10 Great Social Business Features of IBM Connections
Frank Gullo 270006Y9C5 firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  social-business content socbiz social-collaboration connections social-business-tools social_business social-connections
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Whenever I mention to other business professionals that my company has an internal social network, I get questions. Those familiar with social business tools ask me what we’re using and how it’s going. The uninitiated generally ask politely what social business is exactly. Both parties ask about the features and benefits.
I start off explaining that my company didn’t pick a product as much as an integrated social, collaborative, and mobile technology solution. I then elaborate that we’re using IBM Connections as our new social business Intranet platform. If necessary, I state that Connections is similar to Sharepoint and Jive, and is basically like a Facebook or LinkedIn for the inside of the organization.
As a social business solution, Connections includes many useful features for creating and collating content, sharing posts and files, and surfacing useful information. Below are ten of its best features:
1. Activity feeds
Part Facebook wall, Twitter stream, and LinkedIn status list, the Connections activity feeds help you see what’s happening across your network, with distinct feeds for people and things you’re following, status updates from your network, and updates and comments related to your content. In my organizations, with people scattered across dozens of locations internationally, the feeds give employees a sense of what their co-workers are doing and what’s happening in the company on the other side of the country or world.
Profiles are employee pages on Connections. Much more than a simple template limited to title, extension, and email address, profiles in Connections allow users to upload a photo, provide biographical and background information, post personal status messages, tag themselves with keywords and key phrases, and even upload an audio file of their name to assist with pronunciation.
Similar to LinkedIn Groups, Connections Communities are collaboration places for groups of employees with a common interest or need. Communities may be focused around a departmental function, project, geographic location, or even interest or hobby. Communities may be public and open (anyone can contribute content), public and moderated (members must be approved by an owner to contribute content), or restricted (membership is invite only).
Blogs in Connections are straightforward and easy to use, both for employees simply interested in reading posts and commenting, as well as for employees interested in contributing content. Modeled after Internet blogs, Connections includes all the features commonly associated with blogs, including comments and moderation, tagging, and RSS.
Connections Wikis are simply mini websites consisting of one or more pages. Bundled with a simple rich text editor, Wikis provide a low barrier to entry allowing employees to begin generating web content.
Connections has versatile file management capabilities that make it easy to organize files and share them with others in the network. The file sharing capabilities are useful on their own, but they also provide a tool to eliminate much of the file attachment emailing and forwarding that is prevalent in many organizations today. Think Google Docs for the inside of an organization but within a social business network.
When I first used Bookmarks in Connections, I was reminded fondly of Delicious, one of the first social bookmarking web service for storing, sharing, and discovering web links. In Connections, Bookmarks function very similar to standard social bookmarking services. You save links and share them
Forums in Connections are derived from Internet discussion forums or online bulletin boards where people communicate through posted messages. Connections forums may be public or housed within a community, and individual forum topics may be pinned, locked, and flagged as inappropriate.
As Atul Gawande reminded us in The Checklist Manifesto, though simple, checklists are resoundingly versatile and can assist in the resolution of complex procedures and problems. Checklists are a core part of Activities, a social task management tool in Connections for creating tasks and action items, including assigning due dates and ownership.
Folksonomy, or collaborative tagging, is ubiquitous in Connections. Virtually any information input in the system can be tagged, and this functionality makes broad social indexing and content annotation possible at the enterprise level.
The above are just some of the useful features in Connections. The list is likely to grow with future versions and integrations.
At Superior Group, Frank Gullo serves as Director of Digital and Mobile Strategy. His primary function is to improve and maximize the firm's knowledge, skills, and abilities in the areas of digital marketing, mobile, and technology-driven marketing initiatives. He also drives business innovation initiatives, including advocacy and evangelization of IBM Connections as the company’s internal social business platform.
In his spare time, Frank volunteers as a firefighter and EMT. He is also the founder of the startup Date on Purpose, a platform that brings bachelor and bachelorette auctions online for charity.
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