IBM relying on more cloud services, software to accelerate social business

IBM is putting its acquisition of Kenexa to the test with the introduction of new cloud and software services for its social business unit.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

ORLANDO -- IBM giving its social business strategy a significant push this week through a nearly week-long conference along with the debut of several new software and cloud services products.

Announced at the start of IBM Connect 2013 on Monday morning, the latest releases from Big Blue are a direct result of its recent acquisition of HRM software provider Kenexa.

Thus, the intention for these new services are to enable businesses to integrate IBM's social networking and analytics technologies with critical business processes.

IBM is also aiming to pique the interest of other decision makers besides the CIO -- specifically CMOs and HR managers -- through an emphasis on the user experience and value.

Here's a rundown on the new services:

  • IBM Employee Experience Suite: Merged with Kenexa's Applicant Tracking System for talent data insights, this software suite is targeted towards HR leaders to provide their teams with access to social networking, e-meetings, instant messaging, and multimedia (i.e. videos) -- all within a company's intranet. This solution is lined up to roll out by mid-year.
  • IBM Social Media Publisher: Included within the IBM Customer Experience Suite, this new feature is designed to enable CMOs to push ad campaigns directly to multiple social networks with one click and without IT assistance.
  • IBM Connections: The updates to IBM's core social business platform focus primarily on big data analytics from sources both within and outside of an organization. This means everything from internal connected platforms to Facebook. This is where the cloud might really come into play as users can now edit shared documents from virtually anywhere with added support for on-premises work and elsewhere on browsers via the cloud. This along with deeper integration for Microsoft Outlook profiles and communities will be available in March.

To recall, IBM acquired Kenexa for $1.3 billion last August to develop a "smarter workforce" through social software and services directed at business units such as customer service and HR.

See also: The Kenexa/IBM deal – The consequences for the HR solution space | IBM's Q4 solid, raises 2013 earnings outlook | IBM's Q4 highlights enterprise hardware pecking order

With Kenexa's recruiting and talent management portfolio, the merger also lined up IBM with a number of other tech giants (namely Oracle, Salesforce, and Microsoft) that acquired smaller but notable social media-focused companies in 2012.

IBM's latest announcements come at a time when the corporate world is still trying to figure out what a "social enterprise" should look like.

For example, Cowen & Co. analyst Peter Goldmacher suggested in a memo last week that the social enterprise/revolution trend isn't as much about software but really about company culture.

Based on his argument, it also seems that cloud will be more of a lasting selling tool than social.

Nevertheless, IBM still looks convinced -- or at least it's trying.

In defense or promotion of social business, IBM cited a 2011 Forrester study in the announcement that described social business as an "emerging business category," and social technologies are expected to be worth $6.4 billion by 2016.

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