IBM Becomes More Socially Inclined

    January 23, 2007

Social networking has become one of the most buzz-worthy news terms in recent memory as the concept as spread at a viral rate throughout the realms of marketing and eCommerce, respectively.

MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Orkut the list goes on of websites geared at this little beast called social networking. With the exception of LinkedIn, however, these virtual communities have been geared mostly at casual interaction and self-expression.

IBM is looking to hone the momentum and influence that social networking currently boasts throughout the web 2.0 landscape.

This week, IBM unveiled Lotus Connections, a “social networking for business” project designed to facilitate the gathering and exchange of information through professional networks, provide a dashboard-like view of current projects and connect users to like-minded communities.

Here’s a more detailed rundown of the features that IBM is touting with Lotus Connections:

•   Quickly find the right people and expand contact networks based on topics and areas of expertise: With the Profiles component of Lotus Connections, users can search for people by name, expertise or keyword. Search results provide standard name, contact information and reporting structure details, along with links to the blogs, communities, activities and bookmarks associated with the person begin searched.

•   Access and share information that is deemed important by others and discover new people and resources with similar interests: Dogear, the bookmarking component of Lotus Connections, enables users to tag and share bookmarks. Pre-qualified information can then be found using key word searches or by subscribing to an expert’s bookmarks, enabling users to find the information they need faster and to discover social networks regardless of organizational reporting structures.

•   Bring people together with common interests and assignments: With Communities, users can work together with colleagues across their organization that share common interests or work objectives. Community members discuss relevant issues, conduct polls to gather information and share resources. Anyone with the organization or selected partners from outside of an organization, such as customers, can join and participate in a Community.

•   Organize the work and interactions associated with an activity: With Activities, users have a Web-based dashboard for managing and completing tasks with their professional network of colleagues. Within Activities, users can easily organize, share and collaborate on all files, instant messaging chats, email messages and Web links associated with a given task. This enables employees to better track to do lists and manage deadlines, while incorporating best practices and knowledge from across their organization.

•   Create an interactive community with external and internal audiences, sharing knowledge and opinions: With the blogging tools in Lotus Connections, creating and posting blogs is fast and easy. Searching for information on blogs is simplified with integrated blog searching tools. In addition, users can automatically track posts from key blogs through Atom syndicated format (ATOM) feeds.

IBM has also ventured into the online community of Second Life, opening operations on several islands within the game as well as studying Linden Lab’s technology in the hopes of eventually developing stand-alone virtual words for businesses to employ in globally collaborative efforts.

Between Second Life and Lotus Connections, it appears IBM is indeed becoming more socially inclined.

Joe is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.