IBM Sees SaaS as Driver for Social Business in the Cloud

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2014-01-29

IBM Sees SaaS as Driver for Social Business in the Cloud

ORLANDO, Fla.—IBM announced strong momentum for its software-as-a-service (SaaS) based social business offerings from partners, clients and developers.

As part of the news, IBM also highlighted its continued investment with new innovations in its social business and cloud technologies. Armen Najarian, program manager for SaaS marketing at IBM, told eWEEK that IBM has a portfolio of more than 100 SaaS products, but what the systems, services and software giant did not have until a year ago is a dedicated SaaS category.

"Our message is to drive a category level message to the industry," Najarian told eWEEK at the IBM Connect 2014 conference here.

According to a 2013 IBM study of more than 800 business-decision makers worldwide, organizations that use the cloud reported two-and-a half times higher profits than their peers. In addition, organizations that adopt cloud-based solutions are 79 percent more likely to drive increased collaboration across their organization, and twice as likely to leverage analytics to unlock greater insight about their business, IBM said.

When it comes to SaaS specifically, a new IBM Study released Jan. 28 found that leading enterprises—those gaining competitive advantage through broad SaaS adoption—are collaborating more effectively through social business tools.

A growing list of businesses such as Codorniu, Princess Cruise Lines, SIKA, SafeGuard, Shanks and Verisure have taken their business into the cloud, extending the benefits to millions of users around the globe, Najarian said

"We've seen amazing demand over the past year as clients adopt and partners extend the capabilities we've been delivering through the cloud," said Jeff Schick, vice president of Social Software at IBM, in a statement. "Over this period, we have spurred new innovation by integrating social capabilities into an organization’s business processes. This has been made possible through our open and extensible APIs that have let us unleash the power of cloud and help organizations collaborate and increase workforce productivity."

Meanwhile, IBM today announced the rebranding of its mail, chat, meetings, office productivity and content capabilities, making them part of IBM's Connections brand in 2014. As part of this effort, IBM plans to expand the Connections portfolio to include high-fidelity, high-definition video based on its Sametime 9 technology.

In addition, IBM is also announcing its next generation Web mail experience. In the age of information overload, workers must be able to quickly access and effectively manage the information most vital to their job, much of which resides in their inbox. This new mail offering, planned for availability in both the cloud and on-premises, will use analytics to deliver powerful task-level focus and inbox management capabilities that let employees easily track the content and messages needed to do their job.

IBM Sees SaaS as Driver for Social Business in the Cloud

"IBM’s new web mail experience is very intuitive and integrated with key social business capabilities. This will help our people be more efficient in prioritizing and managing daily work, including tracking requests and follow-ups in a powerful yet simple experience," said Berry van der Schans, Information and Communication Technology Manager for Shanks Group Plc, in a statement.

IBM also plans to introduce Domino Applications in the cloud through a ready-made Platform as a Service offering built on IBM SoftLayer. As a result, customers will be able to build on the investments they have made in custom applications and enhance them with new mobile options. Partners will also have a faster path for bringing their new Domino applications to cloud and getting them to market more quickly.

Moreover, IBM is teaming with business partner Parallels to integrate with its innovative cloud automation platform, making it easier for partners that distribute IBM products to assemble and sell unique cloud offerings. For example, a telecommunications company can use IBM’s new plug-in to easily combine and provision its cloud offerings from IBM and other Parallels-ready vendors, such as SugarCRM. This streamlines the business process of delivering cloud services through a reseller channel.

IBM is also introducing a new certified set of global partners that provide on-boarding services that make it easier than ever for clients to deploy their mail to the cloud.

Furthermore, IBM’s independent software provider (ISV) partner ecosystem continues to grow. To date, hundreds of unique Connections-based applications have been developed using APIs from the IBM Social Business Toolkit. For example, ISVs such as AppFusions, Flow, HootSuite and Kaltura have built entirely new cloud and on-premises applications on the IBM Connections platform.

HootSuite, for example, created a new social application integrating IBM Connections capabilities and content into the HootSuite dashboard. This allows data from corporate social networks to be viewed alongside social media data from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other networks so employees can be even more empowered, connected and informed.

Najarian said that IBM has worked to understand the specific characteristics of organizations that are finding success with SaaS. "One thing we found was that companies that are winning in adopting SaaS have a strong alignment between line of business and IT," he said.

IBM’s SaaS portfolio has much more depth and breadth than similar portfolios from the likes of Oracle, SAP and HP, said Najarian. IBM’s portfolio consists of SaaS solutions from recent acquisitions including DemandTec, Unica and Coremetrics, as well as organically grown solutions and a combination of the two, he said.

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