IBM has integrated its Connections enterprise collaboration system with the HootSuite social media dashboard, a move that could signal a new epoch in the social business space.
Workers at all levels of the enterprise have been bringing their own mobile devices to work with them and demanding their work tools behave more like their trusty iPads and iPhones. IBM is obviously widely used in the largest global companies and now the conversations employees have on its Connections system can live in HootSuite.
Consumer Tools for Enterprise Workers
HootSuite is a popular consumer tool that has steadily been pushing into the enterprise. But the IBM integration signals its first push into one of the biggest of big IT companies. Additionally, IBM Connections is a highly rated collaboration tool by analysts at Gartner. It made the leaders quadrant in the latest Gartner MQ for Workplace Social Software, a position also held by competitors Jive, Microsoft (SharePoint and Yammer) and Salesforce Chatter.
IBM Connections customers that are also HootSuite Enterprise customers will be able to get into a beta integration that will go live in early 2014. This will allow IBM Connections status updates, notifications, Communities and more to show up inside the HootSuite dashboard. That way, all that Connections activity can be seen right along side any other social streams people may be monitoring and managing.
"We've been working on getting into more enterprises, and our customers had been asking about tools like IBM Connections ," Kevin Zellmer, Hootsuite's global director of enterprise business development said in an interview.
If this is the first step, we can't help but wonder what other enterprise companies are next on the Hootsuite list. (Chatter and SharePoint spring to mind) Zellmer declined to be specific on this point, but did say the company was focused on a smattering of enterprsie technologies to integrate over the next year.
The enterprise technology space is so fragmented, Zellmer said, Hootsuite was taking a look at integrating tools from different segments like analytics and content management systems, for example. So far, the IBM and Hootsuite beta integration has accepted around 200 testers, roughly half from the Hootsuite side, and half from the IBM side.
IBM Connections viewed inside HootSuite makes collaboration even more social by allowing interactions with other connected social networks.
Collaborate Even More Socially
Most of us are familiar with the Facebook activity stream, a look that IBM Connections also imposes in its interface. When this interface is opened inside HootSuite, it takes on a slightly slimmed down look, but the major functions like My Updates, My Network, @Mentions and Action Required from Connections are all available.
Updates and comments made within HootSuite are then visible to others connected via IBM Connections and vice versa. Furthermore, Connections profile information is also pulled through to HootSuite. That way, employees can click to see things including the job title, location and phone number of anyone who appears in an update or message.
On the social media side, there's a Share Post button attached to HootSuite content that sends Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn content back to IBM Connections. Use cases for this would be for routing customer service requests to the proper channels or passing along an item to be broadcast by other team members.
As an internal work tool, IBM Connections is more focused behind the firewall, but it can be set up to connect with external communities. The Hootsuite integration helps with a bit of that external communication as well, albeit on the social media side. As enterprise and consumer tools continue to intersect, the lines between tools designed for one or the other will continue to blur.
In this case, we'll have to wait until 2014 to see the full potential of Hootsuite and IBM Connections, but it's clear enterprise social networks are leading the consumerization of IT trend.