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IBM Brings Social Business and Integration to Messaging

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I think that social business is the most significant transformation in business today and application integration is the backbone of this effort.  IBM has been making significant moves in social business for some time and has included application integration as a main part of its initiatives. See for example my post: IBM Connections 4.0 Offers Expanded Social, Integration, and Analytic Capabilities and my coverage of IBM Connect 2013. They were recently named by IDC the worldwide market share leader in social software for fourth consecutive year. Now IBM is extending its social business lead by bringing messaging into the social experience, turning email from a client application used only for messages to a core component of a platform that changes the ways people communicate across the enterprise.

Research from IBM supports this rising importance of social media. According to an IBM study, 82 percent of chief marketing officers (CMO) plan to increase their use of social media over the next three to five years. IBM’s 2012 CEO Study identified the same trend—while today only 16 percent of CEOs are using social business platforms to connect with customers, that number is poised to spike to 57 percent within the next three to five years. See my post on the 2011 study for similar trends.

I recently spoke with Scott Souder, Program Director, IBM Messaging & Collaboration Strategy , to learn about the news in email. Offered on- premises, in the IBM SmartCloud for Social Business, hybrid or on popular mobile devices, the new offering of IBM Notes and Domino 9.0 Social Edition helps business simplify and accelerate social business adoption in the marketplace, providing employees with a single access point for all of their collaboration tools—social media, email, group activities, blogs and more. See a sample screen shot of IBM Social Mail below.

IBM Social Mail

For companies using Microsoft Outlook, IBM also provides a new social connector that brings the capabilities of shared files, communities and other key social capabilities directly into the Outlook client to ensure social email can be a reality for virtually any business.

Scott said that the goal is make email available in multiple tools, Connections and Notes, and multiple devices: laptops, mobile devices, and tablets. There is seamless integration so you can work within whatever tools you want. IBM has also developed a updated interface for Notes mail with improvements to spacing, fonts, and colors to provide a 2013 look. Ease-of-use is second goal with the simplified interface, which provides numerous consumability and productivity enhancements in the release. A third goal is an increased focus on application integration built on Open Social 2.0. This integration can enable embedded experiences and allow content from other apps to be integrated with email.

A sample use case can be seen through an employee who is working on a new marketing project.  Using a single interface this employee can check email, as well as activity streams containing the latest work from each team member, share files with colleagues, view new blogs on topics relevant to the subject and more without ever leaving the context of where the employee chooses to work In addition, since the service includes a broad device platform support, each team member has access to the same content all through their mobile device of choice, whether it’s an iPhone, Android device, Windows Phone or the new BlackBerry 10.

Connections Mail can be used to triage incoming mail more effectively. IBM wants to take email both out of a silo and away from being a fire hose . Future plans include increased filtering and analytics, which should enhance a user’s ability to focus on “What’s important now?” IBM is making significant moves in big data. It plans to take this capability into the email space by using what is known about the email user to make assumptions in filtering email.  IBM is  also going beyond the accommodation of the multiple devices with BYOD – or even “BYOC” (“Bring Your Own Client”) – to  exploit choice and flexibility in multiple backend platforms upon which Domino runs.  These are all moves in the right direction as they reflect the rising need for increased integration on all levels.