Main image of article IBM Connects: A Social Interface to Internal Communications

IBM Connect 2012 was attended by 5,000 IT professionals this week in Orlando. The conference “provides the environment for company leaders and IBM experts to share strategies, challenges, and best practices for exploiting pervasive social technologies to achieve tangible advances in company performance.” Translation: Here’s how to slap a Facebook-like front end onto your business’s internal communications. It’s worth noting that IBM has been selling solutions along these lines since 2007, even before Facebook became the world’s fastest-growing religion. IBM Connections, which IBM describes as “social software for business that lets you access everyone in your professional network, including your colleagues, customers, and partners,” has thousands of customers in very big organizations, and an impressive feature set. As The New York Times notes, those who are experimenting with social interfaces feel comfortable working with Big Blue:

For corporate managers, I.B.M. is a security blanket. Over the years, Big Blue’s endorsement and embrace of a new technology product or trend have been the signal that it is safe for the business mainstream, from the personal computer to Linux.

The latest code, being released in beta this week, goes beyond simple communication and blog building to add new types of business intelligence and analytics tools, with the goal of putting a friendlier face on some of the “Enterprise 2.0” tools that are becoming prominent in today’s increasingly data-driven businesses. Who knows? In the future you may find yourself “friending” the latest regional sales reports.