IBM to set up first social biz center in S'pore

IBM to set up first social biz center in S'pore

Summary: Big Blue's first enterprise social business Center of Excellence, to start in May, aims to educate senior executives on pros of social tech via courses as well as offer advisory services, execs say.

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SINGAPORE--IBM on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the National University of Singapore's Institute of Systems Science (NUS-ISS) to set up its first ever Center of Excellence (CoE) for enterprise social business here. This would help bring up Asia's level of social business adoption to match that of Europe and the United States, one executive says.

Lim Swee Cheang, director of NUS-ISS, said the CoE will be operational in May this year, and will target local senior business executives to educate them on the benefits of tapping on social technologies within their organizations.

The Center's goal will be to help companies here evolve into social businesses by advising them on the roadmap and strategy, as well as conduct research on the topic, added Christopher Chia, chairman of the NUS-ISS management board. Both executives spoke during a press briefing held in conjunction with IBM's Business Gets Social 2012 event on Wednesday.

Both parties declined to reveal how much was invested to establish the CoE, though.

In terms of content, the CoE will offer two courses initially, said Lim. These include a half-day seminar on the benefits of social business, as well as a two-day course meant for companies interested in implementing social technologies. The longer course can also be customized for specific businesses as each organization would have its particular needs, he added.

The director said the "cautious" initial estimate for enrolment is between 100 and 300 participants for the first year. However, the Center may open up free courses to provide for more participants if the need arises, he said.

Lum Seow Khun, business unit executive of ISV (independent software vendor) and developer relations at IBM Singapore, added the company plans to conduct one session per quarter in the beginning and increase the frequency based on take-up rate. She added both parties would co-conduct the lectures, and IBM will provide free software and course ware.

Asia "ripe" for social business
Sandy Carter, vice president of social business sales and evangelism at IBM, pointed out that with social media expected to create more jobs than the Internet did, it is good for those in Singapore to be trained early in social business.

The executive, who was a keynote speaker at the event, also said that while the region's adoption of social business is slightly behind that of Europe, which leads the pack, and the United States, companies here are "ripe to catch up" due to the high personal social media usage. This is because users will look to bring social technologies they use frequently into the enterprise arena, she explained.

Indonesian restaurant chain Bumbu Desa, for one, has adopted Big Blue's SmartCloud Connections collaboration tools to enable franchise holder to discuss store strategies on a single platform, noted Christopher Blake, Asean regional executive for collaboration solutions at IBM, during the briefing. Besides internal collaboration, the platform can also be opened to external parties such as food critics to join in the conversation, he added.

Zooming in on Singapore, Carter cited a 2011 study conducted by a GlobalWebIndex that ranked the city-state's social network penetration higher than the global average.

Additionally, users here have moved beyond using social media for personal communication and on to creating online communities. These factors mark Singapore out as having the potential to be a proponent for social business, she said.

Topics: Software, Apps, Browser, CXO, Social Enterprise

Liau Yun Qing

About Liau Yun Qing

The only journalist in the team without a Western name, Yun Qing hails from the mountainy Malaysian state, Sabah. She currently covers the hardware and networking beats, as well as everything else that falls into her lap, at ZDNet Asia. Her RSS feed includes tech news sites and most of the Cheezburger network. She is also a cheapskate masquerading as a group-buying addict.

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