By: Angela Ashenden, Principal Analyst, MWD Advisors
Published: 20th January 2012
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License
This week, I attended IBM’s Lotusphere 2012, IBM’s annual customer and partner event which showcases the latest products and strategy in the area of collaboration. Like last year, “social business” was squarely at the centre of things, although there was a marked difference between the way the company positioned its social message this time when compared to last year. While Lotusphere 2011′s “Get Social. Do Business.” strapline and general sentiment was very much a call to action, this year I felt an interesting undercurrent of confidence and a sense of “fait accompli” in IBM’s message, reinforced by its new 2012 strapline “Business. Made Social.”
In parallel with the Lotusphere event, IBM hosted IBM Connect 2012, which comprised of a wealth of social business case studies, and was positioned as the event for the senior execs who wanted both ideas for how to take advantage of social business, and tips on best approaches. My personal favourite was Asian Paints, which has leveraged IBM Connections to support both internal collaboration and external customer engagement. Frankly, I was astonished by the sheer number of customers who stood up to share their experiences, although I do think that IBM missed an opportunity by not building in some sort of workshop element to the program to help attendees talk through their ideas and plans in a more structured way than simply over coffee at the event.
As usual, IBM used the Lotusphere platform to announce a number of new product capabilities and offerings, the most notable being these:
Aside from the key product announcements, what was particularly noticeable this year was the omnipresence of analytics. First introduced at last year’s Lotusphere through the integration of Cognos with Connections, this year pretty much every session referenced analytics in some way or another, emphasizing its important role in deriving ROI from these types of social investments. (While we’re on the topic of analytics, don’t forget to visit our online event focused on social analytics which launched this week – it’s free with no registration required, and it’s on-demand so you can dip in and out as you want.)
All in all, it’s fair to say that Lotusphere has come a long way in just a couple of years: what was once an intensely techy event, focused on product demos and unquestionably the territory of developers, has in the space of a couple of years transformed smoothly into a business-focused event, aimed at engaging with customers and partners at a strategic, enterprise-wide level, to help and support them in bringing about business change enabled by the social revolution. This is a very different approach to IBM’s biggest competitors in this space – Microsoft and Google – which both continue to position at a more technical level. There is still work to be done to tie up IBM’s top level social strategy with its product portfolio, but the company is investing significant resources in this strategy, and is benefiting from its incredible traction with IBM Connections. Big ambitions, but IBM’s looking in good shape to succeed here.
Advisory clients can read our recently published Email strategy profile of IBM here.
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Published by: electronicdawn Ltd.