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Last week, I had the privilege of attending a very interesting day-and-a-half IBM meeting in San Francisco on Advanced Case Management, which will be the subject of an upcoming blog post in the near future.
However, this newsletter is focused on Atlas for Lotus Connections, an older IBM application that sits on top of Lotus Connections, the company’s social networking tool. I was given a demo of Atlas while at the meeting and was quite impressed with its capabilities, among which are two important capabilities:
- The ability to create a visual map of social connections within an enterprise or another group. For example, type in a keyword or phrase on a topic, client, etc. and a map of individuals and their relevance to that search term will be displayed. This is quite useful when trying to find an expert to help on a project or to find someone who has experience with a particular client.
- The ability to find the shortest path to an individual with whom you’d like to connect. Atlas will analyze the various types of individual communications in an organization and map out the best path of individuals that can help you find an expert on a topic. Again, very useful if need to find expertise outside of your direct circle of social contacts.
I’m impressed by Atlas’ ability to create what IBM calls “social value” across an organization. This is very useful in large and/or geographically distributed organizations in which personal interactions would be nearly impossible or would happen only by chance. This concept is not new, of course, but has been developed by a number of companies over the years.
The ability to create social value will become more important in the future for two important reasons. First, organizations are becoming more distributed as decision makers find they can reduce costs by allowing employees to work from home. This complicates and slows the decision making process because of the geographic separation of co-workers, in no small part because the person you need to talk to isn’t just a quick walk down the hall. Second, younger workers that are used to employing Web 2.0 applications, text messaging and other non-traditional tools are becoming a larger proportion of the workforce. While IT departments can force these workers to use traditional tools with their limited capabilities, smart ones will deploy social networking tools and build value-added capabilities on top of them.
You can get more information on Lotus Atlas at http://www-01.ibm.com/software/lotus/services/atlasasset.html
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