IBM upgrades Connections enterprise social networking software

Areas of improvement include a more interactive activity stream and more usage analytics

IBM is releasing a new version of its Connections ESN (enterprise social networking) software, which companies use to give their employees social media capabilities adapted for workplace collaboration, such as employee profiles and blogging.

Enhancements in IBM Connections 4.0 include a more interactive activity stream, broader support for mobile devices, more granular usage analytics, and integration with email and calendar systems, according to Heidi Ambler, director of product management for IBM Social Software. It is available immediately.

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"This new release helps customers grasp the power of social analytics, gives them anytime-anywhere access to the software and provides cutting-edge capabilities," she said.

Instead of a list-like news feed, the new software has an activity stream in employee profiles that users can filter for relevance, as well as act on the notifications right from the Connections interface.

For example, users can trigger pop-up boxes from the activity stream notifications and see the latest comments made about a file, see who posted the latest version of it and add tags to it.

An integration with IBM's own Lotus Notes-Domino and with Microsoft's Outlook-Exchange email and calendar systems lets users manage email messages through Connections.

It will also be possible for users to import into Connections external Web pages from any site -- blogs, public Facebook posts, Twitter feeds -- or data from third-party applications, so that the information can be discussed collaboratively.

Mobile support has been extended and now includes applications for various iOS, Android, and Windows Phone devices.

IBM is also announcing new Connections customers, including financial product distributor Primerica and vehicle leasing company LeasePlan.

Connections is server-based software accessed by end users via browsers. Customers can install it on their own premises or have it hosted on a public or private cloud data center by IBM or one of its partners.

Connections can be used on a stand-alone basis, although it is frequently bought and used as part of a broader IBM collaboration software stack.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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