IBM used a conference on enterprise collaboration this week to introduce Lotus Connections 3.0, an update of its enterprise collaboration platform that also includes features to help set up a social networking site to connect a company's employees, partners and customers. Despite some resistance from enterprises to engage in social networking, such as on Facebook, IBM said there are aspects of it that are helpful to business growth.
Lotus Connections 3.0 was announced at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Santa Clara, Calif, a event hosted by UBM, which publishes Network Computing. Version 3.0 includes tools to implement a social business strategy, enable leadership and skills development for employees in a social workplace, and manage governance and privacy policies in a social networking environment.
The platform also includes "pattern matching" tools to help customers access the business social network to obtain information about a company and its products, much like they would asking their Facebook friends, said Larry Bowden, vice president of portals and Web experience software for IBM.
"It's a set of analytics that comes back and recommends to you either content or people, based on what you're looking for or need more help with, so instead of you having to continue to navigate through [a site], it can make suggestions to you who would be the very best person," Bowden said.
IBM initially developed the social business platform internally on an employee portal and found that IBM workers were creating blogs, wikis and other social networking tools on their own to collaborate, he said. It then decided that if that works within IBM, it could be marketable to its customers. While Lotus Connections is an on-premise tool, IBM also introduced LotusLive Connections, which is delivered in a cloud environment.