January 17, 2012 – IBM introduced new social, collaboration and mobile capabilities for its enterprise networking platform and cloud services.

Version 3.0.1 of its social networking software, IBM Connections, starts with a social networking style interface that ties in a business activity stream and information search of structured and unstructured such that from Twitter, Facebook, videos, log files and SAP applications, according to an IBM news release. The updated release features wikis, blogs, email, a calendar and a task manager, and is also available as an enterprise-level social content management solution, IBM Connections Enterprise Content Edition.

In addition, IBM is folding its LotusLive services into the new social business area of its SmartCloud on-demand services. The IBM SmartCloud for Social Business offers enterprise social networking, file sharing, online meetings, email and messaging in a cloud delivery model that includes connectivity to Big Blue’s other SmartCloud offerings for commerce, analytics and its Smarter Cities initiative.

Also in the announcements made Monday is the beta release of IBM Lotus Notes and Domino, Social Edition, its social software built on open standards to support embedded messaging, and video and file sharing on mobile devices, tablets and desktops.

The integration and alignment of social with business processes was the prime takeaway from last year’s “Social Business Jam,” IBM’s real-time chat on social use in the enterprise with thousands of business data users. Alistair Rennie, IBM social business general manager, said in a release on IBM Connections that social networking adoption carries possibilities for more enterprise connectivity and flexibility.

“A successful social business can break down barriers to collaboration and put social networking in the context of everyday work, from the device or delivery vehicle of your choice, to improve productivity and speed decision-making,” Rennie said.

Michael Fauscette, group VP of software business solutions for research firm IDC, says that the integration and federated user interface in the updated version of Connections brings value to IBM’s increasing involvement in social business offerings. Oracle, too, made a big social splash in recent months with its collaboration suite on its new public cloud offering, as more enterprises seek internal and external solutions to get the most from their business data.

“Social business is very broad and we see many companies looking for both internal and external solutions. Collaboration, knowledge sharing and managing the growing mountain of data are all very important for today's businesses,” Fauscette says. “Externally companies must build relationships with their customers and to do this they need technology to help facilitate the conversation.”