IBM announced a key expansion of its SmartCloud for Social Business capabilities with the opening of a new IBM SmartCloud for Social Business Data Center in Europe.
The new data center, based in Germany, will serve the needs of IBM's customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) who face the regulatory and compliance issues of needing to have their data in proximity.
IBM said the new facility will help businesses follow the lead of customers such as Arnold Clark, Codorniu, Shanks, Centrax TCL and Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI) that are using cloud-based social business offerings to build the 21st century workforces that can more efficiently share knowledge to spark innovation and deliver customer experiences.
"This move extends our SmartCloud for Social Business to Europe to be resident in IBM data centers on the Continent, primarily in Germany," said Rebecca Buisan, director of product management and marketing for IBM Social Business Cloud. "This allows us to better serve our European customer base."
IBM said the move also aims to help business leaders, such as chief information officers (CIOs), chief marketing officers (CMOs), and chief human resource officers (CHROs), begin their organization's transformation with the adoption of social business technology.
IDC named IBM the enterprise social software leader for three consecutive years.
Forrester Research, which also cited IBM as a leader in the field, forecasts that the market for social enterprise apps and related services will show a compound annual growth rate of 61 percent to become a $6.4 billion market in 2016.
"This represents a significant opportunity for IBM," Buisan told eWEEK. "We have a large installed base in Europe, including a large number of clients with significant cloud-based solutions."
Moreover, the new center is a boon for IBM and its European customers, as "the EU has a lot of strict regulations around data privacy and data transfer" and IBM's new data center meets or exceeds the requirements, Buisan said. And even though IBM supports the requisite data privacy agreements in Europe, "for many of our large customers, it's still critical to have data resident in the EU," she said.
With its new European Data Center, IBM will help meet each customer's unique deployment needs through flexible delivery models, including either public or private cloud or a mix of cloud and on premises. Once live, companies can tap into IBM's integrated social experience that includes one-click access to tools such as online meetings, email, calendaring, instant messaging and more. To further empower customers, IBM lets businesses invite external partners, clients, suppliers and more to take part in these interactions, all while meeting legal and regulatory requirements for data privacy.
For example, to improve the speed of marketing and sales execution, employees can build collaborative networks in real time, both internally and externally. With one click, employees can tap into the power of presence awareness capabilities to see if colleagues are online to chat about the plan, review the document, and engage in collaborative and concurrent real-time editing. When questions require outside input, the team can quickly invite partners, suppliers, clients and others into the community to review project work as well as other related items.
"As global cloud-based social business adoption soars, companies continue to turn to IBM to usher them into this new social era," Alistair Rennie, general manager of social business at IBM, said in a statement. "With the new European Data Center, we expand our industry-leading social business footprint, strengthening our ability to meet the needs for businesses seeking security-rich, flexible cloud environments that let them unleash innovation and drive a smarter enterprise."
In 2012, IBM announced support for EU and Swiss Safe Harbor frameworks and model clause agreements to address EU data privacy requirements for the cloud. Now, IBM extends its presence in Europe even further with the facility in Ehningen, Germany. The new data center joins other SmartCloud for Social Business facilities in North America and the Asia-Pacific region.
IBM said thousands of customers around the world count on its cloud-based solutions to conduct millions of transactions every day, and adoption continues to grow rapidly. In fact, IBM announced that its cloud computing revenue grew by 80 percent in 2012.
The IBM social business platform features a complete set of capabilities, including enterprise-grade social networking, social analytics and social content management in a seamless, unified experience across a wide range of business applications.