This week's edition of When Fridays Were Fridays is being posted early, due to the holiday. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!
A recent article by Drew Neisser titled Why IBM Could be Bigger Than Facebook in Social Media got my attention. It wasn’t the fact that Neisser mentioned IBM and Facebook in the same sentence that got me, nor the fact that IBM recently announced the IBM Customer Experience Suite.
It was the quote from Jeffrey Schick, IBM's VP of Social Software, that got my attention. Schick told Neisser, "At IBM 15 years ago, we had a way to look up people to create a globally connected enterprise. Today we have approximately 500,000 people within IBM and we do about 6 million look ups a day on pages that look strikingly similar to other social network profile pages with features like blogging and photo posting."
This is not the first time IBM was using a tool internally long before the rest of the world – e-mail, instant messaging, and intranet technologies were all used internally within IBM long before they were even given names. They arose out of the necessity to be connected. They were – and are – the basis for what we now call social media tools.
So, is IBM likely to compete with Facebook in the social media market?
I’ve written in the past about the need for large corporations to leverage social media as a marketing tool – to listen and respond to their clients – but I don’t see IBM providing the technology for end-user/consumer social media. IBM’s strength lies within the enterprise. Providing the tools to keep large global companies and their employees connected – within the walls of the company – is where IBM is likely to excel in this market.
For such a venture to be successful it would need to have the same components of a Facebook – the ability to selectively connect, to share information, to respond/comment on information, and to be able to integrate with other company data and systems. I am describing an intra-company Facebook.
Such a system would need to be highly scalable. The concept of groups would be key – with the ability to create sub-groups within groups, and groups that bring other groups together. Most of all, such a system would need to be secure.
I think we have just begun to scratch the surface of intra-company social media technology tools, and are likely to see an explosion in this area over the next decade. What do you think?