IBM to Launch Corporate Social Networking Software

Posted on January 22, 2007

BusinessWeek reports that IBM is launching corporate social networking software called Lotus Connections. Some of the features Lotus Connections provides icnldue blogs, profiles, communities, activities and social bookmarking.

A major advance came Jan. 22 with IBM's announcement of a new product called Lotus Connections. It wraps five social networking technologies up into one integrated package=similar to what Microsoft's Office does for traditional desktop productivity software such as Word and Excel. And, if IBM handles this right, its package could rapidly spread the use of so-called Web 2.0 applications in the business world. "While social computing software is perceived as being at the fringe of most large businesses, it's actually moving to the center fast-because it's about how the next generation of employees communicate, and create and share ideas," says Franks Gens, senior vice-president for research at tech market research IDC.

The IBM package includes five applications: profiles, where employees post information about their expertise and interests; communities, which are formed and managed by people with common interests; activities, which are used to manage group projects; bookmarks, where people share documents and Web sites with others; and blogs, where people post ongoing commentaries. "The business market is showing a lot of interest in using social networking tools to improve productivity. It's about helping people find experts and the information they need to get their jobs done," says Steve Mills, the general manager of the software group at IBM (IBM). The commercial version of the package is to be delivered in the second quarter.

The New York Times has an article about IBM's software as well. ZDNet's Between the Lines blogs that IBM's entry into social networking means that social networking is finished.
Is it any coincidence that IBM announced new social networking software and Getafirstlife, a Second Life parody, debuted within a few hours of each other?

Of course not, IBM getting into social networking is the equivalent of the cab driver touting stocks and the dunce down the street trying to flip real estate. The appropriate response to those aforementioned signals: Sell! The top of the market is here.

IBM launching social networking software (just for those corporate types that just can't wait to produce MySpace-ish pages) is the same as the cabby and the real estate flipper down the street. Translation: The social networking run is over. Goodbye. It's kaput.

The Times article says Lotus Connections will be available later this year. It also says that IBM has been using a prototype of the software and it currently has the profiles of 450,000 IBM employees. The mania over social networking will die down eventually but corporations are going to want software that can provide multiple tools for workers -- document sharing, blogs, profiles, etc. -- all in one package. IBM's software package and competiting software from IBM competitors will be of interest to some corporations. A Read/WriteWeb post about Lotus Connections points to this post from Marc Canter. Canter is excited by the news because he thinks IBM's new software will help him sell his PeopleAggregator software.

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