Most vendors must guess what customers want to buy, and how they'll use it. For IBM, however, with about 400,000 employees
, it has the potential to be its own best laboratory, one that becomes even more potent when mixed with active participation in open-source communities.
That potential, as I discovered in an interview on Friday with Jeff Schick, IBM's vice president of social software, isn't a "gimme," but is powerful if you can enable the right sort of corporate culture and processes.
For example, Schick mentioned that IBM has a technology adoption program for employees that spans the gamut of new products, add-ons and patches to existing products, and still-raw technologies direct from IBM's labs. While the invitation list and process is different for each particular item, IBM generally encourages its product groups to "experiment" upon each other. The earlier in the development process, the better.
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