At the TechLines future of email debate held this month, IBM general manager of Lotus Software and WebSphere Portal Alistair Rennie said that social networking will be useful in the business, not necessarily for communications purposes, but rather to glean data to improve the workforce.
"I think that the principles that we've seen in the emergence of social software in the consumer space will have a very big impact on business communications," he said.
He said that the customers that IBM was talking with weren't necessarily looking for social tools to communicate, but instead tools to allow expertise location and to build up metadata about networks.
"We did a study in a call centre where the social graph actually showed the three people in the call centre that were actually getting anything done," Rennie said.
This social data allowed the call centre to review how it was educating people and enabling them to work.
Social concepts can help companies understand the context in which work occurs, according to Rennie.
"I think social software principles of rich profile description, network analysis, allowing people to share bursty communications and put metadata around it, so you can bring context, will go a long way to sort ... the next platform of how work gets done," he said.