IBM consolidates social media for employees

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To be successful on the intranet, social media (intranet 2.0) cannot work in isolation; successful social computing requires effective integration and change management.

In the early days of social computing on the IBM intranet Big Blue built their own standalone applications – Dogear, Fringe, Beehive, and many others. While some like Beehive, a social networking application, were very successful (see Beehive builds buzz at IBM), Beehive was isolated in a corner of the intranet (like many of its other social media tools), and not at all integrated into the complete employee intranet experience.

Today, the employee networking / intranet 2.0 experience is interconnected, and integrated into the main intranet – a single platform, based on Lotus Connections, for all IBMers. The single integrated platform includes micro-blogging, wikis, blogs, activities (informal workflow to customize and use informal projects, to do lists, activities, etc.).

IBM Connections home page June 2011

IBM Connections home page June 2011

“Everything is connected; see who has done what and view their profile for more information,” says Yael Ravine, Manager, Collaboration & Social computing, Office of the CIO, IBM.  Some legacy applications such as Blog Central and Wiki Central are still in the process of being completely migrated, but the (r)evolution is underway.

The single platform, also called Connections, is still in its early days, but enjoys about 100,000 unique users every month in Connections. “This represents about 33% of our target population, since we deployed it, about 15 months ago,” adds Ravine. “This is great progress, but we still have ways to go. This number will increase when we complete the migration of stand alone tools and as we do more change management and adoption.”

IBM Connections Communities June 2011

IBM Connections Communities June 2011

Ravine says Connections is particularly effective in coordinating teams and individuals dispersed over a wide geography (IBM has employees in most countries, in all corners of the globe).

“How do you pull off a three-day sales kickoff event for over 600 salespeople in only two weeks? A lot of hard work, creativity, and Lotus Connections Communities! With only three days to go before the event started, and knowing that we needed a way to share the conference materials, we created a Community, provided training to the event team, and populated the Community with the necessary content. The benefit was that the Community allowed users to interact with the content.”

The Community turned out to be a fantastic success – not just in filling the need for the kickoff event, but also in terms of the exposure to Connections that it provided. Several people came forward after the event indicating that they’d like to use Connections for their own purposes.”

IBM intranet home page with Connect portlet June 2011

IBM intranet home page with Connect portlet June 2011

Access to Connections is via a portlet, Connect & Share, on the IBM intranet home page, W3. But Ravine says integration of Connections runs deeper than a simple portlet: “The most ambitious thing we are doing is our internal phone directory, Blue Pages, with around 600,000 entries (400,000 employees plus contractors, etc.). We’re in the process of migrating all of that into the profile components of Connections.”

As is the case with the intranet itself, and all social media, success depends on effective change management and demonstrating value for employees.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about the product, it’s about adoption, social computing guidelines, and how people use it for work,” adds Ravine. “Some may say, “I don’t have time to go and micro-blog…” If people say that then we haven’t done our job. We should be doing more micro-blogging instead of sending email; using these tools to make their work more productive.”

IBM is presently undergoing a massive intranet redesign, and will present a case study on the redesign and how IBMers are using social media in a key presentation at The Intranet Global Forum conference November 9 and 10th in New York City (registration details).

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5 Comments

  1. Mark D.

    Toby, Are you familiar with Jive and if so, what are your thoughts on this platform?

    Reply
    • Toby Ward

      Sorry I didn’t see this sooner, Mark. I think Jive is fantastic, if you can afford it. However, there are other fantastic solutions out there as well… ThoughtFarmer, IGLOO, SocialText, SocialCast, etc. It just depends what you need to do, and what your budget is… Cheers,

      Reply
  2. WarrenDirden

    Obmyslajac wyposazenie pomieszczenia w meble dla dzieci trzeba zwrocic uwage na pare waznych rzeczy, jakie pojawia sie w przyszlosci w zwiazku z dorastaniem dziecka. meble dla dzieci Niemowle pragnie bliskosci mamy i taty bardziej niz prywatnego pokoju, z kolei przedszkolak chce juz wiecej, chociazby lozeczka, do ktorego sie przywiaze. Szkolnemu uczniowi potrzebne bedzie biurko, natomiast nastolatek chce mebli, ktore zapewnia mu przechowywanie plyt i sprzetu do cwiczen. Wyposazenie pokoju musi nadazac za rozwojem i rosnacymi potrzebami dziecka. meble dla dziecka bardzo roznia sie od mebli dla osoby dojrzalej pod wieloma wzgledami. Wynika to w glownej mierze z odmiennych potrzeb dziecka. Przede wszystkim meble dzieciece powinny byc pod kazdym wzgledem bezpieczne. Konstrukcja takich mebli powinna byc stateczna.

    meble dla dzieci
    meble dla dziecka

    Reply
  3. MD

    Can such a solution like IBM Connections replace an entire intranet ?

    Reply
  4. Toby Ward

    No it cannot replace an enterprise intranet, but rather augment. Thinks about news, and tools and applications, enterprise document management, federated search — these items would not be covered by Connections. But it could be a good fit if you’re already an IBM customer looking to enhance social.

    Reply

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