IBM's Lotus Connections aids internal communications

ARMONK, NY: IBM's recently introduced social networking software for business, Lotus Connections, is geared towards core PR traits like sharing information and brokering relationships.

ARMONK, NY: IBM's recently introduced social networking software for business, Lotus Connections, is geared towards core PR traits like sharing information and brokering relationships.

Lotus Connections is a business tool modeled after sites like LinkedIn or more loosely, MySpace. It offers the ability to let users gather and exchange information through professional networks, provides a dashboard-like view of projects, and connects users to like-minded communities.

"Probably the easiest analogy here is the concept of six degrees of separation," said Elena Fernandez, a member of IBM's software media relations team and PR lead on Connections. Fernandez said, in business, people usually can draw a connection to another tracing back through several colleagues. "For PR people, our goal is to turn it to one or zero with reporters. It's all about building relationships."

Lotus Connections client The Film Foundation, a national film preservation society, uses the software for internal communications, related to its restoration of 450 films to date including "It Happened One Night" and "On the Waterfront."

Jennifer Ahn, managing director of the foundation's Story of Movies division, said establishing communications is a challenge because members, working independently, are scattered all over the country and connect mainly by phone or e-mail.

Using the software, the Foundation's members can log in like a wiki, and discuss projects in real time. There they can use instant message or chat programs.

"The system encourages users to review and comment on things in a very spontaneous, informal way - more like a conversation," Ahn said.  "And it's immediate, which is really helpful when we're [depending] on feedback and comments."

Lotus Connections launched Jan. 22 at Lotusphere, a software conference in Orlando, FL.

IBM worked with Text 100 Public Relations as a strategic adviser on the launch.

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