working in a community instead of being in isolation. What’s new about this idea is that platforms are merging to allow this kind of community and all the things we value about community like sharing ideas, expertise, a sense of purpose, trust -- to transcend time and place. And to have those interactions persist so that they can be reused, analysed, and you can learn from them….in the context of what people are working on or doing. So it leads to an idea that we call collective intelligence.”

IBM is also bringing analytics to social business and this is seen in the new version of IBM Connections. The social networking tool integrates blogs, wikis, activities, and streams from social networking sites, streams for enterprise applications like SAP and Sugar CRM. In addition, it has integrated email and calendaring services (from Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes). According to IBM, this level of integration offers a single view of all activities, allows for instant collaboration and the ability to build social communities among internal and external customers.

The Connections landing page features a single location that allows users to view and interact with content from any third-party solution through a social interface, right alongside their company's content, including email and calendar. The embedded experience of the news feed, also known as an Activity Stream, is expected to allow employees from any department inside an organization to explore structured and unstructured data such as Twitter feeds, Facebook posts, weather data, videos, log files, SAP applications, electronically sign documents, and quickly act on the data as part of their everyday work experience.

For example, an employee can share a document with colleagues, approve a transaction from an SAP system, act on a notification required in a business process like an insurance claim, and share content such as status updates and files, all from IBM Connections. The embedded experience and single point of access allows users to have insight at their fingertips and share data from any place, whether on the road or in the office.One of the key findings from the 2011 IBM Social Business Jam -- an online, real time discussion with 4,000 participants, was that social business activities need to be integrated and aligned with business processes to be truly effective.

To help clients address this challenge, IBM is announcing IBM Connections Enterprise Content Edition, an integrated social content management solution that combines the scalability of social networking with enterprise content management and enhanced compliance and control features sought by users in regulated industries. Designed to manage the entire life cycle of office documents, web and social content, IBM Connections Enterprise Content Edition increases the ability to share knowledge, gain expertise and create high-value content quickly through advanced content, document management and workflow use cases.

Cloud Collaboration Services

IBM announced that it is aligning its LotusLive services under the SmartCloud brand where it joins the portfolio of business solutions that IBM delivers in the market that includes offerings in Commerce, Analytics, and industry-specific solutions like Smarter Cities. The new service gives users one-click access to social networking, file sharing, online meetings, enterprise-class email, calendaring and instant messaging, allowing clients to collaborate inside and outside the organization while pairing business transformation with the economic benefits of flexible cloud delivery models.

Additionally, a new capability of the IBM SmartCloud for Social Business is a cloud-based office productivity suite, IBM Docs. Now in beta and planned for availability in 2012, IBM Docs allows organizations, both inside and outside the firewall, to simultaneously collaborate on word processing, spreadsheet and presentation documents in the cloud to improve productivity. IBM Docs authors will be able to store and share documents in IBM SmartCloud, co-edit documents in real time or assign users sections of the document so they can work privately easing the management of multiple revisions from multiple authors in team-based documents.


In response to the burgeoning mobile workforce, expected to reach more than 1.19 billion people by 2013, IBM's new social software supports the most popular mobile devices, including tablets. IBM is announcing the beta release of IBM Lotus Notes and Domino, Social Edition, a social-enabled messaging and collaboration platform built on open standards that provides users with the ability to act on any work flow process directly within the email inbox. Whether accessing email from a browser or desktop, or sharing videos and files, users no longer have to travel to a third-party site. In addition, with the embedded experience of social mail, users are more efficient when engaging in activity and more responsive to day-to-day tasks. The simplicity of doing all these tasks on a tablet was also demonstrated at Lotusphere 2012.

IBM intends to support mail, calendaring and contacts in a beta release of IBM Lotus Notes Traveler for Microsoft Windows Phone on Nokia and HTC devices; the beta is expected in the first half of 2012. IBM is also introducing a new, lower-cost program for BlackBerry users to access email in the cloud. Built on the world-class expertise of IBM Mobile Enterprise Services and the sophisticated security of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, IBM helps bring the type of security and reliability expectations of on-premise email to cloud email environments, including built-in end-user and administrative controls for mobile device management.


A few clients present at Lotusphere2012 explained how IBM’s social media tools could help them gain real-time access to data and to collaborate with experts across geographies to offer better professional advice and services to customers. At Boston Children’s Hospital for instance, paramedics collaborate over video to offer timely treatment and save lives. GAD (a large banking institution in Germany) is evaluating the use of IBM Docs in a private cloud in 2012 to facilitate browser-based document creation and change management. Approximately 450 banks will be able to reduce costs and become more responsive to their customers through GAD's bank21 solution.

According to Forrester Research, the market opportunity for social enterprise apps is expected to grow at a rate of 61 percent through 2016, reaching USD 6.4 billion, compared with USD 600 million. At the same time, organizations are embracing social capabilities to transform virtually every part of their business operations, but lack the tools to gain insight into the enormous stream of information and use it in a meaningful way.

Source: InformationWeek(link resides outside of