The Social Business Journey at IBM

The Social Business Journey at IBM
Case Code: BSTR418
Case Length: 19 Pages
Period: 1997 - 2012
Pub Date: 2012
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.500
Organization: IBM Corporation
Industry: Information Industry
Countries: Global
Themes: Social Media, Marketing Communications, Sales Management, Services Marketing, Marketing Management, Human Resources Management
The Social Business Journey at IBM
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


On June 18, 2012, New York-based International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), one of the world's leading business services and software providers, was ranked number one in worldwide market share for enterprise social software (ESS) for the third consecutive year, by International Data Corporation (IDC). The ranking was based on IDC's analysis of revenue of the ESS market for the financial year (FY) 2011. IDC's analysis revealed that while the overall ESS market had grown by 40 percent for the FY 2011, IBM's revenue in the ESS market had grown by nearly 70 percent for the same period, nearly two times faster than the overall ESS market.

Since the 1970s, IBM had nurtured a culture of collaboration as it felt that this was a prerequisite for fostering innovation. The company started discussion forums on the System 370 consoles to encourage its mainframe programmers to collaborate online. Industry observers pointed out that long before Generation Y had started collaborating through social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, IBM employees, also known as IBMers, had been collaborating with IBM's dispersed global workforce using these consoles till the mid-1990s. In 1996, the company launched its corporate global intranet w3 on demand workplace (w3 ODW) as a source of information for managers and co-workers.

In 1997, taking a step forward, IBM encouraged IBMers to use the Internet. This was in contrast to most of the other companies which restricted Internet access. In 2005, in a bid to encourage employee participation, the company took a strategic decision to explore the blogosphere – the online community of blogs and bloggers. IBM felt most of its social efforts, which had begun internally as a way for IBMers to learn and collaborate, could become products that could be offered to the marketplace. This marked the launch of Lotus Connections in January 2007. IBM wrapped all its social networking technologies into a single package – Lotus Connections, a social software suite integrated with capabilities to work in a corporate setting.

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