Big Blue Launches IBM Connections Software for Social Business

IBM announced an expansion of its software to help organizations embrace the power of social business by delivering IBM Connections social networking platform.

IBM has expanded its social business initiative with the release of its new IBM Connections software, which Big Blue identifies as a social networking platform with real-time compliance capabilities.

IBM launched its social business strategy at the company's Lotusphere 2011 conference in February as a way to help its customers and partners leverage social networking and social paradigms to their benefit.

The new IBM Connections software allows organizations to track and trace data on the fly throughout their organizations. This information can be analyzed and is discoverable in real-time using the IBM Connections active compliance service versus waiting until day end for analysis, IBM officials said.

The adoption of social software is on the rise and rapidly becoming a vital business tool, enabling organizations to transform virtually every part of their business operations from marketing, customer service and sales, to product development and human resources. The market opportunity for social platforms is expected to grow by a factor of nearly two billion worldwide by 2014, according to IDC.

Moreover, Gartner recently said that "by the end of 2013, half of all companies will be forced to produce material from social media websites for e-discovery so enterprises need an overall governance strategy for all applications and information."

The new IBM Connections 3.01 software uses microblogs, wikis, communities and activities to collaborate with clients, partners and employees.

The social networking platform delivers enterprise-quality compliance capabilities providing the ability to monitor, track and quickly pull out relevant data around conversations, posts and file uploads in real-time. This electronic trail of online interactions helps organizations meet their policy needs while working at the speed of social networking.

IBM plans to provide these industry agnostic compliance capabilities for clients through a collaboration with Actiance, a leader in compliance capabilities, Big Blue said. In the third quarter, IBM is expected to introduce Actiance Vantage for IBM Connections, which archives and logs social content to help enterprises remain compliant with corporate and government regulations. Actiance software is used by nine of the top 10 U.S. banks and more than 1,600 organizations globally for the security, management and compliance of unified communications, Web 2.0 and social media channels.

The new features within IBM Connections also help foster greater participation in communities through moderation allowing managers and editors of online content to review materials before they are published, a critical step in compliance governance practices. To help organizations take advantage of the social business opportunity, IBM Connections also features social analytics to help users find experts and the ability to comment or vote on ideas in a community. The Connections Ideation Blog is designed to allow crowdsourcing of ideas across teams and customers.

"The benefits of social business are too great to ignore," said Alistair Rennie, general manager of collaboration solutions at IBM, in a statement. "With these new advancements around compliance enablement, a social business can confidently activate networks of people to use a variety of collaborative tools, to improve and accelerate innovation."

Meanwhile, IBM also announced that IDC ranked IBM number one in worldwide market share for social platform software for 2009 and 2010. According to IDC, the worldwide revenue for the social platforms software market was more than $500 million in 2010, representing growth of 31.9 percent.

The adoption of social networking in the workplace is on the rise. According to IBM's 2011 CIO Survey, 55 percent of CIOs plan to invest in collaboration and social networking to increase competitiveness over the next few years. In addition, 77 percent of CIOs are looking to change their internal collaboration processes over the next three to five years.

Moreover, IBM said more than 35 percent of Fortune 100 companies have adopted IBM's social software offerings. In the past year, new IBM Connections clients include GMCH, Bayer MaterialScience, CEMEX, Sogeti, Singapore Airlines, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Berlitz International Inc., Sennheiser electronic GmbH & Co. KG, Panasonic and Rheinmetall AG. IBM officials said IBM Connections is available both on premise and in the cloud.