At Lotusphere IBM is today announcing a host of new offerings aimed at seeing it gain some relevance in the social enterprise space. There are a heap of announcements but the highlights include;

  • New social analytics software that integrates wikis, blogs, activity streams, email, calendaring, and flags relevant data for action
  • The new IBM SmartCloud for Social Business is a cloud-based productivity suite allowing users to co-edit documents in real-time and is a clear response to Google Docs and Microsoft’s 365 Live products (in beta, due some time this year)
  • New software that integrates social networking capabilities with enterprise content management as a response to both SharePoint and new platforms from and Huddle
  • Domino – a new messaging and collaboration software offering that aims to steal some of the thunder off Yammer and Salesforce Chatter

It’s a lot of news and a bunch of product announcements, only some of which are actually generally available yet. This is however IBM and the availability and quality of the offerings are somewhat secondary to the fact that IBM sales staff will now have an answer to the ongoing questions from enterprise customers about IBM’s response to compelling offerings from Yammer, Box, Google and a myriad of others.

In a statement more akin to the words of Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Alistair Rennie, general manager of Social Business at IBM said that;

There is boundless opportunity for social business to transform how we connect people and processes, and increase the speed and flexibility of business. A successful social business can break down barriers to collaboration and put social networking in the context of everyday work, from the device or delivery vehicle of your choice, to improve productivity and speed decision-making

Music to enterprise ears, so long as the products actually deliver on the promise. And so long as those organizations haven’t already looked elsewhere to fulfill their requirements in these areas.

I’m particularly interested to hear more about IBM Docs, a “social document platform” and IBM’s strong move against both Office and Google docs. Hoping that integration across office productivity, content management and storage, provides added value for prospective customers, IBM has created the offering so that IBM Docs authors will be able to store and share documents in IBM’s own SmartCloud Engage, and gain visibility over the documents through IBM’s content management offerings.

It’s early days for IBM, and they enter a market that, while still full of opportunity, needs to see strong differentiation between different vendors. IBM will hope that it’s massive momentum and brand recognition will provide that differentiation – time will tell.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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