Ode to IBM and Collaboration

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Often stodgy Big Blue deserves a little credit now and again. Not only is their LotusLive suite one of the best online collaboration software products available, but they just bought CastIron which brings all the best collaboration software and traditional business software together in one package. And to top it off, they are pioneering collaborative environments, social software and interactive visualization through their Watson Research Center.

They also have some of the best internal policies as well. Did you know that they now reimburse employees with cash to switch to Macs! It is more economical for them as a company to have their employees using machines that are much more reliable and don't cause call to the technical support hotline. Hard to believe, but true. They also have some of the best internal social software networking available. Perhaps we will see a case study from them one day.

Here is a take on some of their work:



Social Software
We are exploring new collaboration software that builds on underlying social networks to provide powerful new ways to find people, groups, and manage information. Several projects are underway, including Beehive, a social networking site designed to help employees connect, team build, and learn about each other. In a second project, Cattail , we leverage social affordances to provide easy-to-use personal file sharing and information discovery. We continue to explore the benefits of social tagging and the benefits of socially-enabled search.

Collaborative Environments
Our goal is to invent new collaboration software by designing and building applications to support work in both small groups and large organizations. The Collaborative Reasoning project focuses on supporting a group of people that is collecting, understanding and jointly reasoning about incoming information. The current use case for this work is detecting computer and network intrusions. In our work on Bluegrass and, more recently, Olympus, we have been trying to understand the business value of virtual worlds and avatars. In Olympus, a simple Flash-based virtual world is used in conjunction with the Unyte eMeeting service. In 2009, we will be investigating whether and how this new feature affects the eMeeting experience. Finally, the Ensemble project is applying social networking concepts to application development.

Interactive Visualization
Interactive visualizations help people see and exchange information in novel ways. Many Eyes exemplifies our design goal of transforming visualization from a solitary activity into a collaborative one. Other application areas are on-line discussions, email archives, social networks, software development, and executive decision support tools.