IBM Lotusphere: Analytics to drive social business from the cloud

Will offering Lotus-as-a-Service revive IBM’s productivity suite? Adrian Bridgwater finds out.

IBM’s Lotusphere conference kicked off this week in Orlando with an inspirational keynote delivered by Hollywood actor Michael J Fox.

Speaking with great humour and composure, Fox urged the audience “not to play the result” as he put it by not accepting an assumed future in work or life in general.  In an auditorium hall packed with geeks, Fox also referenced his ‘Back To The Future’ legacy, saying even he didn’t know whether hoverboards were likely to arrive anytime soon.

But we couldn’t reminisce about 80’s movies forever and the IBM conference content was opened by Alistair Rennie, Big Blue’s general manager of collaboration solutions. Rennie explained IBM’s concept of social business as the meeting point between social media tools and culture when applied to business processes, roles and outcomes.

“Business processes led by people are about to change and this will result in deep and pervasive analytics in order for businesses to gain value at the right point, in real time,” he said.

“This level of analytics will move to become a service, so then this is an important consideration for forward-looking software application developers looking to know what their future roadmaps are likely to feature.”

426,000 employees can’t be wrong?

IBM said it had been developing its social business strategy as far back as a quarter of a century now. Indeed, with over 426,000 employees across 170 countries, the company has nurtured a long product line in collaboration tools – from Lotus Notes right through to its current cloud-based web 2.0-driven social software package, IBM Connections. The product itself is designed to provide data monitoring and intelligence processing carried out in IBM's SmartCloud service.

The ‘better’ business decisions IBM is proposing we can now benefit from will be based around data analytics. It will relate to users creating data from ‘devices and sensors’ to produce a mix of both structured and unstructured data i.e. from simple yes/no data with a numerical value, to harder to classify and analyse video and/or voice data.

According to Forrester Research, the market opportunity for social enterprise apps is expected to grow at a rate of 61 per cent year-on-year, reaching $6.4 billion by 2016, compared with its $600 million value today. IBM argued that, despite organisations’ willingness to embrace social capabilities to transform business operations, they lack the tools to gain the insight held within.

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