Monday, June 9, 2008

Social Computing Platforms: IBM & Microsoft Part 1

Mike Gotta, Principal Analyst at Burton Group provides a brief introduction to social computing and layout the key issues strategists should consider as they listen to the workshop presentations and demonstrations. IBM and Microsoft then detail their social computing platforms and demonstrate its various capabilities while answering questions from the moderator. The workshop end withs a Q&A session to address audience concerns.

  • Heidi Votaw, Program Director, Social Computing Software, IBM
  • Lawrence Liu, Technical Product Manager, Microsoft
  • Suzanne Minassian, IBM Lotus Connections Product Manager, IBM
  • Venky Veeraraghavan, Program Manager, Microsoft
My Notes:

The room was a bit undersized. Every seat was taken and people were turned away. (Good attendance; poor planning on room size. Thankfully the AC is cranked up and keeping the room cool.)

Mike started off with a discussion of balancing platforms against individual tools. At the extreme is a single blog and at the opposite end is the super platform.

IBM lead off with the demonstration of IBM's Lotus Connections. The demo used something called My Healthcare that is positioned as portal, with content being generated on the platform as well as pulling information from other sources. One plus to the platform approach is the umbrella of search. As content is sourced from or pulled into the platform, it is easy to search. You get pass some of the enterprise search issues.

Connections does a great job of linking people information to content. You can see the interests of a particular person and go into the content they have created or see the information they have tagged. It is also tied into other applications like setting up an appointment and using a calendar application.

The next part of the demo was IBM's intranet: On Demand Workplace. The start page blends company information pushed to her and other features that she has subscribed to. (I am a big fan of this approach, combining information you want to know about with information you are being told to know.)

Since we are a SharePoint firm, I am more focused on seeing what they have to say about SharePoint.

Lawrence Liu went into the Microsoft SharePoint demonstration. There is little customization other than the look and feel of the portal he showed. He went back and forth between the home page and the My Site. The My Site had a public view and a private view.

The colleague tracker shows updates to her colleagues. Colleagues are people that you elect to follow. The people search returns a list of people. You can then filter the results with a faceted filter.

He moved onto a SharePoint wiki. He added a third party tag cloud. He also added some custom columns.

The focus is for SharePoint to be a platform with lots of links to other applications. He also showed some of the connections into other Microsoft applications. It ties in nicely with lots of the Office 2007 applications. (Unfortunately my firm, like many other firms, are years away from moving to Office 2007. We just went to Office 2003).

Onto a deeper IBM demonstration. Since we have a Sharepoint, I only focused on interesting functions.

First was an audio pronunciation of someone's name. That seems really easy to set up and am going to bring it back to my HR and web developers.

It is really to set up a community site. You can set up with a few clicks. They also easily allow you to pull in a socialtext wiki or a confluence wiki. You decide the name, description and security.

[Checked out to chat with Stephen Collins of Acidlabs. A few weeks ago he was willing to sell his soul to get to this conference. He does not look any worse for the wear having lost his soul and having traveled for 30+ hours from Australia.]

IBM has some social network analysis built into their people directory. Visually you can see clusters of connections. (The audience audibly wowed! It was quite impressive visually.) IBM piles lots of information around people to help people make connections and find internal expertise. The philosphy is to make it easy for people to connect with each other and to connect people to their content.

This is getting long, so I will stop here and start up a new post.


  1. Great post! Let me know if you need help migrating from Sharepoint to Lotus Connections (which does integrate nicely into Office 2003) :)

  2. You mentioned difficulty upgrading to Office 2007. FYI: There's a team of people in IBM working on an initiative called "Project Liberate", where they study license bundles and show how money spent on licenses (e.g. MS Enterprise CALs) could be better used, buying just the licenses you need and spending the savings on open source initiatives (e.g. Linux servers, user training for MS Office alternatives, etc.)

    Worth checking out.


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