For the most part, providers of cloud applications are content to make an economic case for why it’s less expensive to embrace software delivered as a service. IBM, on the other hand, wants to change the way organizations actually function.
With the latest release of IBM SmartCloud for Social Business, IBM is adding support for file synchronization, unified dashboards, the ability to collaboratively edit documents in real time, and social bridging capabilities that allow communities within the organization to view the same set of documents.
According to Rebecca Buisan, director of product marketing and management for IBM SmartCloud for Social Business, the thing that differentiates the way IBM approaches workflow in the cloud is that rather than focusing on documents, the system is designed more around the roles people play in the organization. Buisan says that means that all the tools people need are integrated under one user interface, including Web-based productivity tools and an array of analytics applications that are specifically designed to help people work smarter.
In contrast, Buisan says other approaches to social networking in the enterprise essentially add another overlay of software without fundamentally changing the underlying dynamics of how productivity tools are used across the enterprise.
Buisan contends the combination of social networking, mobile computing and the cloud clearly has the potential to transform the way people work. The problem now is that instead of taking a fresh approach to how workflow is managed across the organizations, all too often organizations are simply moving the disjointed processes they have built around application silos into the cloud. At the same time, they are fracturing those processes even further by adding even more silos of applications that may be more accessible than ever, but do little to make the organization any more efficient.
IBM isn’t the only vendor making a case for transforming the way organizations collaborate in the age of the cloud. But it is unifying an extensive suite of social networking and productivity tools that should enable an enterprise to truly transform the way it works at almost any pace it sees fit.
The simple fact is that the workflow in most organizations sprung up around isolated applications over an extended period of time. Moving everything into the cloud won’t automatically improve the overall productivity of the organization overnight. But it does for once create the possibility, if not outright probability, that over time that could actually happen.