Big Blue is still betting big in the social collaboration space.
Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM recently rolled out new features to its Connections software — changes designed to keep pace with red-hot Slack and other competitors that want to replace email as the go-to hub for workspace conversations.
The latest edition, announced at IBM’s Connect 2016 Conference, brings a number of innovations, such as the ability for users to more easily share business insights and customize who is assigned to different teams.
Stronger Community Features
To keep the size and scope of teams from becoming too large or unruly, IBM Connections has a new batch of capabilities that allow users to create and customize communities by their role or function.
This gives companies more control to create specialized channels for teams such as HR, marketing, sales or other departments that want to collaborate over their shared workload.
While this is something much needed to catch up to others in this space, the most promising aspect is with new movable widgets, page layouts and possibilities for other live content.
Services like Slack benefit from extendibility to other platforms such as Dropbox, Google Calendar and other cloud services.
The chat room feature is an important aspect of such social software, and IBM must leverage its cloud capabilities and experience with enterprise to build in extensions that would appeal to its customer base.
For Connections to be the central hub of the workday, it needs to be able to tackle numerous different platforms at once.
Improved File Management
Another area of focus is improvements to how users can download and organize files that are shared through Connections.
The most noticeable upgrade is the ability to preview files prior to downloading them to your desktop. Connections also promises integration with IBM Docs 2.0, which lets you edit a file in real-time without the need to download them to your desktop.
While formatting fidelity is often a concern when it comes to dabbling with files outside of Microsoft Office, this move could eliminate the inefficiency of the need to send a file as an email attachment, download, edit it, and then send it back.
The third piece of the IBM project is a stronger mobile presence.
Along with the ability to edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, polls and surveys embedded inside of Connections are now accessible on mobile devices.
Whether the conversation amongst co-workers is over mobile devices or traditional computers, it’s happening at a robust pace.
A recent Pew study indicates that 70 percent of those in a corporate environment are engaged in some type of social activity beyond email. While email is probably going to hang around for a long while, more companies are moving their core conversations to such software as the best way to interact with one another.
While this update is a nice feature bump for those using IBM’s cloud services, the company will need to keep pace with the fast movement going on in the social collaboration space.