This is the third of a three part series on IBM Connections, their collaboration platform. I recently had an extended conversation with Suzanne Livingston, Senior Product Manager for Connections. I have covered Connections before (see for example, Looking Closely at Lotus Connections) but it had been a while since I took a detailed look. In my last post I looked at some of the themes and features in the next release. In this post we will look at the new analytics capabilities, as well as the advantages of being able to work both inside and outside the enterprise through the same platform.
In the next major release, Connections will offer an enhanced dashboard to monitor adoption and community vitality. It will provide key usage indicators from Connections services and page views. The metrics will look at people, participation, and content. For example, you will be able to see such items as top contributors, number of unique visitors, new members, and much more.
There will be a starting collection of metric reports but then community managers will be able to choose more from numerous options that can be implemented by the system administrator, IBM’s Cognos is providing this capability in the background. If you want to go even deeper you can do custom work within Cognos itself, specifically Report Studio. For example, you can get further data beyond who is participating to what is their geography, department, job function, and other profile attributes specific to your organization. All of this data can help better understand how adoption is working and what needs to be done to further it. You can create custom reports or modify existing ones. You can drill down and do data slicing on time dimension, Connection component dimension or up to 3 different "filters" you can specify about a person's profile (Geo, Role, Dept being the default ones).
What is exciting here is the integration of social capabilities and analytics. For example, a marketing professional can now gain real-time access to data that highlights patterns and consumer sentiment related to marketing trends. They can adjust campaigns on the fly. But what is even more interesting is the ability with a single click, for professionals to react to these new insight by automatically creating a social network, on the fly, bringing together experts across geographical and market intelligence topics to work together and to respond to these insights.
The ability to take insights from consumer facing communities and bring them inside for internal conversation on how to respond shows one the advantages of having a platform that serves both communities inside and outside the organization. Another is the ability to align messages across these communities so employees are in step with customers and their insights. Suzanne said that the market interest in Connections has shifted from usage dominantly inside the enterprise to a combined focus of inside and outside the enterprise. I think this is a big advantage over single purpose platforms.
McKinsey has offered data to support this advantage of using social media both inside and outside the enterprise (see: How social technologies are extending the organization). They found extensive benefits for using social software inside the enterprise (e.g. increasing speed to access knowledge, reducing communication costs, and increasing speed to access internal experts) and outside the enterprise (increasing effectiveness of marketing, increasing customer satisfaction, and reducing marketing costs). However it was the fully networked organizations, the ones who used social business both inside and outside the enterprise that gained the most. For example, the fully networked organizations had almost twice as such integration of social aspects into the employees day to day work and a greater improvement in benefits.
I see the new capabilities within Connections covered in these three posts to further support this integration of social into business. Companies that adopt these approaches should be the winners going forward.