IBM’s Social Media Addiction Intensifies
February 4, 2013 Dan Burger
When it comes to eating its own dog food, IBM can’t get enough of social media. Everyone at the Big Blue enterprise is expected to chow down. In turning social media into social business, Big Blue figures it is best to lead by example. Last week, IBM’s social technology soapbox Connect 2013, the conference formerly known as Lotusphere, was talking with their mouths full. Naturally, this was a good time to announce new software and cloud-based services. Warning: Buzz shields required beyond this point.
The statistical bombardment is the first thing that hits you.
IBM claims 61 percent of the Fortune 100 companies are licensed to use IBM’s social business technologies. It is inferred that these technologies include one or all of the following: Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and public forums. What they use, how they use it, and how many use it would put a little meat on the bone.
According to a recent IBM CEO study, 70 percent of companies surveyed cited human capital as the single biggest contributor to sustained economic value. (Just a side note here. Are these the same CEOs who aren’t hiring IT staff and aren’t investing in their training and education or is IT outside the realm of human capital as far as economic value is concerned?) The value of human capital will come into play as IBM puts new products and services into play, but more on that after a couple more statistic bombs are dropped. According to an IBM CMO study, 82 percent of marketing leaders are planning to increase social media use during the next three to five years as a means to better communicate with clients. IBM does not intend to let that trend indicator slip by unnoticed. And on top of that, the analysts at Forrester Research have identified social business as an emerging business category, with the social technology industry growing to $6.4 billion by 2016.
Going back to the human capital investment strategy that the CEO study revealed, it fits in rather nicely with the $1.3 billion IBM spent in December 2012 to acquire the recruiting and talent management company Kenexa. That company’s cloud-based technology and workforce consulting services were two inter-related elements that caught IBM’s attention.
Not even a month has gone by and IBM is announcing a social networking environment that is integrated with Kenexa’s recruiting, hiring, learning, and performance management solutions. It gets the official name of IBM Employee Experience Suite. By involving human resources more deeply with social media, IBM expects to make some visible inroads into companies where its social business technologies will take root. The keys to the Employee Experience Suite will be the collaboration enhancers–accessibility to mobile devices is a big one along with e-meeting and video conferencing capabilities. The Kenexa purchase adds value for HR departments facilitating the training and education of existing employees as well as the identification and hiring of new talent.
“The combination of Kenexa and IBM shows great promise to change how HR attracts, retains and trains talent,” said Ross Grossman, vice president of human resources at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, a small company making its way in the land of giants. “In biotechnology, competition for top talent is fierce. We’re excited about the potential to better attract talented people who fit our company culture and can really impact our business performance.”
The marketing departments are another fast-track to social media adoption that IBM hopes to capitalize on with a new product called Social Media Publisher. Its purpose is to streamline and simplify the design, testing, and optimizing of marketing campaigns and promotions before and after their release to the chosen social networks. It works in conjunction with analytics software to get a read on marketing effectiveness within a target group of social media addicted consumers.
IBM software positions both the HR and the marketing products in the cloud, although on-premise products are likely to follow. Both products will also require the add-on of analytical software and the capability to handle more massive amounts of data. (Have you seen what video does to the amount data collected?) So it becomes a package deal and perhaps a better cloud-based solution as a result. That would seem to be the case if you don’t want to add more servers and staff in-house.
The foundation that the HR and marketing products depend on is the social media platform IBM has in place called Connections. Knowing the importance of good timing, IBM is introducing the next version of its social networking platform with capabilities to access and analyze big data from inside and outside the organization, including Facebook, Twitter, audio, and video.
Connections 4.5 will become available in March. At the top of its enhancements list are document management capabilities that allow networked members to access, analyze, and act on data. It will also have a content manager feature so teams and communities can build “collective intelligence” that was either unachievable in the past or possible only under lengthy time constraints. It helps if you think of this in terms of the Pony Express versus the telegraph. The anticipated upside, as IBM is eager to point out, will be much quicker business problem solving, increased productivity, and–you’ll be happy to hear this–rising profits.
Connections is built on the open standards-based technologies called Activities Stream and Embedded Experience that are part of the OpenSocial 2.0 project. Connections combines social applications with enterprise business content and processes. It connects people and applications in a social networking format, sort of like a Facebook for business. Its biggest benefit is allowing users to work within a single screen while accomplishing multiple tasks involving business contacts and business activities. Integration with email and calendaring programs add to the convenience and efficiency.
Microsoft Outlook users, who may not have taken a close look at Connections in the past, might reconsider their biases against Connections now that the latest version will include social capabilities allowing users to access their social data such as profiles, files, and communities directly in Microsoft Outlook.
IBM Connections clients that allow their names to be used include Lowe’s Home Improvement, Electrolux, TD Bank, Newly Weds Foods, Russell’s Convenience stores, Bayer Material Science, The Ottawa Hospital, Premier Healthcare Alliance, Earthwatch, and the law offices of LaVan & Neidenberg.
IBM also announced at Connections 2013 that it expects to ship IBM Notes and Domino Social Edition 9 in March. We are covering that in a separate article within this newsletter.