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It has taken almost ten months to release, but IBM (news, site) has finally unveiled Lotus Connections v3.0, which includes advanced social media analytics and enhanced mobile access, as well as a number of new services that will help enterprises develop and deploy an effective social media presence.

By enabling users to connect with each other in a new set of ways that include networks based around subject matter and interests or demonstrated content preferences, IBM says that the new version of the platform cuts the ‘noise’ -- making it difficult to locate or even identify useful content -- around social media.

With v2.5 there is already considerable social media functionality, but v3.0 goes substantially beyond that with advanced social analytics that enables users to expand their network with recommendations of people to connect with based on prior connections and similar interests.

It also offers recommendations of content they might be interested in based on previous actions -- websites visited, content accessed, existing connections and possible content areas of interest.

The result, IBM says, is social networks that consist only of members with similar interests where content is excluded that is irrelevant to projects or tasks the user is involved in .

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Lotus Connections v3.0
 

IBM and Analytics

The key to the release is the new analytics capabilities. While v3.0 comes with all the functionality that was introduced with v2.5, it is the added analytics abilities that enable users to discover other users across corporate networks with similar work goals that makes the big difference.

The analytics were introduced after consulting with clients and users across enterprises, who identified the growing amount of irrelevant information that is holding back the use of social networking in the enterprise.

In this respect, a 2010 IBM study showed that financially outperforming organizations are 57% more likely to allow their employees to use social and collaborative tools.

Because of ‘noise’ however, only 23% use social networking or collaborative technologies to preserve critical knowledge, with only just over a quarter using those tools to share ideas across their organizations.

Lotus Connections and Analytics

Moving on to the new analytics. At the front end of this comes new widgets -- amongst other things -- that recommend people with whom you might wish to connect.

It does this by displaying what you have in common with the recommended people and the social path that links you to them. In profiles, for example, you have the following widgets:

  • Do You Know: Recommends people to add to your network based on your existing connections, tags and organizational relationships
  • Things in Common: Identifies what you have in common with other users
  • Who Connects Us: Shows the social path that links you to a person.


New filtering options will also make it easier to keep up to date with relevant content and cut out what is unnecessary with the latest updates, while the new Directory page simplifies searching company directories to find the people and expertise you need.

IBM’s Social Networking Services

The other part of today’s announcement indicated that IBM is introducing new social media services to educate enterprises as to the benefit of social software within particular verticals.

Working off IBM’s social collaboration platform, it aims to streamline the use of social media in enterprises and help companies work out the best social media roadmap for the deployment of suitable applications for given enterprises.

The new services include:

  • Social business strategy, assessment and implementation programs
  • Social network analysis readiness and maturity modeling
  • Leadership and skills development in a social workplace
  • Governance, policy and privacy management.

Mobile Social IBM

One more element of today’s announcement worth noting is that Lotus Connections 3.0 also expands the number of its applications accessible from a mobile browser. With it, users are able access their Lotus Connections home page, bookmarks, communities, forums, files and wikis all from their Apple iPad or iPhone, Android or Nokia S60 devices.

While the focus on v3.0 is analytics and their use across social networks, there is a lot more to this release than that. With it there are upgrades to just about everything from home page features to file features, blogs to wikis, forums to APIs and a lot more.