James Governor's Monkchips

IBM: the world’s biggest enterprise social software rollout

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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.


  1. You picked up the exact same post from James that I highlighted last week 🙂 The facts and figures do provide a great example of how well this stuff has scaled for us internally.

    Not only that, but it has been adopted. As James Snell says, for us it has been largely grass roots… there hasn’t been some big statement from on high that we must use this stuff. I’m not sure what the plans are on putting the “best practice” content out there, but I suspect that there is no “one size fits all” answer as to how to make this stuff work socially… just as with the blogosphere, people need convincing. We’ve had some great early adopters and evangelists. I’m looking forward to hearing how our customers are able to make use of Connections.

  2. The Quickr logo also looks suspiciously like the old OTI logo … http://planet-oti.muellerware.org/

    And I KNEW I should have trademarked the “no last e” back when I had to remove the last e from my userid because our MVS sytem only allowed 7 character userids …

  3. As Ben Edwards of IBM mentioned at Online Information 2006 – http://radiowalker.wordpress.com/2006/12/02/fear-of-flying/ – IBM has over 50,000 users on one of their enterprise wikis, which runs on our Confluence product.

    They are most certainly not an ‘enterprise 2.0 laggard’ as some would like to believe.


  4. MySQL’s IPO and disruptive pricing (and g’astronom…

    Rabbits. White rabbits. It’s IT Blogwatch: in which MySQL disrupts Oracle’s game. Not to mention bad science on kids’ food packages……

  5. Could you in a future blog entry talk about open source equivalents to social networking software. I would like to inject the same approach into my own enterprise without having to purchase anything at this time.

  6. […] I am trying to see the long term view of this. It takes a while for any corporate wide tool or service to be integrated and accepted for day to day use. I included “service” as this is a long term play that will have an intersection with SaaS at IBM, analysts – follow this thread in the future when watching IBM. Back to the point. It is easy to download the social tools, but with easy usually comes limited functionality or single purpose. For example, while you can share your del.icio.us links as many do publicly, the trends across a selected group(s) such as an organization are not trendable. Analysis of trends or the combination of information gathering within a company can help in identifying information and interests. I’ll leave to the better minds of analysts to identify where this is best served like Mike Gotta who discusses tagging in the Enterprise and James Governer on IBM’s enterprise social software rollout. […]

  7. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by James Governor and Dave Briggs, Brian Riggs. Brian Riggs said: Redmonk: "Today IBM has what may very well be the largest corporate social networking environment in the world." http://bit.ly/gyf9S4 #ls11 […]

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