IBM Updates Social Business Software Portfolio

IBM builds on social business momentum with new clients including, Lufthansa Group, TruTrade and others using IBM Verse and Connections.

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At its Connect 2016 conference, IBM today announced new capabilities along with continuing momentum for its social business offerings, with users ushering in a new era of collaboration with IBM Verse and Connections.

The expanded capabilities in IBM's collaboration portfolio include innovations that make it easier for users to gain and share business insights across teams.

According to IBM, in today's business environment, where 70 percent of employees are engaged in social activities both internally and externally, organizations are working differently. Social businesses are increasingly capturing and analyzing knowledge from internal social networks, and sharing it throughout the business to increase their competitive advantage.

IBM announced new capabilities to Connections to help more businesses turn social data into insights to enable faster and more informed decisions. The new enhancements will enable users to customize communities by role or function. The product enables the creation of specialized communities for line-of-business users in marketing, human resources, sales and other departments—matched with new page layouts, movable widgets and the addition of rich content—to help organizations streamline collaboration.

The updated Connections also enables users to manage files easier. Personal sub-folders now available on Connections let users preview files prior to downloading and more easily migrate information from Connections to their desktop. In addition, new enhancements extend polls and surveys to mobile devices and allow users to securely edit documents, presentations and spreadsheets from their preferred Android or iOS device. Additionally, administrators have enhanced controls that allow them to secure the app with an application-level password rather than using other credentials.

Indeed, social networks are fostering innovation by increasing collaboration across the enterprise, with one IBM survey showing that 64 percent of CIO respondents intend to invest in internal collaboration, social networking and cloud computing through 2019. As more organizations deploy collaboration tools, such as Verse and Connections, businesses can gain greater visibility into sentiment, activities and behaviors. By infusing cognitive technology into these systems, IBM is helping clients listen to, reason and learn from data in new ways, the company said.

For example, Lufthansa Group, the European airline, recently migrated from Jive to IBM Connections to offer employees a more streamlined and intelligent way to work together. IBM helped Lufthansa Group migrate more than 120,000 users onto Connections in less than a year, and since the migration, Lufthansa has been able to offer new services to customers.

"Previously, our collaboration capabilities often forced us to think and work in the inbox—with one-directional communication streams and knowledge that remains in the minds, on hard drives and in emails," Heike Griess-Nega, head of collaboration platforms in the Corporate IT department at Deutsche Lufthansa AG, said in a statement. "IBM Connections is helping us now to break open these boxes and to exchange ideas across borders and time zones."

IBM collaboration tools are also helping rural farmers in East Africa by increasing transparency into pricing and inventory. Working with IBM business partner WebGate, TruTrade—a joint venture between African trading businesses, Rural African Ventures Investments and Self Help Africa—developed the myLLL platform on IBM Domino hosted on the IBM Cloud.

The IBM solution helps rural entrepreneurs communicate with each other across geographically dispersed areas, work out business deals and track mobile payments, and offers the opportunity to increase smallholder farmer incomes. As a result, smallholder farmers are able to gain new insights into pricing and inventory in ways that were not possible before, facilitating collaboration, driving sales and transforming life for smallholder farmers across the region, IBM said.

Moreover, Flex Contact Center, a professional services and telesales company, recently deployed IBM Connections Cloud to their internal community known as Conectados to reduce reliance on email, eliminate the need for costly infrastructure investments and give employees faster access to client data. After seeing a 25 percent increase in employee productivity driven through cloud-based collaboration, the company took a similar approach to social business for email, and is now rolling out IBM Verse to 11,000 employees worldwide.

Finally, Calidad Pascual, a Madrid-based dairy company with more than 2,300 employees, deployed IBM Connections to gather input on inventory management and immediately received more than 600 suggestions from employees offering ideas to improve staff efficiency and reduce costs.

The company also moved competitor analysis and product development into Connections' cross-collaboration communities, and in doing so, has been able to gather new data on client projects that was not available before. Using IBM Connections has enabled Calidad Pascual to improve the collaboration and communication between employees in different projects, simplify processes and reduce time to market for new products.

"Few things are worse for a company's profitability than having its staff's energy hindered by an outdated collaboration tool set," Jeff Schick, general manager of Enterprise Social Solutions at IBM, said in a statement. "Lufthansa, TruTrade, Calidad Pascual and Flex Contact Center have avoided this trap by recognizing the benefits of a social business. With IBM social business tools, our clients are able to harness the value of their employees' collective knowledge and use it to innovate from within their enterprise."