Social business applications very new, not for very long

Now that the dust has settled on IBM’s Lotusphere symposium, perhaps this is an opportune time to take a quick look back and try and analyse whether customers and partners “bought” the social business wave line so volubly amplified by Big Blue during the event.

The company has of course supplied some of its own market analysis and according to IBM’s 2011 Tech Trends Report, most organisations surveyed reported that their organisations have embraced social business to some degree to benefit from increased efficiency and collaboration.

The report’s findings are (now what’s a polite way to put this?) not exactly revelations. If we were being kind we might call them “comforting confirmations” perhaps.

Over the next 24 months says IBM, these areas will continue to grow:

• Business analytics — as businesses struggle to automate processes and make sense of ever-increasing amounts of data.

• Mobile computing — 70% of respondents are expected to develop for the Android platform over the next 24 months, while 49% plan to develop for iOS.

• Cloud computing

• Social business adoption for business purposes varies by country, depending on the perception of security concerns and local acceptance of this technology.

Yes, IBM did essentially say that big data, mobile, cloud and social are all hot IT trends — and no, they don’t want you to write the next one for lots of money even if it doesn’t sounds that hard.

Cheap jibes aside, it’s a good read – were it not hosted on IBM developerWorks (which it is), then I wouldn’t make fun, I just expected something more technical. That said, perhaps this is because we REALLY ARE at an early stage with realising the impact of these technologies — let alone implementing them.

IBM may now look to some of its partners to spur real world deployment. During the show itself, CRM company SugarCRM announced integrations of its CareerBuilder, RealConnections and Virosafe products to promote “collaboration and customer relationship management”.

“Every competitor is just one online search away from getting to your next customer, so sales teams need to be armed with the right tools that help them work more effectively,” said Clint Oram, CTO and co-founder of SugarCRM.

“We believe IBM is a leader in social business and delivers a best-in-class technology platform for collaboration. By adding CRM to the mix, organisations have the ability to easily access and aggregate pertinent customer data from social media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook so they can make more informed business decisions,” said Mr Oram’s press release.

Sugar now supports IBM DB2 database software on Linux, Unix and Windows systems. So this is tangible integration at the partner level and there are customer quotes to read to if you want further affirmation, but let’s leave those to an easy web search should you so desire.

So, social business is real, but it’s new — how long will we be able to say that for?

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