RedMonk tends to agitate for IBM to hurry up and gets its new social software out from behind the firewall, which its finally doing as per our recent Lotus coverage here, here, and here. But there is another way of looking at this, which James Snell talks to. Its fashionable for the blogerati to laugh at “enterprisey” but funnily enough most enterprises don’t. IBM seems to have a lead over its enterprise competitors, including Microsoft (Sharepoint is not the answer to all social software questions, as Burton Group and RedMonk agree), for the simple reason that IBM’s social software project was so big, and so managed (in terms of audit trails, identity, directory expertise management and so on. IBM’s social software is about managed, rather than unmanaged spaces, and that makes it powerful). I still don’t know why Sun doesn’t want to make money from Roller, but if IBM want to wear the t-shirt… This is from snellspace.
Today IBM has what may very well be the largest corporate social networking environment in the world. We don’t know that for sure because there’s not a lot of great information out there about how many folks are actually using these technologies within the firewall. Here are some numbers: Our BlogCentral environment supports 25k+ registered users with over 3k+ “active” blogs. There are over 100k posts and comments with over 10k+ unique tags. Our dogear server has over 200k+ distinct bookmarks to resources both inside and outside the firewall and is generally more reliable at providing quick access to important resources than our Intranet search servers. Our activities server has over 11k activities with 69k+ entries and has 35k+ registered users. Generally impressive statistics, especially if you consider that use of the blogs, bookmarks and activities servers is entirely optional and there is no corporate mandate that Thou Shalt Blog or Thou Shalt Bookmark. Instead, a small group of people heard about it and started using it; they told some others about it and they started using ti; then they told some others about it and they started using it… and it evolved from there. And it’s not just bookmarking, blogging, activities, and so on. We’re also podcasting, collaborating through wikis, tagging pretty much everything in sight, participating in internal “open source” projects, organizing “hackdays” and generally just having a lot of fun. Thing is, I’m not sure that anyone has really figured out a way of measuring the tangible impact the use of these technologies has on our bottom line. What we do know is that the employees who are making use of them have generally found them to be far more useful than anything that’s come before and that there is genuine excitement about the new tools.
So an enterprise that asks
Does social software scale? IBM has the answer
What cultural or process changes do we need to make in order to take advantage of social software? IBM has an answer.
Will it integrate with our existing enterprise directory structures? IBM has an answer.
And so on.
The internet is a great test bed for continuous beta programs, but IBM needs to sell tools that are enterprise-tested. Fortunately, even after all these years, IBM is ridiculously huge, and can provide the perfect testbed. Now its time for IBM to start pushing out content about best practice, and its own experiences using the toolsets now know as Ventura.
update: It seems IBM has formalising its dog-food eating program under the name TAP.
Talking of Quickr who knew IBM “ripped off” the RedNun logo?
disclaimers: IBM is a patron. Microsoft is an occasional client (the Standards group is a subscriber), Sun is a client.