IBM Connections Gets Business Social Makeover
July 8, 2014 Alex Woodie
IBM made lots of midrange shops happy last year when it offered its flagship business collaboration software, called IBM Connections, on its IBM i platform. With the introduction of IBM Connections 5 this month, the company has enhanced the capability of its customers to collaborate with all relevant stakeholders, including those inside and outside the organization.
IBM Connections is a Web-based product that IBM originally launched as Lotus Connections in 2007.The software is designed so teams of users can collaborate through Web spaces, blogs, wikis, forums, and shared libraries (file syncs). The software sports hooks into the Lotus email, contacts, and calendar software; integrates with IBM’s various BI and content management systems; and is supported on a variety of mobile devices.
With version 5, the company has bolstered a variety of features to help users find the right information, and share it with the appropriate people. This includes co-workers inside the organization, as well as customers and business partners outside of it.
Users have full control over outsiders that are invited into a Connections community, and outsiders have limited powers within the software. For example, outsiders may be allowed to have files shared with them, but may not be allowed to share their own files, depending on the settings. They may also be granted access to “microblogs” created in Connections 5; share their business cards; and fill out their own profile.
The software is also designed to help customers make business “content” more accessible and visible within the organization. To that end, IBM has bolstered the social media capabilities of the software through a variety of features inspired by Twitter and Facebook.
For example, IBM has bolstered the @mentions functionality of the software to “draw attention to information that matters.” Users can also view the number of new @mentions and notifications directly from their Connections home pages. Likewise, the product’s Activity stream has also been enhanced to provide smarter and more relevant content filtering.
When searching for people within Connections, IBM has added new type-ahead capabilities. Sharing content should be easier thanks to a new link preview function, while the product’s image-pasting function has been added directly to the editor.
Getting access to the right content using the “communities” function should also be easier in version 5. For starters, users can now join a sub-community and its associated parent community in one click. Users can also now create folders in communities; create community landing pages; and post open questions in forums.
It’s all about keeping all stakeholders connected, says Jeff Schick, vice president of social software at IBM. “There are few things as potentially detrimental to a company as disconnected employees,” he says. “When a workforce is out of synch or out of touch, the whole organization suffers from lost productivity, efficiency and innovation.”
Connections 5 becomes available on July 24. For more information, see IBM U.S. Software Announcement 214-200.