IBM Gets Social

July 11, 2009

IBM has 100,000 partners according to Juan Carlos Perez’s “IBM Preps Social Network to Boost Partners’ Business”. You may be able to find the story here but if it 404s let the new Yahoo know, not me. IBM, wrote Mr. Perez:

decided to create PartnerWorld Communities, which is based on IBM’s Lotus Connections product, after a survey of partners revealed a high interest in such a site, the company said Tuesday [June 9, 2009]. The site will be a complement to IBM’s global PartnerWorld program. IBM is also releasing a new online training forum called the Business Partner Development Series featuring more than 60 free, virtual classes, webcasts and listings of in-person events, like seminars.

In my opinion, IBM has become a trend surfer. Yesterday I learned that IBM is breathing new life into its mainframe systems. How hip is that?

My hunch is that IBM is more consulting firm than technology vendor. Like other service firms and consultancies, the senior managers spend quite a bit of time sniffing the wind, making an attempt to identify the next big thing.

This roll out of social functions and partner-centric activities resonated with me for three reasons:

First, IBM has to keep the partners happy. With other vendors on the look out for firms who can find a client, install a system, and service the client, good partners have to be treated with respect. With HP nipping at IBM’s heels and the baying of Google and Microsoft echoing in the hallways, IBM wants to keep what it has.

Second, I surmise that the “social” buzz inspired IBM to create a Facebook-Twitter type of environment. My hunch is that partners are not likely to Twitter about sales leads. In fact, I am not certain that Tweets among IBM partners will be about problems either. When the Tweets turn against IBM’s methods and policies, I think that some of the social may be drained from the service.

Third, I assert that this is a trend. I would much prefer some substantive information about search, content processing, and information access. News releases are easy to do. Tackling substantive information issues is not fun and not trendy. Too bad.

But with $100 billion in revenue, perhaps I should emulate Big Blue? I just ran a query at for “social software”. The first hit was a link to a September 2008 * news release * about a Center for Social Software here. I did not see a link to any social software. Lots of fuzzy stuff though.

Stephen Arnold, July 11, 2009


2 Responses to “IBM Gets Social”

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