Managing a Social Business

Michael Vizard
Slide Show

Social Media: Where's the Strategy?

While corporate participation in social media is increasing, many companies still do not have a strategic plan for its use.

It's clear by now that a variety of social networking technologies are beginning to change the way people work. The trouble that creates, however, is that the tools that are really needed to manage a social business are a fractured set of technologies that often add more confusion than insight.

At the IBM Lotusphere 2012 conference today, IBM rolled out a cloud-based framework for managing a social business that not only makes the tools needed to manage a social business more accessible, but also integrates them in a way that makes it a lot easier to discern what conversations taking place on those social networks are actually relevant to the business.

At the core of the IBM social networking framework is a version of IBM Connections, a workflow management software application for social networking environments. Now available as a cloud service, IBM has imbued IBM Connections with a rich set of analytics tools that are designed to help organizations identify and manage social business priorities.

IBM SmartCloud for Social Business allows organizations to build and manage social networks inside and outside the business, while also giving users access to a content management system, document editing tools and integration with multiple mobile computing devices. As part of that effort, IBM is also releasing a beta version of IBM Lotus Notes and Domino, Social Edition, that provides a messaging and collaboration environment optimized for social networking applications. It's also adding support for Microsoft Windows Phone to its IBM Lotus Notes Traveler software.

According to Jeff Schick, IBM vice president for social software, organizations of all sizes are looking for a more effective way to manage their business in the social networking era. The challenge they face is that the cost of setting up a framework to manage a social business is beyond their means and skills. By moving IBM Connections into the cloud, IBM is providing that framework as an on-demand service that can be tailored to fit any size business, said Schick.

Building a social business is one thing, managing it on an ongoing basis is another. It's pretty clear at this juncture that social networks will change business culture. That means the software that businesses rely on to manage "activity streams on social networks" needs to adapt to a new social networking reality. The question then becomes: Is it better to try to reinvent that process using software running on premise or invoke a set of cloud services that are not only less costly to initially acquire, but also gives the organization a ready-made platform for business experimentation?

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