IBM unveils social networking connector

IBM Social Business Toolkit can be used to link social network feeds into enterprise applications

IBM is hoping to bring the concept of Facebook's activity streams to enterprise applications, using a vastly expanded social networking toolkit that the company released Monday.

In much the same way that Facebook and Twitter users can easily share links, photos and video, users of IBM's applications could enjoy similar activity streams, in which they would be able to view and access information from different enterprise applications.

"Any business content that comes into your activity stream can be worked on and reposted without having to jump to some silo'ed app," noted Jeff Schick, IBM vice president of social software. "The activity stream becomes a social inbox, so to speak."

The newly-released IBM Social Business Toolkit is a set of APIs (application programming interfaces) that IBM and third-party applications can use to provide notifications, events and other data objects to an aggregation framework. The aggregation framework generates a RESTful (Representational State Transfer) Web service that generates an aggregated list of notifications to user-facing clients.

IBM is in the process of standardizing all of its enterprise applications so that they will use this framework to share and display information. "All of collaborative services that IBM has created can be placed into an activity stream," Schick said.

Activity streams can be displayed in a Lotus Notes client, as well on mobile applications and any other user-facing service.

The aggregation framework is an expansion of the activity stream first offered by IBM's Lotus Connections social networking software. Lotus Connections, however, featured only the ability to share blog posts and a limited number of other data types, while the new toolkit is extensible, meaning organizations can use it to add any content into an activity stream. Notifications from an SAP ERP (enterprise resource planning) app, for instance, can be added in an activity stream.

"Fundamentally, by connecting people with people, and connecting people with information, you're not just going to realize a level of efficiency and productivity, you will fundamentally create new markets and gain a competitive advantage," Schick said.

IBM is demonstrating the toolkit at the company's Lotusphere conference, being held this week in Orlando.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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Joab Jackson

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