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As part of its ongoing social media offerings, IBM today
unveiled five new initiatives designed to help business partners and their
clients more fully integrate these technologies within their organizations.

After all, sales of social business software are expected
to grow at 61 percent through 2016, when they will reach sales of $6.4 billion
versus $600 million in 2010, according to Forrester Research. This represents a
vast opportunity for both traditional solution providers and new business
partners, such as digital agencies, Sandy
, vice president, Social Business Evangelism and Sales at IBM, in an
interview with Channel Insider.

Underscoring these opportunities, this year’s IBM
event—to be held in Orlando on Jan. 16 and 17, concurrent with IBM
Lotusphere—is expected to attract more than 1,000 partners, a 40-percent
increase over last year’s event, she said.

“We went out and we specifically targeted partners we
thought would be great in the social space,” said Carter.

New Social
Business Initiatives

Although an increasing number of organizations recognize the
value of social media, many still struggle with implementing these technologies
and with understanding the far-reaching repercussions of becoming a social
business, Carter said. It’s also vital that organizations integrate their
mobility and social media strategies, something that many businesses continue
to operate separately, she said. After all, 68 percent of social happens on a mobile
, noted Carter.

By taking best practices from leading social
media adopters
, IBM created these new initiatives to help other
organizations leverage social media as a competitive tool that benefits
productivity, customer service, creativity, and more, she said.

These new offerings include:

  • Strategic consulting from IBM Global Business Services to
    help organizations improve their understanding of their existing adoption of
    social business tools for internal and external uses. This service helps
    articulate how social business accelerates and eases business challenges.
  • Global educational and mentorship programs for clients
    and business partners on how to become effective community managers—the
    fastest-growing career position in social. In addition, this initiative helps
    organizations increase employee engagement over line-of-business communities on
    the social software platform.
  • Technical certification programs designed to help
    business partners and their clients both validate and demonstrate their skills
    through assessment exams and training resources so they can plan for and
    perform installations, configuration, and day-to-day tasks associated with
    operating social media solutions.
  • Social Media Agenda workshops on IBM’s Virtual Innovation
    Center, giving participants immediate access to discussion forums about the
    benefits of social media; case studies, and tools to help organizations develop
    an agenda for develop social adoption.
  • A partnership with The Dachis Group, a large social
    business consultancy, which will help organizations via a social business
    adoption quick-start workshop. This workshop melds IBM services for
    implementing social business solutions with Dachis Group services.

In addition, IBM has partnered with San Jose State
University (SJSU) on a new academic program that gives students the ability to
deepen their technical and business skills within the social business arena.
Led by Professor Larry Gee, SJSU students assess the social networking
capabilities of an IBM business partner in order to learn about the
characteristics of a social business, and help apply social networking
technologies to business operations for more efficient collaboration and faster
innovation. IBM experts mentor students, teaching them about internal and
external uses of social business solutions.

“Today’s students are already social savvy in their
personal lives,” said Gee, in a statement. “However it’s vital for them to be
able to apply these skills to business and differentiate themselves as they
enter a tough job market. Through the use of IBM technology and experienced
mentors, our students will join the corporate world prepared to compete.”

These initiatives should help solution providers realize
organizations’ social-media goals, which sometimes fall flat due to
implementation. In fact, more than half the organizations surveyed by AIIM now
consider becoming a social business is imperative or significant to attaining
their business goals. One reason for failure is organizations’ inability or
unwillingness to incorporate social media into their existing culture, the
Community Roundtable found in its 2011 State of Community Management Report. In
this study, 28 percent of those polled said their organization was either
resistant to sharing, controlling, or paranoid.

“If I think about what’s happening and the direction were
headed, in order to help our clients we at IBM and our partners need a deep
knowledge and understanding of the overall adoption and engagement dynamic and
the impact we can have with different technologies, and I think we spent 2011
establishing relationships,” Carter said. “In 2012, our role will be to take
that insight and lead our clients to that next level of where social can bring