IBM Aims to Bring Social Media Into Compliance
IBM is promising to deliver a solution that will enable companies to include information from social media platforms in their regulatory compliance reports.
Compliance capability is "fundamental to reducing a barrier that many companies have encountered as they look more closely at using social media for business process integration," Alistair Rennie, IBM's general manager of collaboration solutions, said in a teleconference on Monday.
IBM is expected to formally announce the new solution -- called "Actiance Vantage for IBM Connections" on Tuesday, the opening day of the Enterprise 2.0 conference taking place this week in Boston, but the solution won't be available for purchase until the third quarter of the year.
A Social Media Cloud
In addition to unveiling its regulatory compliance offering, IBM also plans to use the Enterprise 2.0 stage to announce plans for opening a data center that will offer cloud-based social media solutions to companies in the Asia Pacific Region. The center, to be based in Japan, is scheduled to start turning on social media platforms for Asia Pacific customers by September.
The seeds for the regulatory compliance solution were planted as far back as January 2010, when the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority -- a watchdog agency for U.S.-based securities firms -- issued guidance on the importance of monitoring and tracking information passed through corporate social media sites for purposes of regulatory compliance, Rennie said.
Social media content is like all other content created by companies, meaning it's subject to the same rules, laws and customs, he pointed out, citing a February 2011 report from Gartner.
"By the end of 2013, half of all companies will have been asked to produce material from social media websites for e-discovery," the Gartner report states. "So, enterprises need an overall governance strategy for all applications and information, and this strategy should include content created on social media."
A Blended Solution
Against that backdrop, IBM is partnering with Actiance, a supplier of e-security and compliance applications, to develop its social media compliance offering. The solution will blend Actiance's e-compliance capabilities into IBM's Connections platform, which offers a range of tools for building and managing social media channels such as blogs, wikis, forums and virtual communities.
Once it is available, the solution will be a major advancement for companies in regulated industries that have struggled with how to maintain a certain level of security and integrity around important data that might be floating through corporate social media channels.
"We continue to see social media growing as a tool for business transformation," Rennie said. "It's difficult to find a customer that doesn't want to take advantage of the potential of a social business environment, but -- as is the case with every major technology change -- we continue to run into questions about managing security and risk."
Real-Time Data Tracking
Actiance Vantage for IBM Connections will address those issues, Rennie explained, by giving companies tools to monitor, track and analyze data generated in social media posts and conversation threads.
"This all takes place in real-time," he noted. "I can't overemphasize the need to track this information in real-time. The pace at which information moves in a social environment is unlike that of most traditional collaboration environments."
The new IBM solution will give users a dashboard through which they can monitor social media traffic and pick out bits of information that need to be saved for purposes of regulatory compliance, Rennie said.
"With the Connections technology, every piece of communication is auditable," he explained. "We also are using advanced analytics that will allow for recommending that users view content they might not have found on their own."
For the past two years, IDC has listed IBM as the leading producer of revenue from social media software, and Rennie believes these new offerings should help it maintain that position.