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IBM Launches Tool to Help Businesses Visualize Social Networks


ARMONK, NY .- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced the availability of IBM Atlas for Lotus Connections, a corporate social networking visualization and analysis tool. IBM Atlas for Lotus Connections is designed to help organizations maximize their investment in social software by answering questions such as who the key experts are on a given topic, how they are connected, and whom a user’s contacts know that they do not.

Developed by IBM Research, Atlas has four Web 2.0-based components -- My Net, Find, Reach and Net. These components help users spot the important connections and the relationships between various groups and navigate their personal and corporate networks.

The Net component of Atlas provides a visual indication of the important hubs among topic experts and informal groups that have developed while working on similar projects. Users can then identify communication gaps or bottle-necks between groups and manage skills across the organization. My Net offers similar capabilities for a user’s personal network. For example, a salesperson can better manage and understand their social networks making sure they have connections across the right topic areas.

Reach, the social software dashboard feature in Atlas, helps users navigate the up to six degrees of separation that divide them from a colleague. The dashboard shows users the shortest path to reach an expert and ranks the expert based on the level of interaction across the network. For example, Jim needs more information on compliance regulations in the financial services industry to close an important deal. His social dashboard shows him that Barb is an expert in compliance and is active in various communities. Jim can also see that his teammate Matthew reports to Denise, who co-authors a blog on compliance regulations with Barb. By using his social network Jim can connect with Barb faster to get the information he needs to close the deal.

The Find component of Atlas builds upon core Lotus Connections expertise capabilities by taking searches beyond the corporate directory to include results based on social data such as reporting structures, blogs and communities. Users can customize their search criteria to refine the search based on location, corporate structure or degrees of separation. Results are sorted based on the collaborative ranking assigned to a topic expert.

“When you apply social software to business processes, it’s critical to see and understand the relationships between groups, people and information,” said Jeff Schick, vice president of social software for IBM Lotus. “Atlas helps workers navigate their social networks and use these relationships to rally around ideas and projects instead of using organization charts. This speeds decision making and improves efficiency.”

Atlas is designed to work with IBM Lotus Connections, the industry’s first integrated enterprise social software platform. The latest version of Lotus Connections, version 1.02, is now available and features:

* Expanded support for operating systems such as SUSE Linux, browsers such as Mozilla Firefox 2.0 and directories such as Microsoft Active Directory, enabling businesses to deploy and integrate social software across their IT environment.
* Plug-ins for IBM Lotus Notes, IBM Lotus Sametime, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Explorer and IBM WebSphere Portal, enabling people to interact with their professional networks using their everyday productivity tools.
* A rich API based on the REST and Atom standards allow other applications to utilize the profiles, community, bookmarking, blogging and activity services of Lotus Connections.

Atlas is currently available via services engagements through IBM Software Services for Lotus.

Erica Topolski
IBM Media Relations, Software Group


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