IBM seems to have taken to heart the message this week from the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Workplace Social Software.

The latest report dubs IBM a leader in the crowded vendor space of social business because it has developed relationships with organizations and partners, identified social business as an important part of its overall strategy and has the technology and services to help clients develop social business strategies and social technologies.  

However, Gartner at the same time cautioned that IBM’s user base has been very slow to accept the idea of cloud collaboration through Cloud First, or SmartCloud. Gartner says that despite rationalization of the Connections product portfolio, more could be done to improve the user experience when using Connections with other IBM products in larger bundles.

Boosting Cloud Offerings

IBM’s response this week?

It released updates to its social business platform in the cloud -- IBM SmartCloud for Social Business -- along with enhanced mobile capabilities, representing the largest set of new IBM SmartCloud social capabilities released to date.

social business, IBM Releases Largest Set of SmartCloud Social Business Capabilities

The software giant touts its platform’s ability to increase business productivity through crowdsourcing, omni-channel teaming and more in a “most enterprise-grade secure environment.”

IBM also released Sametime 9 to help accelerate companies’ social business transformation. One feature of IBM Sametime is high definition video conferencing.

IBM as of this morning was trading on the NASDAQ at US$ 194.42, up 1.18%.

The new cloud capabilities include:

  • Mobile file sync and share. Employees can access the cloud and share documents in the way that works best for them, whether online or offline, on their smartphone or tablet, desktop application or browser.
  • New community features such as social bridging. Social bridging presents a single view of social content from related communities, whether inside or outside the organizations.
  • Bringing traditional office productivity tools into the social realm. Employees can create, share and collaboratively edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations in real-time. It also includes Web editing tools for social commenting, discussions, author presence and revision management.
  • Social capabilities in the context of mail experience. Employees can move between social tools including communities, projects they are working on and files they are sharing, in a unified dashboard, through a new web interface, enhanced mail and calendar addressing options, improved workflow for faster scheduling of meetings, single click access to all messaging and greater administrator governance and control.

Not-so Cloudy Forecast in Market

IBM is just the latest to make moves in the cloud. Oracle and Salesforce announced in June a nine-year deal to pair each other's cloud offerings. Oracle had said it would be rolling out partnerships with Microsoft, Netsuite and Salesforce in June when it released its Q4 financial earnings. Oracle and Microsoft announced the details of a cloud collaboration in June.

IBM’s announcement this week of expanded social collaboration capabilities in the cloud means we can expect this industry heavyweight title fight to last a few more rounds. With Gartner citing Jive, Microsoft, Salesforce and IBM as leaders here, we aren’t expecting anyone to throw in the towel. After all, the IDC reported IBM and Jive are expected to grow significantly between now and 2017.