IBM upgrades Connections as unified communications meets social media

As carriers face more competition in the enterprise market, they might want to keep tabs on how the core enterprise vendors are updating their communications platforms with support for social media. The social enterprise movement was one of the big telecom trends of 2012, and at least one vendor, IBM (NYSE: IBM), is suggesting that will be the case on 2013.

The networking giant this week announced an upgrade of its Connections enterprise social networking platform to enable new features, such as usage monitoring to track how employees are collaborating, as well as engaging with customers via Twitter, Facebook and other social media. The upgrade will be available in March.

IBM Connections 4.5 also will include tools to help manage brainstorming sessions, support for document and content management capabilities, and greater levels of integration with Microsoft Outlook. A later release will feature an IBM Employee Experience Suite integrating human resources management applications from recent IBM acquisition Kenexa. The company also will enhance its IBM Customer Experience Suite, which will allow marketing departments easier methods of pushing heir content to social networks.

The upgrades come as carriers are trying to figure out how to sell to increasingly social enteprises and tap into that trend to increase sales of connectivity and unified communications services, among other enterprise offerings. IBM's moves may show that the company should be viewed as a potential partner for carriers—as well as a competitor—along the lines of Microsoft, which has been adding to its unified communications strengths with its own new focus on social enterprise via its Yammer acquisition.

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