By Alex Williams
IBM Connect starts today in Orlando. And the story here for IBM is about the chief marketing officer and that high-ranking executive in human resources. For marketing, it means reaching customers and prospects. For HR - it's about tools for the pros and the ones who are still learning the ways of social business.
The approach reflects on the larger market and the consolidation of human resources with social software technologies. Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL), SAP and Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) are all fighting for this market. IBM is banking on the integration of its social software, IBM Connections, with Kenexa, which it acquired in December for $1.3 billion.
As part of this, IBM announced the latest release of IBM Connections, a competitor with such services as Yammer and VMware's Socialcast technology. The new version of the software has social analytics capabilities for analyzing data from both inside and outside the organization, including Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter as well as the information from audio and video feeds. IBM Connections 4.5 will be available in March.
IBM also announced a new Social Media Publisher that is designed to allow CMOs to push ad campaigns or promotions to social networks.
With the IBM Connections release, IBM is launching what it calls the Employee Experience Suite, which stems from the Kenexa acquisition. IBM will market the platform to HR leaders. Its intent: provide employees with access to social networking, e-meetings, instant messaging, and interactive rich media such as videos, all provided through a company's intranet. It will also integrate with Kenexa's Applicant Tracking System to allow companies to connect prospective talent and provide some analysis.
Talking to people here, it's clear that adoption of social technologies still has a way to go. I spoke to one person who helps people in the company adopt social technology. She said one executive said he has an "open door," policy. He emails people about what he is working on and he pushes out three videos per week. But when asked about using IBM Connections, he says he does not want to blog. A bit of misunderstanding on his part that she could correct but still a clear example of still prevalent misunderstandings.
IBM, though, sees a turning point in the market and is banking on its analytics focus to bring its own sense of value to the market.
The collaboration market is at a turning point but customers are showing a more tempered approach, looking for more narrowly defined ways to collaborate according to specific use cases.