Social media and social networking should have already made a big impact on how you communicate with suppliers and customers, how about internal communication and collaboration though? If you use a product like Lotus notes or other cloud services such as Window’s Office cloud offering or Google Apps you should already be collaborating through the cloud but this is limited in its effectiveness without robust communications.
IBM’s Lotus Notes product is now about to integrate with Social Media tools though to allow communication within organizations whether they are spread over multiple offices, on one site or offices across multiple sites and even multiple countries and including tele-commuters as well of course. Add in to that the ability to bring in clients and suppliers to use the same systems and you have a perfect collaborative environment where you don’t simply have to guess what changes have been made and why or even interpret people’s notes but can communicate in real time including discussion, giving advice, feedback and even training.
Web based IBM connections or server based Lotus Connections will work with e-mail, contacts, content management and calendar software while providing collaboration tools in the form of wikis, forums blogs and shared libraries.
While a blog especially may seem like a distraction for employees: blogs kept by key members of staff, often those with an overview of several teams, can help people within the organization understand better what is going on in the organization as a whole and how they are a part of that.
These developments coincide with the switch to IBM’s Smartcloud Infrastructure and the renaming of the LotusLive hosting service to SmartCloud Social Business. Some might accuse IBM of putting together a product with buzzwords such as social media to please managers desperate to keep up to date but without any clue why: but the tools that have been added can be useful, if the right training and guidelines are given of course. Since the earliest collaborative software with dozens or hundreds of people collaborating on projects and documents best practice and procedures have been important to keep things running smoothly, hopefully with Lotus allowing communication in real time anyone who is unsure will be able to get answers quickly: this in turn means less doubling up on work and less waiting around for someone to check their e-mails and get back to you: especially when they are out of the office.
Wikis allow people to contribute their knowledge and experience to come up with what is like a huge user generated manual for an organization, this often cuts down time finding the right person to ask by being able to find the information in one central location. As for Forums of course these are ideal places for general discussions, that can be more social than business in some cases allowing a community to grow even over multiple sites; in some cases forums threads though can be highly technical and specialist as well: in either case everyone gets a chance to contribute no matter where they are and what their time zone and you have a record of discussions, and information used, afterwards.
With SmartCloud for Social Business tools will be accessible immediately on Windows Phones and Blackberrys with other phone and tablet types likely to follow. Longterm IBM plan to integrate LotusLive with more of the applications and infrastructure services already available on IBM’s Smartcloud servers.